“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Whenever Clay and I have a conversation, we both get really excited to share our thoughts with one another as we know each side is listening, learning and then building on what was already discussed. One of the great things about this process is that we are constantly learning from outside influences, and trying to update our thoughts and dialogue with our latest learnings. We learn from all sorts of sources, be that magazine articles, books or even blogs in our RSS readers (Snarfer for Clay, and Google Reader for me).
So it was with great excitement that I read early Monday morning on December 1, and found a post from Seth Godin explaining that he was offering an Apprenticeship. When Clay first met me, I’m almost certain that the first words out of Clay’s mouth were, “Do you read Seth Godin’s blog?” The answer to which was “no”. Clay then proceeded to make fun of what a luddite I was for the next 10 to 15 minutes. I, in turn, made fun of Clay’s proclivity to believe what he reads on the internet. Clay finally got through to me though, and I got an RSS reader and subscribed to Seth’s blog.
Then Clay and I started talking and e-mailing and IM-ing and g-chatting and meebo-ing and skype-ing and tweet-ing and whatever other cool new medium we were checking out-ing. In these conversations we noticed a consistant trend of mentioning Seth Godin. We were talking about the ideas that he put forward, and what the logical extensions of those ideas might be. We were talking about when he was off his rocker, like favoring pie charts over bar graphs. In fact, the genesis of Cerebral Element came as we were attempting to further a post of Seth Godin’s and that turned into our designs for foglift.
So when I woke up on Monday, at 6 am and found the Apprenticeship post from Seth, I immediately texted Clay and told him to checkout the latest post from Seth. Clay and I have been looking for a while to find an excuse to work less passionately on our day jobs, and more passionately on Cerebral Element, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. You see Seth was offering us the opportunity to talk about ideas and books for 1 hour a day, work for Seth on his project for 4 hours a day, and then work on our own ideas for 3 hours a day. All this, and it was Free!
Over the next week or so I worked on my application and Clay worked on his application. We would constantly cajole each other into getting our applications turned in early, so that we could increase our chances at being picked for the position. Once we had them in, we were dreaming of heading to New York and teaming up together on a daily basis with Seth and some other Rock Stars to work on some cool stuff. We knew that there would be tons of other great people applying as spontaneous groups emerged all over the internet, there was a Ning group started by Matt Cheney, a Squidoo group stared by NJ Thompson, a Linked In group started by David Marquardt, and even a couple of Facebook groups started by Rob Schmidt and Susan Villas Lewis). At the very least we knew that our ideas would get read by Seth, and that alone would be worth a great deal to us personally.
This is when something unexpected happened to me, I started asking friends and colleagues to recommend me in the comments section of my application. I got this incredible outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues, I got words that brought me to tears on more than one occasion. I also got more laughs than tears which I think is indicative of how lucky I am to have such great friends and colleagues. I also felt a bit like Hillary Swank when she forgot to thank her husband, as I forgot to thank my mom. I got a call from her a couple of days later rather upset, and I couldn’t figure out why, she told me that I had forgotten to thank her. The best four hour conversation I’ve ever had with my mom ensued, and that’s when I knew for me that the application process alone had changed my life.
So dream Clay and I did of New York, and when the announcements came from Seth, we were very excited. Clay got his announcement first, he was invited to New York for the personal interview session. I got mine next a very gracious thank you for applying. For me this was a big moment, as I was able to recognize that I had so many different and conflicting emotions. I was so excited for Clay, and disappointed as heck for myself, and even a little jealous of Clay. The great thing about working with Clay is I knew I could just get everything out there in front of him, and that we could talk through it together.
This sparked in me an idea for an Alt-MBA program for those incredible people who like me were unable to get into Seth’s program. I created this Squidoo page that day, and posted on the Ning site about starting our own. While I was getting enthusiastic responses from many of the other applicants, Clay was busy prepping for his trip to New York. We talked a bit after he landed in the wee hours, and I told him to get some sleep. The next day I texted him good luck, and we debriefed after it was over for an hour on the phone.
Clay was actually headed to San Francisco that night, and we had plans to get a drink and celebrate and try to determine the odds of Clay getting accepted. Clay’s typical travel luck ensued and what once looked like a possible 8:30 pm arrival turned into a 1:30 am arrival. I groggily picked up Clay from the airport, and drove him back to crash on the couch at my apartment. Of course with Clay and I we stayed up way too late talking and talking with excitement over his possibilities, what it might mean for CE, and what the announcement I made on Squidoo might turn into.
After finally deciding we both needed some sleep, I went up to bed around 3:30 and promptly passed out. Clay on the other hand was so amped from his trip that he decided to log in and check his email. The next thing I hear is… “Paul! Paul! I got in!!!!” (Only somewhere around 3% of the applicants were chosen and Clay was one of the lucky 10 that made it). There was much rejoicement all around, until we both passed out from exhaustion again.
So here we are, Clay and I, eached perched upon an opportunity to achieve some miraculous things, all the while keeping our communication open, and our thoughts aligned towards the future of Cerebral Element. Both focusing on one thing over the next 6 months…