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Talkin’ at Me

“Everybody’s talkin’ at me / I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’ / Only the echoes of my mind.”

It’s been a tumultuous few months, especially coming off a year of backbreaking product development with an ambitious client.  And since the unanticipated breakup with said client, it’s the echoes that haunt. You know the ones: the fear, the doubt, the uncertainty in yourself. Everyone had something to say about it, some attempted to rubberneck through the carnage, few stuck by my side, one confessed his sin.  I believed in this client – and still do, despite the dreary news leaking from every corner of the organization. I believed in myself – and still do, despite the extended break and faltered confidence.  I’ve ignored all advice, all well-wishes, all good intentions over the past several months for one solid reason:

It’s not enough.  This one’s on me.

It’s the affirmation of a lifetime.

I wrote my mission statement (or manifesto, depending on your point of view) in a clear moment several years ago, and I still turn back to it when I need the inspiration to stand up and fight another day.  I know I’m good. strong. capable. smart. savvy. inspirational. accomplished. And combined with my ambition, there is nothing I can’t accomplish.

Here it is:

I want to create your future exactly how you want it — even if you don’t know yet how it looks, feels, acts, or belongs.

it’s said the best ideas come from the depths of necessity. we, as individuals, communities, citizens, humans, are deep in the chasm of necessity for new, radical, revolutionary ideas to change the ways things have been done.

our future relies on those who refuse to bow down to the pressure of no.

our future relies on those who refuse to conform to “good enough.”

and it’s a future not for tinkerers or idealists — it’s not enough to want something done.

it’s only enough to do it yourself. in a collective of others working toward a similar goal across disparate entities, boundaries and borders.

it’s time to lead the charge into a more prosperous future.

so let’s get started.

It’s Friday.

Good Things ComeNot that it makes a difference in my world, the day of the week.  It’s something I find both extraordinary and expected.

And it’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times, this working for yourself.  I’m the one who sets the rules, the expectations, the hours, the results.

But from the outside-in, the unnerving aspect of any self-declared venture is this: the isolation is warm, cozy, and self-affirming.  The longer I work in my tree-top office, crunching the investment and cash-flow numbers, crafting business summaries and plans, perfecting presentations, chatting with a number of targeted partners, something strange happens.  Shaky confidence turns to insecure arrogance.  Good judgment shifts under megalomaniacal pressure.  Cravings for feedback deepen, yet the conditions to share lessen and the rules to listen grow in number and rigidity.  Inspiring people morphs to pushing people, lest they forget.

And this is all explained in a singular delusional phrase: I know I’m right.

Not believe.  Not feel.  I know.  True, hard, indisputable fact tangled in my brain, incessantly driving me to the next sunrise.

Is this passion?  The depth of joy and pain, the moments of surprise and frustration, is all one-sided.  it may better be described as insanity.  Pygmalion scorned all other women, all those fallible corporate gigs that provide steady benefits, comforts, and security – and fell hopelessly in love with his own sculpted creation.  Isn’t this the story of every bootstrapping entrepreneur?

Pygmalion’s myth ends happily – Aphrodite grants the stony figure warm-blooded life more than a decade after it’s inception, affirming it’s beauty (and resemblance to herself).  Another parallel to the entrepreneur, though this one with the infusion of cold hard cash following affirmation of its potential.  We’ve happily celebrated this delusion for multiple millennia, and to date, it shows little sign of decline.

This only affirms my own arrogance, of course.  A dangerous thing, but an essential component to push this big idea of mine to its full potential.

Maybe it will make it. Maybe it won’t.  But somehow, some way, I’ll inspire someone to affirm it’s beauty, it’s intelligence, and it’s power – and grant it life.

No. 642

panic cycle

This is post number six hundred forty-two here at annehollander.com.

And it’s been a longer than anticipated absence since post number six hundred forty-one.

Sorry about that.

I haven’t written in more than a year.  And while it could be convenient to say much has happened – nothing has.

For that I take full blame.

Yet.

