Last Month at Ei

We placed the signs in all of the right places. The lights were dimmed. The food was prepared. The cake was warm. The candles were lit. We even coordinated our outfits.

Finally, one of our current Ei students, Chevy Williams, walked through the door and with a joyous "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" her surprise party commenced.

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That's how our January Meetup kicked off. It was sweet, to say the least.

This was the second of four Meetups for Ei's 2015 class. And, it's the first time we've all been together since we began in September. It is remarkable to watch this group of individuals become a team and a class of their own as they design their education through experience.

But, what did we do? How did we strengthen our knowledge of Ei's five core competencies? And, where are the students going for their next experience?

Glad you asked…

Year 2, Meetup 2

At Ei, Storytelling is key. Since we're starting a new kind of school together, we must be thoughtful about how we share our goals and actions this year. To complete our first term with a bang, our final project was to use a new storytelling platform called Exposure. You can read more about Zak Tracy launching a brewery, Olenka Hand discovering the importance of place, Lance Henderstein writing and living in Vancouver, Christopher Carter embarking upon an EPIC journey, and Melanie Kahl sharing defining words. Our very own Sandee Kastrul of i.c. stars. led us through the first critique of the year followed by valuable lessons for growing in this area.

The following day began a full-fledged business competition led by Orlando Saez and Frank Nicodem. Even the instructors competed and had to navigate the twists and turns associated with multi-million dollar decisions.

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Then, it was time to hop back into Ei Learning Plans, our "maps" for the year. Thanks to Alan Webb and friends from Gravity Tank, we've begun building new tools to support Ei students. We discussed a myriad of topics ranging from goal setting and planning, to building communities of support. As we used the tools, everyone saw a glimpse of how these resources will not only serve our small group, but how they might serve others in the future.

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By the middle of the week, we were elbows-deep into a design thinking project with Brooklyn Boulders. We were tasked with exploring how we might develop, encourage, and sustain a cultural shift in the way individuals balance work and wellness. After two days of exploration with their staff and members, we held a culminating event in partnership with Annie Swank and Kate Garmey of Drink Tank. We packed the space with strategists, creatives and entrepreneurial types from all across the city to hear and share our progress. It stretched and inspired all of us.

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At the end of the week we held a final gathering entitled, Lessons from the Field, where students, coaches, and instructors shared talks on subjects they’d learned in their fields.

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The crew had one-hour slots to teach something they've learned over the past 90 days – completing the invaluable cycle of Learn, Do, Teach.

A Few Awesome People…

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We have an amazing team of friends and industry professionals who are willing to give loads of time and create meaningful learning moments for our students. Warm thanks to: Sandee Kastrul, Orlando Saez, Frank Nicodem, Kim Crutcher, Alan Webb, Annie Swank and the teams behind Drink Tank and Brooklyn Boulders.

And, of course, our Ei coaches: Pilu Sanchez, Eric Staples, Heather Baker, Kevin Von Qualen (who's also the photographer who captured our mini-conference).

Also, we owe many thanks to the various companies and organizations who hosted us during this Meetup. The world is our classroom, but these guys make it feel like home.

Thanks to i.c. stars, SPACE by Doejo, CannonDesign, Brooklyn Boulders, and Workshop. And a big, warm shout out to our homebase friends at NextSpace.

Also, Forbes

Last month, I received news that I was inducted into Forbes 30 Under 30 for Education. It was as much a surprise to me as it was to everyone else. I was grateful for the recognition, but I immediately wished I could have pointed to all of the people who’ve been working on LYP & Ei over the past 2 years, you included. I wrote a follow-up blog post entitled Myths of Recognition that attempts to do some of that.

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I hope you feel a small sense of pride in the feedback and support you’ve provided by being here. Together, we're doing meaningful work that is inspiring an industry and a slew of individuals. And, we’re just beginning. Thank you.

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Now, the crew is off and running to their second experience of the year. From ad agencies in Madrid to schools in the Bay, they're learning and making great things with phenomenal people.

As always, thank you for being a part of this journey with me and the team. We're glad you're here.

From Chicago, Victor & the Ei Team