Camp Mighty Talks

Camp Mighty Pictures: Friday Afternoon by Leslie Fandrich

Last week I showed you Friday morning at Camp Mighty. The rest of Friday was filled with more creative inspiration and practical advice. Margaret Stewart was up next, illuminating us on the reasons why we create. 

Margaret Stewart, Director of Product Design at Facebook

Margaret Stewart, Director of Product Design at Facebook

Margaret's talk was titled, "How I Hurt Myself Knitting." On a flight home from London, she stayed up the entire flight knitting and developed a serious injury in her arm. Her doctor told her knitting injuries are common. Who knew knitting was dangerous? She began to wonder why she was compelled to knit tiny sweaters for her friends with new babies when she could have easily bought something. So she asked twitter, "Why do you make things?" She got a lot of great answers but very simply, we create things for ourselves and we create things for others. We create to hold in our hands the things that we dream. We create because it's fun. Creating gives us a sense of purpose. We create to please others and to show that we care. 

She segued into creating successful platforms on the internet to enable other people's creativity and invite participation like YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook. These sites are open ended and have no story or script. The user gets to decide and tell their own story. These are designs that empower people and amplify other's voices. It's about the people who use it and the power is in the aggrigate view. Margaret played the trailer for the YouTube, crowd-sourced movie Life in A Day, have you seen it? I watched on the plane home from last year's Camp Mighty and it was awe inspiring. It re-enforces the concept that the individual matters, YOU matter, you will be heard and all together we can create a compelling picture.

So, Margaret would like to know, what are you going to make? She told us to find and defend our time to make things. Makers Gonna Make and we ARE what we make.

Jordan Ferney's mother has this great quote on her fridge, "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want in the moment."

Jordan Ferney's mother has this great quote on her fridge, "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want in the moment."

Jordan FerneyJihan Zencirli and Philippa Hughes took the stage together to give brief talks about how they made their creative businesses happen. I regret not getting any pictures of Philippa from the Pink Line Project, I was too mesmerized by her story about transforming Washington, DC with art events to pick up my camera. The biggest message I got here is that there is no formula, each person's path to creative entrepreneurship is unique. However, two things these ladies have in common is PASSION and doing BIG things. Figure out what you love and just go for it. Find a need and fill it. Be Bold. Be Focused. Keep your eye on the big picture.

Jihan Zencirli is full of creative energy and enthusiasm, even while walking her dog.

Jihan Zencirli is full of creative energy and enthusiasm, even while walking her dog.

Brittany Gibbons is hilarious. I think she is giving the hand to that voice in your head that says you are not pretty, or worthy of pretty clothes.

Brittany Gibbons is hilarious. I think she is giving the hand to that voice in your head that says you are not pretty, or worthy of pretty clothes.

Brittany Gibbons in partnership with Lands' End talked about positive body imaging and dressing well for your figure no matter what size you are, Natalie Bowman from Bing talked about growing brands with social media and Susan Peterson and Alison Faulkner lead the group in a craft project from their new digital book, A Hip Handmade Holiday.

I love these ladies! They are seriously awesome. Plus, Alison told me I looked famous, so I will love her forever and ever.

I love these ladies! They are seriously awesome. Plus, Alison told me I looked famous, so I will love her forever and ever.

That's  Nathan ,  Holly ,  Heather ,  Brittany  and  Heather  lounging by the pool.

That's Nathan, Holly, Heather, Brittany and Heather lounging by the pool.

The day ended with a beautiful sunset and relaxing by the pool. Some of the best moments at Camp happen in between all the things we are learning and doing. The spontaneous conversations and friendly talks are what make Camp so special. It's a small, intimate group and so you usually have time to really get to know people.


Check out Flickr to see the complete set of pictures. Tomorrow I'm going to show you pictures from the Space party! There were some super amazing costumes, dancing all night and of course, Smilebooth!

Camp Mighty Pictures: Friday Morning by Leslie Fandrich

I took a lot of pictures and I've edited only a quarter of them! Here's the first set from Friday morning. We had breakfast, heard speakers Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl and Derreck Kayongo of the Global Soap Project and got a personalized gift from Bing and Wantist. It was a kick-ass, inspiring morning.

Jordan Ferney , mystery women and  Jihan Zencirli  walking to breakfast by the  Ace Hotel  Pool.

Jordan Ferney, mystery women and Jihan Zencirli walking to breakfast by the Ace Hotel Pool.

Melanie  and  Sheri  looking fabulous.

Melanie and Sheri looking fabulous.

Amber  and  Lindsay  are super fine.

Amber and Lindsay are super fine.

The beautiful  Daffodil .

The beautiful Daffodil.

An awesome collaged sign at the Ace.

