creativity

In the pause: My new business idea and passion project to help kids make their way in the world

F*ck it. I’m going for it. I’ve been kicking around the idea for a new business I’d like to start, and after several months of gnashing my teeth and wringing my hands, I decided I’m just going to do it. As I’ve mentioned several times, I was lucky to have an amazing guidance counselor, Jim Wherry, when I was in high school. I’ve learned over the last few months that I was luckier than I thought. In some schools, the ratio of guidance counselors to students is 1:500. And though we spend thousands of dollars every year per student on educating them, we spend the equivalent of a can of Coke per student on guidance counselors. A can of Coke. Bill Symonds, Director of the Global Pathways Institute, calls this “the black hole in the American education system.” I can’t get that idea out of my mind so I decided to embrace it and do something about it.

My therapist, Brian, once said to me that the best way for me to make my past mean something is to pay it forward. I think about how hard I worked and how much I struggled as a student and as a young adult. I think about the free lunch program that I was simultaneously grateful for and embarrassed by. I worked, and worked, and worked so that my life as an adult could be more secure than my life as a child. I think about the fact that despite my many hardships, there are far too many kids today who are in the same boat or even worse off. The boy I met on the streets of D.C. a few nights ago is a prime example of the people who need me to make this business a reality. Every student deserves to have a Jim Wherry. And I’m going to find a way to make that possible while also creating a company that creates jobs and has the kindest, bravest, most passionate, and most respectful culture imaginable because our work is something we should love to do. Our kids all across this country need us to stand up for them and support them as they make their way in a world that is becoming an increasingly difficult place. This is my act of resistance.

That’s my side hustle for now that I hope becomes a full-time venture over time. I’ll still need to work full-time in another job I enjoy (and let’s face it, the world is now full of opportunities for me to do good work) so that I don’t have to worry about money while I build this new idea. And that’s A-OK with me because I want to do what’s right for our kids without making choices based on my own personal finances.

So here we go back into the world of entrepreneurship, and this time a little older, hopefully a little wiser, and just as determined to use my business skills to build a passion project that builds a better world.

If you’d like to offer advice, help, ideas, or encouragement, I’ll take them.

creativity

In the pause: The doors of this country stay open

To my friends who are immigrants and to my friends who are Muslim, please know that there are many people (myself included) who stand and will continue to stand in solidarity with you and your families. I will march with you, fight for you, donate money to the ACLU Nationwide for you, and volunteer my time, talents, and efforts to make this country safe for you. The doors of this country stay open, as they were to my grandparents and to the ancestors of everyone else I know who calls America home. On my walk around my D.C. neighborhood with Phineas today, I saw signs of welcoming, acceptance, love, and resistance everywhere. I wanted to share these with you so that you know you are not alone, not now, not ever. We are here, and we’re not going anywhere.

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creativity

In the pause: 26,034 steps for women everywhere – the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

I walked 26,034 steps at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Now multiply that by the minimum estimate of 500,000 people who attended the march. That gets us to 13,017,000,000 steps by D.C. marchers, which equates to circling the entire globe 198 times. And that’s just in D.C. Now amplify that by the 4 million people in 600+ cities all over the world who were marching with us and we get 104,136,000,000. That’s 1,584 times around the Earth. We literally wrapped the world in freedom, justice, and equality. This march was not about putting America first. This march was about putting people, all people, first. We lifted our voices and moved our feet without a single moment of violence or insecurity, and with hardly any security. This was a peaceful, uplifting, and hopeful day in all of these cities and towns in which we showed the whole world what democracy looks like. This is what concerned, committed individuals can do when we band together with love, respect, and courage.

And somewhere in that crowd are all of the future leaders of our countries, of our future. Somewhere in that crowd is the first woman who will be President of the United States. The first Latina and Latino Presidents. The second black President. The first LGBTQ President. The first Jewish and Muslim Presidents. The people who will lead our country through nonprofit organizations and as leaders in for-profit companies.

My friends, that crowd that you are all a part of is the future. That is where we are and where we’re going. Don’t lose heart. Don’t be silent. Don’t shut down or become numb. Don’t turn away or run away from the difficult days and nights ahead. Every day, I want to wake up in a world that looks like yesterday. That joy and passion will drive out the hate that may have won the electoral college but did not win the hearts of the majority of this nation.

We are the majority. And on the long and winding road of history, the majority eventually always wins. Always. We may go through horrendous times. We may have to descend into deep valleys to make the climb toward the highest peaks, but let it be known by everyone everywhere that no single person will ever stand in our way on the path of progress.