Category Archives: creativity

New State, New Start

Rene and I have been in Portland for about 3 weeks. We are moved in (almost) completely. We have taken the time to get to know our neighborhood (at least a little), and now it is time to get to the work that we (partially) made this move to do.

Ever since we got here my brain has been blasting like a fire hose. With fewer day-jobs I have actually had time to do a lot of things namely sleep, go to the gym, read, and cook – you know, like a normal human person. I’ve also started planning to do all the things I’ve wanted to do for months (years in some cases) but didn’t have the time or energy to complete. Working on this blog is one of those things.

When I first started it, this was a public place to talk about things. It was a real-time incubator of ideas and updates for anyone who may have cared enough to stop by. I think that it will probably do best to keep it that way, but I’d like to structure it a bit more. I’m not sure how yet, lots of ideas – not a whole lot of focus just yet – but that’s what I want to do.

On the acting front Operation: Television’s Curtis Andersen is obviously changing. Not only has the original target been met, but by moving to Portland that definitely affects what type of work is available. That will be an adventure all on it’s own.

I’m also going to keep doing the Acting 101 posts, especially as I learn to navigate the new market here in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Then there’s the geek front: I have had time to indulge in my hobbies again and since my D&D group is back in California and we haven’t decided on a remote way to play yet, my energies have been focused on Games Workshop games and the new Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition. Woo! It looks cool! I’m thinking of doing a series of articles/posts about my rebuilding of armies and painting progress. Would anyone be interested in that? Let me know in the comments.

Project: Iron Man is on hold. I left my comic books in California for the time being until we move to a more permanent home. I know they are popular so as soon as it is possible I’ll start that up again.

Then there are the possibilities of doing some lifestyle posts. Portland is a great city with more than a few places to visit. Rene and I have always wanted to do travel shows, maybe now is the time. People have responded really well to what we’ve posted about our move so far, maybe it’s time to expand on that.

And of course we’ll be making more videos! Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of those.

What do you want to see more of? Let me know in the comments!

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Filed under adventures, creativity, day in the life, diy

Happy New Year! Here’s what’s Coming Up!

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I am writing this in the last hour of January 1st, 2016. These last two months have been a whirlwind mostly focused on my quest to become a working actor again epitomized by the Operation: Television’s Curtis Andersen series of videos on my YouTube Channel. Here’s the latest one from today:

And here are the links to the playlists for November and December, in case you want to catch up:

In addition, my friend Author Jeff Garvin and I are trying an experiment where we go through and read sections of our old high school journals. Yes, it’s exactly what you think:

Rene and I have big plans for this year! Keep your eye here for all the info!

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Filed under actor stuff, creativity, new media, new projects, new shows, new year, news, Operation: Television's Curtis Andersen, update, video, videos, YouTube

Videos About Fall & Halloween

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The wife had a good idea for a video this year about California’s lack of significant seasonal change. She wrote a great blog about it HERE but if you just want to see the video you can see it below:

And last year I did a short for Fun Size Horror based on a short story I wrote called Bloody Mary. Since it’s the right time of year you can see that below:

Happy Halloween! Be safe and have fun!

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Filed under Andelon, blatant plug, comedy, creativity, directing, filmmaking, Fun Size Horror, fun video friday, Halloween, scary movies, videos, YouTube

Autumn, Nostalgia & Mixtapes

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It’s only August, but just the other night I got a hint of a scent in the air that was unmistakable to me as Autumn. I don’t know how to describe it other than wet and earthy. It’s a smell that reminds me of October and all of the Americana that goes along with it: changing leaves, costumes, Halloween in a Normal Rockwell kind of way, and the best parts of my adolescence.

There are certain smells that just go with things. Football players talk about the smell of the field before a game.  I remember that smell, there really is nothing else like it. It almost smells as if the field is sweating before the game begins. The other day at a rehearsal for “Rope” I caught the scent of  a very specific hairspray in the dressing room, a hairspray that I’ve smelled in dressing rooms for decades and with that one contact I was suddenly reminded of all of those shows. The Autumn smell works the exact same way and triggers some of the strongest nostalgia I feel during any given year.