An awesome collaged sign at the Ace.

Nicole Balch from  Making it Lovely .

Nicole Balch from Making it Lovely.

Maggie sharing her tips on achieving Life List goals.

Maggie sharing her tips on achieving Life List goals.

Maggie gave a talk on things she has learned over the years as she has been crossing things off her life list. It was the first time she spoke about it and much of what she said resonated with many of us. Sheri felt like Maggie was talking directly to her, and I'm sure many others did as well, me included. These were her lessons:

  1. Your Words Determine Your Happiness
  2. Action is Transformative
  3. Check Marks Don't Equal Happiness
  4. Our Opinions of Ourselves are NOT Fact
  5. Be Rigid Only if You Want to Snap
  6. My Body is a Compass
  7. It's About Who You Love and Who Loves You
  8. You Can Predict the Future

Next up was Derreck Kayongo. I noticed him at breakfast, before I knew who he was, and almost told him how much I loved his "look" but I got shy and didn't say a word. I wish I had.

Derreck Kayongo wowing us with an intense story from Uganda about his family witnessing the murder of nine men and his later success recycling soap from hotels with his  Global Soap Project .

Derreck Kayongo wowing us with an intense story from Uganda about his family witnessing the murder of nine men and his later success recycling soap from hotels with his Global Soap Project.

Derreck is an inspiration. He made us laugh, he made us cry and at the end of his talk he led us in singing an African song about peace. I hugged him afterward, to say thank you, with tears in my eyes. Here were some of his thoughts about how he achieved what he has:

  1. Pay attention to everything around you and connect the dots. You are here for a reason.
  2. The most beautiful thing in life is failure. Learn from it. Fail towards success.
  3. Never underestimate the power of ingenuity.
  4. Allow critique.
  5. Don't define yourself by your situation.
  6. Let your product be a symbol of hope, but make sure people use it!

The  Go Mighty  girls.

The Go Mighty girls.

Personalize presents for everyone selected from our Life Lists from  Bing  and  Wantist .

Personalize presents for everyone selected from our Life Lists from Bing and Wantist.

My gift.

My gift.

Holly Burns from  Nothing But Bonfires  opening a gift from Bing and Wantist.

Holly Burns from Nothing But Bonfires opening a gift from Bing and Wantist.

So many beautiful things.

So many beautiful things.

The Commune, where almost all of the events were held.

The Commune, where almost all of the events were held.

By noon on Friday I could have gone home and felt like what I had experienced was already enough, but there was more!! I was not even half way through the weekend. If you would like to see a few more pictures, check out my Flickr set. More to come.

For now, I am so thankful that I was able to go again this year, I am so thankful for inspiring, creative and amazing friends and I am so thankful for all the amazing things that people make and do. What an incredible world we live in. Have an excellent Thanksgiving. xo

Camp Mighty Talks: Lisa Congdon by Leslie

Lisa Congdon's talk at Camp Mighty was excellent and full of great advice. I admire her artwork, as well as her story about how she became an artist. She radically changed her career path, transforming herself into a successful commercial artist in just five years. She is a prolific collector, which I totally identify with, and she started a project in 2010 called A Collection a Day in which she photographed, on a grid, a few items from her collection every single day. It has since become a book.

Lisa's remarkable life change began, as some good things do, with a traumatic event. The relationship that she had been in fell apart and part of recovering from that was resolving to start fresh in every aspect of her life. She had grown up in a family of artists and had always made things, but she finally decided to pursue a career making art. It took her two years of simultaneously working at her job at a non-profit and making, showing and selling art before she was able to quit her job and dedicate herself to her art.

In examining her path to a successful artist, she identified seven critical things that have helped her to succeed:

1. BE A NERD. Nerds are defined by passion and love for what they do, they often live thier lives to the fullest and are not afraid to make a fool of themselves.

2. DAYDREAM OFTEN. Imagine being magnificent and map out your hopes and dreams for yourself.

3. TAKE RISKS. What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? Failing is also ok though, we learn from our failures, risks always pay off because every effort is valuable.

4. PRACTISE & HONE. Just practise, perfect and experiment. Repeat. Then ask for feedback about what you are doing. It will make it better if you can listen to what people think about what you are doing.

5. EMBRACE THE SUCK. You must work through the ugly stage and take it to the next level.

6. SHOW UP. Supporting others in the community is invaluable, be there for the people in your tribe.

7. STAY TRUE. This is the most challenging, but it is the most important.

Lisa is an inspiration to us all, to live the life we dream of and to be successful at it. She just began a new daily project on her blog called 365 Days of Hand Lettering, in which she will hand letter something every day. She's starting with the letters of the alphabet and will do sayings and words as well. I look forward to this project, as I've become interested in hand lettering myself while drawing these Camp Mighty Talk summaries. (As an aside, the letter R is very hard for me to draw!) I also just bought a 1950's book on lettering (inscribed to someone named Wolfie!) so perhaps you will see something about this topic from me too. Hand lettering is the perfect blend of art and design.

