Archive for the 'Super Heroes' Category

Alter Ego Series: Betty’s Escape

September 15, 2010 by: michelle

While working on a post this morning about a real person with a famous alter ego who’s been very busy of late, (look for that soon) my attention drifted out the window to this perfect sunny day and the amazing cloudless sky.

Still under the effects of The Dust & The Man and easily influenced, my own alter-alter ego, Betty, had no trouble escaping.

Under her spell, she dragged me down the street to Pfeiffer’s Hardware store and Samber Market, knowing she’d find the tools she needed to create one of her masterpieces of mirth and mayhem.

Tools for Mirth and Mayhem

Admittedly, I didn’t try very hard to fight her.

Inspired by a great conversation with Charles Planck at Affinity Lab’s last happy hour (That’s Charles at the beginning of the video) , I’m really curious – and a little bit afraid – to see  how this experiment in bringing Playa Practices into the “default world” will play out.

The results are already in on the product. The Son says of his first taste of Sun Cake – “Delicious.”


As for the rest, it should be fun or at least funny. If not, well…Let them eat cake. ;-)

And in honor of all the many Fearless and Fierce women from today’s Women Who Tech, Thanks for the inspiration!

Watch out Washington - Betty's on the loose!

Lone Nut Leadership

June 9, 2010 by: michelle

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. A lot has changed since January:

  • I’ve added a few new titles to my repertoire: Curator, Producer, Alchemist, Partner
  • I’ve worked harder, longer hours than ever before – and never been happier
  • The number of completely amazing, truly brilliant people in my life has exploded
  • I have a new business partner and new business model
  • The words “pillow-fight”, “flute”, and “client” have deep new meanings for me – all underscored with Laughter

I blame Dan Pink and that night at Politics and Prose.

I blame, TED, of course.

But mostly, I blame Patrick Smith.

I’ll let Derek Sivers explain.

You see, Patrick Smith has been my Lone Nut. And TEDxPotomac our movement.

It consumed us. It challenged us. It transformed us all.

Even though it was his crazy idea to bring a real TED-like experience to DC, Patrick truly “embraced me as an equal” (hehe, not literally Daniel and Irita) that night at the bookstore, the first of many nights over the last 6 months where we were the last “men” standing – dreaming and scheming over the details and stories to tell on May 20, 2010.

It’s no wonder I couldn’t wait to invite others to follow along. As a result, I think, TEDxPotomac was more than a single event within the larger TED and TEDx movement, it has become a movement in itself. One whose momentum continues to pull me forward – with laughter and smiles so big my face hurts. Seriously, just look at those grins.

Yoko K., Neil Takemoto, Jill Foster, Michelle Hoffman

Team MindMeld

So Patrick, my friend, my Leader, my Lone Nut, what’s NExt?

I’ll follow you anywhere, and Jill’s coming along for the whole ride next time. Unless, of course, one of us is driving.

Leave it to Dan Pink to get me back in the swing of things here. I knew I’d be writing about Dan and his new book Drive today, because I saw him talking about it yesterday at Politics and Prose. If I had any doubts or thoughts of dropping the ball, he was on NPR this morning reminding me of yesterday’s plans.

Ironically, I heard the interview as sort of a driveway moment while pulling in to the ModernTimes Coffeehouse, P&P’s in-store cafe. (It’s kind of a neighborhood hang-out and lately my double-secret satellite lair.)

I’ve been a fan of Dan Pink’s for a long time, since first reading the Free Agent Nation article in FastCompany magazine twelve years ago before it became his first book.

I became a rabid fan when he came back several years later with A Whole New Mind.

And I began truly foaming at the mouth when his release of Johny Bunko coincided with the completion of the design work here for yours truly – TBD –  in the spring of 2008. I mean, seriously, it’s a business/career book – in manga!

What I couldn’t imagine is what other superhero of mine I’d be writing about today. I mean, who could possibly give Dan Pink a run around the rink while I think?

George, freaking, Foreman, that’s who!

My NPR/drive time/important lesson constellations were well aligned today, and I caught this interview with the former heavy-weight champion about his new book – Knockout Entrepreneur.

