And Acquaintances Turn To Friends

And acquaintances turn to friends
I hope those friends they remember me
Hold the night for ransom as we kidnap the memories
Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me
Sit around a table and use those years as the centerpiece

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: “Cowboy Boots”

This is my first full day back from Up To All of Us 2013, an unconference focused on “Co-creating revolutions in learning and technology.”

I chose that verse from Cowboy Boots because this event was all about connections: making new ones and strengthening old ones. We learn from each other and share experiences, like telling stories of risk around a campfire. We can encourage and say “do it”, or respectfully disagree (“yes, and”) and move on to the next topic. It’s an open format, and almost anything is acceptable, except excessive negativity.

Comic Panels

How does something like this come together? How does something like this work? Planning and good people. This kind of event does not happen with out fine human beings. Herding those humans? Coordinating the event to make sure each of these complex, brilliant beings has his or her needs met? That is a challenge, and one that Aaron and Megan met head on for the second year in a row, with great success.

Brian's DuckI’m amazed at the talent I’ve been connected with over the last two years at these events, and the willingness they all have to help me solve a problem, work through an idea, or simply draw a duck. After last year’s event, several attendees took new jobs, made the leap into entrepreneurship or freelancing, or did something else that made them happy. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this year’s event.

How does one come down from this high? For many of us, it’s back to reality, back to the grind, back to chores and articles and research and development. This is the time to keep cranking. To build upon what we’ve already built. To finish those projects we demonstrated. To learn even more about topics that we were introduced to. To find a way to make that thing we want to do actually happen.

I quit my job last September, but it was last February that I made the decision. I don’t have a job to quit this year, but I do have things to build and people I want to work with. I’m not waiting until September. This is accelerating.

The Seven
Photo courtesy of Kris Rockwell

“Not sure there is a way for me to express what you meant to me…”

But I know we’ll all sit around a table next year and use last weekend as a centerpiece for what WE built in 2013.



On the flight from Houston to San Jose for ASTD Tech Knowledge, I once again marveled at how much open space there still is left in this country.

Somewhere Over New Mexico
Somewhere Over New Mexico

A few years ago I went to New Hampshire to do some user testing for SkillSoft. I remember mentioning to a colleague during the flight that I was surprised how much undeveloped land there was. It had an impact on me, as I wondered, and still wonder [1], what percentage of available land in the U.S. has actually been developed. I also noted how little of this country, let alone this planet, I’ve actually experienced in person.

I’ve mostly lived in big cities, but exploration has always been important to me. When I lived in Arizona we used to go camping every month; we could just drive up to the river and start exploring. I learned a lot during those experiences. It was unstructured, unsupervised exploration. I look at these amazing places I’ve flown over or ridden by, and I want to explore all of them. I know I cannot get to everything, but my goal is to explore more, both locally and when I travel (and, hopefully, on a motorcycle).

I hope to bring my kids along as much as possible. I’m reading Last Child in the Woods right now (thanks for the recommendation, Kris). It’s both enlightening and depressing. We all should explore more. Get out into the wild, or the closest thing you have to it, and look, smell, listen, learn. Bring your kids, so the only experiences they have with nature aren’t from The History Channel or Google Earth. Think about the spaces you’ve passed by but never explored. Go back with a new mission. Explore. Play. Learn.

Ask yourself, “what if this is the only time, or the last time, I’ll ever see this place?”.

[1] Apparently, it’s only around 6% (as of 2003).