I miss the creation days.  The days lazily typing in a coffee shop, a pastry reward for a solid, editable five hundred words.  The nights spent living and listening for exactly what a character sounds like, looks like, feels life at the end of a bar or back of a car or among a crowd of those who forgot that life meant something, somewhere, some time ago.  And, perhaps, that kindred spirit who still believes in something, separated from cynicism, and willing to take that chance, whatever it may be.

Instead I’ve found narrowed comfort in a numbing nine-to-five, grocery shopping, and a bottle of wine in front of whatever will stream to my living room television, alone to glance at the two-dimensional characters someone else created.  I don’t find jealousy – no, it’s much worse – just apathy.  A lack of interest in the creative, a dearth of considered analysis in a sea of knowledge, and, sadly, diminishing drive to get up, get out, and work at something that one incessantly teased and taunted me.

And that scares the fuck outta me.  The world is spinning faster and faster each day, and I’ve pushed myself outside the whirling dervish and into false comfort.  I should be in the middle, documenting with my own eyes, ears, and experience.

This is post no. 642, fresh with resolve to roll the dice and see where this takes me again.  Perhaps faked until it’s truly made.  But it’s a start – and one I can find confidence in.

Lessons in Multitasking

Busy, busy, busy winter.

  • 2013 is off to a fabulous start – I’ve transitioned into a consulting role with a super-neat startup in the Boston area to work on pushing the company to scale with an influx of multi-sided users.  It’s been a whirlwind and with quick, significant progress  – I’ve finally found the women’s restroom no less than eight weeks into the game.  There’s incredible potential for the technology they’ve developed, and we’re going to take this thing far & wide.  The visionary & strategic aspects of my role are incredible, and it’s caused a deep realization that hey maybe this is what I should have been doing — not the process-oriented roles I’ve filled in the past.
  • Timing is good too – a smart friend recently left his comfortable job for greener pastures in the world of marketing convergence.  What is this magical term I speak of?  It’s the first time anyone has linked together all marketing activities directly to business activities and directly to consumer activities. It’s a closed-loop system. Our tool is super easy to use and – best of all – doesn’t require the coffers of the Catholic Church to implement & maintain.  I’m proud of it, excited about it, and ready to introduce much much more in the coming weeks.
  • I’ve been writing, albeit slowly, working on an old/new project.  You remember Notes from the Field, right?  It’s undergoing a reboot and when I finish the intense outline, it’s hitting the publisher circuit.  (Another one you’ll be hearing much more about in the coming months.  I’ve dedicated nearly all my flying time to writing – except Superbowl Sunday and when I get jammed next to someone who insists on invading my space, brain, and consciousness with their nosy inquiries.)
  • Commercial and residential real estate is also on my radar, though I seem to spend more time kicking the tires than finding what I want. Essentially, I want to build out some decent commissary kitchens for up & coming chefs, home bakers, and those who want to break into the catering, food truck, and other food-types of business.  It needs to include a small cafe and a market (ideally), but finding the right-sized warehouse space that I can purchase & get up to code hasn’t been an easy task.  From the residential side – it’s time to put down some roots, if only so I have somewhere to come home to on the weekends.  I just don’t know where (yet).
  • And, of course, this past Saturday  marked the beginning of the soccer season!  Pictures & stories forthcoming — though I’m excited to coach another season with the girls. (They’re now 7 1/2 years old.  It’s our eighth season and going strong.)

Yep, this year is shaping up to be a game-changer.  Let’s make it happen together though — tell me what you’re up to!

You Aren’t Ready for Social Marketing.

I’ll repeat it again: you’re not ready for social marketing.  Your brand isn’t ready, your company isn’t ready, your organization isn’t ready.  You. Are. NOT. Ready.

Ignore all the headlines and perceptions.  Disregard the doomsday gurus who tell you everything will collapse without a Facebook Page and a twitter feed and a Pinterest presence and Instagram and Vine and SnapChat and Foursquare and all the things you hear buzz buzz buzz about.

