I believe every insight begins with an initial question: What if? What if cars could fly? What if everyone had a computer in their pocket? What if there was a better way? The question stirs our imagination and drives us toward a dozen ideas, one of which may challenge the problem at hand. Every project, every program, every piece of content needs this insight and, of course, a pragmatic approach to execution.
My career began at age fifteen, when my many “what if” questions led to what would become a wide breadth of experience. At that age I was hanging around the Suburban Chicago punk scene, and the question – what if i could listen to these bands all the time – led me to start a record label and release vinyl by my favorite local artists.
In the many years since then, my curiosity has propelled an adventurous life of skill-development, achievement, and failure. I’ve produced two feature-length fiction films and three feature documentaries, written a book, developed apps, operated cameras in 13 countries and 44 US States, programmed websites, designed materials, built small companies, created episodic series, raised money, built teams, taught classes, spoke at conferences, had an article written about my open-water winter swimming habits, worked on Academy Award nominated and national Emmy winning films, hitchhiked, hopped freight trains, and collected stories along the way.
Through this experience, I’ve developed five main tools:
1. How to use critical thinking and listening skills to ask important questions
2. How to build projects from development through delivery, with a special focus on the initial research and development
3. How to manage a team
4. How to think about audience engagement
5. How to take risks while having fun
These tools help me deliver a pragmatic approach to execution. The insight, on the other hand, all comes from the initial question.