Hi, I'm Victor.

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Looking Up

08/24/2016

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Last weekend, I was such a kid.

The air and water show was taking place in Chicago and it was a perfect day. So I grabbed a few snacks, a water bottle, called my friend Zak, and made my way to the beach.

As we arrived, the entire lakefront was packed from end-to-end – picnic blankets, tents, lawn chairs and the most diverse audience imaginable filled every square inch of the lawns and beaches. Kids sat on parents’ shoulders while young couples sat hip-to-hip. Groups of friends clanked their drinks while families prepared their picnic meals.

The one thing in common?

Everyone was looking up.

Planes of all shapes and sizes were flying past us at an unusually close proximity. The old carriers flew low to the water and shared their deep groans, while the smaller trick planes flipped and zipped through the air like circus acrobats.

We. Were. Mesmerized.

Zak and I spent most of the day with our arms outstretched, pointing at spectacular moments and laughing at the amazing sounds and sheer power we were witnessing.

But why? Why are we so drawn to amazing feats?

As I began to listen more closely, I heard a local radio station announcing the show. The broadcasters were speaking like sports announcers, going into great detail about how difficult the maneuvers were. They were painting a picture of what each pilot was doing – stepping on rudder pedals, yanking side sticks, keeping their bearings at breakneck speeds and multiple flips.

Then it hit me.

There is something special that happens when you know that there is a person, a real-life-human-being just like you, in the cockpit. You don’t just see a plane, you think of someone who has spent their life getting to a place where they can do something so difficult so well. I sincerely believe the show would be way less interesting if the planes were simply computer programmed drones.

The story is in the people – doing something they love and believe in – in a new, creative, and courageous way.

That’s what makes us look up.
That’s what makes us gather, point, and cheer.

The same goes for the Olympics. Simone Biles. Usain Bolt. Katie Ledecky. Michael Phelps.

They made us look up.

I’m not sure about you, but there are a lot of things happening in the world that make me want to keep my head down and just get through the day. But I think we’re better with our heads raised, looking to the horizon and seeing what’s possible. If you’re reading this, I have a feeling you do to.

What do you believe in?
What do you love?
What should you attempt to new a new height?

Sure, you may not flip a plane through the air or break an Olympic record; but if you do your thing with curiosity, energy, and commitment, you’ll be infinitely better for it.

And so will we.

Up you go,
Victor

PS: This Saturday, August 27th at 11:30am, we’re holding our annual event for Experience Institute. EXPO is a chance to gather our friends, families, peers and mentors to celebrate the past year of incredible learning and growth of our graduating Fellows, all while welcoming the incoming class. This year, the event will be held at City Winery in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. Lunch and wine will be served. Stories will be shared. And Ei’s dear friend, Katherine Darnstadt, will be giving a closing address. There are only 34 spots left. We hope you can join us.

I promise…you’ll look up.

Save your spot here: https://ei-expo2016.eventbrite.com.

Gift

08/17/2016

The greatest gift you can give someone is the belief that they can be great.

Support that belief at all costs – when they’re building, when they’re down, when they’re successful – and they’ll pass it on. It’s contagious.

I know because several of you have done that with me over the past year and I’m incredibly grateful. Thank you.

To everyone who’s coming into our world as we end one amazing year at Ei and start another, know that our community and I hope to do the same with you. And cheer you on as you do the same for others.

Keep Leaping,
Victor

ps: The final day to register for our new guided online course is this Friday. I hope you’ll join us: www.LeapCourse.com.

Learning to surf

08/10/2016

I’ve always dreamed of surfing.

My first attempt to learn how to surf was in 2012. It was an impromptu trip with a few experienced surfer friends. I spent the entire weekend wrestling the board as they did their best to shout advice. Every once in a while, I’d look up to watch them effortlessly glide across the waves, in slow motion.

By the end of those two days, all I’d learned was how to sit on a board in the middle of the ocean and watch the sun set. I was sore and dejected – but I loved the moments of nearly standing up. And catching those sunsets on the water made the pain worth it. I was determined to try again someday.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I booked a short personal retreat to the Bay Area and decided to give it another go. This time, I did some research, scheduled a surfing lesson, and convinced a couple of friends to venture to Santa Cruz with me.

