Hi, I'm Victor.

LYP Book

Learning to Risk. Risking to Learn.

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Higher education through real-word experience


A community of people taking risks to change their world.


Go Somewhere


Sometimes, life gets so full and moves so fast, you forget how to be grateful. That’s when you need to shift your perspective. Zoom out. Sit in a different chair. Go to another part of the world. Take someone with you. Let them plan parts of the trip without you knowing anything.

You may find yourself on mountains and next to glaciers. You may sleep in domes and tango on dance floors. You may dine with kind-hearted people from Australia and Argentina.

Then, your memory will be jogged and you’ll recall what matters most.

Trust me…


Everyone Makes


The red colon between the two numbers stared at me like two eyes disappointed in my decision.

The past few days have had my mind spinning faster than usual. I feel a sense of responsibility, belief, and excitement for what we’re building. There has been a greater need for writing, planning and strategizing. Yet, there has also been more of a need to be present with people – sharing the vision and inviting others into what we’re making. Full days are leading into nights full of scribbles and sticky notes and Google Docs.

Making anything is simultaneously awesome and unsettling. If what you’re making does well, you have to be prepared to manage expectations. If it doesn’t do well, you’ll have to regain trust and try again. If I’m being honest, I never really want to fail. I don’t think anyone does. But, as soon as I admit that, I realize I’ve become too nearsighted.

Empathy is the hero in the story of fearing failure.

When we thoughtfully consider the circumstances and needs of those around us, we realize that everyone is building something. It may not be a product or company, but they might be building a family, a career, a rhythm, or something of great value to them.

So, pursue your best work. Do it with all your might. At times, it will push you to your limits. It should.

But let those pushes and pursuits remind you that everyone is making something. It’s part of what connects all of us. Seeking to understand the journey of others is what will truly make your work good.

Kickstarter Reflections


Last week, the Ei community and I completed a month-long crowdfunding campaign for Leap Kit. The days leading up to the campaign and throughout the month of October were full of twists and turns.

This post will be a space to capture and share the lessons learned from leading the campaign. Hopefully, it can be a reference point for you if and when the time comes to launch one of your own. 

What kind of campaign?
Decide early on what kind of campaign you want to run. For us, we knew we wanted to go with Kickstarter. But, even within that platform, there are a couple of routes to consider:

Option 1: Product Test
If you’re just trying to test an idea quickly, set a small goal and short timeline (ie: 2k – 10 days) and launch the campaign without too much effort. Be thoughtful, but leave polish behind for speed.

Option 2: Product Launch
If you’re aiming to truly kickstart a product, then build a small team and give yourself 3-4 months to create the campaign and 30(ish) days for the actual Kickstarter.

In general, the notes below are with the Product Launch option in mind:


Get the story out there.
As soon as you think you might create a Kickstarter, launch a landing page to share the idea and invite people to sign up for email updates. We used Unbounce.com.

This will help you articulate and test the story behind the product while also building your community before launching the campaign. If possible, create your landing page three months before you launch your Kickstarter.

Build a team.
Running a crowdfunding campaign totally alone is nearly impossible and may drive you batty. Recruit a few reliable friends or consider hiring a virtual assistant. The main tasks for us included:

  • Writing (Campaign Page, Video Script, Newsletters)
  • Community Management (Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter updates)
  • Press Outreach (influential bloggers, podcasts, news outlets)
  • Financials
  • Video creation

Start sharing behind-the-scenes updates of bringing your idea to life.
Begin documenting and sharing the small steps along the way. Make a list of your closest friends, family, advisors, supporters, and the people who sign up on your landing page. You can use Mailchimp or a simple excel doc to manage the list. I called my emails “Sunday Leap Letters,” and sent them every other Sunday during the four months leading up to the campaign. Keep these brief and include helpful information that your friends might be able to apply in their life. A simple outline for these notes could be: Highs – Lows – Learnings – Next Steps

Prototype and test your product before creating your Kickstarter.
Kickstarter should be one of your final steps, not your first. Start making simple versions of your product with the resources you have and test it with your friends as soon as possible. Ask them for honest feedback and what value they see in the product within their daily life. Take voracious notes. In our case, the amazing folks at Stanford’s d.school nudged us and invited us to spend time doing this in their space.

Also, if possible, capture the prototypes and conversations on video (camera phone is fine). The footage will help people see a glimpse of what you’re making and how you’re bringing it to life.