This is the last Camp Mighty Talk! I hope you have enjoyed them. If you would like to watch the complete lectures for yourself, you can visit the Camp Mighty Vimeo ChannelOr check out my other illustrated Camp Mighty Talks for Brian PiotrowiczEvany ThomasBuster Benson and Kenna.

Camp Mighty Talks: Kenna Zemedkun by Leslie

Kenna, a Grammy nominated artist and the organizer of Summit on the Summit, had the audience charmed from the start, telling us about his mother and asking us to sing happy birthday to her over the phone. He was very comfortable on stage and is clearly passionate about what he does. It was inspiring to hear about his experience planning and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the global clean water crisis.

Kenna said, right at the start of the talk, that to be well, you should do well. He meant that giving back and helping others is a very important part of being happy and feeling fulfilled. When choosing what cause to focus his energy on, he realised the answer had been communicated to him a number of times by his father. When he finally started listening, he heard stories of his father growing up in Ethiopia without clean water and when he learned that his uncle had died as a child of what was likely a water born illness, his dedication to bring clean water to communities throughout the world began. When you are looking for a cause to support, find something that is already close to your heart, it will be more personal and meaningful.

When choosing how to best raise money and bring awareness to the cause, he decided to do something extreme to attract attention. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was something he had already attempted to do and it seemed like a good endeavor that people would tune in to, whether or not he succeeded. Participating in the climb himself made it much easier to ask others to join him and he was able to get a number of culturally influential celebrities and educators to climb with him, raising the profile of the project and getting a documentary of it filmed and aired on MTV.

Before Kenna began his charity work, he had always hoped to have a larger audience, but he realized that you could wait forever for things to be just right. Whatever your platform, whomever your audience, it's never too early to start working for a cause you believe in. In addition to that, he stressed that action is not always what is required, sometimes your voice can be just as powerful. Helping people to understand the problem is as important as solving the problem. We can't all climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but we can draw attention to it, talk about it and spread the word.

When speaking about sponsors and advertising he brought us all back to Brian's talk when he said it is important that everyone's intentions match. His team turned away many lucrative sponsorships because the company's policies or practices didn't line up with the sustainability goals of the climb. He stressed how important it is to hand pick sponsors and to request money from marketing budgets and not budgets that were already earmarked to help people.

Kenna is already planning a second climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, and Maggie Mason, the original Mighty Girl, has agreed to climb with him, joking that she was going to head to the treadmill immediately to begin training. Of course she'll have all of us Mighty Campers on the internet cheering her on.

Next up is Lisa Congdon. She was the final speaker at Camp Mighty and her talk focused on how she radically changed her career path, transforming herself into a successful commercial artist in just five years.

Previous Camp Mighty Talks are Brian Piotrowicz, Evany Thomas and Buster Benson.

Camp Mighty Talks: Buster Benson by Leslie

Last week we looked at our first two Camp Mighty speakers Brian Piotrowicz and Evany Thomas. Our third speaker was Buster Benson of Habit Labs, Health Month and 750 Words.

Buster is a really smart dude. He began his talk by telling us about dopamine, the devil on our shoulder, that regulates our impulses to do things. When dopamine in is balance, we are calm and in the moment or motivated and goal-oriented, but too far on either side and we are a hopeless mess stuck in bed, or a manic crazy person buzzing like a bee.

Dopamine is released in our brain all the time and it "tags" certain behaviors, thoughts and experiences in different environments or social situations as good or bad. These tags become our CUES. Cues are everything and influence our behavior constantly. They are the source of superstitions and rituals and it is these cues that make it SO HARD to change our habits and behaviors. If there is something in our life that we want to change, we literally have to battle our own brain to improve ourselves. 

However, there is HOPE! With all the research and studying that Buster has done, he's identified four ways that we battle our cues. The first way, eliminating our cues, would probably make us crazy forcing us to live in a white box and do nothing. The second way, fighting our cues, requires grit and stamina and it can be painful and kind of sucks. The third way, distracting ourselves from our cues, works sometimes, but it's not something that we can count on to work every single time. Buster suggests a fourth way, which is to BE AWARE of our cues and to work with them and use their power to our own ends. 