Although I haven’t read either of these books yet, the similarities between the two are interesting and exciting, especially when looking at what Pink refers to as one of the key ingredients to drive – “purpose,” and whether – or not – money is a good motivator.

Here’s an excerpt from the Foreman interview:

MARTIN: … Number one, you say money matters but not much. You say don’t let making money be your only motivation. I know it may be difficult to believe but money is not the best motivator for most people. If you find a product or service that will simply make money for you, you can pay the mortgage this month, but that will never be enough to motivate you to outstanding success.

Well, tell me a little bit more about that because it sounds to me though that the money was pretty important to you.

Mr. FOREMAN: Money is a good thing but every morning you have to get up with something no one else in the world gets up with, that’s that image. That face you see in the mirror, you got to love it and you better do some things that you feel good about inside of you. Of course, money is going to come, but make certain that you do some good with it.

I almost forgot about that and dropped the baton because with all of the millions I made the first time around as the heavyweight champ of the world, I had a swimming pool, Rolls Royce, Mercedes, you name the foolishness – I mean the successiveness. But I had all these things but I didn’t have anything to show that I had treated mankind the way mankind had treated me.

The second time around, I even went back into boxing because I had a youth center my brother Roy and I started in Houston, Texas, just for kids to hang out and stay out of trouble. And I’d literally run out of money and I had to go back into boxing for debt. I risked my life and for that I was given the gift of stamina and endurance.

When I was younger I got tired in the fight with Muhammad Ali in Africa and I lost because I got tired. But once you have a reason and something to fight for, you are gifted with this thing called endurance and stamina when you’re fighting for more than just yourself and money.

And here’s a view into what Dan Pink is saying about carrots and sticks and how most of the time businesses should throw them out because they just don’t work like we think they do.

I think it’s kickass kismet that these two guys are both fighting the good fight for making the world a better place, and I think Dan Pink should be glad they’re fighting on the same team. ;-)

That’s it no more Reign on my Fire.

I can’t believe all this time has slipped by. Where did it go?

September 2008 was a slow return to reality after BRC, followed by October’s fast and furious assimilation by the “Borg” -  my own personal Kryptonite, a “real job”.

Lured by what promised to be, at last, the perfect opportunity to work using only my strengths: Strategy, Coaching, Team Building, User Experience Design, and Introducing Social Media, I leapt at the chance to “build my own team.” I never imagined I’d be hanging up my brand new super-hero suit so quickly.

I envisioned a slow ramp up as a sort of Charles Xavier, culling through my network of ultratalented friends from the online world – designers, developers, social-media gurus and online strategists, to assemble a best-of-the-best league of super online mutants to fight the good fight against an unwieldy navigation scheme and general lack of brand strategy. It seemed so close, so real, so easy. Heck, I was going to work for the American Association for Justice, it already sounded like a superhero gig. Moonlighting as TBD would be snap, right?

But, the world and the economy had other things in store for me and my team. Just days after arriving, out went The Memo. You know the one. Chances are pretty good you’ve seen one or more of these in the last year or so -  the, “cutting back, tightening belts, hiring freeze” memo.

(I think Hiring Freeze must be a distant cousin to Mr. Freeze, and one cold, heartless bitch, tho not as rotten as her paramour, LayOff.)

So my team of soon-to-be-six, was instantly frozen at 2.5, and 9 months of way too many 80 hour weeks, a layoff, a scapegoat and an implosion later, it’s just me and two wonder twins.

I lived so much of this last year so far outside of my Strengths Zone that I feel drained and depleted. But at the same time, I’ve taken on – and beaten – technical challenges I could never have imagined previously. (POW! take that web server scrub! BAM! RedDot LiveServer redundancy! BANG! you’re done, ever- crashing-nightmare-giving website! No more!)

Still, even though TBD would brush through my thoughts with a melancholy longing, there seemed no possibility to pull out the suit, to ignite the Fire of Desire. But in the last several months, with my darkest of foes defeated, I’ve felt her whispering to me at every turn. Teasing me with signs and symbols.