Keep the message simple.
In the land crowdfunding in general, you need to be authentic with your own story and clear about the value of the product. The second part was especially important for Leap Kit because it needed more explanation than a familiar product like a speaker system or iphone case. In any case, make sure your video and campaign page are remarkably clear about how the customer’s life will be better because of your product. 

Also, the video doesn’t need to be over-produced. I’ve even read that the more unpolished videos actually get more views. Personally, I love filmmaking and enjoy getting lost in the process, so I had fun with a few talented friends (Nick Martin Film & Northbound Studios). We made a couple of pieces throughout the campaign (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C). I learned a lot by pushing myself to write and direct a few different ideas, but I don’t think that’s necessary for everyone or for every situation.

Reward Levels
Don’t go crazy. 5-7 levels max. I wish I would have done two things differently:

  • Created a small ($5) level from the beginning. We added one later in the month.
  • Created an early-bird level to generate interest quickly.

And, make sure your main level falls somewhere in the middle of your lowest and highest reward.

Aim for a small goal.
It’s no secret that 44k was a high goal. At first, it made sense as I did the math for producing 1,000 Leap Kits – a lofty number but one that could create a strong community around the idea. But as soon as I launched it, I realized that I could have flipped my thinking – set a small goal, fund it quickly, and use the month as a success story. That was a tough-lessoned-learned, to say the least.

Thankfully, one of the positive consequences is that it brought our community together. The students, staff and new/old friends rallied. They used Slack to communicate regularly and set times to group-share various bits of content with their communities. It was amazing. Also, the higher goal forced me to explore various ways to improve the messaging around Leap Kit.

Still, the lesson is to set a small goal, reach it quickly, and use that success to invite others.

Bring your community to the starting line.
After you submit a project to Kickstarter, their team needs to approve it. This may take 1-2 days. After you are approved, you can hit the launch button anytime.

Before you hit the final “launch” button, take time to rally your community and give them no-brainer ways to share the campaign. For us, this included:
+ Click-to-Tweet link
+ A link to launch a pre-written email (learn how to create one here)
+ A link to Facebook post they could share

For Leap Kit, I wonder if I launched too quickly after getting approved. It may have been beneficial to take a few more days to countdown to a specific launch day/time to make sure everyone knew exactly when we were starting.

Press & Cross promotion
The most valuable thing you can do with your campaign is get it in front of as many people as possible. Tim Ferriss has a few great paragraphs about this in his 2012 post about Kickstarter.

Whatever you do, remember: permission is key. If you share lengthy requests with strangers who don’t care about you or your product, it will come across as spammy. That’s not helpful. Trust me. This is why it’s important to find the specific people who care about your idea before you launch and to foster that community (ask for feedback, give them first look at the product, share calls, ask questions, etc).

When reaching out to an entirely new person (or group of people), keep your request clear, brief, and communicate why you thought to reach out to that specific person.

For Leap Kit, the greatest shares were:
Product Hunt (Thanks to Jason Zook for posting)
Yorokobu (Thanks to Eduardo Vea Kating for the interview)
Stanford’s Blog (Thanks to Emi Kolawole for editing & sharing)
Chicago Tribune (Thanks Amani Elahi for the intervie!)

We also added a “Hello Bar” to Ei’s Website, which was surprisingly helpful.

Lastly, Kickstarter’s community is wonderfully strong. Backers like backing things. If you can find other campaigns who are rolling at the same time as yours, consider reaching out to them and suggesting a cross-promotion. This simply means that you’ll include their campaign as a PS in one of your updates to your backers. They’ll do the same with yours.

Roll out new content throughout the campaign.
Throughout October, we regularly released new photos, videos, and blog posts. This helped with spreading the message without simply saying “Back our Kickstarter.” Communicating ideas, concepts, and research around the product shows that you’re trying to build something valuable…not that you just need money.

Put your computer away.
Seriously. In order to stay healthy, find other things to occupy your time that has nothing to do with a screen. Increase your workout regiment, pickup flyfishing, ride your bike often, etc. Slot time for working on the campaign and then leave your computer behind. During the very last week of the campaign, the Ei staff, students, and community even let me take a trip to Patagonia that I’d been planning for months. I was actually in the mountains on the final day and didn’t know the final result of the campaign until two days after it was complete.

Of course, that was a unique situation, but it was a reminder that good ideas don’t revolve around just one person. You can (and should) step away at times.

Whatever happens, remember…
Life is much bigger than one product or idea. Do your research, do the hard work of putting your best possible work into the world, press the launch button, and reflect on what you learn along the way. Then, keep going.