Trust me: this is okay.  There’s nothing worse than diving into a whole new world if you’re not ready for it — and you’ll do much more harm than good, mostly to yourself, than if you just avoid the topic altogether.

(Does this talk sound familiar?  Were you 14 when you got this talk the first time?  The implications are just about the same and the potential for disaster – and tragedy – match up nicely with this one-sided conversation.)

You see, social marketing is all about relationships.  Not transactions.  It’s about finding a conversation between your personified company and the people who seem to sorta like you (for one reason or another).  These people could be your employees; they could be your customers; they could be your suppliers; they could be your partners — the point is they have some level of affinity for you and want to chat about what makes you YOU and what makes THEM GREAT and then (and only then) finding your common ground.

Notice that only one entity is “great” – you just get to be you and nothing more.  You enable greatness in others.  You’re the superhero who looks for no acclaim or headlines, you’re just quietly doing your job.  You’re clear on what you stand for (and what you don’t) and everyone knows it. They know it ’cause you live it, you breathe it, you are it. It’s not manufactured. It’s not fake. It doesn’t go to Vegas for a weekend everyone knows about and no one talks about and tries to forget.  It doesn’t ignore things or sweep things under the rug or pretend that something’s just not quite right.  It’s open, transparent, and honest.  It’s superhuman humanity.  And in your wrists you think you hold the power, but…not really.  The great guy holds some too – and what you create in between the two of you, that, my dear, is where magic is made.

How freaky is that role-reversal?  Have I totally blown your mind?

I shouldn’t have.

‘Cause really, it’s just a new marketing tool, albeit one that requires a little more quick-thinking and boundary-pushing.  The rules are still the same.  The goal is still the same.  The results may take a little longer to show (how long did it take before your best friend would be your best friend forever?), but it’s easy enough to weave social initiatives, metrics, and success factors through all your branding and campaigns.  (Don’t know how to do that?  Yet another reason to avoid social.)  But it’s disaster if you can’t handle the basic ability to enter an ongoing conversation without mucking it up OR start a conversation with strangers about something they care about.  Likelihood these strangers care about you before they get to know you? Haven’t we all had that person next to us on a plane, trapped in their tight-fitting halo of ignorant self-aggrandizement?

Maybe I’ve been flying too much lately…

My point is this: you’re not ready.  You’re not ready for the responsibility.  Merely establishing a presence is like listening to the phone ring incessantly, no one answering, that stupid MIDI ringtone again and again and again and hundreds (if not thousands) of people waiting and watching for you to just ANSWER THE PHONE.  Getting out there only to talk about yourself because all you know is yourself?  BORING.  Find another topic. Be a leader out there – harness those masses yearning to have a conversation about/with something they care about and empower them.  Tell ’em they’re cool.  Ask them questions.  Share thoughtful or funny or stimulating information with them.  They’re smarter than you think.  Be a normal human with superhuman strength.  Correct them when they step out of line.  (It is your turf after all – and trolls belong under bridges.)  Make it real though – actions always speak louder than words, especially when it comes to social. Step away from the screen and actually do something.  Live up to whatever it is you’re talking about with others.  Then let those watching tell the story. Let them affirm that you did what you said you would.  You can guide some vocabulary, but let go of the control.  This is their experience.  They’re great because they are part of you.

(Does this sound familiar to the parents in the audience?)

And if you think you’re there – you think you’re ready to move away from a transactional $5.99 relationship to a relationship built on common values, philosophies, perceptions, politics, and more – if you believe you’re ready to bring that creation into the world – just remember this:

You decided you were ready.  There’s no going backward.

And please, answer the phone.

 

Invocation for Beginnings

I’ll be honest:

I’m coming back.  Restarting with a new idea, an enhanced vision, and the same goal I’ve always had: to go out and do something great.

And it thrills, excites, and scares me sleepless.

Seems it does for many restarts though, including the all-wonderful Ze Frank:

Welcome back. Feeling pretty good about this so far.

High Failure Rates

Hugh MacLeod: High Failure Rate
This is on my refrigerator — one of those regular reminders to wear the clothes, not let the clothes wear me.

