After allowing yourself to be very curious about the world, and to document what you notice, make the best thing you can.  Design.   

Find a way to reproduce it.  Design + Production.  

Price it fairly and put it in a “store window.”  Design + Production + Commerce.

Make other, smaller, secondary things that emanate from the same spirit, intelligence, and voice that created the first thing.  Design + Production + Commerce + Marketing.  

These could include: Talking to interesting people about the first thing and publishing the conversation.  Noticing and blogging about things that should have been part of the first thing but were not, due to time constraints.  Identifying and tweeting about things that contradict the first thing.  Designing infographics that explain the first thing.  Speaking into microphones about the first thing.  Inviting others to write about the first thing.  Riffing on the first thing.  Basically, following the curiosity that led to the first thing wherever it wants to go.  Marketing is Further Making.

Give away the smaller, secondary things, for free, sharing them broadly, tying all of them back to the first thing.

(The reason for the tying back is that the financial success of the first thing becomes fuel for the secondary things, justifying further investment in the curiosity that led to the first thing in the first place.)

The arc of all of this work, should it continue long enough, will naturally create a third thing — a combination of the first thing and the secondary things.  Art.   


Heading into a poetry analysis assignment, some of my students were nervous.  In schools, poetry is often presented as precious or esoteric.

So I walked around this weekend with a problem in my head.  How can I help my students approach an analysis assignment (whether it’s an analysis of a poem or a contract or an email) without fear?  How can I help them to present the best versions of their thinking when they encounter a text and have to report on it?

I came up with a goofy acronym: U.T.M.O.P.S.  I believe it might be useful to anyone in the position to have to analyze a document and then present that analysis to someone else (a teacher, a boss, a spouse, a child).

for you

Unpack and understand the task or prompt
Make your thinking visible by sketching, jotting, or annotating

for your audience

Organize your thinking
Polish your thinking
Ship your thinking to the intended audience


Leadership Card Game

My son has spent some of his downtime this summer trying to invent new card games.  It’s one of the toughest challenges with which I have seen him grapple, since many invented games are either “all luck” or “too technical,” either “too simple” or “too complex.”  Also, adding to the challenge, many games are shaped and adjusted over time by generations of anonymous players.  Just try playing rummy with someone else’s grandmother — house rules shift from house to house.  As we have found, not having the benefit of generations, of a crowd source, leaves many games feeling awkwardly amateurish and unfinished.

Regardless, as I was prepping for a leadership retreat, I decided to try to invent a leadership card game.  I played it with a leadership team today, and it seemed to go pretty well.  Maybe you can try it too, adjusting it where you see fit.  Here are my rules:

A. Make a card for each of your team members.  Yes, draw a picture of each member of your team. (I provided index cards and pens.)

B. On the back of each card, add each person’s vital statistics and superpowers.  What do they do, day-to-day, for the institution, and what is their special talent?

C. In a small group, answer the following questions using the cards, making action notes on the cards where appropriate and sharing what you think you can.

  1. Which people have the chance to use their superpowers at work and receive praise for them?
  2. Which do not have the chance to use their superpowers at work and receive praise for them?
  3. Which of your team members are ready for more responsibility? What challenges and opportunities might you offer them?
  4. Which team member is your number 2?
  5. Which team members are the future of your discipline? When do they have the chance to express or share this?
  6. Which team members can you macro-manage without a problem?
  7. Which team members need more attention / active management, and how do you handle that without causing tension?
  8. Which team members have some characteristics / habits / mindsets / skills that you would like to spread among your team? What are those c, h, ms?
  9. Who is dealing with some personal stuff and may need some extra support?
  10. Which team members could be future leaders at this institution?




Mobile v. Mobile

Reshan Richards and I have been having an interesting conversation lately.  As is typical for us, it’s unfolding over the phone, via text, on Zoom, and sometimes while cramming noodles into our mouths.

To boil it down, we’ve been exploring the virtues of having mobility (like a mobile phone or other technology) vs. being mobile (moving your body, with its senses, around your town, your state, your country, or your world).

The former — mobile technology — allows you to search for what you are looking for; the latter — your own mobility, to whatever extent that exists — allows you to put yourself in a place to discover things.

When I start teaching my English class in a few weeks, I’m going to keep these ideas in play.  When do I want students to use mobile technology, when do I want them to use their own mobility, and what are the affordances and limitations of each when we are attempting to learn and do what we set out to learn and do?