Thank you!
If you’re reading this, you probably took the time to participate in some fashion. Thank you for watching the video, sharing feedback and backing Leap Kit. If you’re interested, there’s still time to place an order before we produce our first batchAnd, if you took part in the campaign or if you watched it unfold, feel free to message me with any other reflections you think I should include in this post.

As for me, it’s back to working with the team to making you the best kit we can.

Thanks again,

ps: If you’re seriously considering launching a crowdfunding campaign, you should read everything you can by my good friend Clay Hebert. He’s a pro in this space.

There once was a man


At present, Victor is probably summiting a majestic mountaintop and breathing some of the freshest oxygen on the planet while hiking through Patagonia.

Knowing that he’d be off the grid this week, he commissioned me – a friend, collaborator, and writing partner – to share something here. In fact, he gave me freedom to post anything I wanted because that’s just how he rolls; always inviting others to paint their colors on his work, so to speak.

In honor of who he is, and the work he’s doing, I’ve written a poem about the legendary and inspiring life he’s been living called, There once was a man.

There once was a man who read in books
Of all the lives that he could lead
The great ones spoke of dramas that shook
The ground beneath their feet
He felt each pain and shed sorrowful tears
For lives he barely knew
Till eventually days built up into years
And he discovered what he must do
“Great stories,” he thought, “are adventures lived from risk and strength of heart.”
“My life, too, must be removed from fear that won’t let me start.”
“Breathtaking views can’t ever be seen until I’m willing to climb,”
“And curious ones won’t begin to seek until they’re eager to find.”
Ever since this man endeavored to leave his comfortable life behind
Opportunity spanned beyond what’s seen as ideas sparked in his mind
Now lives a man who makes what he dreams
And his life presents like a book
He no longer plans to live what he reads
For he’s living the risk that he took.

Have a great Wednesday,

Thursday Words


Thursday Words.
It doesn’t quite have the same ring as Wednesday Words, does it?

The truth is that October has been more full than usual. The process of producing, marketing and finalizing a new product (Leap Kit) has proved to be one of the greatest challenges of the year. I’ll share a few lessons in the coming weeks. But, for every challenging moment, there have been three-fold more to be grateful for. Thanks to those of you who’ve been part of that effort. You have infused these days with levity and friendship.

Still, this isn’t meant to be an apology or an excuse for missing my first Wednesday without notice since I began writing. This is a reminder that each of us should hold a few routines closely and tightly. Keep doing the things that make you who you are and fuel the best version of yourself. If you miss, it’s not the end of the world…just pick back up the next day.

And, if you ever decide to pause or stop, that’s ok too. Just be sure to make that decision when you’re well rested and in good company.

Have a great Thursday,

Three zones


I think everyone has these three zones…

Comfort Zone | Learning Zone | Panic Zone


Our greatest lessons surface when we move between all three.

Comfort Zone
This is where life is normal. You know your surroundings and rhythms well. It’s not that life is perfect, it’s simply known.

But, one day, something pushes your hopes – something beautiful that you want to propagate or something awful that you want to stop. You begin feeling the need to do something about those hopes but you don’t know everything you need to know or have everything you need to continue. You begin to move to the edge of comfort…to the brink of something new. A leap needs to happen.

Before going any further, you need to be more clear about what you’re leaping towards and why. That takes work. Hard work of looking inside yourself. But if you do that work, it will give you much needed clarity as you leap. Once you have that clarity, you can start considering what Learning may actually look like. Should you go to school? Build something of your own? Take a series of classes? Travel? Read a combination of books? Work alongside an expert in your field?

And, you won’t want to do this alone. Once you begin exploring those leaps, think about who you need to join you. You will need another set of eyes, ears, and hands at various points in this endeavor. Who will leap with you?

Learning Zone
Now, things are foreign, new, uncertain. Many things about comfort are left behind at this point – material things, relationships, maybe even your sense of home.

Now that you’re here, a few simple goals will keep your vision clear. What do you hope to accomplish right away? By the mid-point? By the end? Work your way backwards from the end and consider the most helpful daily/weekly habits that could bring you to those points. You may not know all of the right things, but this is where your team comes into play.

Pay close attention to everything happening externally and internally. If you’re truly here, many things are new and challenging. Document this journey like a journalist. These are rare and important days. The more you document, the more you’ll have to reflect upon and share along the way.

