Hi, I'm Victor.

LYP Book

Learning to Risk. Risking to Learn.

buy on amazon

Higher education through real-word experience

Apply

A community of people taking risks to change their world.

VISIT

Retirement

09/02/2015

Recently, I met with someone who wanted to help me prepare for retirement. He told me I should be defensive with my money – health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance – and to be forward thinking or “offensive” with investments, money markets, roths, etc.

He was a bit surprised when I told him that I didn’t want to retire. Instead, I’d like to take a chapter out of Stefan Sagmeister’s book and spread out my retirement throughout my life.

We began discussing how I might take a year-long break every eight years – or every other Leap Year. I’ve never shared that idea out loud, but the more we talked about it, the more alluring it became.

Though I think every year can be a space for learning, reflection and taking new risks, there is something special about the natural rhythm in our earth’s cycle – an extra day, a globally recognized title, a four-year rhythm – it creates a sort of built-in checkpoint. So what if every other Leap Year (2020, 2028, 2036), I personally invested in my life and family through travel, reflection, study, or by working on an audacious idea. It would build upon what our community did together in 2012 in a methodical manner and continue sparking meaningful conversations and acts. I’ve always been curious about how the Olympics take place every four years to celebrate feats of athleticism, endurance, and physical and mental prowess. Could Leap Year invite and celebrate bold acts of learning, growth, change and impact – a sort of Social Good Olympics? 

Of course, that means I need to prepare for it. It will be no small feat to save enough financial resources to make the idea a reality, so how do I prepare for those years now?

And, more importantly, I need to continue finding others who care about creating space for learning, growth and change and offer tools to design those spaces. That’s why the team & students at Experience Institute are working to create this set of tools.

In any case, I think the idea of retiring in our 60s in order to do very little work is shifting – in the same way that learning doesn’t just happen in our early twenties. I want to be someone who continues growing and contributing to society throughout my entire life, not just the first parts to it. Getting older doesn’t mean getting less useful; quite the contrary. Our best years are ahead of us and we ought to make sure we have energy and resources to help others until the day we pass.

So, pace yourself, enjoy the days you have now and prepare for those in-between (leap) years accordingly.

I’m going to continue working on this idea. I’ll keep you posted on how it unfolds…

Everyone is on the brink of something great…

08/26/2015

A friend of mine recently pushed me to tell him what I believe.

It’s a question that keeps me up at night. I’m still forming my response, but one thing that continues to surface is: everyone is on the brink of something great. I believe that so much that I’ve spent the second half of my twenties helping individuals navigate points of transition through creating a new place to design learning. Education, after all, is where people often go to learn about the world, themselves, and how they’ll work to make things better.

Now, those students, friends, and I are sharing a new idea to give you the tools to take leaps in your own world. We invite you to learn more here…

LeapKit.ExpInstitute.com

Folio-web

Whether or not you decide to follow along, that belief continues to fuel me – early mornings, amazing conversations, those nerve-racking moments behind a camera, countless decisions, and these Wednesday Words.

If this works, more people will navigate those points of transitions with confidence rather than fear, with clarity rather than confusion, and with a community rather than alone.

So, here’s to leaping…together.

PS: If you’d like to help us share the news of this project, here are two simple ways:

Pre-written email: Click here to create a quick, pre-written email and send to two friends

 

What happens when…

08/19/2015

What happens when
your dreams fall apart?
Where do you go?
How do you restart?

What happens when
love seems far away?
Do you run fast?
Or find a place to stay?

What happens when
money lures you in?
Do you wake up?
Or forget where you’ve been?

What happens when
the world is cruel?
Do you bounce back?
Or feel like a fool?

What happens when
others give you praise?
Does your nose go high?
Or do you cherish those days?

What happens when
you have to move?
Do your feet plant?
Or do they start to groove?

What happens when
you are alone?
Do you think big?
Or remain unknown?

What happens when
you have no words?
Do you sing songs?
Or just watch the birds?

Heights and Horizons

08/12/2015

I know I climbed higher than I should have. I was young and over-confident. Perhaps I wasn’t aware of how fast I was growing during my adolescent years. I like to think the tree really tried to hold onto me. Its subtle cracks were warnings that something was awry; but I didn’t pay attention.

