February 10, 2016

State of the Union, 2016

Alright, so after googling State of the Union and watching a few past speeches it seemed like a good idea to write one for Experience Institute. Not because I think of myself as a president. It's merely an interesting way to frame an honest look at our successes and failures in 2015 while sharing goals for 2016.

I know, it’s already February. But January was batty around Ei, so I decided to wait until I had a bit more space to give this the attention it deserved. With that said, here's a glimpse of where we've been and where we're going:

What went well in 2015?

Exp2 —> Exp3

When people ask what success looks like at Ei, we tell them to come to EXPO. It’s incredible to watch one class finish while a new class begins, all on the same night. Stories from 2015 were quite remarkable. They built on the foundation that EXP 1 laid and pushed the year-long program to be more delightful and thoughtful. Now, those students are in amazing jobs around the world while EXP 3 is launching into their 2nd Term.

Studio Work!

To date, we’ve served over 3,000 K-12 students and 200 professionals with our consulting work. Most recently, we the spent the past year helping Beavercreek City Schools create new curriculum with Design Thinking at the core. We also created Professional Development modules for K-12 teachers in Kentucky and continued our partnership with Leo Burnett by offering workshops and designing a top-secret employee development program. More on that soon.

Leap Kit was Designed & Funded (Thank you!)

Last year at this time, Leap Kit was nothing more than ideas on sticky notes. But, after prototyping versions of the kit in Chicago, Stanford, Paris, Berlin, and with many friends in between, we brought on a team of writers, students, and designers to bring the kit to life. With nearly 600 backers and $50k raised on Kickstarter, we’ve been enabled to offer the framework used by our Ei students to anyone, anywhere in the world. Thanks to those of you who've been supporting that along the way!

Personal Notes: Health & Wellness

2015 reminded all of us at Ei of the importance of getting healthy. From rock climbing, to yoga, to workout classes, to trips to Europe, Mexico and South America – all of us took seasons to focus on health, family and travel. I’m still not where I want to be in terms of sleep and having a sense of “home”, but I’ll share progress on that over the coming year.

What didn't go well in 2015?


Yes, this was successfully funded, which was an amazing feat. But, I made a mistake by setting the goal so high. It made for an unnecessarily stressful month for our staff and students (you can read the rest of our Kickstarter learnings here). Which leads to the next thing:


Though I really value a strong work ethic, I also value working efficiently and then letting go. I did a poor job of playing, laughing, and doing non-work projects throughout 2015. The worst part, I neglected some of the people and passions I care most about, which leads to one more thing.

Nurturing our Community

I had a few hard conversations with people I truly care about – ones who’ve been part of our community for a long time. They felt the consequences of the increased workload. Those were hard lessons to learn.

What's in store for 2016?

Leap Kit Launch!

After more than a year in development, and the past few months being completely dedicated to revising and editing the Field Guide and Leap Map, the Leap Kit is going to be shipped out later this month! Sending something to the printer never felt so exhilarating. We'll also be rolling out a corresponding online course to connect Leapers and offer short, helpful modules that relate to each phase of their Leap.

3-Month Summer Program for College Credit

Starting today, we’ll begin sharing a new pilot 3-month program created with our friends, SAGE Corps. This summer, we're inviting college Sophomores, Juniors, or Seniors to meet us in Chicago. They’ll spend two weeks in group projects around our five core competencies, then launch into a company/organization in their field of study. As they launch into their experience, they’ll also choose a concentration – one of three online courses we've built around Design Thinking, Business Operations, and Storytelling. Upon completion of the Leap Summer, students receive a transcript from the American Council of Education so they can receive College Credit for the program. This is one of our most ambitious moves ever – to support Universities in their efforts to offer new, transformative programming that bridges students to the workplace. Learn more here.

Year-Long Program | A Fellowship for Graduate Level Students or Career Professionals

The year-long program remains our flagship. Not only is it the most intensive, it also continues to draw the most remarkable individuals. This year's cohort has become quite the family and they are as sharp as they are kind.

We're going to begin looking for the next group of brilliant, daring, thoughtful individuals who want to take education into their own hands through experience. They’ll meet four times in the year for group classes and projects and have access to our entire network to chart their path into experiences around their fields of study. If you're interested in learning more, apply at the Ei Site or nominate a friend.

Your turn.

Life moves fast. It's easy to forget the power of pausing to reflect and see if you're still on the right path. If you haven't taken that time, today is an especially good time to start. You have a title to 2016 (Leap Year), an extra day (February 29th), a helpful new tool, and a group of ambitious students and educators who are right beside you. If you find time this week, take 20 minutes and jot down a few bullet points and place them somewhere visible. Chances are, they'll guide your next steps and nudge you to keep going through the ups and downs.

We'll be right behind you.

Here's to a great Leap Year,

Victor & the Ei Crew

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