How Does One Work This Hard Without Pay?

Truthfully, many days I have no idea.

If you don’t get paid in money, appreciation will sometimes sustain you.   If you work for children, their engagement in what you’ve created must sustain you, because kids don’t often express appreciation except directly, by involving themselves in the thing you offer them.   Their parents won’t usually express appreciation either.  You are, as far as they can tell, in that harried moment when they pick up their kid and you are almost done putting things away, a retired guy who provides an hour of day camp their kid seems to like.  No artwork to clutter up the refrigerator, that’s a plus, I suppose.  Disable the counter on youTube, if you can, no point to see that not everyone clicks on the animation links you send.  The workaround of uploading the clips to google drive will eliminate the counter, so that’s a plus too.

If you can manage to sustain your enthusiasm for an idea that might well be excellent, and highly useful, but that has not brought you any variation on a livelihood, then you are remarkable– possibly remarkable as an idiot.  Possibly something more admirable, but the jury is out, and while they are out– and, in fact, not planning to return unless subpoenaed, say by an article in the New York Times about this little one man organization that managed to talk its way into the conversation about public education– well…

So after a long day of incrementally useful futility you go to dinner with a friend and wind up having an extended three way chat with a lovely young waitress from Bangkok.   She lingers a long time at the table as the restaurant begins to empty.  She is pretty, and animated, and bright– her smile actually casts a delightfully warming light on to your face.  She laughs an easy laugh and answers questions with great seriousness, then laughs again.  The restaurant is empty and they are starting to put the chairs up.  You eventually take the hint and hit the street, she waves goodbye as you go.  

“Shall we see if Jackie’s at one of his haunts?” asks your friend and, although you’ve heard his sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, sometimes aggravating tales of Jackie Mason’s coffee klatch, the odd, shifting collection of night crawling characters the monologist assembles around him as his impromptu court, you’re hesitant.  

“Where are these haunts?” you ask, and it turns out one is less than a block away, so you agree to go to the closest one.  As you walk you’re hoping he’s not there.  The place looks fairly empty and he doesn’t seem to be there.

“There he is,” says your friend, spotting him with a few others at a large table in the back.  “You want to go in and meet him?”  I really don’t, I tell him to go on in and say hello.  He promises not to stay long.  

I walk in behind him, intending by my presence right there to hasten him along.  I am standing back from the table as he greets each of the odd-looking people around Jackie.  Naturally they invite him to sit, and I am in turn invited to sit and I figure, what the hell, might as well sit as stand waiting for the politeness to end.   It is fairly boring chitchat among strangers and then, after I mention a nearby kosher Italian restaurant that serves food during Passover, Jackie asks me “are you Jewish?”

I nod, shrug,  “vhud den? Are you?”   He nods, acknowledging with a deadpan expression that this is possibly a clever reply or at least a convincingly Jewish reply.   The disjointed conversations continue, then heads turn to him as he begins an extended monologue about performing for the Queen of England, he’ll be performing for her a record seventh time in May.  

“Nobody has performed for the Queen seven times,” he says and then adds “Danny Kaye has the record, he was there six times.”  He then describes what sounds like a horrible scene:  no pay, you can’t look at the Queen directly, you have to wait for her to address you before you can speak to her, the long line the performers have to wait on line to shake her hand after you’re done performing.

 “The second time I’m standing there for a half hour and I start thinking — what the hell am I doing here?  They’re not paying me, she’s saying the same thing to everyone, I’m waiting to shake her hand and hear the identical speech she’s giving to everyone.  Exactly the same speech.  ‘Oh, you are the most marvelous performer I’ve ever seen.  Thank you so much for coming.  I’ve never enjoyed anything more.  You are a unique and gifted genius.’  And each one of these unique and gifted geniuses are floating on air, quoting her, ‘the Queen said I’m a unique and gifted genius!’.  They’re too stupid to realize she’s saying exactly the same thing to everyone whose waiting on line to hear the same exact line she’s been saying for the last fifty years.  It’s like she’s memorized a script, it’s the same exact line down to the syllable.”

