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  • It's not common knowledge, but my Leapyear Project has two parts:

    - Challenge people to attempt projects that could change their world and then, to share their story.

    - Create my own personal MBA in art/design, business and social change.

    The second is less publicized, but it's actually the reason why I started this project.

    How do I plan on creating a personal MBA?

    Thanks to some advice from my good friend Seth, I setup the following system:
    - 12 months--12 educational experiences. 1 per month.
    - Each experience is meant to help me explore something around the areas of art/design, business, and social change. The experiences can be apprenticeships, classes, travel, conferences or something out of the ordinary.
    - Each experience needs to entail at least 15 hours of work, class, and/or conversation.

    This is what happened in January:
    Seth told me I should start by shadowing a 'serial entrepreneur' named Phil.
    Phil had started several successful coffee shops and was about to launch an incredible new line of coffee. Shadowing Phil could give me first hand experience in the entrepreneurial world. It would be a perfect for my 'MBA.'

    Not knowing Phil, I emailed him and asked him if he would be willing to let me shadow him.
    He asked several questions that I couldn't really answer and then warned me that he was 'unconventional.' I could also tell he was somewhat apprehensive. I tried to put him at ease by explaining that I wouldn't get in his way -- even though I still was unsure how all of this was going to work.

    January 7th - It was time to begin. Phil told me to meet him at a certain address and that he would be late. I assumed it was a coffee shop. I came early, walked into a narrow doorway, climbed an unfinished flight of stairs and then opened a door that led me into a gorgeous office space. Everyone was working fervently on beautiful Apple computers.

    "Where am I?" I thought to myself. "Does this guy have an entire team of people that help him with his coffee shops? That IS unconventional..."

    I sat, waited...and wondered.

    He walked in wearing trendy clothes, hipster glasses, and working on his iPhone. He greeted me and I awkwardly followed him to his desk.

    We didn't know anything about each other and we didn't really know what we were supposed to do. I could tell he was busy. I felt like I was intruding. It was becoming increasingly odd... but, I was determined on figuring this out.

    "Do you want a quick tour?" he asked.

    "Yeah, that would be great."

    He began to explain that the office space is still under construction.

    "Soon, this is where Doejo will have a full video editing suite."

    "Cool." I said. "But, what's Doejo??"

    "What? You don't know about Doejo?? Doejo is my main gig. It's my digital agency. We are designers, programmers, videographers, business consultants, etc. The coffee thing is just one of my side projects."

    I was floored. This is precisely the type of place that I hoped to learn from this year. I knew nothing about it. I just thought Phil was the coffee guy. Furthermore, I later found out that Phil was really interested in exploring how Doejo could start a smaller design shop that would do more non-profit and community projects.

    So, for the next three weeks, I brainstormed the "Doejo Foundation" with Phil and one of his partners, Katie B. I worked from their offices, shared countless cups of coffee, and have begun a great friendship.

    As I prepare for February's experience, Phil and I have decided that I'll continue helping launch the foundation. It won't be easy, but I believe in it and look forward to helping them explore sustainable ways to do beautiful work for great organizations.

    Yeah, it was a good month.

    And, now...I'm off to Atlanta.
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