Taking a break

For the past five years, I’ve been recording one second of video every single day, then assembling them to create a video representing that year of my life. I typically put these videos together after each birthday but I was a bit late this year. When I finally got around to it recently (see above), I made a startling realization: I’d been sick five times in 2017. I’ve written before about my recent illnesses but it wasn’t until watching the 1Second video that I realized how bad things had gotten.

I got a physical and a blood test and it doesn’t appear as though I have any serious diseases. But I’ve really run myself ragged this year and I need some time to step back and re-assess my priorities in life.

Thus, I’m going to be taking a two month break from the Slashfilmcast. For the first time in my life in over a decade, I won’t be running any podcasts. Instead, I’ll be focusing on my full-time job, my relationships, and my family.

I’m also planning on unplugging more — in some senses, at least. Starting later this month, I’ve committed to deleting Twitter from my phone for awhile and spending more time writing/blogging and reading. (That said, I will probably still auto-post some blog posts and Periscopes on there.) I realize I’m incredibly blessed and privileged to even have the option of doing any of this, and I am grateful to those in my life who have supported these decisions and made them possible.

I hope to return and join the podcast again for our Last Jedi review in December. At that point, I’ll know a lot more about the shape of things. In the meantime, we have a huge list of awesome Slashfilmcast guest co-hosts that listeners have been suggesting to us via email. I look forward to hearing new, exciting voices on the podcast. I look forward to learning how to relax a little bit more. And I look forward to slowing down the pace of things, for just a little while.

The summer my body almost shut down

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“How do you have enough time to do everything?”

More than any other question, this is the one people have asked me the most over the past decade or so. When I was a younger man in my twenties, I overflowed with energy. I’d jog, bike, work, stay up till late at night using Lynda.com tutorials to teach myself how to use editing programs and take classes to learn the principles of photography. Even recently, I managed to direct The Primary Instinct while holding down a full time job.

Now I’m a bit older, and I find I don’t have quite the same amount of energy for getting things done. Nevertheless, life is for living! This summer, I still felt i could pack my days full of work and movie screenings and podcasts and still come out the other side better for it.

That principle was put to the test when my body almost shut down as a result of a series of illnesses. To be fair, this has been a stressful summer. I started a new, exciting full-time job at a large company. I hosted three podcasts simultaneously, two of which had pretty significant audience (i.e. over 100K listeners). I moved out of my apartment that I’d been living in for five years. I was going at life at a non-stop rate — at least, as non-stop as someone in my line of work can get.

Typically, I get sick once a year or so. I often come down with the flu during winter. It’s usually pretty debilitating, and it takes me out of commission for a few days, but its impact is quite limited and I move on with my life.

I was stunned when in mid-July, during the dead heat of summer, I seemingly contracted the flu again after getting it just a few months prior. After a brutal week of recovery, I felt things were better. I was lucid and felt good enough to go into work, even as I still coughed violently and felt generally miserable. The fact that Seattle was inundated by smog from wildfires significantly aggravated my condition and further slowed my recovery.

Roughly three weeks afterwards in early August, I was at work and waiting for my ride home one afternoon when suddenly I felt dizzy and cold. I barely made it out of the car and into bed. The flu-like symptoms returned with a vengeance, incapacitating me for several more days. It was time to see a doctor.

My primary care provider told me that he thought I contracted a sinus infection while I had the flu, and just never beat it. He prescribed me steroids, antibiotics, decongestants, and a few other things to get me back on my feet. Within two weeks, things were back to normal, even though I did get temporarily worried that the sinus infection had not been extinguished.

I thought that was the end of it, but three weeks after that in September, I went into work one morning and started feeling chills and aches and pains all over. It was like the flu, but much worse — a sort of illness I had rarely experienced in my life. A couple of hours later, I could barely move. My co-workers told me I was pale. I was confined to bed once more.

I went into see the doctor the next day, who told me that I likely had viral gastroenteritis (i.e. a stomach virus). One thing he said that will stick with me: “Sometimes, something like stress is all it takes to breach the immune system. Once that happens, the results can be all-encompassing.” There was no prescription for viral gastroenteritis, other than getting rest, drinking lots of fluids, and taking it easy on the stomach in terms of foods.

It’s now late September and I feel a lot better. I hope I’m out of the woods now, but I’m not going to count on that quite yet.