Every year, usually later than now, when the air starts to change and the nostalgia comes on I find myself searching though my music to make a playlist appropriate to the season. I started doing this back when I was a teenager, making mix tapes on my dual cassette/CD stereo system. There was more of an art to it back then. People had tape lengths that they liked to work in (I was a Memorex 90 minute man, myself) and you’d have to plan out your songs and hope that they would fit each side perfectly. I became very good with the Play/Pause button and mastered the length of the tape lead before it started recording. I could do it by feel, no counting required. Somewhere, deep in boxes that probably haven’t seen the light of day in at least a decade, there are dozens of mix tapes made from my music library circa 1990-1996. These tapes were with me during car rides with my friends when we first felt the “freedom” of being teenagers with cars. They were there for early relationships and the break-ups that went along with them. They were there for my first cigarette and for my first sips of Boones Farm Strawberry Hill. They were the soundtrack to my coming of age and represent all the songs that meant something to me at the time. They were also a pretty good representation of alternative hits and underground bands of the time.

My friends did it too, across the board. We’d listen to what each other made, finding new songs that we liked and new bands. My friend Jeff introduced to me to Oingo Boingo, Voice of the Beehive and October Project this way. I discovered that my friend Dan and I had a mutual love of The Cars and The Police this way. And my friend Scott exposed me to the power of Bad Religion and Pennywise this way. Entire backyard parties were powered by these tapes. They were teenage sorcery that could help bend the mood of entire rooms full of hormone fueled basket cases.

Technology changed and iTunes and iPods made it very easy to generate playlists based on whatever mood you were in at that second. Gone was the finesse of tape creation; instead you could just slam together song after song on a whim. I remember sitting at the computer for hours at a time, days in a row plugging songs into the playlists where I felt they belonged. I had the perfect list for whatever mood I was in. It was pretty awesome… until the crash of 2007 when iTunes and all of my playlists crashed and burned. That killed a lot of the fire I had for digital playlists. So much time was spent creating things that were wiped away in, literally, a moment.  After that it took until I discovered Spotify before I felt that a digital playlist would be worth creating again. I haven’t created as many playlists as I did before 2007, but I do find that the ones I curate now get a lot more play.

I started a new playlist for autumn 2015 on Spotify. It’s the start of something that will probably get bigger as the days get shorter and the air gets crisper. I’m sharing this because I selfishly want you to share your playlists with me. Back in the day we would swap tapes and CD’s, but now we can toss entire playlists around digitally. This playlist is full of songs that take me back to being sixteen-and-angry, ready to rage against the world… as soon as I finish my journal entry about no one understanding me. It’s what I would want to listen to on a rainy day, hence the name. Check it out and let me know what you think, but more importantly share your playlists with me. Drop them in the comments and show me something new. I want to try and capture that feeling of sharing music again from back in the day. Whether it’s a favorite album from your favorite band or a playlist of your own creation, pop it in the comments and let’s hear something new.

Happy listening.

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Filed under creativity, Curtis Andersen, general, happiness, high school, iTunes, music, musings, rambling, songs, Uncategorized

Creativity on the Daily – The Highlights

Andelon Discussions Creativity

Back in February we held our first Andelon Discussion video roundtable. I got together my oldest friends, who all happen to have varied and diverse careers, and we talked about being creative. It was a really good discussion, if I do say so myself. We covered a lot in an hour.

Admittedly, we did have a few technical troubles (namely the sound for the first 10 minutes) and an hour can be a long time to ask people to watch on the internet, so I edited together what I feel are the best 13 minutes of our discussion that will hopefully help to inspire the creativity in your life.

I want to thank Dan, Dean, Jeff and Scott for participating. If you want to learn more about them see their links below. Also, Jeff wasn’t wrong, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is amazing! I’ve provided a purchase link down below.

Scott Sanford – IT specialist for the financial industry.

Dean Ethington – Graphic Designer and web developer for Oakley.

Dan Zarzana – Manager at an entertainment payroll company.

Jeff Garvin – Author and musician.

What do you think about being creative? Did anything the panel said strike a chord with you? Let me know in the comments.

