This past month has been busy. I left my job to start a consulting shop, First Quarter Strategies. The boys and I took our first vacation since COVID canceled everything. These past few weeks, I managed to start a new business, end a year of homeschool, reunite with family, swim in the ocean, and continue my basement book tour for Making It.
Friends have asked what a basement book tour looks like, so I thought I'd bundle May book stuff into one blog to give you a sense of what this is like. There were some amazing conversations this past month, and I hope you take some time to listen or watch. At the bottom, I've put some hard-earned tips on what to do and not to do when launching a book from your basement during a global pandemic!
Dustin and I go way back. Fifteen years ago, he ran an education nonprofit in St. Louis, and I was starting a school. Today, we have a combined five boys who are 10 and under and more than 20 years each in education. This podcast covers everything from parenting tips to what in Making It translates into the classroom and school.
Conscious Parenting with Sue DeCaro (~25 min listen)
Sue and I just met, but it feels like we've known each other forever. Here's why: it turns out we both grew up in the same (very) small town in New Jersey. Sue is a globally-known parenting coach who focuses on how we can be better parents and people. This conversation focuses on kids' health and well-being, specifically how the brain, body, and behavior are all connected.
Toi and I live parallel lives. Both working moms, in education, each with two boys who are growing up in the midwest. The similarities definitely show themselves during this two-part conversation. This conversation focuses on the entrepreneurial wiring of today's kids and how they'll need to innovate and create in the future. We go deep into technology trends, the future of work, and what life has been like during the pandemic with our own boys and households turned homeschools.
M2 on Education with Mike Lee and Melissa Sadorf (~50 min listen)
When I met Mike, I was 18 years old and interviewing to be a fifth-grade teacher at Dysart Elementary School in the greater Phoenix area. Mike was the assistant principal and would become my first "edu-boss." It was magical to talk about the book with someone who served on the education frontlines with me.
YouTube Video Talks
Convo with Julia Freeland Fisher from the Clayton Christensen Center on Disruptive Innovation (~25 min watch)
This conversation opens with Julia surprising me by sharing the story of how we met and the first email I ever sent her. Our friendship has now spanned years, and Julia's research hugely informed my chapter on social connections. This conversation is a great one for research and policy wonks, but you'll be sure to catch the friendship energy in the air too.
St Louis County Library Favorite Authors Event with HEC Media (~25 min watch)
HEC Media produced a beautiful high-quality video via Zoom, and it totally blew me away! This event was done in partnership with the Novel Neighbor bookstore, an independent bookstore in St. Louis County.
Brown School of Social Work "Open Classroom" Book Talk (~1 hour, watch)
Joined by distinguished Brown School professor and long-time colleague Mark Rank, this conversation was amazing until midway through, when I had to evacuate the building I'm in because it's on fire. Luckily, no one was injured during the filming of this conversation.
Game Changer Series with Ted Dintersmith (~1 hour, watch via WSCB Platform)
I was so honored to get to kick off Ted's Game Changer Series, which includes a bunch of educator superstars, from Linda Darling-Hammond to Carlos Moreno to Jal Mehta and more. This conversation is pure Ted Dintersmith, focusing on the future of work and learning, what schools can be and do, and how we can elevate the importance of creativity and humanity in the education process.
National Afterschool Association "The Future of Afterschool" with Gina Warner (~1 hour. watch here)
When NAA Executive Director Gina Warner and I saw each other, we were in London together for a learning exchange. This intimate conversation with NAA leaders focuses on what Making It offers afterschool and out-of-school time providers. We focus a lot of our conversation on the importance of cognitive and mental health.
Washington University Alumni Affairs Lunch & Learn Session (~1 hour, watch here)
As a Wash U Bear myself, I was thrilled to participate in the University's alumni series. This is a great primer on Making It and the research that went behind it. It's well-suited for anyone generally interested in the themes covered in the book.
PRO TIPS | What to Do and Avoid When Launching a Book From Your Basement
As I have been video and Zoom recorded from my basement, I've learned a lot. In case you ever find yourself in this position, here are some pro tips on how to launch a book from your basement in the middle of a pandemic:
Things to Do
Do buy a mic. My radio-producing brother convinced me that this was the one thing worth investing in since I wouldn't be getting on planes to give talks. This is what I ended up with. It's been great so far.
Do yourself a favor, and buy a clip-on light for the computer. I looked like a washed-out vampire in my first few videos. In a move of sheer vanity, I impulse bought this light and totally love it. If you wear glasses, beware: I've started to wear my contacts when on screen. Otherwise, my glasses show little halos in the center. Very distracting.
Do own your vanity, and do whatever you need to feel comfortable. That much looking at yourself and knowing others are watching is stressful! Big thanks to my lifetime girlfriend, Sara, for sending me lipsticks she knew I might wear, and Gena for helping me figure out which colors I wear best. If you're a faithful watcher, you'll catch the new trends as we move from March to May.
Do plan for bio breaks, and breaks more generally. Like virtual work, virtual book stuff is exhausting, and if people are showing up to hear from you, you'd better be at your best. Hard to do if you're hungry, thirsty, or have to pee. Plan times to eat and use the bathroom.
Do see your book in the wild, wild world, even if it requires masks and copious amounts of sanitizer. There's definitely nothing better!
Things Not to Do
Do not schedule a book talk during (Amazon) "prime" delivery times, especially if you have dogs and kids.
Do not schedule a book talk while on vacation. Not only is this unhealthy, but various issues can arise. I experienced everything from the predictable and mundane (connectivity issues) to the unbelievable and extreme (the building I was staying in caught on fire and I had to evacuate mid-talk)
Do not keep an open cup of coffee close by while recording. I have a long history of moving my hands vigorously when I'm excited and while talking. This had disastrous consequences when I was answering a question during a live conference session. All mugs are now filled with water and pushed a safe distance from my gesturing-hands radius.