Panic Zone
Ah. the dreaded panic zone. This is where something valuable breaks. You’ve leapt too far, climbed too high, you’re scared and you just want to retreat back to the cozy walls of Comfort.

It’s true. It’s hard to learn here. If we don’t have resources, relationships, or hope…we can’t think straight. But, we only know this space once we’ve reached it. Move slowly here. Work with your community to simply take a few of steps back. Keep learning.

A few things will happen along the way:

  • Comfort will become less appealing but more available. The zone will get bigger because you’ll have more opportunities and resources. It’ll be far easier to stay there and harder to leap into learning.
  • But, the learning space will also grow larger – not because you know less, but because you became aware of how much you don’t know. Like visiting a large and amazing city, it will be both daunting and exciting.
  • The panic space will shrink because fewer things make you panic now that you’ve experienced so much.

I’m curious how to best help people take these leaps…throughout their entire lives. That’s why this needs to exist and why I hope you’ll design a leap of your own.

More soon…

[ UPDATE 10/15/2015 ] – A little video about the idea

[ UPDATE 10/16/2015 ] – Further reading! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_of_proximal_development


Question & Answer


How do you tell the difference between courage and foolishness?
One is sincere and the other is flippant.

How do you differentiate the bold between the brash.
One has heart, the other brawn.

What is the distinction between pretension, preoccupation, and presupposition?
They are siblings. Each does their part in distracting and demanding attention from what matters most.

Which is more important, love or time?
One can surface on a whim while the other digs its roots into the dirt of life until the fruit of story can bear. They need one another.

If one has good taste, must they seek obtaining physical things? What do you make of the craftsman who owns nothing, or the chef who rarely indulges his or her appetite?
Those who care less about the outcome of their work often make things coveted by others.

Why does it seem religion and war are often in the same frame?
Because they both walk loudly with their hands raised. They would do well by meeting their counterparts, humility and surrender.

How often can work and pleasure meet?
As often as you let go of the expectation of others.

Does God hear these questions? If so, would he consider them courage or foolishness?

Reasons to Leap

  1. Because you are full of hope – hope for something bad to stop or for something beautiful to multiply.
  2. Because you are frustrated. Something wrong is happening and it needs to stop for the sake of your health, livelihood, or family. In order to stop it, you are going to have to learn and do something out of the ordinary.
  3. Because you’ve been too comfortable for too long. You can’t remember the last time you learned something new. You know you’re not reaching your potential and it’s time to change that.
  4. Because you’ve been listening to everyone else’s well-intentioned expectations for your entire life. But, you’ve never examined yourself and your own goals.
  5. Because your kids are watching you. If you don’t leap. They may never have the courage to do so either.
  6. Because your parents are watching you. They have their ideas for what your life should be, but if you leap, you may inspire them to reconsider those ideas and, even, take a leap as well.
  7. Because your business has become stagnant. Sure, you can work more and push your employees harder, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be more successful. Take a step back, examine where you should go, and then (you guessed it)…leap.
  8. Because the pain of staying where you are has become greater than the fear of exploring the unknown.
  9. Because you’re on the brink of something great great. And, if you aren’t willing to take a chance on yourself, no one else will.
  10. Because you’ve waited long enough. Now there’s a community, a tool, and a starting point.

These are a few reasons why we made Leap Kit. This morning, the project went live on Kickstarter. Take a look and consider backing it. http://kck.st/1JBZ8EI

We hope this tool nudges you into your most defining moments and meaningful lessons.


Fighting Confidence


A dear friend recently sent an email that I can’t shake. He thinks I need to own my vision more – that other people will help me reach a vision when they see me fighting for it. He went on to share that fighting for a clear vision will help people fight with you and in turn, be more invested until the end.

I won’t lie…somedays, I pay especially close attention to people who have endless confidence. They walk into a room and everyone knows they’re in charge. They truly believe they have the best ideas, thoughts and abilities of anyone else. They’re magnetic, cool, and unfettered by others’ opinions. If they give you attention, you feel on top of the world. If they ignore you, you feel worthless.

How did those people get that way?

It wasn’t pep talks or self-help books. It wasn’t marriage or money or kale smoothies.

I wonder what it takes to be that way – to carry oneself with an eccentric boldness and certainty. If I was able to do so, would my ideas would be further along? Would we have accomplished more or reached a greater number of people?

Do I need to be less nice? More bold? Make you want to fight with me? Or against me??

I don’t know.

Or, maybe I do know.

Actually, I do.

I do…

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