Saturday, September 17, 2011

Idea School Chronicles

What you do is you create awesome content and give it away.

In the spirit of GIVE, one of our classes, I'm hitting this full force. All of my down time is going to build the new, interactive site, with sweet free content.

I always thought it would be really hard to do this, but I decided to subscribe to, which has thousands of modules on all types of computer based software, programming languages, and inspiration interviews with design firms. Really cool.

Check out this awesome video on sharing:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Idea School Chronicles

Idea School is a little over 1 year old now.

The journey has been tough. Really tough in fact. If you know about it, what we're doing is building a creative project school, which is about entrepreneurship, art, and community. We believe in fun, hands-on experiences that allow us to create our callings instead of train for a job. It's about collaboration and creativity. It's about making a difference and having the coolest experience while doing it.

Over the last year we've been working on different projects, started by other individuals, trying to impact them in every way possible. Trying to make them real. At Green Urban Lunchbox, we learned; at Ripple Effect, we tried to force alternate action; and now, at The Granary District, we're going to try ninjas.

Recently we proposed hosting micro-events to add some splash to the neighborhood and tout it as a cool place to hang out. However, it's become clear that we need to be more involved or else we'll be stuck holding an event every few months, which won't build the community as it has been envisioned. We're assembling a team to do this and we'll do all the work, all in order to support the project founder.

The lesson here is that massive collaboration is so important. Following is important. We have to support our leaders without being asked to.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Awesome job fair and polar bears.

Yesterday I ran a booth for Idea School at the Jobs/Volunteer Fair and the outcome was fantastic. I made a lot of awesome connections, both student related and community related.

At first, I was pretty nervous, but my old sales skills kicked in and I was on fire for the whole day. Met a lot of interesting and cool individuals who will hopefully spread the word about our work.

Really should do more events like this. Anybody who says event marketing doesn't work is wrong. Really just comes down to how much will it cost me and what is the audience. Pretty simple.

As a side note: going to Alaska the day after tomorrow. Came up quick. I'll be back on the 5th. Cross your fingers that I don't get eaten by a polar bear.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Just came across this book:

Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools

In a reporting tour de force, award-winning journalist Steven Brill takes an uncompromising look at the adults who are fighting over America’s failure to educate its children and points the way to reversing that failure...  -Publisher's Summary

Disappointing... no, wait. It's more than that. It's actually upsetting. 

I'm not knocking what the author has done. We need initiatives like these to help move that movement forward. What I'm upset with is that year after year, week after week, it seems that the public is mostly bent on helping only children have a better education. Granted, this is a real issue. Children don't really get a choice in life.

But there is a big failure that everybody ignores. That failure manifests itself in the children already grown. The young adults of our country who grew up being told that everything would be okay. They would graduate and get a job and have a happy life. Maybe get married and have kids. Become a millionaire and get the chance to travel extensively. 

*Sirens going off*

What's that?! Oh wait, it's the bullshit alarm. Let me turn that off for you. Sorry about that.

Here's the reality:

The truth is hard to swallow. The reason nobody is setting out to 'rescue' the young adult, college kid crowd is pretty obvious. It's hard.  A lot harder than helping kids in elementary school. Children have to go to school. 

Try convincing a college kid to try something new, work hard, be creative, accept criticism and blame, and be generous. Schools are going to continue teaching us the same old things because its easier than trying to get us to actually give a shit, confront inevitable failure, and make a difference.

Here's even more reality:

It's not actually their job to get us to do those things. It's ours. We have to make the choice to care about our art, our work. We have to choose to make a difference and find our own purposes.

The troubling part is nobody wants to help us. The encouraging part is it will make us stronger. Would you have it any other way?

This could have been a book about that. It could have been a book about what to do when you graduate and there are no jobs. It could have been a heartfelt book about creating your own career, starting an initiative, and making your art, while overcoming resistance.

Instead: read The War of Art

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Genres Are Vehicles, Not Content

I realized something interesting today. There are a lot of similarities between books of different genres. Seriously, way more than you think. I hope this post will convince you to search outside your traditional genre for something you didn't know was there. The results will surprise you. Read on...

For a long time I've read pretty much exclusively non-fiction, business books. I read a lot about personal development and the exploits of others. I also have read a lot of philosophical fiction, my favorite being Paulo Coelho, a brilliant Brazilian author. (He wrote The Alchemist).

