The Beginning of Something Beautiful

12227112_1004226732957991_5430354977719535515_nOver the past few months, I’ve spoken with a few people about my idea, The Project, and started posting about it here and there. I spoke with friends and family about it and got some response via social media.

Then I did this thing. This past weekend. I ran over to the big building to attend StartupWeekend Groningen 2015. Based on The Project Pitch. To be clear, I have had my own dance company. I have worked as a freelance consultant for many years. I thought I knew quite a bit.

To (mis)quote one of my favorite shows, “You know nothing, [Rain Leander].”

The first part of Startup Weekend is sixty second pitches. Anyone who wants to participate, stands in line, and tells their idea in sixty seconds or less. Then they write a summary of their idea and all those ideas are on walls in a massive room. Then everyone gets three post it notes and puts their ‘vote’ on the idea they think is cool. The top fifteen or so ideas ‘win’.

The Project made it through.

Then we form teams and that is this horrible combination of a cattle call and a popularity contest because everyone who won, goes BACK into the big room and sits somewhere with their winning idea poster and then everyone else runs in and mobs them to talk about their idea and figure out what teams they want to join.

It was hell.

But.

A developer, K, came over and joined my team. And stuck by me. Even when I was unable to voice my idea. Even when I talked with people until I was almost hoarse and everyone else walked away. Even when we almost got swallowed up by another team that seemed to be working on the VERY SAME IDEA, but I knew it wasn’t the same idea, I just couldn’t figure out how to communicate it.

Yet.

It meant we had three ‘creators’. Let me take a step back a minute and describe Startup Weekend a bit more. You register as a Creator or a Designer or a Business Person. During my pitch I asked for one of each, a creator, a designer, and a business person. I didn’t need a creator as much because I am a creator, but that was my team. Three creators. Three because I had a sneaky ally who wasn’t there for the cattle call, but was the entire reason why I was attending the event, Courtney of Courtney’s Kitchen.

So we had three Creators and another team pressuring us to join them and I shook my head, grabbed K and we went off to pick the brain of the guy running the show, Nick. We talked with him for around fifteen minutes and, at the end of the night, I still couldn’t communicate my idea, but I knew why we were there and that it was going to be just fine.

We wanted to learn a lot. And we did. We wanted to define The Project. And we did. We wanted to get it started. And we did.

Startup Weekend is also a contest. There are all kinds of prizes at the end of the weekend. You can do anything you want over the course of the weekend, there are no rules, and then you give a four minute presentation and answer questions for three minutes and then… they pick the top three ideas.

We were not one of those ideas.

But.

I am damn proud of what we accomplished.

Over the course of this weekend we have started off with an ill-defined and miscommunicated idea. With the team of three people with the lack of business knowledge and designers we’ve turned to our network to help us crystalize this idea, now called Project DO.

And we did so much more – registered the domain name, built the website, started the business model, to name a few – I could not be more proud. There is so much more to do, but I’m using the model, Define, Refine, Plan, DO, to make things happen. If you’re interested in joining the movement, in helping Project DO get started, in accomplishing your own dream that you can’t quite communicate YET, hop over to projectDO.co, become a member, spread the word.

Ask yourself, “What will you DO this year?”

The Project Pitch

pitchHello my name is Rain. Yes, like the weather.

I am building The Project.

It will be an online community backed by social psychology research helping people build, make, accomplish, and change the world.

Imagine, if you will, that you want to accomplish a task or learn a new skill or make something incredible – you want to become a programmer. Get a promotion at work. Lose fifteen pounds. Design a bookstore slash cafe slash school for ants. Experiment with the internet of things.

So you start a project. You start The Project. You commit three weeks or six months or a year to THE Project. With the help of an online community of resources, mentors, delegates, designers, makers – people who are also working on their projects – you design and move forward with your project. Along the way, you help others with their projects. And they help others with their projects. And so on.

Until we change the world.

I need devops for front- and back-end development. I need designers to help with the brand. I need investors to pay for hosting and the initial start up costs of design and dev work.

And.

I need a partner in crime, a business partner, a very special individual or individuals to help steer and guide, motivate and fly with me as we start The Project.