Two weeks ago, on July 29th…
After squeezing into our wetsuits and learning a few basic steps, we grabbed our boards and started walking to the water. Along the way, I began chatting with one of the instructors, Richie. He happened to be the son of the owner of the surf school. Richie had recently graduated high school and was about to take a year between high school & college as he considered his next step. Obviously, we bonded quickly.

Before wading in, we spent a few more minutes on the beach learning where to lay on the board and how to pop up into proper surfing position. The steps were simple and familiar, but hearing Richie’s analogies and trying the steps before we got into the water were surprisingly helpful.

Finally, it was time to surf.

As soon as the first wave rolled in, all of the lessons we’d just learned were forgotten. We fought the swells and flailed with our boards.

Richie and the other instructors were patient and reminded us of the basics. At times, they even positioned us just right to catch the wave.

One by one, each of us eventually stood up on our boards and surfed all the way to the beach. It was almost more fun to watch my friends and the rest of the students get the hang of it as it was for me. Almost.

Along the way, I was reminded of a few helpful tips for those moments when you’re considering learning or attempting something new.

  1. Try it quickly and cheaply. You’ll probably fail, but make sure you like it enough to give it more effort and resources.

  2. Do it together. If you decide you really want to learn, team up with a friend or two interested in learning the same things. They’ll make the process way more fun.

  3. Learn from someone. It doesn’t have to be in-person, but you’ll learn faster if someone who’s experienced truly wants you to succeed.

  4. Start with the basics. Even if you think you know something. It doesn’t hurt to repeat what you know. Repetition reinforces what’s most important.

  5. Stay close. When you’re in the middle of it, keep your friends nearby. They’ll reiterate the things you forget and share a few laughs about the falls.

  6. Celebrate small victories. When other people start to get it, celebrate! It’ll keep you in the right frame of mind. Then, when you get it (and you will get it), also celebrate!

  7. Then, decide. After you start to get it, decide how deep you want to go. You don’t necessarily have to become the next surfing champion, but if you like it enough – start learning more and consider your next step, trip, or move.

Wherever you are, if you need a few friends and instructors along your journey, we’re starting a new course on August 23rd. Registration is open for another week. Learn more and join us here: www.LeapCourse.com. We’ll begin together in just under 2 weeks. And if you’re not sure, meet us on Friday for a quick chat about the course (more details below).

In any case, don’t wait much longer. The tide is low and the swells are just right.

Back in Chicago,
Victor

In any case, don’t wait much longer. The tide is low and the swells are just right.

Back in Chicago,
Victor

PS: This Friday, August 12th, at 2pm we’re hosting a live broadcast to discuss the Leap Course – our new mini-experiential masters without the massive debt. We’re using a nifty tool called Crowdcast so you can join us for free from anywhere in the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about Leap Course or about navigating your next career/life move through meaningful experiences, click here. The conversation will take place at 11am PST / 1pm CST / 2pm EST.

See you then!

Leap Together

07/27/2016

Last March, a few friends and I decided that if we really believe anyone can grow in their careers and personal lives by designing short experiences, we should each choose a Leap of our own. I mean, practice what you preach, right?

So as a team, we went through our very own Leap Map, chose Leaps, and began meeting nearly every Friday at noon to share our progress. Each person began working on something specific and interesting and it was inspiring to see ourselves move beyond our comfort zones to learn and grow.

One of my friends, Tom, has spent a lot of time working with startups and entrepreneurs; but he was curious about finding new creative avenues to expand his thinking and have a little fun.

Since his wedding anniversary is during the summer, roughly three months after we were starting our Leaps, Tom chose to learn the guitar and play a song for his wife – specifically, “Luckiest” by Ben Folds Five. He set up a routine to start learning and practicing when he and his wife weren’t together.

But that was just the beginning.

As Tom learned how to play and sing the song, he decided to change the lyrics so it was more specific to he and his wife’s relationship. He asked for feedback from a few of his musical friends and began rewriting most of the song. Each week, Tom met with our group of friends and shared quick updates on how far he was coming along.

Hang on. This gets better…

Tom realized he’d rather give the song to his wife in a more unique way than just singing it to her (because you know…serenades are so 1998, I guess.) So, Tom enlisted the help of his brother to professionally record the song. That way, his wife could play it again if she’d like.

At this point, I think Tom is a winner: learning guitar, writing lyrics, recording/producing the song. Leap = accomplished.