“Maybe it’s a robot Queen they programmed to shake hands and deliver the speech,” I suggest.

“The same exact speech,” says Jackie.  “So the third year I decide to hell with this, and as soon as I get off the stage I tell the driver, they give you a limo and a driver, no pay, but your own limousine.  So I tell the driver ‘I have an emergency’ and I know he’s not going to ask me what the emergency is: I have a stomach problem, I have two seconds to live, I have no blood sugar, an internal hemorrhage, an aneurysm, projectile diarrhea — an emergency, let’s go.  And he takes off immediately, back to the hotel.  So I don’t have to stand on line for a half hour to be told, along with all the other unique and gifted geniuses, what a unique and gifted genius I am.”

“Sounds like the only reason you’re going back is to break Danny Kaye’s record,” I suggest.

“Do you like Danny Kaye?” he asks me, with his most serious face.  

“Yeah, I used to watch his movies with my grandmother, she loved him.  He was a very talented guy,”  I say and then conversation flits briefly over several of Danny Kaye’s movies, Jackie tells everyone what a huge star Kaye was, which leads him to nostalgia over the many great comedians of the old days, guys like Sid Cesar, a real genius, truly one of a kind, the kinds of comics the world will never see the likes of again.

Toward the end, as this restaurant is starting to close, after they’ve heard that I am not in show business, Jackie asks me if I was ever married.  I tell him I wasn’t.  “Are you a homosexual?” he asks.  I tell him no, not as far as I know.  It doesn’t occur to me until a minute later, as we’re all shaking hands on the sidewalk by the waiting cab, that I could have said “why? you asking me for a date?”  

My friend laughs when I tell him this missed rejoinder, and wishes I had said it.  “That would have been great,” he says as we head up Ninth Avenue.  We talk about that odd group around the table for a block or two.  Then I show him the new website I am still not done figuring out how to get to show up when one types in wehearyou.net.  He expresses appreciation of the great improvement.  It really does show at a glance what my program is all about, he admits.  He congratulates me, tells me it’s great.  

That will be my pay for the month, more than likely– that and getting the website to display when you click on the link.  

So, if my coffee breaks go on for longer than most people’s, you will have to understand– or not– it isn’t only that I’m lazy and prefer play to work.  I have a really, really hard job and I am obliged, at the moment and for the foreseeable future, to do it for free.

Finding a new web host

Apparently there are many, many web hosting services.  GoDaddy was recommended to me years back and hosted my first sites.  I bought the domain name wehearyou.net from them and they are currently hosting a site I created on WordPress for the student-run animation workshop.

I have several free WordPress sites.  On each of them I can put up galleries like the one above, which I have just perfected.  I planned to have a gallery like this on the redesigned static home page I would send people to view at wehearyou.net.  

This new page would do what every Marketing 101 student learns the first day:  make things clear at a glance to anyone with an attention span of at least five seconds.   The page would say:

photo (1)

and have some more animated stuff to look at and links to galleries of animations by the kids:

It would also have a brief explanation, like:

Children, with adults on hand to listen and assist, perform every facet of animation production:  equipment set up, ideas, art work, choreography, photography, computer editing and multitrack sound recording.  A classroom quickly becomes a beehive of purposeful collaboration, combining equal parts free imagination and exacting precision to make good looking animation.   

I can make these galleries on each of my free websites, as I have made this page just now.  The one hosted by GoDaddy does not allow me to create animated galleries or even to import working animated gifs, these little looping animations you see here.

Two hours of tech support with GoDaddy resulted in this:  “I wouldn’t blame you if you cancel your service contract with us, even though it wasn’t our fault and the functionality works on our end, and even though I understand your logic.”

The logic the supervisor understood was that if a customer has four virtually identical sites, three free and one hosted by GoDaddy, and only the one hosted by GoDaddy presents a problem, then the problem, absent a better explanation, is related to GoDaddy.  