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Filed under Andelon, art, artist, career, creativity, video, videos, YouTube

The Value of Journaling

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Not that long ago I dug deep into the pits of my parent’s storage space to where I keep the bits of memorabilia that I saved from high school and college. There underneath old trophies and certificates, under the photo albums and  envelopes filled with pictures (we used to have to get them developed and physically printed!) I found the trove of old high school journals that I was looking for. I was pulling them out, on purpose, for a project that my friend, author Jeff Garvin, and I were thinking about working on.

A bit of advice if you ever reach a point where nostalgia overrides your more rational thinking: Things you wrote down at the height of your adolescent hormonal development are not light reading. You should be mentally prepared before diving back into that headspace.

I was not.

My friend Zeke has always said, “Five years ago I was an idiot.” It’s a great phrase. How often have you looked back on things and noticed that your opinions had changed or shifted? It’s easy to forget that most of us actually change our minds quite a bit about a lot of things as we grow and get older. Thanks to social media and “flashback” apps we can now be greeted every morning with a list of things that we have posted to the public via a variety of different platforms to lord knows how many people that shows exactly where you were at in your head. Thanks to these apps I can attest that I as well was an idiot five years ago. And I’m sure that I’ll feel that way in another five years, and then five years after that.

Now imagine diving back over twenty years ago…

…Idiot doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Actually “idiot” is too harsh of a word. I was a teenager and suffered from being “sixteen and angry.” I think we all have our “sixteen and angry” time, I know that everyone I ever knew had one. It’s a tumultuous time when you are starting to figure out who you are as a person separate from your parents, when you start to make decisions for yourself, when you desperately want to be considered an adult but secretly enjoy the shield of being a kid. This is when you find all the great music that will become your favorite into adulthood. This is when crushes are defined as “love” and every relationship can last “forever.” You fight with your parents, go on your first adventures with your friends, and generally raise eight different kinds of holy hell.

I managed to document my sixteen and angry period in nine volumes: eight journals and one sketch book. The picture at the top of this post is of all but one of the books. Inside are entries that detail my thoughts and feeling about friendships, relationships, and some stories that I used to write about a fictional version of my friends and I. Reading it back revealed that things were a bit different than the memory of those times in my head. It’s easy to romanticize the high school experience. I didn’t mind high school. I had a lot of friends and did well academically. I was fortunate enough not to have the troubles that make it into after school specials like bullying or drugs. My friends and I were no saints, but we weren’t troublemakers either. I can safely say that there were no arrests and any statutes of limitations have expired. My memories of high school are full of laughing, inside jokes, musicals, and enough Pepsi cola to kill an elephant. Seriously, my three best friends and I drank Pepsi by the case. I’m pretty sure that my blood was at least 4% Pepsi by my senior year. It’s amazing any of us have teeth.

However, these books tell a different tale. One of extreme emotional turmoil, dramatic shifts in friendships, and document the kind of existential crises that would make Sartre roll his eyes. None of it is ironic, it is clearly very earnest and deliberate. It feels like a different person wrote it. They are remarkably detailed history books that talk about people I had nearly forgotten about; people who, at the time, were very involved in my life. They discuss music I liked, places I went, and in some cases even what I was wearing. I actually put pictures in the front and back covers of almost all of the books. Some of myself, some of my pet chameleon, Fred, and some of my friends. I have one here of me circa 1993:

Curtis Circa 1993

Great hair, right?

The strangest thing about the entries is that they are written like blog posts. There was apparently a part of me that thought that people would like to read the hormone fueled ramblings of a teenage boy so the entries often referred to the reader and explained things in great detail so that a stranger who might not have any previous knowledge of me would be able to understand the context of the situation. Thank God the internet wasn’t then what it is now. They are a set of volumes that document the true feelings I had as a teenager. As embarrassing as they are they are valuable.