A favorite business author of mine is Seth Godin, author of Tribes, The Dip, and Purple Cow, among many others. He also happens to have the most widely read business blog in the world.

What I noticed astonished me. The entire premise of The Dip, which is about getting through the tough parts to make it to the wonderful success at the end, was very similar to a lot of the things Paulo Coelho talks about in his books.

Here's an example:

Coelho writes about Beginner's Luck in The Alchemist. Basically he describes it as the Universe wetting your appetite with success. What usually follows are incredibly tough times and heartache. (I know this, I've been there personally). Eventually, if a person perseveres long enough he/she will fulfill their Personal Legend.

Now, lets get away from Coelho's spiritual and somewhat cryptic speech and move toward more pragmatic language.

Godin, in his short book The Dip, writes passionately about starting something new, whether a new project, career, business, or skill. At the beginning, things seem to be fun and awesome and moving along smoothly. Then, you hit a wall and the fun goes away and suddenly everything becomes difficult. The part that makes everybody else quit. This seems to get more impossibly difficult until finally, you're on a rapid upswing. The persistence pays off, and you have your success.

Both are simply different formats for telling the same story. I know I've noticed this before, yet now it's flooding me.

A genre is merely a vehicle for understanding, not the content itself. Remember that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The alternative to failure

How many times did I fail at making gnocchi dough before it came out right?

The answer really doesn't matter, the point is that I failed the first few times before getting it right. Each failure was a lesson, but most people don't really look at it that way. In fact, let's scratch out the word failure.

Failure is a bad word. A lot of writing these days has been devoted to reinventing the way we look at failure, though perhaps the use of the word itself is the source of the problem. Next time you find yourself using the word failure, replace it with something else.

Here are some suggestions (some are made up): I explored, I insighted, I poked, I learned, I experimented...

(by the way the answer is 2)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Urban Lunchbox

Idea School posted a new blog post today about Shawn Petersen's Green Urban Lunchbox project. You should go over and check it out:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

True Freedom

In a recent conversation I spoke about the decision to sell my car. The conversation proceeded like this:

"[Walking] is actually pretty nice. Plus there's always the bus"
"Yeah and trax. Idk that would probably be a good financial decision but I feel like I'd lose freedom"

This got me thinking. What exactly is freedom? And is the freedom that you think you have really freedom at all? I'm going to turn this one upside down.

I propose that most of us live with the illusion of freedom. You think because you have a car and the freedom of mobility that you actually have freedom?

(sorry for using you as an example friend, I'll cook you dinner to make up?? =D)

The friend I had this conversation with is afraid of losing her overall freedom, but really by selling her car she could be expanding it. I know, because I've lived it.

Before I sold my car last August, I was spending about $240/month on payments and $160/month on insurance, plus gas and maintenance.

Here's the facts:

  • Owning a car meant a car payment, which meant I had to work more hours just to own the car
    • suddenly my decisions about my time are being dictated by how much money I have
  • It also meant having to pay insurance, which meant more working, and thus less time.
  • As a side bonus, driving was a huge crutch activity for me. I could drive around for hours, subsequently wasting gas and time while accomplishing nothing.
The elimination of all these things amounted to the expected $240 car payment and the $160 in insurance, but there was an extra $200, which came as a huge surprise. I realized that by owning a convenience good (a car in this case) I actually allowed myself to waste more time, thus netting less overall productivity.

The decision to sell prompted me to move downtown, closer to work in order to make my commute negligible. Finally, I reached a balance: limited, but free mobility. I'd learned new skills, such as using the public transit system, cabs, and re-learning to ride a bike. The latter of which has great physical implications. Also, I now have tons of extra money because I've allowed myself to work more, I never get parking tickets, I'm usually early to things, and I spend all my extra time on Idea School and my extra money on it as well.

Were I not to sell my car and limit my mobility, it would not have forced me to focus and define activities that were actually important.

If you're stuck, try making life a little less convenient. It will at least get you thinking.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Confilicting Advice

There are a lot of ways that people over-complicate the process of doing something awesome!

 Here's some shitty advice:
  • You need money to start a business or change the world
  • You need to write a business plan in order to succeed
  • You have to have a degree in that field, or at least a degree in something
  • You have to be experienced in your industry
  • You have to interrupt people with your marketing
  • You have to work really hard 
  • You need to give up your life
The above menu of 'advice' is typically doled out as soon as you mention your little idea that will actually change the status quo and make a difference. Been there, I promise it's true. Now, to be honest there is some truth to each of these statements.