The final crack wasn’t subtle. It was deafening. And, it was the last thing I remember before waking up to confusion, pain, and fear on the icy ground on that cold February. I was never afraid of heights, until I felt their sting.

Obviously, the fall wasn’t fatal. But, my boyish superpowers were harmed. I came to know the weight of gravity and the fragility of a body.

Though my view of heights drastically changed that day, I’m still not scared of them. They exist like any other thing – spiders, snakes, death. They simply need more attention when you’re encountering them.

The same goes for your successes.

With each step you take in your craft, education, or vocation, you climb a proverbial ladder. The higher you go, the greater the distance you might fall; but, the heights also give you more of a view of what could be.

This is why keeping good friends and counselors is a must and why consistent reflection and introspection are vital. It’s much harder to fall to the ground if people watch your steps and catch you when you slip.

So, keep climbing, whatever that means to you. And, if you’re like me, you’ll get scared at times. Really scared. Pay attention to where you are and how you got there. Don’t forget how painful falling is.

But then…peer deeply into the breathtaking horizon ahead of you. Even though you may not know how to get there yet, let it keep your attention.  

Because, if you do fall, it’ll be all the worse if you never opened your eyes.

 

ps: Huge thanks to those of you who completed this short form. That was really helpful. Here’s to the next sixty weeks.

pps: If you’re free on the evening of August 27th, can you meet me here

Feedback

08/05/2015

I’ve written Wednesday Words for nearly 60 weeks straight. Now, I’d like to check in with you.

Can you take 30 seconds to complete this single, multiple choice question so I can learn more about what you want to read on Wednesdays? The answers will be completely anonymous.


Thanks for being here,
Victor

Different Ways

07/29/2015

Tensions were high. Voices were being raised. Hopes for a better future were being shared. A mix of anticipation, frustration, wonder and questioning swirled around the room.

I watched and listened as the small group of committed yet disgruntled educators ranted their rants and shared their qualms with current systems. I wondered why I was at the table with such a remarkable group of people.

It seems that Leap Year Project and now, Experience Institute, get looped into anti-college conversations – as my own way of brushing current systems aside and claiming “I have a better way” to education.

But, that’s not me.

It’s faddish and overly simplistic to put down current systems and tout a new way that will change everything. That style has been around since the beginning of playgrounds and politics. It’s a message that may have its place in moving people to action– especially within education; but it can be an unsurprising and unhelpful voice in an industry with a lot of noise.

It is far more generative to focus on the needs of real people and uncover methods that are merely overlooked, underrepresented and have potential to be remarkably powerful.

Because education isn’t about education, it’s about people – learning about the world, themselves, and how they’ll make their mark here. We’d be amiss to shrink it to programs and technologies. Yes, it needs to be organized, but if we try too hard to formalize it, it becomes nothing more than a mask for our desire for control – or our fear of losing control.

I truly wonder how we might elevate the role of experience within learning. I get excited about someone designing their education in the same manner as someone designing their own furniture, home, or anything else that requires creative, intentional thought. I’m curious what will happen as content becomes less of a focus due to its newfound ubiquitousness. Could the core of learning become even more rooted in community? Could cities be seen as classrooms? Could resumes be replaced by compelling, well-told story? Will the role of professor shift to a mix between practitioner and mentor?

These curiosities continue to fuel me as I prepare for some of the biggest risks of my short career. They’re a reminder of why I’m willing to take those risks.

Wherever you are, you too should raise your head, voice, and hands for what you believe. Find the people who are saying similar things. Let your frustrations lead you to listen and let your learnings move you to build rather than demolish.

The future will be much brighter with new roads and remodeled buildings, rather than picketed sidewalks and echoes of angry voices.

 

Act like it’s going to take time

07/22/2015

“You act as if you’re further along than you really are.”

The words felt like a strong right hook. He could tell I was affected by them, but the middle-aged, well-dressed creative director and design educator didn’t back down.

“Be honest with me. Tell me how long you think it will take for your ideas to come to fruition and then act like it’s going to take that much time. I’d be relieved if you told me you’re still 10 years away from reaching your goals. Show me you’re in process, don’t act like you’ve arrived.”

I didn’t have much to say in response. I simply took notes and asked a few questions.

When the hour passed, I was both relieved and wishing we had more time. I truly enjoy that kind of honest banter. But, it was also a jarring conversation.

