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Micah November 12th

I Cry At Movies

Not all movies mind you.

Just certain ones. Not ones where someone dies or where two star crossed lovers uncross their stars.

I cry at movies where some character (often not the protagonist) achieves something that they never thought they could. I cry at movies where the challenge is large and the characters attack that challenge without truly knowing what outcome will occur.

(In my own defense, I love movies. I watch them constantly. I have walked out of one movie in my entire life. There is something amazing about the visual telling of story, even if the story tellers suck.)

Last night I was watching the Tooth Fairy (I also watch almost every mainstream movie that comes out), and in the story, there is a kid who feels like he doesnt fit in. He plays guitar by himself, and has played so much that he becomes a decent guitar player. Not to give away anything, but he plays in the talent show, and is received gloriously. As he finishes his playing, and he looks up and sees that the crowd is cheering and that his mom is excited for him, and a smile crosses his face.

Not the smile of accomplishment or the smile of joy, but a smile of both achievement and realization. That combo smile gets me every time.

Now I dont consider myself for crying, the expression of emotion is the singularly most human thing I do. I assume that people are more surprised at my enjoyment of a movie like Tooth Fairy than the fact that I can be rather emotional.

But the expression of emotion, free from the perceived judgement of others is an important outlet. Im not demonstrative, I dont go to many happy hours (I find them too difficult to enjoy), I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about how to improve things. Work things. Personal things. Sometimes, even physical things.

My therapist tells me that I am too hard on myself. I think I am not hard enough.

So when I see someone achieve the one thing that I truly equate to success: achievement and the realization that you deserve the accomplishment, I cry. I smile. I absorb everything about the moment. I try to understand what that really will feel like. I study, I learn and I hope.

It might be strange reading those words from me. Many people think I have accomplished stuff. I havent. Ive done some things. some well; some not so well.

I cry. I cry about things that matter to me. That drive me each day at Graphicly. Do you know how amazing it is to see people accomplish things and see the look in their eyes when they know, really know, deep down inside, that it was through their effort that they achieved that accomplishment, and the accolades and respect that they have garnered for themselves is so well deserved that it actually doesnt need to be reinforced?

So, at least once a day, while watching TV or a movie, I find myself choked up. And it reminds me that my purpose is to help people find ways to learn that they are able to do the things that they have set out to accomplish.

At Graphicly, we ask everyone to think about three questions:

  • “What can I do today that helps Graphicly today?”
  • “What can I do tomorrow that helps Graphicly tomorrow”
  • “What do I want out of this experience.”

Because its when those three questions intersect that people truly become engaged and are able to accomplish wonderful things.

As I get ready to bail out of Graphicly for the day, I am excited to head home and watch a movie. Im thinking something light. Perhaps Schnidler’s List? I probably wont cry at all.

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5
Micah August 30th

A Left Turn at Albuquerque

Last year some time, perhaps around SXSW, I was introduced to a woman I had started to hear a lot about.

She was described as someone who had started a documentary, sort of on a whim, and had collected a number of really interesting interviews. Most of the equipment she had was donated, and much of the work she had done was amateur. But, the subject matter, “How technology has changed how we live our lives” was riveting and the perspective interesting.

As I got to know Melissa Pierce, I found out that we had many intersections of people, thoughts and ideas, and over the past year, we have become friends.

A couple of days ago, I saw the rough cut of her file, Life in Perpetual Beta, and while it leaned on the side of rough, its compelling, and will be worth the time (and hopefully money) to sit and watch and think.

Today, I was pointed to this video:

Which she talks about why she started the film. Watch it. Its pretty interesting (of course, my favorite part is about 5:30 in, when the camera almost gets dropped). Its pretty interesting in that there was a moment when Melissa realized that doing this film was important to her, and that regardless of the path, she was ready to start down it. A moment.

At Gnomedex this year, I had the immense pleasure to meet Jay Grandin and Leah Nelson of Giant Ant Media. When their presentation began, they talked about how they put together a video, which went viral on YouTube.

They began to explain how this video got them a gig with MySpace, and I quickly shoved my face back into my laptop. “Yay!” I thought to myself, “another viral video. Perhaps I will do a video about testicles (By the way – I didnt start that twitter account. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Thank God, they are all dead). Bet I could get 9 million views.”