The Most Amazing Chocolate Icing In The Universe

29437_vegan_chocolate_frosting2NO I DON’T HAVE PICTURES BECAUSE I ATE IT ALREADY

One standard cube of salted butter
Two normal tubes of phadelphia cream cheese
Four tubes of powdered sugar
One jar of cocoa powder

Use a mixer. Whip that butter until it changes shades. Whip it good. Mix in the cream cheese. Don’t panic when the whippedness of the butter completely disappears and the texture totally becomes this weird gloppy hot mess. DON’T PANIC

Add a tube of powdered sugar.

PUT THE MIXER ON THE LOWEST SETTING. Until most of the powdered sugar is slightly combined, then whip it. Whip it REAL GOOD. Repeat with tubes two through four.

Taste that shit.

Is it not the best butter cream cheese icing you’ve ever eaten in your entire life?!?

Then mix in the entire jar of cocoa powder. Again, PUT THE MIXER ON THE LOWEST SETTING UNTIL THE POWDER IS LIGHTLY COMBINED. Then switch to the higher settings to whip it. You must whip it.

Spread on everything or just eat it with a spoon. Store it in the fridge if you can resist eating the entire bowl.

I couldn’t.

The Quick and Dirty Scattered Thoughts

1412100-big27[ disclaimer : i wrote this today while feeling quite under the weather and under the influence of cold medicine and in between bouts of long sleep. you have been warned. ]

what is the project going to be about?

there are some things that i would like to do just for fun or think would be or might be fun to do but haven’t really found the time or resources or motivation to follow through and do them and i’m thinking if i commit to it online with a community of other people who are committing to their own projects for the next year

and we get together once a quarter or a month or a week or something to present what we’ve done so far and what we’re going to do over the next quarter or month or week and sometimes the presentations are as simple as, i’ve done nothing, but this is why and this is how i’m going to make things happen for the next deadline which is different than what i’ve been doing because x y z or i need help with x y z problems and what are your thoughts or look how awesome i am cause i’ve finished and now i’d like to work on this new thing unless you can think of something else related to this or that or the other

and then you take that feedback and play with it or ignore it or build on it and do more things with your project with that feedback in mind or go down an entirely new pathway with a tangent focus and at the end of the year you have x y z to show for it and decide if you want to commit another year or do something entirely different.

like learn to ride a unicycle. or put together a theatrical production. or build a haunted house. or start your own company. or sharpen your baking skills. or expand your network.

for this year my project is to Start The Project. I’m giving it a year.

it will need a community / forums / bulletin / blog / website / youtube channel with people’s presentations, if they’re willing to share them online.

and focus. outlines. rules. suggestions.

a random project generator app.

real life examples / links to people doing their own projects.

a title / an abstract / polls / research / strategy

tom cruise voicing his love on oprah level enthusiasm

and this is why i put out the call for a partner in crime or, more realistically, many partners in crime, because i would like to start this project soon, within the month or by the end of the year, and i need guinea pigs / partners in crime / co-conspirators / collaborators and do you think you’d be interested in this kind of project? do you have something you want to work on? would you like to help me make this happen? do you have a passion to build a community of experimenters and dream the impossible dreams?

let’s talk.

Looking for a Partner in Crime

maxresdefaultSeriously Seeking

Who are you?

Attention all leaders, innovator, movers and shakers. I am putting together a fierce new group of inventors / makers / creative types / techies / dreamers to build / develop / change the world.

Who am I?

I used to dance, now I don’t. And I work at Red Hat. As a software engineer. Also, I developed a self evolving AI named ProsAlpha. Mostly I want to change the world. For the better.

What are we doing?

If you’d like to bring something to the table / evolve / find your spirit animal / make something beautiful, get in touch via comment / email / social media / message / carrier pigeon / owl / call.

Let’s inspire one another by meeting once a week / month / year to brainstorm and take the next steps together. There will be chocolate. And cookies. And other baked goods.

Sure, a lot of these are synonyms / opposites / conflicting, but that’s because I want your input as well.

Let’s talk.