Nope. Not Tom.

He then began apprenticing with a local woodworker so he could make a music box for his wife. The idea was that when she opens the box, the song would quietly begin to play. He spent the next two months spending two days/week learning everything he could at the wood shop: box building, wood finishes, how to engineer the lid so it would automatically play the special song he just learned, wrote and recorded.

I promise, I’m not making this up.

Tom just finished his Leap and gave the custom music box to his wife. She was incredibly moved (to say the least) and pretty much wanted to walk down the wedding aisle with him all over again. Shoot, when I saw the box, I almost asked him if he’d marry me too. Not only that, but he’s gained a few new helpful skills, a deeper relationship with his wife, and an amazing story to boot.

After it was all done, Tom thanked us for helping him along. But we’d hardly done anything. He’s the one who took the Leap. All he needed was the nudge, a process, and the community.

And chances are, that’s what you and your Leap needs to.

Wherever you are in your career, whomever you hope to learn with/from, and whatever you hope to make…I hope you’ll join us next month for the start of our 90-day Leap Course.

We’ll be leaping together.

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Across from you

07/20/2016

Earlier this week, I was catching up with an old friend.

Out of the blue, this person began apologizing for something that happened a long time ago, something I’d forgotten about and something I also should have apologized for.

It was a surprising, yet simple part of our conversation – full of goodness and kindness. After those few words, we carried on and the night was sweet.

I know the world seems like a mess…because it is. But I’m beginning to believe the way to make things better is by caring for the people across from us really well, no matter where they come from or what they’ve done.

It starts with those simple moments: getting to know someone who you’ve been ignoring, apologizing to a coworker or family member, writing a letter to someone you love just to let them know how grateful you are for how they make you feel.

Those moments may seem small, but in most cases, they’re actually really challenging. They cause us to look inside ourselves and notice the changes we still need to make. So with each of those small acts, momentum builds. They expand and spread and become the places from which we can see new possibilities. They may lead you to inviting your neighbors for dinner, exploring gatherings and initiatives in your community, pursuing that creative idea that’s been dormant for too long.

No matter what is happening in your world, however grave or maddening, you have the power to spark those small changes.

And any of them can begin on a random Wednesday, in July.

Dear Victor

07/13/2016

My little brother wrote an amazing response to last week’s “Dear Johnny” letter.
Here’s what he had to say: 

Dear Victor,

I have loved being your younger brother. Ever since I was young I wanted to be like you. When you started writing spoken word, I wanted to write spoken word. When you played goalie on the soccer team, I tried playing goalie with a rec league team. When you got into dancing, I was breaking it DOWN in my room in front of my mirror. And though I was five years younger, I tried my best to fit in with you and your friends. You see, I loved being called “Victor’s little brother“. It made me feel cool. People immediately treated me differently, and now I know that was a direct reflection of how you treated them. You have always had a way with people and I really love that.

After you went off to college…
I began trying to carve out my own space, but it was tough. I was a goofy, chubby, not-so-confident teenager that liked to play the drums and hang with my friends. Like you, I was friendly; but I quickly found that I wasn’t nearly as ambitious. After high school, I pursued my passion with music and that was an integral time in my life. As I began to see different parts of the world and meet new people from all walks of life, I began to question a lot in my own life. My beliefs were challenged and a new perspective came about, but that didn’t really bother you. You always encouraged me to think for myself and learn through my experiences.

Through it all, I did find a great girl that has stuck with me and become one of my very best friends. On top of that, I have a very close community of friends who’ve been my foundation – they are family. We’ve been through some incredible ups and downs, but we’ve always stuck together.

With our friends and family here…
things are comfortable for me. Almost too comfortable. When you told me you were going to start EI, I was so stoked. I knew from the beginning that this endeavor was going to be special and I wanted to be a part of it in some way, but I wasn’t sure when or if the time would come. I knew I needed to get outside my comfort zone and challenge myself. I was excited to be part of the founding class of the 3-month program this summer, but as you stated, dad got really sick. I felt it was important for me to stick around to be here for mom and dad. With dad’s condition, now more than ever, I’m reminded just how precious life is. I know I need to spend my days working with people, giving to my community, and staying near my passions.