But as their presentation progressed, they talked about how entering the social media realm. Strike that. This wasnt really social media, even though it was attached to MySpace, it was really the “social connection” realm, because Jay and Leah, then started a project where they went to Europe and asked their MySpace friends if they could crash on their couches. Which they did. And they filmed it.

Now before you jump into the standard American “WTF!?!? Strangers? IN EUROPE?!” Jay and Leah are Canadians living in Vancouver. So, the potential of them getting bitten and turning into werewolves, ala An American Werewolf in London, were pretty slim. (It wasnt called A Canadian Werewolf in London for a reason. They are just too nice to be werewolves.)

But, somewhere on their journey from standard menial jobs to viral videos to MySpace to roaming around Europe they, like Melissa, made a left at Albuquerque.

(Ok, time for a quick aside. My reference of a “left at Albuquerque” is a reference to a famous line uttered by Bugs Bunny whenever he travelled in a cartoon. For some reason, he continually got lost, and would pop out of the burrow he was making and exclaim, “I shoulda made a left at Alburquerque!”)

Jay and Leah began to get involved with a project that was inspired by another member of their team, Danya Fast, had just returned from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and spoke about some kids who lived on the street hustling and performing. They decided to get involved:

Over the course of six weeks in Dar, we facilitated a youth-led project to record a 6-track Bongo-Flava hip hop album. We compensated a group of 20 youth with a cash salary on work days, by setting up housing for one year, and with lots and lots of cigarettes.

At the conclusion of that year, they had the album (buy it here), a charity (check it here), and an amazing film (learn more here):

Amazing stuff, huh?

I often talk about how there are two types of entrepreneurs in the world, those that pack and plan their parachutes before jumping or those that jump trusting that they will figure it out on the way down.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, says it a bit better than me (found on Fred Wilson’s tumblr):

“The whole entrepreneurial thing is that you kind of jump off a cliff and assemble your airplane on the way down. And financing, by the way, is a thermal draft, right? You’re a little further away, but the ground’s still coming at you if you can’t establish an airplane.”

– Reid Hoffman, as quoted by Jeff Bussgang in his new book, The VC Playbook

(While I would love to say that great minds think alike, Reid did found LinkedIn. C’mon, Reid, LinkedIn?!?! Sheeesh, I have work to do…)

Melissa, Jay and Leah all took the leap. They are trusting that they will figure it out on the way down. And, given what I know of them, they will. (Now, both are looking for help funding their projects. If they move you, give. If they dont move you, find someone it does move, and get them to give. Seriously.)

But, what of this concept of a “Left Turn at Albuquerque”? What compels people to make a major shift in their lives and careers to follow passion projects? My career and life have been pretty linear, with each “next” building off the “previous.” I am not surprised I am where I am today (maybe a bit disappointed in certain things, but certainly not surprised) because of the linear nature of my life and choices.

And, left turns dont have to be into non-profit or “world saving” activities. It just has to be drastic and a major life shift. Remember starting a company is difficult and hard, it could have large monetary awards, but its not a fundamental life shift.

Starting a company is not impressive. Changing your life’s path is awe inspiring.

If given the opportunity to take a Left Turn, dont let it pass you by. Jump. The parachute will figure itself out.

16
Micah August 27th

Moments.

There are themes in my life that I keep coming back to. Thoughts that I have had for years and years, but havent been able to either articulate or formulate. Yet.

Yesterday, I wrote about bidirectional value relationships. All day today, I kept seeing their application. For example, I have friends raising money for their startups. In the question of whether they should accept the term sheet or not, the answer is in the relationship. Is Value and therefore Power, shared? If no, then dont take the money. If yes, run to the bank.

Another theme that has been bouncing around in my brain since I cant remember when is the concept of the importance of moments. Yesterday I tweeted that everything starts and ends with a moment. And, today, my friend Sarah Townsend on the Social Vibe blog, posted this video:

Moments.

I can remember exact moments in my life. All kinds. From love and heartache to business decisions to mistakes. I remember the moment I fell in love with playing lacrosse (and later coaching lacrosse).

Unimportant moments. Important moments.

I just know that its the moments in life that matter more than the big sweeping stories.

Yet, if moments are the most important components of our lives, why do we spend so much time forgetting about them and not discussing them?

Moments. I know thats what makes my life amazing (and amazingly difficult at times).

Do moments matter? Am I crazy for caring about the moments?