Journaling is a pretty great exercise. It requires you to write down what you think and feel without a filter. It is a time capsule of an exact moment in your history. It’s honest even if you are lying in it, since the lie is part of that moment. I fell out of journaling when I was twenty or so. I was in college, working more, and my dramatics were getting me a paycheck as opposed to being spewed into the blank pages of a book. I also moved to digital means of note taking and idea tracking. I had PDA’s with styluses that would let me write and store things away or send to my computer. Nothing at all like the pages of these books and none of those items made it to today – they are lost on some old hard drive in a landfill somewhere. I got completely out of the habit and I think I regret that now.

I started journaling again when I was doing my 52 in 52 challenge. I keep an idea book where I jot down story ideas and I was leaving a Barnes and Noble. I had some extra time so I sat on the patio and wrote some things down, stream of consciousness style. It felt like I was giving my head a spring cleaning. It wasn’t anything extraordinary, nothing even worth having a conversation about, but what I wrote down had been sitting in my brain taking space. It felt good to have it out. Then Rene and I did the Dragon Tree Challenge. I won’t lie, it’s a bit hippy-dippy and new age-y, but it got me in the habit of daily journaling again. Journaling has helped to focus my thoughts and let my brain work on the stuff that I need it to without having to navigate through all the gunk that fills it up during the day. I highly recommend it. It’s especially good if you are in a creative field! Most of the other creatives I know keep a few different books to write in depending on the mood. Personally, have my pocket notebook for notes and tasks, my story idea book, a sketch book (the same one from twenty years ago), and a journal for just private thoughts that aren’t really for the world.

Here are some tips if you’d like to give it a try:

  1. Get the right book for you. I’m currently using one of the old journals I found from 1993. It was empty and some of the pages are yellowing. It has age on it, like me, and the pages are a little crisp because of it.
  2. Get the right pen. This might sound silly, but when you get on a roll the words are going to come out fast and the last thing you need is your pen running out of ink or not being comfortable in your hand.
  3. Don’t judge what you write. No matter what my teenage self thought, what you journal probably isn’t destined for public consumption. It’s for you – and you don’t ever have to read it again. Just write and let it all come out, warts and all. Really clean out that brain.
  4. Date your entries. Just in case you do ever want to go back and read what you’ve written it’s nice to know when you’ve written it. It helps to put everything into context.

Do you journal? Are you going to give it a shot? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Filed under artist, books, creativity, Curtis Andersen, nostalgia

Fun Video Friday – I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Fun Video Friday Update

A friend once said, “You know a good song when you can play it on an acoustic guitar around a bon fire and it still sounds good.” I subscribe to that idea and would expand it to say that a good song can survive new arrangements in new styles as well. The folks over at Post Modern Jukebox are regularly doing this with popular songs. I’m not the first to find PMJ (as the kids call them), they’ve been posting great versions of pop tunes for years and they appear regularly in pop culture and geek blogs. In fact they are going on tour! I’m not getting paid to bring that up, I just like in supporting cool creative things.

Back to the song…

Permission to Land was my favorite album of 2003… and 2004… and most of 2005 and ’06. It’s a solid, fun, driven rock album and was the perfect anthem for my late 20’s. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” is a song I still love to listen too even though I’ve heard it thousands of times. The New Orleans version below gives it a different kind of energy that still fits the spirit of the song and it never hurts to have a strong female voice driving a song.

 

And here’s the original:

 

What are some of your favorite tunes? Pop some links in the comments.

See you next time!

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May 1, 2015 · 8:00 am

Getting to Know Curtis: Favorite Horror Movies

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A few months ago I shot an interview about my favorite horror movies and monsters that didn’t end up getting used anywhere.  It’s just been taking up space in my editing computer and I came across it yesterday when I was working on a new project. Since Fun Size Horror Volume 1 is coming out on Friday I thought that this might be a good time to release it.

What is your favorite horror movie? Do you have a favorite monster? Tell me in the comments.

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April 28, 2015 · 8:05 am

Fun Video Friday The First Andelon Discussion: Creativity on the Daily

Fun Video Friday Update

We conducted our first Andelon Discussion last night LIVE via Google Hangout on YouTube where we discussed Creativity on the Daily, how people use their creative muscles in everyday life. It was a lively discussion that covered creativity for problem solving, trying to make a living creatively and what it takes to get your creativity going.