I realize that everyone has their own health struggles, and that overall, I’ve been pretty lucky for most of my life to not have to struggle with chronic conditions that are debilitating or life-altering. That said, 2017 has been the worst health “year” of my life. I’ve never had so many illnesses in such a short period of time, nor have they felt quite so agonizing.

I’m grateful to everyone who has done things to take care of me and express concern for me during this challenging time. These events have really made me re-asses my life goals and my capacity to accomplish them. If I’m to take any lessons from this summer, they’d be the following:

  • If you keep pushing the limits of your body and mind from a stress perspective, there may come a time when it can no longer take it.
  • Online connections and friendships are wonderful but when you get sick, it’s only the people who you know “in real life” who will be able to help you.
  • Whatever enjoyment you get out of the productive activities in your life, it’s not worth it if there there are significant negative health implications as a result.
  • People aren’t grateful enough for the ability to eat and pass food normally.

Take care of yourselves, folks.

I got sick again

A few weeks ago, I got sick. Updates for the blog stopped, as I tried to balance my other life responsibilities with getting better. I thought I’d kicked it, but this past week it returned with a vengeance. Aches and pains. Chills. Endless, endless coughing that disrupted my sleep every night of the week.

I went to see a doctor (finally) and turns out I likely contracted a sinus infection that simply never went away. I’m on drugs now to help beat this thing but between this ongoing illness and this smoke in Seattle that hasn’t gone away in weeks, it’s been one of my most miserable summers in quite some time.

In any case, I’m hopeful the blog updates shall resume with full force soon.

Happy birthday, Stephen

A big happy birthday to Stephen Tobolowsky today.

At this point, I’ve spent hundreds of hours of my life trying to bring Stephen’s stories into the wider world. The reason is obvious: When you see impact of Stephen’s stories in front of a live audience, you feel like you have to do everything you can to share what you just saw. Sometimes, we are called to just carry the fire, to just keep an idea alive, even if our resources aren’t that vast.

In return, Stephen has been game to work on most of my crazy ideas, like starting a podcast that would span 80+ episodes full of stories about his adventures, or making a movie based off the podcast. Or, more recently, doing a live show in Los Angeles this past weekend on three weeks notice, which we filmed and are planning to put out into the world.

I took this photo of him backstage at the Whitefire Theatre, preparing to go on. He killed it, btw.

Happy birthday, Stephen. Here’s to many more awesome years and stories.

R.I.P. Gen Pop

This month, Gen Pop — my pop culture podcast with Joanna Robinson — will come to an end.

Sometimes I’ll create a podcast that lasts 10 years (and counting). Other times, a show will last 6 months. Unfortunately, Gen Pop was one of the latter.

Out of all my podcasts, Gen Pop was probably the show that I worked the hardest on and stretched myself the most on. And while it didn’t have the largest audience, it had a really impassioned fan base. I’m so grateful to people who donated to the show and who supported us every step of the way.

The folks at Nerdophiles wrote up this lovely retrospective on the podcast, and it’s awesome:

I’m sad to see Gen Pop go, but happy for the other opportunities to catch Joanna and David still podcasting. Gen Pop truly was one of my favorite podcasts that really had its finger on the pulse of pop culture. It delivered a weekly interesting conversation that was topical and well-informed, often times giving me new insight and perspective.

I’m glad that people got something out of the show. It makes me feel like all the work we put into it was not ill-spent.

You can listen to the entire back catalog of Gen Pop here.

I’m joining Amazon

I am exceptionally excited to announce that I will be joining Amazon in June.

Amazon is one of the few companies that is shaping how humans interact with technology and the world, and it’s full of ridiculously smart people that I’m looking forward to learning from.

The path to this next step in my professional career has been a long one. I’m so grateful for all the Seattle folks who helped me to make it to this point. I couldn’t have done it without them. 

Welcome to the new davechen.net!

After many months of languishing on an old Blogger account, the new davechen.net is finally here! I’m once again hoping this blog will once again become a permanent, online repository for my writings, as well as links that I find interesting.

In the age of Medium, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, it is so easy to spend all of our time building our online profiles elsewhere. Doing so confers many benefits, but there are also some important downsides. Personally, I like to own and control all my content, in order to ensure its longevity. Hence, this new WordPress install to replace the old blog.