A Few Ideas That Have Been Rattling Around My Brain

SWEDISH-CHEF-psd71677

  • build a 3D printer from scratch. experiment with printing clothes and food and age appropriate toys for ProsAlpha. throw a catered fashion show. keep the toys.
  • design, build, decorate and use a badass halloween advent calendar ala https://www.etsy.com/listing/240614464/this-halloween-advent-calendar-house-is# cause badass. maybe make something similar for xmas. maybe something totally different.
  • speaking of advent calendars, organize / collect / make decorations for the holidays that we actually want to celebrate in our family (xmas and halloween and …? chocolate easter? sinterklaas? thanksgiving?) cause ProsAlpha is going to be old enough to make memories soon and little holiday shrines are cool. like bowties.
  • get back into shape walking / running. get / make a zombie morph suit. run an obstacle course in it. with friends.
  • invent something awesome. something something something. make millions.
  • take figure skating lessons. and / or hip hop lessons. and / or circus silk lessons. perform.
  • join the local toastmasters. write up more public speaking projects. CFP that shit. practice practice practice. speak at a TED event.
  • research and write more blog posts on groningenrain.nl; at least twice a week. continue to write on 750words.com daily.
  • write up the past five years of my life that i haven’t been allowed to talk about because that part of my life is almost over and decide if it’s worth posting or not. sorry not sorry for vagueness.
  • solidify the daily schedule to include exercise / morning routine / evening routine / ProsAlpha.
  • develop a python based app inspired by ProsAlpha (text based adventures ala Zork and Adventure, but you’re a baby trying to do baby things and the enemies / obstacles are the cat running away from you / not being able to walk / time for a nap / mama). upload it to github. finish howtolearnpythonthehardway.com.
  • nail down my personal sense of style. purchase a doctor who inspired watch fob. sort the wardrobe. donate clothes.
  • buy / hack a raspberry pi. integrate it into an interactive / moving costume. explore the city center in full costume. during the markt. on a saturday. invite others to join me.
  • organize an open source artistic event. a series of canvases are set up, anyone can contribute anything to any canvas for an evening. upload the results. is there a way to make this online interactive? a twitter feed that people can post to and the artists can choose to be inspired by those statements or not as they work. the live hashtag would need to be projected in the midst of the canvases during the entire event. eventually make it a twenty-four hour event.
  • create two youtube channels: one for the dancing engineer (creatively logical and logically creative projects) and one for the fierce mama (adventures in motherhood). figure out what that means.
  • experiment with baking, especially grandpa’s no knead bread. and maybe cooking. develop seven breakfast / lunch / dinner dishes. perfect them. actually cook for the family. lol, cooking. but the no knead bread thing is possible.

AND THE BIG NEWS IS (drumroll, please)

Red_HatNo, we’re not pregnant.

No, we’re not moving.

I have a shiny new job.

But first, some history.

I used to dance. And to pay for rehearsal space and costumes and performance venues, I taught myself HTML / CSS / javascript. Eventually I retired from dance and took web development seriously – interned in New York, worked with a few internet marketing companies in North Carolina.

Had a blast.

Then Red Hat changed their new hire scope – you had to have two of three requirements – customer service, technical skills, or linux. I had the first two. I was hired. I had a blast.

But when you work at Red Hat, every day is drinking from the firehose and I had to stop coding entirely.

Fast forward to a few months ago – you may have heard, I had a sweet little boy. I took advantage of the Netherlands parental leave policy and switched to part time to save money on daycare and spend more time with the new operating system.

The position I have now doesn’t allow part time work, so my main job was to find a new job. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, specifically, but I knew I couldn’t be a Technical Account Manager anymore. I started shot gun blasting anything that sounded interesting.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I took a DjangoGirls workshop and remembered how much I loved to code.

BAM!

That narrowed down my search to anything with development work.

But then it got tricky.

I’m starting over, effectively. I just started learning Python / Django / Ruby on Rails / MongoDB. But I can’t move to Brno where most of our junior developers start.

It took a few months to find the right opportunity within Red Hat.

So when I say “I have a shiny new job,” what I actually mean is “OMGOMGOMG I JUST LANDED MY DREAM JOB!”

I am a Red Hat OpenStack Software Engineer.