I never forget what I’m wearing.  Suit or otherwise.  The dreamers may see things in a gauzy light, the creatives may strive for beauty, but the inventors build something useful not only to themselves, but for an entire contingent of people.

And that’s where things have changed over the years.  No longer do we have to invent for the mass audience, but to solve a particular problem, addressing a need or desire.  We want the perception that something is specifically for you, even if you are hundreds or millions wide (though as a good friend we’d never tell you that).

I am a suit, even if I hesitate to admit it at times.  I’m as comfortable in the suit as a t-shirt and jeans or wrapped within a white lab coat or draped in a soccer jersey and bloody cleats or as dressed up like a Viking at Halloween.  Perhaps each of these styles has its own alter-ego, each of them with a separate view, voice, and perception.  Yet the ability to conceptualize an idea, articulate a theory, rigorously work to disprove myself — the scientist within me — and develop something novel is what I live for.  Others describe this as passion, but the only emotion tied to it is simply that I must follow this process.

And as for the failure of suits, my own have carried me far in this world thus far. Perhaps as a sign of respect in an otherwise insubordinate persona, committed not only to what’s best for me, but what’s best for the company, and what’s best for the world.  A tall order, but one well worth it.

Inspiration Friday: The Garden of Your Mind

Welcome to Inspiration Friday,

a motley collection of things that, even for a moment, held my gaze and inspiration this week.

This week:

(1) A Mr. Rogers mashup concocted and sanctioned by PBS Digital Studios and the Symphony of Science.

While Mr. Rogers may have been a bit too mild-tempered for me, even as a child, I did enjoy imagination time.  Check out your other favorite childhood icons at the PBS YouTube channel — and be sure to take a moment to see everything else PBS is up to these days.  New, updated programming designed to quietly educate & inspire.

(2) 2012 Best Commencement Speeches

Yep, straight from The Daily Beast, you too can share in the glory of Steve Carrell, Andy Samberg, and even Smith College commencement speaker Jane Lynch (and her excellent “yes, and” philosophy — and pretend you’re in your mid-twenties, everything still very much in front of you yet pushed from the nest.

(3) Business Lessons from the Drug Cartel(s)

You read that correctly: a staggeringly complex international network that makes billions of dollars each year, run by incredible businessmen.  Goes to show, if nothing else, that sometimes a fancy education doesn’t mean a damn in the business world, however unconventional — and gutsy survival does.

The Turning Point

Every innovator can identify the turning point in life — that storybook moment where suddenly an epiphany linking inspiration, purpose, passion, dedication, and the yellow brick road finally (and brilliantly) converge.  That gauzy fog lifting to bright sunshine, asking only ‘why have I attempted anything else in life?’

I’m sitting atop the brick wall, my feet dangling beneath my perennially skinned knees, admiring the sun-dappled clouds above and below these days, confident in how the future unfolds.

All my life, I’ve unabashedly confused two concepts: anything and everything.  More precisely, that the two are interchangable — that I can do anything and equally substitute that I can do everything.

And that’s not true nor realistic nor probable.  (I will leave just enough room for possible — a little suspension of reality is necessary to get any dream, hope, wish, or desire to its realistic ambitions.  Or being wrong and the proof smeared across my face.)  I can do anything, but cannot do everything I want.  I won’t do anything, but I will do everything I want.

There’s a peculiar relieving sadness in this new-found distinction; coming to grips not with the blacks and whites of strengths or weaknesses, but instead the finer greys between like and love, between interest and dedication, between goals and purpose, and between the multivariate choices along the way.

What is it I’m truly dedicated to?  That I love? That I can accomplish, given the skills and abilities I’ve cultivated over the past thirty years? That gives me (and others) purpose?  What do I choose to spend my time on, given magnanimous equality to all options?  And, most importantly: recognizing and accepting the inevitable sacrifice that must accompany such decisions.