Education
As I press forward to finish college, I look back on what I’ve learned. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like much. Sure biology, chemistry, physics and the other pre-med courses are really important, but my college experience hasn’t really resonated with me. When it comes to college, my intentions are good, but my work feels empty. I’m a hands-on learner. I like to be engaged in projects that are important and useful to my peers. Education should be more than just retaining information and spitting it out onto a piece of paper, only to forget it the next day. I understand that college is what you make it, but there’s something missing. That’s what I love about the concept of EI. At times, I glance over at all of you and simply say, “Wow, how cool is that?!” So let’s just say I’m better at basketball, but you’re way better at this creativity stuff. Deal?

I want to make something, but what?
You’re right – I have a fire in my eye. I want to make or be a part of something. Like many others, I struggle with taking taking that first leap. That’s why I like your style. I truly appreciate your willingness to try things without letting the fear of failure change your course of action. As opposed to seeing failure as a setback, you see it as a stepping stone. This is key because it stems from a deeply rooted perspective that can often be a roadblock to trying and learning new things.

For me, I constantly have to meditate on a particular thought as I try to find a place to plant my first step in my own journey. What is that thought?

Love is greater than fear.

When I’m not afraid, I’m not complacent; when I don’t feel fear, I’m not overly critical of my work and I don’t over analyze things. When fear isn’t a factor, I see failure as a part of the process. And when I dwell in love (the kind that unifies all people and transcends race, religion, and nationality), I know I can conquer anything. Through this perspective I gain my confidence and creativity.

In today’s world, fear is pretty prevalent. And truthfully, that’s a lot of my problem. That fear can cause me to stop my progress in the middle of a project and give up on a good idea before really working on it and giving it the time of day it deserves. But I see a new way. Nothing worthwhile is easy. It takes perspective, grit, patience, and a will that is not easily shaken.

In the meantime…
Well, I’m not at EI but that’s okay. That doesn’t mean it can’t be go time. Count me in for Leap Course. It seems perfect for me. I’ll be prepping to work on a podcast with two close friends. Through this podcast we will learn a lot about our community, journalism, and ourselves. I really don’t have much experience with this but I’m going to do my best.

Is the thought of doing this kind of project a little nerve wracking? Yup. Will it be hard at times? Sure. Will there be naysayers? There already are. But who cares?

I’ll give it all I got.

Thanks for showing me the way bro.

Love,
Johnny

Dear Johnny…

07/06/2016

I’ve loved being your older brother. It’s been incredible to watch you grow up. You’re smart, caring, hard working, and nearly as good at basketball as me.

I always wished we could have gone to school together, but being five years older than you, we just missed each other. So you were forced to follow in my footsteps – often being referred to as “Victor’s little brother.”

Still, you found your way. And when I visited home after leaving for college, people came to know me as “Johnny’s older brother.”

I always smiled when I heard that.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen you pursue your passions of music, health & wellness, and community. You’ve found an amazing girlfriend – a rock in your life. I’m watching with great pride as you navigate the tricky waters of college and work. I only wish I lived closer to be a bigger part of the small moments in between.

Then…last spring, when you told me that you wanted to attend Ei’s 3-month program, Leap Semester. I was beside myself. The entire team at Ei & Sage Corps cheered at the possibility of you joining.

A few weeks later, when I read your application for this Summer’s Founding Class, my eyes welled with tears (I know…I’m a sap). I was full of pride when I read your responses to the questions about why you wanted to attend and what you hoped to learn.

You had been talking about needing experience to see where your skills fit in the world. College hadn’t afforded you an immersive space to explore your future career. And now the very thing I’d been working to create was going to be helpful – to my own little brother! You were even going to stay with me for the classes in Chicago before traveling to a work experience in a new city. I couldn’t wait.

Then our worlds were turned upside down.
Dad was diagnosed with an advanced form of Pancreatic Cancer and all of our plans were put on hold. There was so much sadness in April. There still is.

But I see that fire in your eye. Even though things seem impossibly difficult, you know what you need to make the most of your work and life during these final months of college. Since you couldn’t be part of our 3-month college program, I’m not sure how to be helpful from a distance, so I thought I’d start with this note.

Let’s make something…
If we could have spent time together, I would have encouraged you to spend the summer making things –  for a company and/or for yourself. Life is similar to being a builder. The more you build, the more skilled and confident you become.