Two hours exercising patience for no earthly reason.  Except to have what functionality there was left on the wehearyou.net site before the call disabled now after the update that was not the responsibility of GoDaddy since WordPress is an open source third party.

Need to find a new web hosting outfit toot sweet.  That’s the name of that annoying tune.

Good Advice From A Friend

At dinner with old friends last night I described the progress of my adaptable and energizing simplified animation workshop.  My friend smiled as he spoke of the many good uses for it, the almost infinite applications, how many different people and settings who would love to pay for something so wonderful.  He was happy about how far my original idea had come, even as he was struck by the difficulty of my struggle to figure out how to make it a viable business.

I told him about Reggio Emilia (described in previous post) and the schools in NYC that follow its model.   A good fit, he agreed, and saw as stubborn folly, a clinging to misguided beliefs and political prejudice, that I’d even hesitate to work with them just because the parents paid $39,000 for their kids’ kindergarten tuition.

“I treat patients on welfare, and I can afford to, because I also treat patients with gold plated insurance.  You can’t work for the poor unless you sustain yourself somehow.  Take rich people’s money!  They’re the ones who have the money!  If they’ll pay you five times what the public school can afford, work at one rich school to be able to serve more poor schools.”   I heard his point and granted it, told him I’d think about it, but he could see I was not sold.  He was pained that I’d need to think about such a no-brainer.

“People become addicted to what they are used to, old patterns are very hard to change.  You have always struggled, you’re used to it, it’s a habit and you don’t want to go out of your comfort zone.  You need to look at the bigger picture, if your idea that you’ve worked on for years to bring to this point is to flourish you have to get out of that struggling mentality.”  Again I raised my eyebrows, nodded, though we both knew in some way he was talking to the pens in my shirt pocket.    

I raised something Sekhnet had mentioned the other day: people with connections and good business sense seeing the great potential of my workshop and promoting and selling it as their own invention.  Who, I thought, is likelier to steal my invention:  the art teachers at a posh school with unlimited resources and successful artist and business parents on the board or the overworked teachers’ aids at some of the slum schools I’ve struggled in, the schools I am targeting for this program?  The innovative private school would then get to take credit for the thing I’d created to showcase the heartbreaking creativity of children of the poor marked for failure, prison and early death.  Bird wins, one more time ladies and gentlemen.

“Justifying your habitual struggle, that’s all,” said my old friend.  He may have been entirely correct, although I think he also understood how much work I still have to do with marketing, packaging, promoting, fundraising, recruiting, social media and so on before I can claim to have created a business or program, rather than just having carried out an promising idea.

I don’t want to do this program for the children of the rich.  Call me a damn redneck, what can I say?

First Person

There is such a thing as too much solitude, no question.  Many people have it — while some good souls find themselves dragged under by the endless demands of others with little time left for themselves.  The sword is sharp on both sides, and like anyone with a bit of sense knows, it’s best to stay clear of the edges of sharp swords.   Moderation, in media res, and so forth.

“You have to get out more,” she said.

“Without a doubt,” he, I, they said.    

I did some research on a humanistic educational theory that parents developed to bring a love of life and beauty back to the young children of their war torn region. Reggio Emilia, as it is called, centers, like my program, on listening to what the children care about and helping them pursue it in all its colors, flavors, quirky child-driven nuance.   Used mostly for very young children, it sets them on a path of loving nature, and creativity, and gets them in the habit of treasuring and following what they love.   Following what children love was not a major characteristic of life under Mussolini, or Hitler, for that matter.  Following what you love, with attentive adult guides, is probably the best way to learn, though.

I was concerned, before I first started doing the workshops, that today’s children, watching an unprecedented amount of flashy content on TV and other screens, would not be creative, would ape what they see in video games and the like.   I was relieved to see the creativity flow with little reference to the media they consume all day.  In mixed groups, girls and boys and different ages, even violence, a signature of our culture, was not pronounced in the animation they made.  Kids played with the materials, experimented, thought up ideas, tried them, piggy backed on other ideas.  They were protean in their creativity and had little inclination to look back and refine even their most brilliant ideas; they had new ideas they wanted to try out.