This being the first one we had a few technical issues with the sound at the beginning (my bad), but those stop about 10 minutes in.

The participants are some of my oldest friends who work in varied industries and had a lot to say on the matter. Check it out and let me know what you think!

This was a very male heavy discussion, so we’re doing an all female panel of this topic at the end of March hosted by my wife and partner at Andelon Productions, Rene Bordelon. If you’d like to check out more from the panel check out the links below:

Scott Sanford
IT specialist for the financial industry.

Dean Ethington
Graphic Designer and web developer for Oakley.

Dan Zarzana
Manager at an entertainment payroll company.

Jeff Garvin
Author and musician.

See you next time!

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February 20, 2015 · 8:00 am

Am I a Startup?

Startup Post Art

For the last year or so I’ve been looking at my career and trying to make decisions about which way to move it in the future. Even though I’ve been in the entertainment industry for 30 years now it hasn’t been one long smooth ride. Over those three decades I’ve actually had several “careers.”

  1. When I first started out as a kid doing commercials and voiceovers mostly.
  2. My awkward phase, around 13-15 when I exclusively played “nerd” characters.
  3. Late teens to late 20’s – the Sabrina the Teenage Witch years.
  4. Post 2005 – the producer years.

After this last decade of working almost exclusively behind the camera, with a few on-camera moments here and there, it’s time to start career number five – The “I-don’t-have-a-name-for-it-because-it-has-yet-to-be-defined” Years. For most of my working life many of my opportunities have depended a lot on other people saying “yes” which bred a bit of a reactionary response to the decisions that I’ve made in my work life. I would get a call for an audition, do my best at that audition, and then wait to see if I’m selected for the job or I would pitch an idea, put down a bid for the production, and then wait for the green light. After being beholden exclusively to other people it feels like it’s time to take as much control of my career as I can, especially since 40 is a lot closer than it used to be.

To this end I started thinking about how to make this paradigm shift. Up until now being proactive and taking control meant meeting people in the industry, participating in social media, being caught up on marketing materials like headshots and reels, etc. But this whole process needed to change if I was going to have any real control over what I wanted to do. My brain latched onto the idea of “startups.”  You hear all about startups everywhere, it has become a common term in the business vernacular. Just cruise LinkedIn or business circles on Twitter and you can find all kinds of reports, news and advice about “startups.” But nearly all of those articles and reports refer to tech startups, new apps or other tech that supposed to change our lives for the better; it was hard to see how I could fit my goals into the idea of startup structure. So I did some reading.

What is a “startup”?

Before I could really get down to business I needed to know what I was getting down to, so I hit the Internet. I did a search: “what is a startup.” This is what you find. Assuming that you exclude the results that are about creating a startup disk for your computer, there are hundreds of pages of results. After narrowing it down to about a dozen articles, there were three in particular that helped me to define what it is to be a startup and the dos and don’ts that go along with starting one. Of all the articles that defined a start up, the one that worked best for me was this article from FORBES.COM. In it “startup” is defined by Neil Blumenthal, co founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker as:

“A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.”

This sounded to me a lot like my current situation where the problem Rene and I are trying to solve (my career direction) did not have a clear solution (because I didn’t have one) and success is not guaranteed (because it’s not). They had other technical definitions as well, directly out of dictionaries, but I don’t want to get off track.

The article also discusses how the idea of “startup” is cultural currency. The concept in the zeitgeist is that startups are exciting and innovative and ready to tackle problems in new ways so other industries adopted the phrase even though they technically aren’t startups. Posers aside, this along with the definition presented by Mr. Blumenthal cemented my resolution that I would approach this year as if I, myself, were a startup. Here comes Curtis 5.0!

So what does one do?