But it’s hard. Your mind fills with questions about what you should build and whether or not it will be a giant waste of time and money. It’s easier to plan than to make.

But making something – even something seemingly small – pushes you to take those questions and curiosities and channel them into something you can examine and share. Taking those risks moves you to learn about yourself, build relationships, and have something to share with your community and maybe even future employers.

Podcast?
Most recently, you told me about making a Podcast highlighting local entrepreneurs. That’s brilliant, Johnny!

You mentioned that some people critiqued the idea and said you need more authority before doing such a thing. Don’t listen to them. Make it. Start with just  2-3 interviews – one a month for three months. And see where it leads. Their feedback is just one perspective. Let it educate you, not stop you.

Here’s the thing…
As soon as you start, you will inevitably want to quit at some point. You’ll make every excuse under the sun – especially with how much is going on at home. But keep things simple and drive ahead.

I’m even thinking about when we play ball together. You’re a good shooter, but you’re awesome at driving to the basket. And I love watching what you do when you’re about to drive to the basket: you glance up, glance to both sides of me, and then before I can guess which way you’re going…you become a blur as you make your layup. It’s awesome.

It took a lot of practice for you to gain that kind of confidence. Now, you need to apply that thinking to projects like this.

I’ll be here…
I know the days ahead will have their challenges. But that’s not all they’ll have. They can be some of your best. There is a lot we can’t control right now, so take things you can control and make them great. You’ll never regret doing so. And no matter what happens, I’m in this with you. I want nothing more than for you to flourish.

If anything I’m making can support you, just ask. Most recently, the Ei team and I have decided to put a lot of our work into a guided, online experience to help individuals like you design internships, apprenticeships, and personal projects in their own communities. If you want to be part of Leap Course, I’ll cover the cost and we can talk through things more.

Whatever you do, just know, I believe in you and am in your corner. Always.

Love,
Victor

Leap Course

06/29/2016

Four months ago, we took a risk.

After a year in the making we shipped Leap Kit into the world. The idea was simple: Create a tool to help you grow in your work and life through leaping into a new experience.

It was our way of helping individuals take learning into their own hands through personal projects & experiences they’ve been aiming to embark upon. By doing so, you could advance your career, grow closer to your friends/family, and gain clarity about your next steps. Education could be something you create, not just consume.

The initial response was encouraging. Hundreds of people joined in – from high school administrators and college classes to a team of creatives at the world-renowned Leo Burnett. We’ve seen Leaps ranging from Jewelry making to Virtual Reality to Mindfulness.

Over the past month, we’ve noticed…

The Leaps that change someone’s life or work have certain commonalities or patterns: small, consistent actions scheduled for each week, a group of friends or team for accountability, a specific start/end date, and the final day has a deliverable that will be shared with others. That kind Leaping has led to healthier lives, new skills, and new work experiences that are launching them forward in their careers.

So Next Up: LEAP COURSE

Now, the Ei team and I are cooking up a new meal. It’s called Leap Course. And I’m inviting you to hear about it first:

What is it: A 12-week guided experience aimed to help you design an apprenticeship or personal project within your field of study or work.

What will you learn: How to choose which project to embark upon. How to scope that project so you succeed. How to host informational interviews. How you might get paid for your project(s).

Who’s it for:

+ You’re in your mid-twenties to mid-thirties.

+ You’re considering further education or a new job to advance in your career.

+ You’re looking for your next gig or employment opportunity and need to broaden your experiences. Or you’re happy with your job but you’re looking to learn and grow in order to take the next step in your career.

How is it set up:
It will be online, so you can do this from anywhere. BUT all of the participants will:

+ Start on the same day

+ Work together alongside one another and a team of coaches

+ End together

What are the benefits:
At the end of this course, you will have completed something that you can add to your work portfolio, you’ll have a wider network, you’ll have a greater set of tools around Project Planning, Storytelling, and Design Thinking, you’ll know how to talk about the value you bring to a team or industry and you’ll have developed an online presence. You’ll also know how to navigate the ever-changing workplace beyond just this one project.

How much will it cost:
It’ll be less than a college course…but this won’t be fast food. We’re bringing some of the best chefs to the table. We want you to be invested and we want to invest in you.

If this sounds like something you might enjoy, leave your email address here: www.LeapCourse.com and you’ll be the first to receive about the pre-launch. I’ll share the specifics in the coming weeks.

