Taking a Leap


Dear Friends & Family—

I’m starting something new. I don’t know what it’ll look like. But I’m excited. And I hope you’ll come along for the ride

I’ve just started my year as a fellow with the Experience Institute, a cool new program pushing the boundaries of higher education. As a Leap Year Fellow, my job is to design a year of education for myself built around experience. I’ll be looking to connect with organizations doing interesting and meaningful work that I can contribute to and learn from — piecing together a full year of apprenticeships, internships, consulting gigs, and residencies. 

Why am I doing this? When my faculty job ended due to budget cuts, I decided it was time for a break from traditional academic institutions. There’s no question that I want to continue to write, research, think about culture and communication, talk about big ideas, fuss about tiny details, help others improve their creative work, and maybe even do some teaching. Trouble is, I’ve only ever done those things in one kind of way, in one kind of institution. It’s time for some exploration. 

My year is off to a great start. I spent last week on the 12th floor of a fancypants office building in downtown Chicago, surrounded by the awesome members of my cohort and a zillion Post-It notes. We did a series of intensive workshops in things like storytelling, design thinking, and community building. We got to know each other and started preparing for our year. Now we’re all heading out to wherever our first experiences take us, staying connected with weekly calls and quarterly confabs. 

I feel well supported by this group and by the program’s truly remarkable staff, coaches, and network of partner organizations. But it’s going to be a challenging year of new people, new roles, new cities — a year of “personal and professional transformation,” as they say — so I’m asking for your support, too. 

I’m looking for a group of encouraging and inspiring people (like you) who can follow along with what I’m doing. Keep me accountable for providing regular updates. Bounce around ideas with me. Collaborate. Celebrate. Commiserate. Challenge. Cringe. Nod silently. Send good vibes. Share wisdom. Give feedback. Grab coffee. Tell me about your projects, and about that friend of yours who I’ve just got to meet, working on that thing I’ve just got to see. 

In return? You get warm fuzzy feelings. But also: I’ll be sharing stories, ideas, photos, links, and other goodies along the way that I hope you’ll find interesting and useful, or at the very least entertaining. Maybe you’re interested in what this whole thing can tell us about new models of education. Or scrappy startups. Maybe you’re just curious about what I’m doing. 

The best way to follow along is to sign up for the email newsletter I’ll be sending out. Of course I’ll also be posting little updates in the usual spots as well— images on Instagram, words on Medium, posts on Facebook, maybe even a tweet or two on Twitter. There’s even a good-old-fashioned website. But the newsletter is really where it’s at. Subscribe today; cancel at any time. Until then…. 

Thank you for your support. Here we go!

xo, ml