Archive for the 'Strengths' Category

The Burning Desire Meets The Flaming C

December 10, 2010 by: michelle

Delightful Envy – Conan O’Brien Gets Animated by DC Animation Legend Bruce Timm.

I’m working on a follow-up post to Wednesday’s amazing TEDxPotomac / TEDxLive event during the first ever TEDWomen conference here in DC. The TEDxPotomacWomen event hosted one of my favorite TED Super Heroes, Danish Architect, Bjarke Ingels.

But while you’re waiting for detailed thoughts on that front, check out the Super-hilarious Conan O’Brien as he talks shop with the Creative Director of Warner Brothers Animation, Peter Girardi, just a guy who works at WB. LOL.

Animator Bruce Timm was responsible for the re-visioning of the DC Universe during the 1990’s, first with the animated series the New Adventures of Batman. His design style was the key inspiration for the design of yours-truly, The Burning Desire.

Enjoy some laughs while Conan revisits some not-so-heroic or super Super Heroes from the DC vault, and the process of designing his alter ego – The Flaming C.

TEDWomen – Hashtag Art Project

December 6, 2010 by: michelle

I’ll be hosting a special lunchtime talk with my TED Super-hero, Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels on Wednesday.

I’ll look forward to including some photos of our own in the TEDWomen Hashtag Art Project.

Patent Pending. Hashtag Art, Inc. to see the Mosaic

In an effort to practice what I preach, here’s a somewhat impromptu TBD Video Adventure:

The Burning Desire Shares a Bike: Capital Bikeshare.

You can also watch below.

Video blogging is a good way to practice your public speech skills.  It gets you used to hearing your own voice, and seeing yourself “perform”. Loading it up on YouTube can feel a lot like getting up on stage too. What a rush.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to be yourself. Or, at least one of your selves ;-)

When learning any new skill, it’s helpful to have some goals in mind to help measure improvement and chart success. My goals for this video:

  1. Get it up quickly, due to the timely nature of the content.
  2. Observe the video, and look for places to improve, such as “filler words”, ums, ers and for me, “so”
  3. More practice and experience using my new iPhone 4 for shooting video
  4. Learn a few new features on iMovie

When I hit “publish” I’m going to declare a big personal success since I’ve met my goals. Even though it’s not perfect, I’ve learned a lot from this piece.

  1. I’ll have it up in less than 24 hours – check
  2. I wish I’d done one more take of the first segment; Sometimes I say “sometimes” a lot, (groan) and I like to stop saying “so”, uh, so much, and probably “super” as well. Even though I use it as in “superhero”, I also say “super excited” – <slightly embarrassed> Okay, I’m over it. </slightly embarrassed> -check
  3. It was easier to hold the phone vertically, but the video looks strange like that. I’ll work on my grip. – check
  4. More practice with the Ken Burns effect and voice-over matching. – check

And, as you can see, being your own cameraman sometimes has its challenges. This is also the first time I’ve done my own “stunt” work  ;-) so yes, next time, I’ll wear a helmet. I finally remembered which part of the Batcave it’s hiding in.

Enjoy, and let me know when you want to join me for a ride!

I had been anxiously awaiting the bikes from Capital Bikeshare to make their appearance here in the MtP. The station arrived late last week, and word was the bikes would arrive on Monday. I’m not sure when they arrived exactly since they weren’t there Monday morning, but they were there on Tuesday.

I loved the service! As a long time interactive geek, I was especially impressed with the ease of use/user interface design, except for maybe the 102 screen rental agreement. ;-) — no I didn’t read it — But I guess sometimes the legal eagles just have to have their way.

The bike was sturdy and a bit clunkier looking than I expected, but the ride was smooth and fun. A great workout.

I’ll definitely be using the bikes as often as possible. You’ll love them too, so go ahead and get your limited time offer for the $50 annual membership fee. Or just try one out for a quick spin. It was so easy. Definitely worth the $5 for the 24-hour “membership”.

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. ;-)

What are your intentions?

August 9, 2009 by: michelle

This past Wednesday, I attended a great event entitled “Unintentional Entrepreneur”, co sponsored by Network Solutions, SCORE and Outright. As I get back on the Entrepreneurship horse on-the-side-show myself, I just couldn’t pass this one up for a number of reasons:

  • 1) Since 1992 when I started my first consulting business – intentionally – I’ve been both an intentional and unintentional entrepreneur several times over
  • 2) I was really curious to meet people who considered themselves “unintentional entrepreneurs” because on the occasions when I’ve been an unintentional entrepreneur, I’ve found living the dual identity of entrepreneur/job-seeker to be very challenging
    NB – I didn’t meet anyone who considered themselves unintentionally there ;-)
  • 3) Shashi The Social Media Swami was hosting. Besides having one of the coolest titles in the business, every time I attend one of Shashi’s events, something magical happens. Wednesday was no exception.
  • 4) I guess I consider myself an “unintentional employee” at the moment. I was just getting TBD off the ground when my current gig sort of fell in my lap. I wasn’t looking for it, but it found me.

So along with enough ideas for a regular cornucopia of blogging material for several weeks to come, it’s got me thinking a lot about “intentions.”

As an errant yogini and erstwhile coach, words and intentions are powerful concepts for entrepreneurs and everyone.

We’ll explore them together soon. In the mean time, here’s a great article on one interpretation of the difference between intentions and goals.

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.

Still GrOwing…

July 15, 2008 by: michelle

Michel(l)e Day RoseOkay, technically no longer growing, but last week I wrote about my great experience with Palace Florists. A week later, the rose looks practically fresh cut. No easy feat for a rose in July heat!

Newly discovered Strength/Superpower – superior product.

Note to self: find out secret ingredient in spray applied to rose.