In any case, keep designing your education. Those who do, will inevitably design their future.

Facing Challenges

06/22/2016

For most of my childhood, I was pretty chubby. My middle school years were spent at the end of the pack during the mile-run and the bottom of the list for the pull-up & push-up contest.

Combine that with being an Egyptian kid with a first name that can be easily made into a girl’s name and you have a formula for getting picked on. My personal favorite was,

“Hey Victoria, what’s your secret?”

[said while mimicking my parents’ Middle Eastern accent]

It became easy to believe that I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to be or do anything great.

The best remedy for me was two-fold:

1. Face the challenge

My mother would regularly tell me to face life’s biggest challenges…to look them right in the face, don’t lose sight of them…and to simply say to myself: I am the greatest. Silly, I know. But the sight of her saying that phrase with gumption is one I’ll never forget. Issis Saad just might have been Muhammad Ali’s biggest fan. It eventually rubbed off onto me.

2. Do the thing

Simply put, actually do the things that I or anyone else thought I couldn’t do.

Eventually, those nudges led me to take up soccer, pick up the saxophone, join theatre, and participate in or lead service trips every summer throughout High School. My confidence began to build and I cared less about what people said.

But as I got older, each new endeavor brought with it a new set of bullies. My goals were lofty and I faced more internal doubts rather than childish name-calling. But there was my mom, helping me identify my challenges and making me say, I am the greatest.

Leaps don’t have to be huge life changes. They can consist of any project to learn or attempt something new. They’re meant to move you beyond your comfort zone, which inevitably means facing a challenge.

Mental Contrasting

I recently learned there is a scientific method to my mother’s sweet madness. It’s called Mental Contrasting and it’s meant to help you visualize success and face your obstacles. It’s relatively simple:

1. Positive. Start by envisioning your Leap. Write down several positive aspects associated with completing it. Hone in on the most important aspects and spend a few minutes visualizing them.

2. Obstacles. Write down the obstacles to achieving your goal. What’s in your way? What might stop you? Hone in and visualize a few of the biggest obstacles.

This works because your subconscious mind operates in the short-term. It’s hard for your mind to really see or feel the long term benefits while in the moment. You have to give it time to actually soak in the positive possibilities of completing your goal.

For example, training for a half-marathon has many long-term health benefits, but your short-term thinking subconscious will try to convince you that you’re pointlessly running in circles and that ice cream is a far superior way to feel immediately satisfied.

You need to lock in those challenging thoughts and counter them by visualizing the healthier, more physically fit version of yourself that’s going to be happier and able to enjoy the activities you love to do.

This technique translates thoughts of success into concrete emotions of motivation.

Know My Challenges

When we made Leap Kit, we included a section called ‘Know My Challenges’ to help you pre-plan for obstacles while you are in a positive mindset. How will you know if you are getting stuck? What’s the first step you might take when you need to work through a challenge?

The bullies are the things trying to convince you that you can’t do it. You have to look them in the eye and face them head on.

Your turn

So, what is currently holding you back from your Leap? What challenges might you face in the coming days or weeks?

Take some time this week to call those things by a specific name and visualize the specific benefits of completing your Leap. Bonus points if you share those thoughts with someone in your Community of Support. I’d recommend talking to my mom; but she’s busy dealing with me.

Keep Leaping,
Victor

Leap Story Submissions

06/15/2016

I walked out of the elevator and onto the 21st floor of the iconic downtown building.

It should have been a familiar site. I’ve visited the office a hundred times for various meetings; but this time, something was different.

Globe lights hung from the ceiling. Drinks were being served. Strangers were beginning to arrive. A few people were pacing, rehearsing their presentations as microphones were being tested.

Three months earlier, a group of nearly twenty strangers from the world renowned creative firm, Leo Burnett, had chosen to work together and design leaps of their own through a newly launched program called Leo Leaps.

The participants’ projects ranged from making short documentaries and designing a line of jewelry, to creating AR/VR Storyboards and gathering staff recipes for a company cookbook. It was incredible to watch these busy professionals carve time for learning new skills and creating meaningful work.

After three months, the group was ready to host a special storytelling night to share their Leap Stories through 4-minute talks in front of colleagues, friends, and community members.

It was a remarkably special night. You can watch three of the short videos at the end of this note (more to come). They will make you smile.