Before today, I wallowed in the abstract — big ideas, creativity, solving problems, reading, writing, thinking.  I could tell anyone exactly what displeased my disposition in all the past choices made, and where my regrets and inabilities betray my confidence, yet it lead me no closer to a destination.  I knew enough (sensed, maybe, or judged rather than knowledge) not to set my sails for tradewinds, but instead embark to the vast unknown, be there dragons, doldrums, or worse.

And much better.  I’ve found my purpose, my passion, my dedication, my inspiration, and just enough direction to know where I’m heading these days.  I arrive with a compelling story of adventure and boredom, of love and heartache, and luck both happy and unfortunate, and the experience (and perhaps comfort) to close a novella of indecision and inner turmoil for a epic tale of unbridled innovative work in the field of higher education.

And to the triumphant return…

Welcome back to the reconcepted, restrategized, redesigned, rewritten, relaunched, and reanalyzed home of Anne Hollander.

I’ve got to say – it’s a year for “re”s.  A year for the grabbing hold of the memory of past energy & enthusiasm, the grip on goals & achievement, but this time distilled and presented in a much clearer, more vehement format.  Not an evolution or version 2.0, but second generation stoically committed to its causes and effects in the idea of affecting change.

Poetry aside,

I’m excited to be back in action.

And without further redo, the metrics & goals for 2012:

(1) Twelve project pitches this year, completely and entirely based on the ‘next big thing’ projects you see here.  Sharing is caring.  There are no shortage of options to pitch and/or present, but the higher goal is to develop teams to bang against the idea, get on board & commit resources however large or small, and amplify what it is we’re working on.  In other words: validators, joiners, cheerleaders.  Which will you be this year?

(2) Twelve new ideas this year, completely and entirely separate from the projects you see here.  Say what you will about envy and jealousy, a healthy dose of each is enough to light a fire under our (collective) ass.  Knowing what everyone else is working on and where they’re going is imperative to ensuring success.  As I’ve heard all my life, I’ve got to make the attempt to fit in, even when others that don’t – and the life of my projects should follow the same admonishment.  Do you have a project you want to share?  I’d love to hear more about it.

(3) Between engaging friends, participating with family, exercising, working the 9-5, working the 5-9, and sleeping, I get to choose three.  I want each day to be slightly different, but my commitment to each day very firm – and my personal acceptance of this daily balance to be paramount.

Just three important goals this year.  Here’s to a new you – and accomplishing something together this year.

Change

Sultry summer nights, listening to crickets.

Scaled skin, sweat dried on the back of the neck and across the brow, a languid breeze drifting through the air.

In a prairie field we were beneath a mighty oak tree, car lights off, listening to a tinny radio and kissing explosively.

Such an idealistic love, smacked back into reality after the sunrise.

I miss him.  I miss that place, now a parking lot for corporate middle-management denizens, patrolled with overeffective sodium lighting and an ineffective, pre-diabetic graveyard shift zombie.

 

Cue the Music!

I’m moving!  Buh-bye, Dallas!

Okay, okay, I’ll be back on a regular basis through the duration of the fall soccer season, but only for short weekends.  My actual hard move date is still a bit fluid (looking at about 30 days-ish, but only 12 before I start work), but this will be the first move where I’ll have (1) someone else pack my belongings, (2) someone else load and unload the truck, and (3) and someone else to drive and deal with the near constant headaches of moving.

And I have just under two weeks to pull it all together and make everything work.  Who wants to help me pre-pack?

In other news, after nearly twenty years of chemically-induced hair colors, I’m finally back to my natural color (which I didn’t think possible — thank you to my long-time stylist and his meticulous records!).  No highlights or lowlights, no glossing or emulsions.  And, oddly, I feel more like my quirky self than ever before in my adult life.

And this — this is a very good thing.

New Addition to the Family!

Wise man with a secret(Shhhhhh – keep it on the DL, but…

I’m proud to announce

Charm School Marketing is one signature away from a new partnership venture, as part of a larger digital braintrust – and some seriously brilliant, strategic, and kick-ass human beings who can take Charm School clients to the next level.

