March 05, 2014

Joe Burgum and the “fan boy” theme of his life

As a child, Joe Burgum attended a montessori school in his hometown of Fargo, North Dakota—a place he believes instilled in him his desire to be a “lifelong learner.”

At 20 years of age, Burgum has not continued on with a formal education after graduating high school in 2011. His desire for tours across the United States, involvement with the Alley Fair, curating TedXYouth events and a brief vision of going back to school for graphic design. That was until he heard Victor Saad speak.

Soon after, Joe Burgum was introduced to Saad by a mutual friend. “During the ten minutes we talked,” Burgum remembers, “Victor gave me a five minute spiel about Experience Institute. And that was all it took.

Burgum spent his first apprenticeship working at Redmoon Theatre in Chicago. Redmoon is an incredible “spectacle art theatre that is focused on large scale experiential art.” Many of Redmoon’s events, Burgum explained, are focused around food. As well as the other joys of dancing, chatting, mingling and theatrical art that serves as a feast for the eyes and imagination.

“Imagine,” Burgum says enthusiastically “a man sitting four feet up on a tricycle. As he pedals, an umbrella of wine glasses spins above his head. He’ll reach up for a glass, then pull the lever to pour you a glass of wine.”

Photo by: Barry Brecheisen for BizBash

Burgum, sounding much older than 20 years old, explains the things he knows are true of himself. “I am a loving family member, a loving and compassionate boyfriend, I ask good questions,” and in another breath he says “well, people reflect that back upon me!”

Burgum forges on explaining that he knows himself truly to be a “creative thinker, ideator, I can be a ‘fan boy’ and I like getting behind people and letting them know they are good at what they do and cheer them on in a ra-ra way. I am a good conversationalist and verbal processor.” Last but not least, Burgum tells me “I am good traveller, especially when it comes to the TSA check.”

After we talked, Burgum later wrote me and asked if I could send along his responses that generated the honest truth tellings. This request made me realize how focused Burgum is on personal growth and learning how he can be better in order to better serve those around him. There was even a point in January when Burgum considered running for mayor in Fargo for the upcoming election—he is determined to give back to his own community.

However, Burgum ultimately decided to take his talents elsewhere. He will be working for Sapient for his second apprenticeship. After Ei, Burgum says he is eager to keep working as a member of a greater team. “I want to lead a team that accomplishes great things,” confided Burgum. Just as he is accomplishing great things by being the best, ever evolving version of himself.


Burgum went on to give a TED talk at TEDxFargo on his experience with dyslexia and how it taught him to ask better questions.

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