We live in a society that celebrates quick growth and success. I can see the appeal of fast wins and understand the pressure to reach as many people as possible. Trust me.

But, growing bigger, faster, and more powerful is not the only thing worth pursuing. There are steps in between that you must learn to do really well, even if they seem less exciting than a final product or destination. Just as a painter wanting to create a masterpiece must learn the art of stroking a brush, you have to develop skills and traits that will help you create great things. Savoring and sharing those times will make you, your craft, and everyone around you better.

I’m not saying you ought not try things quickly, or you should overthink every detail. I’m simply saying you’re probably not there yet. So, be honest with how long it’s going to take to get there. And then…act like it.

Under Construction

07/15/2015

Recently, my good friend and co-founder of Kickstarter, Charles Adler, started a new project. He has commandeered a warehouse and packed it with interesting tools. He’s given it a title (Center for Lost Arts), raised some money, and invited a few friends to build something with their hands. Oh, and they have 30 days to concept, create, and complete their ideas. It’s an experiment in providing space and community around artistry and craftsmanship.

Last week, I walked through the garage door entrance and witnessed everyone working on their ideas. I passed newly minted peg boards packed with an array of tools, watched machines cut and print and work their work their magic, sat on plywood benches, and discussed all types of plans. Everything was at its beginning, a thousand things happening all at once, yet everything was just as it should be.

As I prepared to leave, I stood at the door and watched as individuals learned the tools and planned their next steps. At times a loud voice would yell over the noise, signaling for help or offering advice. It was one part orchestra and one part construction site – a fairly accurate picture of the rest of life.

All of us have our ideas and hopes. We work with the resources around us, trying to build things that are meaningful. If we look up, we’ll see most people are in a similar place. Oftentimes, if we simply give a shout, someone will offer a hand.

So, don’t worry about where you are today. Life is under construction, for all of us.

Just keep building.

Wonder

07/08/2015

I’m not that smart.

Really. I don’t know that much.

I haven’t read all of the books I’d hoped to read by now. I’m not well versed on every bit of history or geography or the sciences. I’m bad at math. And, I know very few key dates, places, and people behind major events in history.

I wish I were smarter.

I wish I were so smart that I could calculate the size of buildings at first sight and determine the number of wheel rotations during my bike rides and the ratio of small things to big things within dense cities. I wish I could ramble words you’ve never heard just to make you marvel at the number of syllables a person can use in a sentence. I wish I knew the names of all of the clouds so they would be impressed when I talked about them.

But, that’s not me.  I’m not that smart. Not yet. That may never be me.

I’m just curious.

I still wonder how buildings can be so tall and not get blown over by the wind.

I think bikes are fascinating. Wheels have always been one of my favorite inventions.

I’m genuinely surprised that every person shares at least one of the five senses. Many of us share all five.
That’s remarkable.

How does the earth spin at just the right speed?
How do the sun and moon hang in their perfect place?

How do love and math exist in the same universe?
(Seriously. Think about that.)

I’m not smart enough to compute all of it. Some people are.

I just hope those people are still curious about something. I hope they find things that stop them in their tracks and makes their eyes open wide and their jaws drop to the ground.

For today, all I know, is that you should never lose your sense of wonder. Few things are sweeter to the ear or more pleasant to the eye than a mystery or beauty that is truly noticed.

Imagination’s Move

07/01/2015

The sirens were screaming. Cars were zigging and zagging. We didn’t know if we were moving towards safety or moving into more trouble.

We pedaled harder. Faster.

To our right, a child skipping along the sidewalk with her pregnant mother close behind. To our left, a park with couples sitting, walking, kissing. Ahead of us, the open road and a slew of split decisions to be made.

She passed me to my right and nodded – nudging me to keep up.

The sirens finally caught up to us…and then, sped past us. It was simply a passing ambulance.
But the idea that we were being chased for some felony made us turn into imaginary James Bond figures for the evening.

As we rode to our destination, we took up the entire lane at times, glancing at the city as our playground and our home.

At dinner, we plopped into our seats – exhausted from the chase – and began to share stories of our recent adventures. Another busy day had passed.

Your imagination will move as fast as you let it. It will take you to wonderful places, no matter the day or the situation.

Let it move. And let yourself move with it.

Older Posts