Orbital Boot Camp- Week 1


New things….

This week i started the Orbital Boot Camp. Very excited to challenge myself to iterate and bring to life my ideas. I have been teaching art to children for over 13 years and just love it. I am so excited when children get in the zone and get lost in the art of creating. It is so liberating! So many wonderful things happen when children explore the world of art as it carries over into other areas of study. Sometimes children make what they consider a mistake, but in reality there lies an opportunity to find an alternative route. Most of the children I teach know that when a child says, “I made a mistake, I need another piece of paper”, I will respond by saying, “You are one of the lucky ones. You get to find a solution, you get to change this into something else.” Life does not offer us another piece of paper, but it does offer us the opportunity to find solutions. Art imitates life and I think a children’s art program can be a great petri dish for this. 

This week, I started a class which will allow me to move towards teaching art online. I am excited to connect with talented students and teachers. Even though each of our products are different, we will grow from the experience of working together and learning the from each other. It is important to jump into unchartered territories and share what one loves. Life is short…jump! 


Visiting the 2014 Venture for America Fellows

I’ve had the privilege of visiting with and speaking to the Venture for America fellows at their summer boot camp for each of the past two years, and was excited to be invited back again this year.  

Their boot camp takes place in Providence, which is about a 3+ hour train ride up from New York.  So, the ride up ends up being a nice forcing function for me to reflect on what I’ve learned over the past year.

I’ve had a lot going on in the past 12 months, so there was much to cram in.  And in fact I realized afterwards that there was a lot that I actually left out.  While I’ve written publicly why I launched Orbital Boot Camp, I haven’t talked specifically about why I started Orbital, itself.  Perhaps that is a future talk.

In any event, here’s a hackpad of notes to my talk.

And also, a summary of the talk, as tweeted by the 2014 VFA Fellows:



Here’s a webinar on culture I did in 2012 for Startup America.  Before yesterday, I hadn’t seen it.  

It was originally behind Startup America’s membership wall.  Last year when I reached out to ask them to share the video file with me, I didn’t get a response.   (#frustrating)  

So it was a funny surprise to uncover the video yesterday via a Google video search.

When Startup American invited me to make this presentation back in 2012, I was glad for the platform to share my thinking.   I had never done a webinar before, and also decided to participate for the “webinar” learning experience.

This was one of many experiments I’ve made in creating content for other people to deliver.  

Overall, I’ve learned that I prefer to own the delivery of my content.  

I tweet.  I blog, occasionally.   And I’m open to new experiments.

The webinar?  I couldn’t see the participants, whether what I was saying made sense to them.  Not optimal.   (I can hear the strain of this in my own voice.) 

Also, the topic would have been better addressed in a shorter formal presentation and a more lively and interactive Q&A.

This affirms my current thinking.  For the most part, my offering is best made in a real-life exchange.   My client work is all IRL, most often one-on-one.

My online search was prompted by an effort to inventory on-and-offline content I’ve created, to sweep out my file drawers, and figure out some good ways to offer some of my thinking more broadly.  

And definitely In Real Life.

This is where I’m starting with my “side project”, guided by Gary Chou and his great team in their inaugural session of the Orbital Boot Camp.  

A friend said, “So, you’re getting coaching for your coaching business?!?”   I could have quibbled about whether I actually have a coaching business, or a consulting business.  

Instead, I just said, “Yes.”


Hustle and Pivot



It’s hard out here for a novelist.

One of the hardest things is finding the audience for your book. While it’s becoming easier for writers to both publish and promote their works themselves, the majority of strategies touted by experts – especially those exploiting social media and other online technology – are geared toward non-fiction writers. Whether how-to, self-help or even memoir, there…

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I can admit that things are getting harder. It’s harder for me as an independent musician to be financially stable nowadays. I played a tour last year where it was 5 cities, and a TOTAL of 300 people came to the shows. The promoter thought I would sell out 500 capacity venues because of my 100 million views and 500,000 subs on YouTube. And that burns a little, to be honest. It hurts when people are so hyped over you selling all these tickets and getting you excited for playing for all these people — and then you get there and it’s not at all how you expected.

– AJ Rafael via AJ Rafael Announces Hiatus From Performing

As Bruce Schneier has said, networks amplify power. YouTube is no longer an emergent playground for indies who’ve been able to ride the wave of growth.  The network requires more to fuel itself and has shifted its attention and energy towards working with incumbents over upstarts.  Further, what the early adopters used to do has now become the norm, so many of the early creators like AJ now find themselves with much more competition.

But that’s a parental emotion at work when one says I don’t want a student to be trapped. The truth is, I’d be perfectly happy if they would be “trapped” within the experience their own authentic difficulties. If they would be trapped on their own, then any freedoms they discovered would be their own. Which is what interests me, because I believe that the joy of your own discovery is what confirms your own aliveness, your own value.

So in this sense it’s cool to be wrong. It’s so essential, so necessary. It’s so appropriate to be confused, to be muddled, to be unsure. We preach clarity. Get your ideas organized. Get your thinking straight. And it’s the kind of stuff we all got from our parents, because that’s the role of parents. But it is the aliveness of the unguarded intuition and the persistence of our own feelings that guide us to our discoveries.
One of the fellows yesterday asked me a question for which I wanted to answer with an Emmet Gowin quote.  I thought it was on my blog already, but as it turns out I’ve only used it in class.  It’s from a really wonderful interview here.


I have a personal networking thesis. I believe the social bonds with the greatest potential value are those that are less than three degrees of separation away. This isn’t to say that strangers or seemingly random connections can’t be valuable. This is to say that those who are further away have…