Spencer

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.

In March, my friends and I began shipping Leap Kit – a tool to help you design a short experience or project in order to learn, grow or change something in your world. It’s been roughly three months and we’re curious: What Leap have you been working on? What are you designing or attempting? And…Would you be willing to share your story? 

We’ve just created a place for you to share your Leap Story with us. Can you take five minutes to do so here: www.Expinstitute.com/LeapStory?

Submissions are open until Sunday at Midnight. Then, next week we’ll read stories and personally reach out to hear more from you and how our community can continue supporting your endeavors.

BUT WAIT…HOW DO I CREATE A LEAP STORY?
This isn’t about being an expertly skilled and fanciful storyteller. You can start with a simple framework to put your story together.

In 1991, Kenn Adams developed the concept that nearly every story has a spine – the bones that make it stand and be seen. At the very core, a story is nothing more than a beginning, a middle, and an end. Beyond that, there are a few pieces that help a story take its shape. Here’s an overview of Adams’ StorySpine:

BEGINNING
Once upon a time… (gives the listener a sense of where you are and when the story is taking place)

And everyday… (sets the scene and allows you and your characters to be known)

But one day… (this is where the story shifts, you are faced with a challenge or choice)

MIDDLE
Because of that… (this is the choice that needs to be made)

Because of that… (this is the outcome of the choice)

Because of that… (this is the new scene, or reality, in which the character now lives. there are challenges,surprises, or tension throughout these days)

Until Finally… (the tension has built to its climactic point here and a new choice or outcome is presented)

END
Ever since that day… (the long-term effects of the choice and its outcome are stated here)

The moral of the story is… (what’s the point of the story? what was it all about? what are readers/listeners walking away with?)

SAMPLE STORIES:

In his writings, Adams shows how the StorySpine applies to the classic American story, The Wizard of Oz:

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Dorothy who was carried by tornado to the magical land of Oz.

Every day, she journeyed toward the Emerald City in order to ask the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz to help her get home.

But one day, she got to Oz and she met the Wizard.

Because of that, the Wizard told Dorothy that he would only help her get home if she killed the Wicked Witch of the West.

Because of that, Dorothy encountered many dangers and was successful in destroying the witch.

Because of that, the Wizard agreed to take Dorothy home in his hot-air balloon.

Until finally, on the day of their departure, Dorothy ran after her dog, Toto, and missed the balloon.

And ever since then, Dorothy learned that she always had the power to get home on her own, which she did.

And here’s the story of someone who’s taken a Leap, Hugh Weber of OTA:

BEGINNING
Once upon a time, after 20 years away from his small, landlocked hometown of Milbank, South Dakota, Hugh Weber returned to the region to live with his wife and kids.

And everyday he felt pressured to keep his head down and not do anything to stand out – the same pressure that had pushed him to leave after he’d finished high school.

But one day he realized there must be others like him in the area who wanted to work together to build something new. So, he and his family decided to host events to empower regional creatives. But had no funding.

MIDDLE
Because of that Hugh invested nearly invested his own money to host some of the initial community-building events.

Because of that he would have to sell enough tickets to the event to recoup his investment.

Because of that he became dependent on the support of the creatives in the region where he lived. He didn’t know how he’d be able to keep supporting this creative community without greater financial support.

Until finally, a friend told him to seek out a grant from a foundation that supports community-builders and culture creators. He and his creative friends sent a proposal for funding and the foundation agreed to help them!

END
Ever since that day Hugh and his creative friends (who collectively refer to themselves as OTA, because they serve the “ota” states: MinnesOTA, North DakOTA, South DakOTA) have been hosting empowering events that support community builders and culture creators in their region.

The moral of the story is that, in order to leap, we must often overcome a cultural inertia that is resistant to change and may frown upon standing out in the crowd.

GIVE IT A GO!

The power of StorySpine is that it offers a simple structure to build your story. Include your own personality and details to make it yours.

Take some time and give this your best shot. You have the space right here: www.Expinstitute.com/LeapStory and you have until Sunday at midnight. 

If you need help, you can just reply or send a note to hello@expinstitute.com. The team and I are here to help.

So, what’s your Leap Story?

Leo Leapers

ps: If you would like to learn more about Leap Kit and purchase your own, stop by: leapkit.expinstitute.com.

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