Needless to say, I’m honored and thrilled and starry-eyed with the possibilities.)

In related news, I’ve got three major proposals in the works, including one regarding digital & interactive textbooks, one mobile app for the legal world, and one to create the first completely free bachelor’s education — complete with full university experience (ahem, also known as “Project Next Facebook”).  These ventures are in various proto-development and pitch stage, but by July 1st, all of them will be in the hands of venture capital groups.  I’ve also been working in new business development down in the Deep Ellum area to fit within a true community vision and push the area into a sustainable neighborhood and creative haven.

It’s gonna be a good summer.  Come September, I’ll be knee-deep in exactly what I want to do: rocking this world.

One of These Things is Just Like the Other

Storytime!

Several years back, a business partner (who is, in my estimation, one of the best chefs I’ve come across) and I created a restaurant concept.  It’s called Melted, featuring gourmet grilled sandwiches, cane sugar colas, and a damn fine beer list.  The design is retro-cool-grunge with recycled decor, local art & music, less than twenty seats, and an obvious sense of quirky ownership – me, a writer who loves typewriters (and all associated manual typography) and him, a brilliant chef with a showy & shadowy history, and both of us with the singular desire to become a local darling.

The relationship crumbled, but Melted still made it.  Just in a different name, location, and with a different partner (his current GF).  It’s now Commonwealth Sandwich Bar, located in Columbus, Ohio.  The food reviews are positive.  Just a landing page of a website for now (can’t scope out the menu!), but several of the reviews mention an awfully similar sandwich selection and menu:

* From Columbus Alive – “The cleverness extends to Commonwealth’s attention-commanding, mostly sandwich menu. This kinda witty little document is instantly appealing in its clean and retro/mod form (simple black and white, implementing old-timey filigree and typewriter font without succumbing to hokeyness) and scratch-made content (house-cured bacon, house-made pickles, house-roasted chicken, house-made sauces and so on).  [This review goes on to mention the Sweet & Savory, “a jammy caramelized fig compote gave it the sweet component and crazy tender, succulent chicken brought the savory. These came wrapped in the warm embrace of melted swiss cheese…” as well as the handcut french fries.]

* From The Lantern – “…the Spiced Chicken sandwich, made with roast chicken, house-cured bacon, cheddar cheese, shaved red onions, port wine barbecue sauce and pickled jalapeños.” – and “Elvis Lives, features spicy coconut-spiked peanut butter, sweet cream cheese and bananas. This is the Young Elvis version, but you can just as easily try the Old Elvis, which adds house-cured bacon.”

Compare & contrast.  Here’s our original Melted menu:

Melted - Sandwich Menu

Two things will kill me if they come to be true: if the sandwiches are served wrapped in butcher paper (and/or if butcher paper is on the tables) ; if the menu is plastered on old classic rock record covers.  That’s just too much of me.

All things said, I’m happy for him (and I guess by association for her?).  Their current menu is a bit more bacon/pork-oriented than cheese-oriented — I think that’s a little odd given Michael Symon’s professed fanaticism for all things pork — but it’s good to see that he’s back in the kitchen, that he’s running his own ship, and that he’s happy.

[And to Chef Erik Till, who I’m sure visits and browses occasionally – nice job.  May it be everything we worked for it could be.]

Twenty-Four Hours

It was a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more I listen to (read: dance to) Katy B’s “Louder,” the more it seeps into my day-to-day life.  The more it seeps into life, the more the underlying philosophy guides the days, weeks, and months.  Where I’ve previously described the angst of the ‘quarter-life crisis,’ it’s not the memories of my youth that I mourn, but quite the opposite: that instead it was wasted.

Listen for yourself:

(It doesn’t help that I looked like that at 16.)

