Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Adult Education

It has been awhile since I have written on this Blog, so I thought I’d check in.

Life has changed a lot for me over the past six months and I am excited to see what lies ahead and grateful for the experiences that form my wake. I am back in New York, and while I miss the Tetons and the amazing people I met in many different ways, I feel really energized by my surroundings right now.

I have primarily written about my athletic interests on this Blog and I will again…starting next Monday (Feb 22nd) when I start training for the Lake Placid Marathon. I am calling the program ‘Kickin’ It, Old School’, details to follow!

One of the things contributing to my energy these days is the availability of presentations and panel discussions on an incredible variety of topics. I always dreamed of getting a PhD in Adult Education…to take in-depth classes on Calligraphy, on Tennis as played on the old gymnasium wood floors, on constructing a gingerbread house just in time for the holidays, etc.

Since I am not aware of such an institution that offers this course of studies, I have been left to my own devices. To that end, I find courses and camps and races all over the world to further my education experience. My brother assures me that I embody the definition of a dilettante. Nice…but true…

My latest interest is in learning about digital media, advertising and marketing. And NYC is such a great place to pursue this interest right now. There are so many meet-ups, presentations, lectures, and panel discussions that it feels like I could attend a different one every night. In fact, in the New Year alone, I have already attended these meetings:

Friday, January 15: Seth Godin’s Book Launch for Linchpin
Seth Godin is a prolific writer who teaches us about “marketing, branding and the business of being engaged”. It was great to hear directly from Seth, and it was fun to hear him mention two people who have influenced my own thinking over the years.

He spoke of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Back in 2006, that book was one of the main motivators for encouraging me to quit my corporate job and take a chance and move out to the Wild West. After I finish this Blog post, I am going to watch Elizabeth’s 2009 TED Talk on Nurturing Creativity

Seth also mentioned Benjamin Zander’s own story of how he had guaranteed all of his music students an A in the class if they wrote down on the first day of class what they would commit to do throughout this semester to earn the A. Seth embraced the story, but flipped it to encourage us to consider our grade, as a foregone conclusion, to be a D. Scandalous was my first reaction (I mean, who wants a D?), but his point was that in embracing failure, we are free to truly create art without fear of failure. I’ll have to think about that one a little more…

Tuesday, Feb 2: NY Tech Meet-Up
Described as a ‘Rally for the Future’, this evening was moderated by Meetup’s founder, Scott Heiferman. Scott kicked off the night with these questions:
* What is the future of NYC technology companies?
* Are we here to service the old gatekeepers?
* Or are we going to build new companies that empower people to do great things?

This led into presentations by a number of people with companies that are looking to make a difference in the quality of people’s lives. It was great to hear all the presentations…particularly Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund.

Saturday, Feb 6: NYC Crisis Camp
This was an awesome day! A group of technologists looking to provide Haiti Relief meet in SoHo to see where we could pitch in. The group has been working at a feverish pace since the earthquake hit and it was a privilege to volunteer just a little bit.

I spent my time working with a group called the Waveplace Foundation. As I learned that day, the kids who survived the terrible earthquake remain frightened and looking for things to do.

The Waveplace Foundation is going to be heading to Haiti in 2 weeks, and distributing 500 laptops. More information at:

Tuesday, Feb 16: Why Web Standards & Lessons from Advertising Metrics and Data Collection Matter
Standards can be a pain in the ass. And discussion of ‘standards’ typically leads to other fun topics…like ‘compliance’. Oh, fun…

And yet, I was really engaged by this topic when I attended a presentation given by Greg Stuart, former CEO of the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau). Greg presented a case study and walked us through the challenges, the pain and the ultimate rewards that resulted from creating an Ad Impression standard.

He shared a quote I hadn’t heard before, but one that describes the motivation for a lot of changes in my own life…you, too?

We didn’t change because we saw the light…
We changed because we felt the heat.

Good Night & Good Luck! I’ll be in touch again soon.


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