March 06, 2024

5 Lessons from Inventing a Holiday

After Leap Day, one of my friends asked me, "Did Ei just invent a holiday?" Honestly, that wasn't the goal, but we've embraced it. It's just a holiday that happens every four years. Funny.

If you're just tuning in…

Last Thursday was Leap Day. We shared an invitation​ to anyone around the world to host a gathering of four or more people anytime that day. The idea would be to use February 29th to explore the Leaps we each want to take in our lives and work. And then to use the following weeks as a launching pad for those Leaps. Think of it as a new kind of New Year's Day, or a sort of “Field Day” for growth and change.

All of this began in 2012. Here’s a clip from my TED talk – forecasting these Leap events.

Sure enough, on February 29th 2024, there were 70 events around the world — from small dinners, to walks in the park, to casual apartment hangs, to full-on coursed meals. Here are a few photos.

Now, the work is far from over (more below), but here are a few lessons we’ve been taking away from the experience:

  1. Connection is the lifeblood of change.
    Brené Brown once said, "Connection is why we're here." The gatherings on Leap Day exemplified this truth. Participants found the support and inspiration needed to pause, reflect, and consider where to go next. We know the research shows people with strong social connections are more likely to achieve their goals and experience greater life satisfaction. This was another chance for us to use Ei’s Leap process to lean into that truth.

  2. Empowering others requires letting go.
    By entrusting others to host their own Leap Day gatherings, we witnessed the power of distributed leadership. It was awesome to see the diversity among the hosts — students, restaurant owners, teachers, talent leaders, designers, and just good humans! We offered some scaffolds to our hosts, but we knew they’d also make the events their own (ie: four friends at an apartment in Vienna was a Leap Day Gathering, and so was a 16-person seated dinner in São Palo).

  3. Do the thing you believe others should do.
    Most of us on the Ei team didn’t just support other hosts, we hosted events ourselves. I probably bit off more than I could chew with the one I hosted in Chicago (typical), but it was a blast. The same went for Erin in DC and Sara in LA, and so on. As we worked through our own preparations, we realized what we needed to share with other hosts and guests so they would feel more supported and ready.

  4. No matter what you do with others, there will be a mess. Enjoy it.
    Some people couldn't make it, some people just wanted to attend an event but didn’t have one nearby, some hosts didn't even get to the Leap prompts. And that's okay! Everything is a prototype in action. The posture of “build to learn” is especially valuable in endeavors related to people and communities.

  5. People want (good) reasons to get together.
    In an era where loneliness has been dubbed an epidemic, Leap Day provided a meaningful reason to gather. The events fostered a sense of belonging and purpose. We were reminded, once again, by how much people enjoy being facilitated if you lean in and truly bring them along. Things like our Host Kit​ went a long way in creating the container for the gatherings.

So, what's next?

We believe that the magic of Leap Day shouldn't be confined to a single day every four years. So we’re offering two ways for anyone to start working on their Leap with our community.

  1. Receive a weekly email nudge from the Ei team.
  2. Join a Leap Club where you’ll receive coaching every other week.

These extended experiences will provide the accountability and guidance needed to turn Leap Day aspirations into tangible actions. Sign up for either here. We're hosting these at no cost to you — we just ask that you really lean in!

Telling Stories

On April 29th, exactly two months after last week's events, we will host a storytelling event where participants can share their Leaps and the lessons they've learned along the way. We’ll cheer for one another and learn from the attempts we made to spark change in life and work. All of this taps into the science of goal setting, personal development, and innovation.

Leap Day is more than just an accidental holiday we invented. It's an invitation to learn and grow in a new kind of way, together. The act of learning doesn’t belong to someone else, it’s yours. On Leap Day, and everyday.

Ok, now you have two months. What Leap will you take?

Victor and the Ei Team

Join us here!

PS: As with all things around Ei, this was a massive team effort. Erin Murphy & Nic Dimond led the effort. William Ferguson supported graphic design, Phoebe Sajor & Bill Fetter supported content and marketing. And of course the hosts! They were the shining stars of this holiday.

The Spark You’ve Been Looking For

Visit our store to find award-winning education tools used by individuals and teams around the world.