Airplane Mode

One day in 2015, Peter Shankman, social-media guru and angel investor, realized he was in tough. He’d fallen behind on a book he was supposed to be writing. The publisher wanted it in two weeks. He was nowhere near finished. He looked at his calendar. He knew he’d never get the book done in the…

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Problem, solution

“What is the problem to which this is the solution? That’s one of my favorite questions – and has been ever since I heard Neil Postman ask it. He was buying a new car that came with power windows. He said, “No thank you, regular windows are fine: they’re less expensive and less likely to…

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Of Makers and Managers

I’d always thought Big Days were especially apt for writers, musicians, artists – creatives. Because they’re the ones most vulnerable to interruptions from the Man from Porlock, right? Paul Graham set me straight. He isn’t an artist. He’s a British computer programmer, venture capitalist and start-up guru — but a programmer first and foremost. Programmers…

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What will you do with your one wild and precious day?

Photograph by David Niddrie “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” So wrote the poet Mary Oliver. In that spirit, I ask people, “What would you do with your one wild and precious day?” — your Big Day? A lot of people have trouble coming up…

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To do well or to do good?

“What are you raising money for?” Two people asked that question after hearing about the all-day bike ride. I get where they’re coming from: it’s a cultural reflex. From walkathons to telethons to hackathons, we now understand that any quirky, marathon-like undertaking must be raising money for something. Otherwise why do it? It’s kind of…

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A day to remember

Photograph by David Niddrie “This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.”  — Maya Angelou There’s a certain kind of person who, should he accidentally wander into the self-development section of a bookstore, will recoil like a terrier jolted by the forcefield of a buried electric fence. This guy’s with Seinfeld in…

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Why do people stop trying new stuff?

One grey morning this past May I sat staring out the window at a white van parked outside. At the words “Wet Woof” in big letters on the side. Our retriever pup Penny was inside getting a wash and nail clipping and ear cleaning and scissors-trim. The Wet Woof guy is busy; we were thrilled…

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Winchester for a day

In a memorable episode of M*A*S*H, the harried staff of the 4077 get word that help is on the way: a new surgeon, coming from Boston with fancy credentials. Graduated top of his class from a famous med school. His name is Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III. On his first day in camp, Winchester finds…

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Reinventing Sunday

“Everyone needs a Sunday.”  — Ted Leo My friend Lew was over for dinner the other day, and he shared an insight about Big Days that kind of floored me. “You know what you’re doing here, right?” he said, absently combining a piece of gorgonzola with a slice of pear. “You’re re-inventing Sunday.” Really? The…

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A punch in the face

The bike rental shop was packed with jostling touroids eager to get their rides and hit the Stanley Park seawall. It was a bright Saturday morning in August. One man just would not wait his turn. He was belligerent, and he hounded the harried clerks. He was a man in his Fifties, spoke with a…

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