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. A lot of people like to fancy themselves as one, but few can actually back up the claim. Fortunately when you’re a new startup, like myself, there are lots of places where you can get a nickel’s worth of free advice and one of those places is Entrepreneur.com. I found a lot of advice here about all kinds of things related to starting a business.  A lot of it was retreading well known ideas, but some of the lists were good reminders of the basic principles that are easy to lose track of. The article that was most relevant to me was 4 Best Practices to Avoid Startup Failure. These practices are remarkably applicable to the modern professional actor with just a few minor tweeks to the explanations. I’ll let you go to the original article to read the unaltered breakdowns, but here are my thoughts on the 4 Best Practices:

  1. Maximize your resources. While all of us in the entertainment biz may want high powered agents and PR firms backing us, that’s not always option and since my plan is all about what I can control maximizing the power of my personal resources is key. All of us, I don’t care who you are (and if you want to fight about it I’ll see you in the comments below), have some resources at our disposal. Maybe it’s a supportive family. Maybe you happen to be really good with Final Cut or other editing software. Maybe you just give good “chat” at parties. Whatever you’re good at and have access to is what you should be using.  Not sure what you’ve got? Sit down and write down what you know how to do and what is available to you. And get really basic: a reliable car, a cat that does tricks, an old tuxedo that still fits. You never know what can come in handy and it might be right under your nose.
  2. Leverage your network. I’m really bad at this. I have great friends and family and they are spread all over this fine globe in a variety of different industries. I always feel guilty about asking them for anything, but anytime I don’t they have always, to the person, told me that I should have said something. You probably have these people in your life too (unless you’re, like, a big ol’ mooch). It’s time to reach out. But the key is not to reach out to just anyone, seek out the people who you would like to emulate or who can encourage you on the course you’ve picked. Don’t ask them to just “hook you up,” but let them be a source of advice or even referrals to people you might not otherwise have access to. For example: I would like to do more Think Fast seminars, a seminar that teaches people how to think on their feet using interactive exercises. A resource available to me is a group of friends who work in the corporate sector in H.R. and training. Speaking to them can let me know what materials I need to have to be able to pitch the seminar and, if it makes sense for their industry, maybe even a shot to do one for their employees.
  3. Build a learning culture. Pride. Ego. Asshole. These are all traits that may pop up as you are struggling to get things going – especially if you’re a stubborn son of a bitch who really only changes his mind once he’s figured it out and not when his lovely wife tries to save him some trouble by suggesting it earlier. But I’m not speaking from personal experience or anything…

    …anyway. It really is important to keep an open mind and to be ready to steer the ship in a new direction when the situation requires it. Also, be open to new skills. With YouTube tutorials and a little elbow grease you can learn just about anything. For example: With Think Fast it became obvious that I would need a website dedicated to just that seminar, which Rene had mentioned about a year ago. I finally got around to it and, in order to be able to make it do look the way I wanted it to, I needed to really expand on my Photoshop skills. Am I ready to be hired out as a graphic designer? No, but that wasn’t the goal. In the end I was able to learn what I needed to to get my the website built in a way I liked and that was the goal.
  4. Have an MVP. This is not a Most Valuable Player, this is a Minimum Viable Product. Actually their breakdown of what that means is pretty relatable:

“No, not an individual. A minimum viable product is the least amount of product or service you can bring to market while achieving two objectives: maximizing value to the customer and minimizing costs.

Good judgment only comes from experience, and experience typically comes from bad judgment. The toughest lessons to learn are usually the most costly in terms of resources and capital, so the best practice for you is the one that keeps your business unique.”

So how does this work for the performer? Focus on what makes you unique or sets you apart and really go for that. For example: you probably recognize a few different commercial actors by defining physical characteristics. The next time you’re watching TV pay attention to the people in the commercials, you’ll see the same people over and over and many of them have defined hair or beards or a general “look” that is clearly their trademark. If we look at the Think Fast example: There are a lot of team building and “outside the box” seminars out in the world, Think Fast is different because it uses interactive exercises that are easy to pick-up and challenging. Take an honest stock of yourself and pick out what sets you apart – then commit to it 100%.

These have all been the “do’s” of treating yourself as a startup, but there are some “don’ts.” Unfortunately I think we’ve reached the point of TL;DR. So next time we’ll look at the don’ts. In the mean time, if you would like to fight me in the comments then get to swingin’ down below.

See you next time.

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Filed under business, creativity, evil plan, getting old, insight, inspiration, new projects, new year, Uncategorized