First person– everybody is the protagonist of their own life, wants to be, needs to be appreciated as unique and special, even if only by one other person.  The billion blahgs and facebook pages demonstrate this deep human need to be seen as special.   Now we’re back to Reggio Emilia.  Each child in that classroom is treated as a unique and equal partner, no more fascist hierarchy where obedience is do or die. Some kids are verbal, some kids are builders, mechanics, engineers, some need to move all day, others to sit quietly.  Reggio Emilia, from what I can tell, embraces these differences, recognizes the value of each style as having something important to contribute, lovingly encourages the individuality of each kid in the context of a caring, sharing community.

I sent two friends my quick reaction to the tuition of one of a couple of NYC schools that practice the Reggio Emilia approach.  I prefaced the number with a “youch!” or an “ulp!”.  One friend wrote me back that everybody’s got to make a living and suggested I was being stubborn and foolish for not working with people who share my beliefs, even if they work for the children of parents who pay $39,000 tuition for kindergarten.  He had a point.   The other fellow sent me a link, which is here.  

The author of the linked piece describes the Reggio Emilia philosophy, lays out its origins in a war ravaged Italian village, and describes its embrace in some of the most expensive private schools around.   It goes on to suggest that maybe the approach would be appropriate for children raised in the war torn slums of our nation.  My thought exactly.

I have been chided for my prejudice against the fucking striving rich before, and will certainly be taken to task for it again.   In its way it’s as bad as being a racist, I suppose, to assume that because you devote your life and energies to the maniacal acquisition of wealth you are a shallow person.  Everyone wants the best for their children, after all, or most people do, and the children of the wealthy have as many needs, and troubles, as the children of the poor.  Well, maybe not quite as many, but close.   You can have a parent who is a treacherous and destructive asshole either way, for one thing.  

Of course, your odds are much better of having a frustrated parent wallop you if you grow up in a dangerous slum where that parent fights a war every day to put macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets on the table than if you grow up in a comfortable situation.  A nanny, governess or other caretaker will be much more circumspect about socking a kid, in my experience.  But this is a cheap paragraph, its point minimal and somewhat peevish, so let us move on.  

“Round things up, Bubba, you have a lot on your checklist to do before you set out today,” an imaginary chaperone chimes in.  

The children of the poor are a problem to be dealt with, whereas the children of the well-to-do— them that’s got shall get.  Schools for the children of the poor generally suck.  The kids come to school with all kinds of problems the schools are not equipped to deal with and society clearly has a lot of other priorities– and not a whole lot of use for the masses of poor people who live and have kids in slums.  The parents and grandparents of these children are not equipped to deal with many of their problems, how can the children be expected to file in, sit quietly and read books, not fight?   How can public school teachers be expected to be teachers, mediators, social workers, child psychologists able to treat multiple patients at once in real time while motivating the fifth and tenth generation children of the hopeless to do well on the standardize exams most of them will fail?  

So public school comes to stand in for “school for poor people’s kids, hopeless prison prep schools” and alternative schools, pitted against the public ones as competitive Free Market models, often funded by the public dollar, are seen as the solution for everybody else.  A handful of the best of the poor kids, able to get scholarships or vouchers of some kind based on merit, get to go to these schools and — will you look at how well they seem to do!  These scattered successes by poor kids given the chance to succeed are touted as proof that public education has failed, like the rest of non-privatized social endeavor in our democracy.

Sure, it’s a question of priorities, but it’s also, as many will be quick to point out, just the way things actually are in a free and competitive society.   Few will be more than momentarily enraged that a group of powerful ideologues plunged the US into an unprovoked decade-long war, based on a new casus belli, “pre-emption”, to the tune of hundreds of thousands maimed and killed and trillions of dollars spent, literally.  Trillions are each one thousand billion.  Unlimited money for liberty, not a cent for tribute!     