And so feeling like Peter Parker in Reign, or Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Returns, older, slower, surlier, hopefully a little wiser, yet nonetheless compelled, I must don the suit again.

I had my Hiatus removed

September 15, 2008 by: michelle


After a brief stint in the hospital for a very minor health issue (Hey, even superheroes need health-care sometimes.), and a not-so-brief, but all too fleeting stint on The Playa for Burning Man 2008, The Adventures and Observations of The Burning Desire (TBD) will continue next week with tall tales and keen insights into small business superheroes putting their innate talents and signature strengths to work to make the world a better place.

Seth Godin is a Superhero

June 27, 2008 by: michelle

Ever since I began thinking about writing this blog, I started imagining ways I could connect my readers with Seth Godin because he is one of the members of my League of Legends – thought leaders and provocateurs who inspire me, mentor me, and sometimes just make my brain hurt and my heart ache because they are so brilliant.

How serendipitous (I love it when I get to use that word!) that Seth has recently written an article entitled, “Superheroes”. I’m not kidding.

Seth and his cast of characters at Squidoo are holding a promotion to write Squidoo pages or “lenses” about your favorite everyday superheroes to raise money for charity. I wish I’d read this sooner because the contest part ends on July 1! It will be a challenge to write 5 lenses in 5 days, but it’s certainly worth a shot.

My head is spinning with ideas of people that deserve superhero status in my book. Who are your superheros?

Welcome to The Burning Desire

June 20, 2008 by: michelle

Hello, and Welcome!

Today is the longest day of the year – here in the Northern hemisphere. That means more daylight hours to devote to doing what you do best and what you love the most.

What’s that you say? You can’t remember the last time you spent more than an hour doing what you do best? You hardly ever feel like you get to really shine at work and lately it seems like every day is so draining? Well…maybe last quarter there was that one great strategy meeting…or a few months ago you got to work on that special project for a couple weeks. But it’s certainly not an everyday occurrence, right?

Unfortunately, studies show you’re not alone. Over the last decade, the Gallup Organization has gathered information from the more than 10 million participants who have taken their Clifton StrengthsFinder profile. Data indicates that only 30% of respondents strongly agreed that they have the opportunity to do what they do best everyday at work.

So that means a vast majority of us spend a vast majority of our time doing things we may not be very good at, or even like very much. For employees, that means things like dreading going to work and spending a lot of time telling people about the terrible place they work. For companies it means disengaged employees and higher turnover. And for small businesses, it can be the root cause of stagnant business growth.

Like most superheroes, we all have a few things that we can do better than almost anyone – innate talents and signature strengths that make us soar high and shine brightly. (Okay, maybe not fly or wield a golden lasso, but, hey, we’ve got planes and polygraphs for that stuff now.) But in this Universe, individuals with the innate abilities for developing loyal customer relationships, strategic planning, innovative conceptual thinking, or mad number crunching can save the day faster than any magic bullet.

Yet the sad truth is that, also like many superheroes, we spend most of our time masking those talents or pushing them to the periphery, focusing our energies instead on our weaknesses or “areas for improvement.” Essentially, hiding our x-ray eyes behind our horn-rimmed glasses.

So, if you need rescuing from your mild mannered life – welcome to The Burning Desire. Here at TBD, you’ll find a fun, lighthearted approach to help you identify your innate talents and signature strengths so you can get more of what you want from life whether it’s a new and improved career path, better team dynamics and collaboration, or a new business venture.

Along the way, we’ll look at ancient wisdom, new research, and comic book philosophy to help you identify your strengths so you can ignite your passion, create focus and “unmask your inner superhero.”

You’ll also meet the “League of Legends” – thought leaders, business gurus, and Jedi Masters of everything from music to gardening to database developing, inspiring people who seem to live by The Burning Desire’s philosophy -

  • - Do what comes naturally and what you do best
  • - Do what you love the most and with the greatest of passion
  • - Do what you do to make the world a better place

Oh, and of course, you’ll learn more about The Burning Desire herself.

So tune in next time…