WordPress is a fully-featured blogging platform that offers numerous benefits over Blogger:

  1. It’s open source and maintained by a distributed community, meaning it’s likely to not only last for awhile, but will continue being updated (Unlike Blogger, which seems to have been completely forgotten)
  2. I can finally implement some modern-day SEO for the site! Blogger gives you very little control over this.
  3. TONS of plug-ins can be integrated into your site, such as Disqus.
  4. Should I ever want to leave, many OTHER platforms support WordPress migration. Not so with Blogger.

From this point on, my plan is to try to post on here as frequently as I post to my Twitter and Facebook accounts. That means a lot more updates, some of which will be pretty short (maybe even a sentence long). I won’t always succeed with this rate of updates, but I’m going to try my hardest and it’ll be better than nothing.

Big thanks go to my brother, Michael, for his help with setting this up. And thanks in advance to you, the reader, for checking this site out. I hope you find it interesting.

More Thoughts on 1 Second Everyday

First off, I’ve been continuing my 1 Second Everyday project. Here’s an updated video that depicts my first two months (approximately) in Seattle:

After I made my initial post, I had a lot more time to reflect on this project and specifically, its constraints. I also had a fantastic, lengthy conversation with Cesar Kuriyama, who has helped to popularize this type of project.

Before I delve into some of the things we discussed, I should emphasize that there is no right or wrong way to do this. We are just at the beginning of an era when regular consumers having the capability to record and edit these types videos, so we’re all just writing the rules as we go along.

Cesar and I discussed the following issues:

First, a reminder for those attempting to do the same project – It’s best to record multiple “seconds” each day, as you may not know which one will mean the most to you until later. See more on this topic below.

Can it ever be longer than a second? – Limits encourage creativity. They force us to innovate and to avoid excess. Nonetheless, I wondered about the one second limit. Cesar saw changing it as a slippery slope: if you make some segments longer than one second, then you’re “privileging” certain days, when each day should get its own “chance” to be a part of the project. Taken to the extreme, this could destroy the integrity of the project.

Personally, this doesn’t bother me too much. I agree with limits, but one second occasionally seems arbitrarily short. One of the people that has done a similar project didn’t impose a one second limit on her project and the resulting project was still great.  If you watch the above video, you may notice that some of the segments are slightly longer than one second. Here’s what I can promise: the overwhelmingly vast majority of segments will be one second long. Some of them will be slightly longer than one second. None of them will be as long or longer than two seconds. 

Should you add music to the final product? The video I just mentioned is scored to LCD Soundsystem, and gained popularity partially as a result of that. Cesar is against scoring these types of projects. From his blog:

Being able to listen to any particular moment is crucial to remembering it. The sound of my dad laughing… Tina Fey’s Bossypants audio book while I’m driving through Tennessee… even the sound of slapping my cousin hello brings me back, haha :)Not to mention that music directs you towards a certain mood. And some of these seconds can switch from joy to sorrow, then back to joy in literally a heart beat.

A great discussion ensued about this topic on my Facebook wall. C. Robert Cargill defended the notion of using music thusly:

Those are interesting thoughts, though I would argue that it is hard for anyone to really glean real emotion from one second clips. I come from the Kerouac school of writing: “Be in love with yr life.” A piece like this *should* be a celebration. I should, for a few brief minutes, feel like you aren’t just living your life, but that you are living the hell out of it. The right piece of music married to that kind of footage could do just that.

I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to handle this yet, but it’s likely I’ll produce two separate videos: one with music and one without.

What about releasing the videos on a regular basis? – People who follow this blog know that I like to produce content. A lot of content. Photos, videos, audio: I get a thrill out of recording some slice of this world and presenting it for all to see on a regular basis. The idea of working my ass off for a year-long project and only being able to release a single video that might be seen by just a few hundred/thousand people seemed like a lot of work for not that much payoff.

Should I release monthly updates of the project? Maybe do a halfway point (6 months) video? There are disadvantages to this, of course: any sort of progress update would likely blunt the impact of a final video. Cesar chimed in on this topic with some of his thoughts: 

Much like my thoughts on music, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, just personal preference. Off the top of my head I could think of at least a couple of reason why I prefer yearly.