“You’d do better to wrap things up than to go on in this vein, everyone knows you’re mad as hell, barking mad, in fact, woof! woof!, but like the rest of us you’re just going to fucking take it,” says whomever.  

Yes, of course.  And I have a long list of things I need to do now, excuse me.

Do You Find Your Own Thoughts Fascinating?

And if so, are they valuable enough to sustain your beliefs and provide the energy to power productive actions?

I am asked to give my thoughts on the Thought Inventory next week.  What did I think about how I thought about things I was thinking about in regard to what those thoughts led me to do?  If I did not think that thinking about how I was thinking provoked thoughts I did better to think than the ones I was previously thinking, please rate this thought on a scale from “somewhat” to “extremely”.

“I’m sorry, doctor, I am losing the thread of this conversation,” I said.  

“I’m not a doctor,” she said.  

I did not wish to think about that further.  The work, I thought thoughtfully, is mostly done by the patient anyway.   Most things here, in this world of pleasure and pain, are matters of opinion, after all.  I’ve already stated for the record that I value my own insights above almost every other– though I am open to helpful advice, I like to think.  And I need help from somewhere, that much is as clear to me as to anyone who has seen me in inaction these last two quarters.

“Well, one thing to become more aware of is how you are feeling about yourself,” said the therapist early on in the session.   The obvious question, if you have faith in your theories and your powers why aren’t you using them, in spite of whatever lack of encouragement, whatever objectively discouraging obstacles, you’ve had?  

“You will feel better about yourself if you use 11’s on your guitar,” a moderately accomplished guitarist told a better one.  I’ve never forgotten this, though it was spoken decades ago.  For one thing, I’ve always used 11’s.  I don’t recall ever feeling better or worse about myself based on the gauge of the guitar strings I use.  

“You live in the world of your head!” another told me, though it’s possible I was hearing things.  It’s not as though there are not very good reasons for living in my head.  Growing up, the world of my head was a much safer place than the world of everyone else’s heads.  Putting oneself in the heads of many other people is truly scary, as is much of the world of what we agree on as “objective reality”, the way things actually are.  Tens of millions of kids who will never see a toilet, though many of their siblings will see early deaths from diseases absent in places with basic sewage and sanitation infrastructure.   You know, the way things actually are.

For the record, then:  I created and implemented a largely autonomous team-based animation workshop that allows participants to create stop-motion animation in a fraction of the time it usually takes.  I did it alone.  I don’t know anyone who has dreamed up, designed and implemented anything as simple yet complex.  Still miles from being the self-sustaining business I am counting on it becoming, but as far as demonstrating that it works– I think the 90 plus workshops speak for themselves.  

For the opposition, those who do not live in my head, highly successful marketing genius Seth Godin:  if you send your best idea to ten people you trust and they don’t send it on to other people, your idea is not worth chasing.  Find another idea to sell.

Another angle: if you send your best idea to ten people, in a form that is not readily digestible, tasty and exciting, the way a marketing person would send it, how do you know your idea is not worth chasing?  After all, the people who actually experience the workshop are engaged at once.  Many of them love it.  People not inclined to work with others soon find themselves working with others because it’s simply the best way to work on any creative project with multiple moving parts.  The work they produce is, inarguably, sometimes quite cool.

Guy Kawasaki, I told the therapist, concealing my surprise that I’d immediately remembered the name of an internet savant I’d heard once, sent a query to his email list of 2,000,000 people.  He initially heard back from about 1%, or 20,000 and was very happy with that success rate.  If I send a query out to ten people and hear back from two, that’s, statistically, a hugely successful week, if we don’t factor in the emotional let-down of 80% of the people who claim to wish me every chance at success not bothering to tap “nice” and hit send.  

