#43. Speak at Studio/E

Those props were already there, I was absolutely not that prepared!
Those props were already there, I was absolutely not that prepared!

Last year, I was feeling a little uninspired. I considered taking some sort of business-y class, or possibly learning French due to the fact that I always avoid ordering French foods on menus because I fear pronouncing them incorrectly. As things tend to go in life, I was searching for a cool, new learning experience and lo and behold, my colleague Tom was actually designing an amazing program called Studio/E. Here’s how he explains it:

“A studio is a place to learn and practice an art. At Studio/E, the art is thinking and acting as an entrepreneur — regardless of what sector or professional environment you’re in. ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS MORE THAN VENTURE CREATION. It’s about effectively navigating extreme uncertainty. The methodology, mindset and competency of an entrepreneur can be taught to anyone. And it is a powerful advantage in successfully navigating your course in our unpredictable and unknowable world.”

What intrigued me is that it seemed to attract incredibly successful, interesting people in a comfortable and relaxed environment. I signed up. Each cohort (just a fancy word for class) meets for one full day, four times throughout the year. When the course is completed, you’re armed with a bunch of tools to help get your own big ideas accomplished. My idea changed throughout the year, but the end result is Hey Eleanor.

Studio/E focuses a lot on “enrollment.” Don’t worry, it’s not a pyramid scheme or anything. Here’s the simple explanation: In order to get your ideas accomplished, you need to rely on other people. In order to get people onboard with your idea, they need to paint themselves into the picture. For example, say I’m trying to get you to rent my fantastic beach house in Mexico (does not exist, btw). I can tell you all the great aspects of the place– it’s proximity to the ocean, how great the open kitchen is, and what about that infinity pool?! But you aren’t going to want to rent it until you begin picturing yourself kicking back with a margarita, building a sandcastle on the beach with the kids, or slamming too many tequila poppers and getting a tramp stamp you’ll regret for life. Once you get someone attached to your idea, it becomes their idea, too. The more people you get onboard, the more things start to happen. Pretty soon, you have a blog that takes up all of your free time!

Anyhow, I decided I’d try this enrollment technique on a few test subjects: the current cohorts at Studio/E. Last week, I swung by to see if these unsuspecting folks would help me come up with scary ideas. This allowed me to do my most favoritest thing ever: Public speaking (where is sarcasm font when you need it?)!

I only did a so-so job on the first day (and I made two people cry when I showed this video, which felt awful! I kept it a little lighter the next time), but I think my presentation got better on day two. Knowing that there are probably execs from Fortune 500 companies in the audience didn’t make this easier, but I try not to think about that. Don’t we all just put our jeggings on one leg at a time?


Here's Cohort D, trying to think up things that'll scare me. Side note: How stunning is the James J. Hill Library?
Here’s Cohort D, trying to think up things that’ll scare me. Side note: How stunning is the James J. Hill Library?

For five minutes, everyone wrote down things that scare them. I got some awesome ideas, including:

  • Go ski jumping (broken bones!)
  • Try ice canoeing (?????)
  • Take a vacation with only a fanny pack (can’t decide if it’s wearing a fanny pack or packing extremely light that’s supposed to be scary).
  • Euthanize a sick animal (heartbreaking… but good one!)
  • Go camping alone (EEEK!)
  • Scuba diving (the worst)
  •  Drive blindfolded while a copilot instructs you on what to do (gotta be illegal!)

A huge thanks to Nate & Tom and their Studio/E team for inviting me to talk about Hey Eleanor. I’m not a naturally gifted public speaker, and explaining an idea to a group is much more complicated than just a one-on-one conversation. However, it helped me get a firmer grasp on what it is I’m doing and how I can explain it as clearly and concisely as possible. I’ve got some work to do… right after I Google ice canoeing.


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