It was a handful of weeks ago that I was driving to work, thinking to myself “is this what being grown-up is?”  The constant nagging feeling that I don’t really have any answers to the same questions that plagued me years ago, just a a few glimmers of insight.  I feel exactly as I did at 16, but with a few additional responsibilities and a whole lot more freedom.  I still drown out my thoughts with loud music; I still drive fast; I still escape situations where I’m awkwardly uncomfortable; I still coach (and play) soccer; I still adore the same things I did then (though the list has expanded some over the years).  And while I appreciate the present tense moments, I’ve never given in or been seduced by them, at least long-term (momentary weakness: yes; reckless addictions and compulsions: no.)  Which leads to an quirky question: did I miss out on an undefinable something called youth?  And worse yet: is that why I still feel 16?

I think this is a good thing, albeit odd.  Going through photos of friends, a handful of them have grown up – they’re married, some with kids, they have houses and mortgages, and have piled on the responsibility and sacrificed (some) freedom.  And they’re happy, happier than our parents were.  Yet it’s not about the rite of passage-style events anymore – it’s all about whether they’re still in touch, moving and shaking in some way.  It’s been made much easier to move toward and from the edge, in constant, dynamic flux with the use of social technologies.  ‘The man,’ as previous generations have declared, will get you, bogeyman-style, when you lose your cultural edge. Now, there’s no excuse.

My millennial generation has grown up in a period of unraveling and fragmentation in the cultural sphere, yet we’ve always been cared for and protected through this instability.  It’s said that we were the generation who elected Obama; it’s said that we can’t function alone, but only in teams.  We’re coming of age, not necessarily into adulthood, but into a larger role as we become the dominant power in this sphere. And given our predilection for optimism and energy, we’ll be the generation to redefine, fight, and expand our cultural power.

Certainly I’m part of that.

I’ve been working on a couple proposals for two serious – and high-minded – projects that can and will change the face of education, utilizing technology and the social space.  These projects address the continued fragmentation of education and the crisis of insurmountable debt (and the uneven impact to show for it).  I’ll be the first to say that my undergraduate education gave me the skills and abilities I needed – and the network to back it up.  My graduate education gave me the clout and discipline of responsibility.  I use none of my degrees in their narrow fields; it was never my intention to do so as none of them are vocational-level degrees.  I want to share this freedom with the world; I want the world to have the same opportunities I do and to be able to take these opportunities at any point in life.  Friedman and his disciples call this principle “flattening” – I call this necessity for a world soon (if not already) in the midst of cultural crisis.  Education isn’t a magic bullet, yet it is a stepping stone in the right direction.  The ability to think, to read, to write, to create, to analyze – these skills are priceless as the foundations of any existence.  A government is only as effective as its citizens; a culture only as pervasive as its citizens; an economic system is only as strong as its citizens.

And I have the heroic impulse (and 16 year-old indefatigable, youthful optimism) to take on the challenge.

My voice is getting louder.

Back in Action, Jackson

Annnnnndddd….

I’m back! It’s been a bizarre couple weeks – between the death of a noted international terrorist, the demise of a basketball legacy, and a wholly renewed sense of good old-fashioned American ethic and optimism,

things.
are.
great.

Now to focus the plethora of notes and ideas, knowledge and experience into a fresh and innovative proposal – I’m tickled pink at the prospect of a design mired in elegance and the opportunity to execute with a hungry, altruistic team.

And a shout-out to Grapevine High School – thanks for picking my book Sunday’s Child as “semi-required reading” for your reunion this summer!  I can’t wait to meet & greet with y’all!

Trading in the Suits

Yep – for a pair of jeans, t-shirt, and tennis shoes.  It’s time to get dirty.

Actually, it’s time to get charming – I’m taking my nascent business, Charm School Marketing, into the big leagues, past the word of mouth referrals (which I love) and the one-off freelance and contract jobs (which I tolerate), toward a future of long-term relationships based on smarts & strategy, evaluation & analytics.  And, of course, toward the bigger business goals with the Deep Ellum community revitalization.

I’m thrilled.

So stay tuned for more updates.  Today, I’m in Austin, meeting with strategic partners & clients.  Tomorrow, back to Dallas to smash the champagne against the boat, then put my nose to the grindstone.