“Most people do not tap ‘nice’ when somebody sends something they created, they feel like they have to write something more in an email, give some real feedback.  If you need people to tell you ‘nice’ you are a needy fucking baby who needs to get a life, and a job, and not try to be the CEO of an imaginary nonprofit.  The rest of us work our asses off, and spend years paying our dues.  We’re sorry if we can’t jump every three months when you send us something for your feedback to tell you it’s ‘nice’.”  

“Well, shoot,” I say, extending my lower lip a bit, “you don’t have to get all pissy about it.  Don’t say ‘nice’, that’s fine with me.  Must be tough, having your life.   Sorry to bother you.  Hope you have a nice day.”  

“This is exactly what I’m talking about,” says my former business partner to the mediator.  “He claims this is about the starving children in Harlem, kids with cancer, the women undergoing chemo, that it’s not about him.  But it’s about him.  It’s only about him.  And he gets to be pissed off at anyone who works for corporations because he thinks he’s Saint Fuckface.”  

“But, darling,” I protest, doing a passable Cary Grant, “I AM Saint Fuckface.”

The Trouble with Education

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
                                                          — H.L Mencken

 

I once heard a humanistic woman on the radio explain that the root of the word education is the Latin educare, “to bring forth from within.”  Let me check that for you almost instantly on these here Internets:  

Verb[edit]

present active ēdūcō, present infinitive ēdūcere, perfect active ēdūxī, supine ēductum

  1. I lead, draw or take out, forth or away.  [quotations ▼]
  2. I raise up; erect.

Etymology[edit]

From Latin educatus, past participle of educare (to bring up (a child, physically or mentally), rear, educate, train (a person in learning or art), nourish, support, or produce (plants or animals)), frequentive of educere, past participle eductus (to bring up, rear (a child, usually with reference to bodily nurture or support, while educare refers more frequently to the mind)), from e (out) + ducere (to lead, draw)

Whoops.  A little information, as always, a dangerous thing.  I prefer the simple, evocative definition offered by that humanist on the radio many years ago.   The word education, she said, is derived from the Latin, educare, which means, she said, “to bring forth from within”.  

Education includes a lot of things and is used more and more interchangeably, in our increasingly materialistic, profit-driven world, with training.   Making education a synonym for training reduces this wondrous exercise to its most mechanistic sense.  Therein lies a big part of the trouble we encounter when trying to have an intelligent discussion about education.  Defining our terms and framing a conversation go a long way toward understanding what we are actually talking about, and the defining itself is a great and perplexingly fraught undertaking.

Education, though we all know it when we are being properly educated, is as complex an idea as we can conjure. It is complicated further by being part of a partisan political debate driven by the love of money, and vindication of the philosophy of the “free market” and its propents’ relentless drive to prove the superiority of private entrepreneurial enterprise over public endeavor.   Education is entangled in politics, wrapped in the tentacles of ideology, market forces and institutionalized inequality.  

Discussing the proper aim of education, or even the proper meaning of the word proper, is difficult.  Education in the abstract is often simplified to mean a course of study leading to a lucrative and/or meaningful career and/or a productive life.  In this limited sense there are metrics that can be brought into play, data that can be massaged to support arguments and ideology.  Intelligently discussing education and its ultimate goals is not the work of a moment. Nonetheless, I will try to make it that now.

There are those, of which I am a starkly cautionary example, who believe that many people are born with potentials and passions they never become aware of and so never develop, enjoy, inspire others with.  The role of the teacher is to guide the student, to bring forth from within, to inspire a lifelong love of learning and self-development.  The old “give a man a fish” line from Maimonides springs to mind:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Maimonides

I didn’t know that quote was from my man Maimonides until just now.   Cool.   You can learn something every day!  And it is a pleasure, and a thrill.  And instilling that pleasure, and that thrill, is the enduring work of our most memorable teachers.

For many, my words would mean a lot more, resonate longer and more roundly, even result in a pay check and professional status as an opiner worth noting, perhaps, if I was writing them from my study in a nice home somewhere rather than from the crowded rent stabilized apartment I inhabit, more like a demented person’s overstuffed, out-spilling closet than the den of a thoughtful person.   That this is beyond the point is beyond the point.