This, in my opinion (take it for what it's worth to you) is a better list of to-dos:

  • You need to invest in your business or world-changing idea.
    • You need to spend some money, but you need to have a reason for spending it. Don't let the bad advice people give you cause a panic in your heart! The amount of money you need can vary greatly and can be raised (I recommend you raise it by working) over time. It doesn't need to be raised in one lump sum
  • Business plans are dumb. 
    • Do what works for you. Never do something because somebody says you need to
    • I clarified my goals and path by deciding what they were and doing them.
    • It wasn't easy to just do it; it took a lot of beating myself up about making the 'right' decision, but I got there eventually
    • Plan your own way. Pictures, videos, writing, whatever works. The point is that it works for you
  • What does a degree qualify you for anyway?
    • A piece of paper doesn't qualify you to do anything.
    • Build a reputation instead by doing free work for people or volunteering with them and leading them.
  • If the experience myth were true, nobody would do anything
    • You gain experience by taking action over time. Period.
    • The clock starts ticking when you take your first action.
  • People like being engaged more than they like being interrupted
    • Try finding people that need something or want to be led somewhere and help them!
    • People will follow you and your message if you are generous, bold, and will take risks for them.
  • You need to work hard doing something that inspires you
    • Anything less will cause you to give up and possibly go bat-shit insane
    • "Interest and energy both wax and wane." Timothy Ferris, The 4-Hour Workweek
    • You need your inspiration and excitement to fuel your work.
  • You don't need to be as generous as, or live like Mother Teresa
    • For a long time I had a hard time with this, I still do. I'm human. I thought that figures like Mother Teresa were the only legitimate world-changers. And that I must emulate their lifestyle. NOT that I compare to her work in ANY way. She's a badass++. That's a double plus if you were wondering.
    • I'm pretty sure (about 99%) that you don't need to give up your own personal happiness or satisfaction in order to change the world.
The point is, do what you have to do and be as giving as you can be. In the long run we're here to help you. Just drop us a line.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tim DeChristopher saves the world (or a part of it).

Who is he?

A badass.


Let me explain in an annunciated, 11 point bulletin:

  1. In 2008 there was a Utah land auction being held for about 22,000 acres of public land. 
  2. Among the bidders were several major oil companies including ExxonMobil and Shell. 
  3. See, the auctions weren't exactly fair because, well, not everybody has a couple hundred thousand $$ to toss around. And, it was public land, yet, the public wasn't getting much of a say where it was going.
  4. Obviously, environmental activists were wildly outraged. Among them, Tim.
  5. Whereas most protesters either write condescending (read: stupid) letters or show up on game day and cheer for the opposite team, Tim decided to take a third route that landed him in environmental rock stardom.
  6. On auction day, Tim shows up and registers as a bidder (why not?).
  7. He then proceeds to outbid every other bidder on every piece of land, netting a bill of $1.7M. 
  8. Shit balls!
  9. Working a part time job and going to school, Tim didn't exactly have the cash laying around.
  10. Without the money to pay up, the auction was delayed for months and, with the presidential administration change the following January, the land sale was rescinded.
  11. Thusly, Tim got exactly what he wanted, stopping the land sale, by forging his own map and taking the path less trodden.

Fucking awesome. If you want to help him stay out of jail read this:
  • Word is, he's being convicted of a couple of felonies (I think). 
  • The trial is Monday, February 28th.
  • There is a march going on Monday morning @ 8AM at Pioneer Park.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Been reading a new book. I think you'll like.

The book is The Art of Non-Conformity  by Chris Guillebeau. Since reading... spooky things have been happening. Good spooky, not bad.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This link is ridiculous... lol.

All the information in this is BS. ESPECIALLY the time expectancies.

Like, what the hell doe this mean:

What You Need:

A Planning Committee
A Head of School
A Business Manager
A Business Plan
Dynamic, effective fund raising
Professional marketing

IMHO, it means absolutely nothing. These words are nonstarters. They don't bring you any closer to realizing the goal of starting a school, something I can attest to completely. I hereby announce that I am writing a blog/book/short story about how to start a school. For that matter.. how to start anything. People so overcomplicate things...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Student Signups

We're trying to get student signups at the Idea School site, but so far none have trickled in.

I'll hold class regardless of whether we have students or not. We will not give up just because of slow starting.

If any of you have ideas on how we can get more students to sign up please let me know. Check out our website as a reference:

Friday, January 28, 2011