This idea, of acceptance and awareness, is so critical to growth and change. Many times, simply recognising WHY we are doing something that is not good for us is enough to get past it or stop doing it. Looking at ourselves truthfully and understanding our motivations, our weaknesses and our patterns will help us to devise a way to tackle the issue and create new behaviors. We will gain strength in our knowledge and understanding of our cues and triggers and be able to better cope with them.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is to write. Writing it out, in a letter to yourself or someone else, in a journal for your own eyes, or even on a blog like this for all to see is a wonderful way to sort out your thoughts and feelings about your cues, to figure out why you do certain things and how to do better.

Change and growth is hard, and we need all the help we can get in managing it. Thanks to Buster we can begin to understand the chemical situation in our brain that makes these things hard and realize that being our best selves might be a life time process that is ongoing. It is the struggle that defines us and pushes us into new territory. If we simply keep trying to be better and we face our greatest challenges, we will have won.

Update! ⇒ Watch Buster's talk on the Camp Mighty Vimeo Channel.

Next is Kenna Zemedkun, a Grammy nominated artist, who spoke to us about his experiences raising money for clean water in Ethiopia by planning an epic Mount Kilimanjaro climb, Summit on the Summit

Camp Mighty Talks: Evany Thomas by Leslie

Yesterday we looked at our first Camp Mighty speaker Brian Piotrowicz. Our second speaker was Evany Thomas, a content strategist at Facebook.

Evany was adorable on stage, maybe a little nervous, but all the cuter for it. She talked about "How To Do Things That We Fear", like attend a cuddle party, and emphasized that we can do ANYTHING for 3 hours. ANYTHING. Hearing her talk about her experiences at the cuddle party was hilarious and one of the highlights of the weekend for me. So, so funny. If you should ever find yourself in a similar situation I hope you can go though it with the same grace and understanding that she did. Her biggest lesson from it was one of the rules of the cuddle party (of which there are many.) SAY NO. If something doesn't feel right, say no. Practice saying no. It's ok to say no. She realized that by being ALLOWED to say no, she actually said YES more. Funny how that works, isn't it? 

Evany used awesome examples like women's body building, a yo-yo championship, and her grandfather's Barbershop Group to illustrate her points about practicing otherly love. She has a wonderment with the world that I totally LOVE. If everyone appreciated the world the way she does, it would be a much happier place. She also told us a really sweet story about veering off course and happening upon a high-school performance of Cats, in which a slightly overweight boy in a tight leotard turned 12 perfect pirouettes to increasing applause and excitement from the audience. She called him sausage boy, but we all knew she really loved him and what he represented. If we end up in a place we didn't expect to be, rather than be upset about it, embrace it and look for the magical moments you might have otherwised missed.

Everyone seemed to especially love her point about "Being Gold". When faced with a life changing or challenging decision, she suggests choosing the path in which you can be the best version of yourself. Instead of leaning into the safe and the easy, lean into the best version of yourself, the brightest, shiniest and the most valuable. Be Gold people. Be Gold.

Update! ⇒ Watch Evany's talk on the Camp Mighty Vimeo Channel.

Next is Buster Benson, who explained to us all that in order to change our life and our habits we must fight our brain chemistry. Hardly a fair fight, but he does have some great advice.

Camp Mighty Talks: Brian Piotrowicz by Leslie

I'm going to share my sketchbook with you, specifically the pages that I am making, from the notes that I took, during the talks at Camp Mighty. I am a touch shy about these, there is a "stomach-is-in-my-throat" kind of feeling about my sketches not being good enough or some crap like that, SO BE KIND TO ME. I am not sharing them because I think the drawings themselves are super awesome, (though I do like the city I drew, what do you think?) but because the messages are awesome and I want to spread these seeds around to people who were not in Palm Springs with me. I'm sure some of you are all Camp-Mightied out, and believe me, I kind of am too, but here's the thing: It would be easy to just move on or continue doing what I was doing before, but I got so many great messages over that weekend, that I am STILL processing them. I want to sit with these messages a while longer, mull them over and really absorb them. 

Brian Piotrowicz was a co-producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show and is now a producer on the OWN channel. He's learned a lot working with Oprah and while I've never sat down to watch her daytime shows, I admire her and I am trying to study her a little, watching her Life Classes and Master Classes on OWN. I am looking forward to her Next Chapter shows, as they seem to be digging deep and looking for the hearts of some important people and issues. But, back to Brian. He was really sweet and charming and it seemed that his message resonated with a lot of people. Even if you can't get into the "feel good, let's cry" nature of the content he is producing, the idea that everything we do should be driven by intention is an easy one to grasp. He went one step further though and emphasized that it's important to focus on positive intentions because whatever we put out into the world comes back to us in spades. So, be good y'all.

Update! ⇒ Watch Brian's interview with Maggie on the Camp Mighty Vimeo Channel.

Next up? Evany Thomas, a content strategist at Facebook, who used her experiences at a cuddle party to illustrate how to do things we fear.