I paint you a picture then, to make you think, and disappear into memory, like every good pedagogue should do.

A man is invited to create a showcase for the program kids come to after a day of school, where they take over a dingy public school classroom and turn it into a buzzing beehive of creativity.   He is invited to do this by the woman who has witnessed this transformation weekly and smiled on it each time.  The same kids who were wild and fussy during the school day are excited, focused, working together, planning, performing a variety of tasks related to a crude form of actual alchemy.   At the end of each session they watch on the computer screen what they’ve made with their own hands, chuckle, remark, pack their bags and head home.

Inexperienced at presenting his idea to an audience, the man creates a fairly shabby showcase for this workshop at the request of the woman who has hired him.   He muffles his written remarks, losing his place on the flapping pages each time he tries to make eye contact with his small audience of parents.  He has technical problems showing the examples of student work, fumbles, bumbles, mumbling excuses during each amateurish delay.  

By these failures he will learn exactly what to avoid next time, how to make this presentation effectively, but in the moment, to the people in the room, it is like watching a grown man struggle not to drown in a shallow puddle on the sidewalk.  At the end of his endless fifteen minute performance few in the room have any sense that this fellow is a teacher of a certain vision who has created a simple but ingenious program to make animation that the children themselves run.  

Then, after asking for comments and seeing none, he smiles and invites the parents to join their children in the creative workshop.   The children leap out of their seats as though shot from guns and deploy themselves in every part of the room.  Here a group draws and cuts things out, a kid works with clay, others arrange things under lights while others hover above and photograph the choreography frame by frame.  Children sit at the computer, inputting frames from the cameras and starting to edit.  Others put on headphones and animatedly listen back to a soundtrack they are working on.  

This little demonstration of purposeful autonomy by the kids is worth the price of admission.  It shows the thing itself in action, in its most elemental form.  “Show me, don’t tell me,” the writing instructor always says.   As for describing how the thing works, the best way is simply to show it in action.  Then, as the prosecutor says at the end of the presentation of evidence and witnesses at trial:  the People rest.

It should be noted that the man’s failures during his presentation are an object lesson in how people actually learn.  You learn by failing, as the cliche goes.  These embarrassing mistakes will not be forgotten or repeated the next time.

Swimming against the prevailing tides, beside the gigantic, ocean churning ships of wealthy and influential people like Bill Gates, the tired swimmer sputters and struggles for breath.   If he can manage to keep swimming there is every possibility of his making it to a desert island where he can show the thing in action– to a group of very interested and exotic birds.  Huzzah!

Marketing Genius Seth Godin speaking of faith

Krista Tippett has a show on public radio that used to be called Speaking of Faith.  It has an updated name I’m too lazy to google at the moment (time is money).*  Recently she interviewed ever quotable thought leader Seth Godin.

Seth spoke of his idea of ten.**  Send your idea to ten people you think will care.  If a couple of them send it to ten others, your idea begins to take life in the world.  If none of the ten forward the idea, or even reply, your idea probably has no legs.

And as we all discover, sooner or later, an idea without legs will always be stepped on and mashed into obscurity, no matter how simple and effective that idea might otherwise have been.

Keep it snappy and ready to ship, if you would find and sell to your tribe in our vastly interconnected world.

 

 

* it’s called On Being.  My time really isn’t money at the moment.

 

**  from the transcribed Seth Godin interview:

So tell 10 people — there are 10 people who trust you enough to listen. And if you tell your thing to 10 people — if you send your e-book to 10 people — if you do your sermon to 10 people or show your product to 10 people and none of them want to tell their friends, and none of them are changed — then you failed. That you didn’t really understand what was good. But if some of them tell their friends, then they’ll tell their friends, and that’s how ideas spread. So it’s this 10 at a time — 10 by 10 by 10. How do you put an idea in the world that resonates enough with people if they trust you enough to hear it. That then it can go to the next step and the next step.