The Freedom Of Structure

One of the things I like most about TED talks is the opportunity they create for people to share a perspective on the world they otherwise might not have a venue to share.

For example, I came across a new talk from ESPN commentator and radio host Bomani Jones in which he explains what he’s learned over the course of his career – specifically, how he’s come to realize the structure he’s fought against since high school because he thought it would restrain his creativity actually enables it.

Despite the fact that Jones works in the media and theoretically has limitless avenues available to him to share these kinds of insights, I’ve never seen this side of him because it doesn’t really fit the expectations of the outlets he works for. It’s off-topic.

But  a TED talk delivered to high school students offered him the perfect venue to share what he’s learned and it’s well worth a few minutes of your time to check out.

Spring Broke

You ever think about how Spring Break came to be?

Me neither.

Turns out, it’s an interesting story that includes as much business, marketing, and politics as it does partying.

I watched a new Showtime documentary this weekend called Spring Broke that chronicles the history of Spring Break and how it’s evolved over the years and I highly recommend you check it out.

It’s packed with interesting stuff such as the fact that cigarette companies fueled the growth of the Daytona Beach Spring Break scene because it was a cheap (and semi-legal) way for them to market to college kids. And once it was made illegal for them to do so, alcohol brands stepped in and picked up the torch.

It was also interesting to see the impact MTV’s Spring Break coverage had and tons of behind-the-scenes stuff like how MTV always made it seem a lot more wild and warm than it actually was.

While I never went to Daytona Beach for Spring Break, watching the documentary made me think back to my own Spring Break adventures.

Most of my memories of them are appropriately foggy, but here’s a few things I remembered.

I remember my first real Spring Break experience happening when I was a senior in high school.

A bunch of my friends piled into a couple cars and drove down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. None of us had much money, but one of my friends who had a particularly low bankroll decided to spend almost all of it on fireworks at a weird/infamous truck stop called South of the Border on our drive down.

By day two of our trip, he was out of money, but fully stocked with an artillery of fireworks we had no real use for.

I also remember that on one of our first days there, we met a group of girls from Indiana of all places who we hung out with for the duration of the trip. We went on to meet back up with them multiple times in multiple other locations over the next few years.

It didn’t seem particularly odd at the time, but considering this all happened in a pre-Internet, pre-cell phone era, it actually seems like an amazing accomplishment in retrospect.

I have no idea how those friendships were maintained or how those reunion trips were coordinated, but I’m going to guess beepers were involved since that was pretty much the extent of our technology back then.

In college, I found myself in Miami for Spring Break, where I turned 21 and rented a car that I put on my first credit card and am probably still paying off.

Then, my senior year of college I spent my final Spring Break flying to Los Angeles with my Mom. It was the first time I saw the city that would become my home for the next (almost) 20 years and it was the week I decided to make the move.

I even interviewed with a company that week that wound up hiring me a few months later and was my first post-college job.

Based on that, I might have to say the highlight of my Spring Break experiences was a trip with my Mom. It certainly wasn’t my most fun Spring Break experience, but it definitely had the biggest long-term impact.

This is all a long-winded way of saying you should check out Spring Broke – here’s the trailer:


Seth and Gary

Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk.

Nobody’s had a bigger influence on my career than these two guys – despite having never met Seth and only meeting Gary once.

Their perspective on business, marketing, social media, creativity, and life in general should be required reading/watching/following for anybody who works in those fields.

My job didn’t exist when I was in school and theoretically there’s no way I should know how to do what I know how to do.

The reason I know how to do these things is largely because of Seth and Gary.

They were a tipping point that led me down a rabbit hole of learning and self-educating that helped me develop the skills needed to have the success I’ve had so far.

Seth, through a daily blog he’s run practically since the Internet was created and through a series of incredible books (most notably, Tribes).

And Gary, through his personal social media content machine and amazing talks that are as inspiring as they are intelligent (as well as his own great books like the new #AskGaryVee).

These two share a lot of common ground, but they’re also completely different. The mindful, soft-spoken, intellectual Godin contrasted with the aggressive, combative, hustler that is Vaynerchuk.

Individually, they have valuable insights to share with the world. Together, they’re a master class.

But I’ve never actually seen them together – until now.

Seth recently appeared on an episode of Gary’s web series where they tackled questions from viewers.

Watching them agree – and often, disagree – on the answers to questions is fascinating and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The video’s about 37 minutes long and well worth your time, but if you’ve only got a couple minutes to spare make sure you at least watch the part at the 19:23 mark when Seth explains why he doesn’t use social media beyond his blog and Gary explains why he lives and breathes social media.

You won’t regret it.