– when I first came up with this idea, I was adamant about doing something that wouldn’t feel like a chore. I think posting per month for the rest of my life would feel a bit more like perpetual homework. (although the App I’m currently developing will largely resolve this)

– Like you so eloquently explained in your blog post, I often keep several seconds to represent a particular day. I’ve found that I often need time to reflect on what ends up being the second that I want to remember forever. Example: In my video, you’ll see me playing Settler’s of Catan a bunch. The first time you see my play that board game is actually the first time I was taught how to play by a friend’s husband. He’s explaining the rules in it. I remember that was the day I biked all over the Ohio State campus. And I had recorded a second there. I’d always wanted to check out that campus since I was in High School. I thought it was pretty obvious that would be my second of the day. In the months that followed, Catan became a HUGE part of the life of my friends and I. We love getting together to play the crap out of it. Because I didn’t post my compilation online until the end of my first year, I was able to change my mind and switch the second for that day. Learning how to play that game became a pretty significant event in my life. Obviously unbeknownst to me at the time. This ended up being the case for a considerable amount of seconds. It wasn’t until months later that I realized certain events became truly significant.

– a short reason. Much like yourself, I tend to post a couple of things online every day. Sometimes its a cool online nugget, and sometimes it’s something personal. I think demanding the attention of my friends once a year to get a glimpse of my life is much more absorbable than requesting 30 seconds of their attention monthly.

– I guess one of the things I’m getting at is… there’s a lot you can get away with if you wait a long time before posting… another example is the 2 horrible months when my sister in law was in the hospital. I was always petrified recording those moments. I wasn’t even on facebook during that span of time. I can’t imagine posting something like that while it was still happening. I was so scared my family would hate me for putting all that in a video. The night before my flight to TED I shared the video with my Sister in Law, her mom, & my mom… I thought: “well… if they’re not comfortable with me sharing this on the stage at TED and online… I’ll try to explain my reasonings… but if that fails… then I’ll just have to cut the video short because there’s no way I would do this without my families approval”. Luckily they loved it. It worked exactly as I intended it… a reflection of how bad things were, and how grateful we should be that we’ve moved on to better days.

– There was something exceptionally magical about how friends in my “seconds” reacted when they saw themselves in the compilation of my first year… most didn’t know they would be in it. For some weird reason, they felt a lot closer to me. They were often happy that I decided that they were a meaningful part of my life. I don’t believe this would have the same effect if we had shared a particular moment together, & I was posting it just a month later.

As a point of fact, I still think it’s possible to post monthly compilations, then switch out a “second” or two when it comes time to create the year-end project. I haven’t decided how I’m going to proceed, but it’s likely that this will be the last time you see a cumulative progress update on this project (at least until maybe I’m six months into it). 

That’s all for now. Thanks again to Cesar for his guidance. Hope you enjoy the video.

The First 30 Days

What is one year like in the life of David Chen? We’re all about to find out.

Earlier this year, a woman named Madeline released an interesting video on Vimeo. She had shot one second of video for every day of her life during the year 2011. I found the result to be unexpectedly inspiring and moving.

Several months later, /Filmcast listener and all-around awesome dude Cesar Kuriyama took to the stage at TED to unveil his own “one second every day project“, which he’d been filming every day for the 30th year of his life.

Kuriyama is passionate about the project and believes everyone should engage in it. I think the final result is fascinating, a seemingly endless series of context-less images. Context-less, that is, to everyone but the filmmaker. It’s a compelling snapshot of one’s life, a video that is evocative for the creator and intriguing and enigmatic for the viewer.

So, I’m pleased to announce that I am also undertaking this project. My birthday this year was May 20th, right around the same time I uprooted my life from Boston and moved to Seattle. Starting on that day, I have filmed one second of video every single day. Around this time next year, I’ll plan to publish the result, a chronicle of my first year here.

In doing this project, I’ve made a few observations about how best to approach it. First of all, I think this project works best when the second that you record is somehow representative of the day that you had, or at least, how you want to remember that day. In practice, this can get a bit tricky; often times the most interesting that happens to me is an interaction I have with someone else. While I can frequently “anticipate” when a good “second” will arrive, it’s often inopportune to whip out a camera and start recording. Secondly, it’s useful to record multiple seconds for each day, giving you the option to choose from a number of them. As a result, it’s also important to have a robust cataloging system for all of your “potential seconds.” Finally, I don’t have experience with this yet, but it sounds like it’s useful to create a master file for the final video, then stitch the videos together intermittently and continuously add them to that file, as opposed to doing them all at the end. Alternatively, one could also create videos for each month, then bind them all together in the end. I may end up going this path because it will allow me to release regular video content, but it also robs the final video of some of its uniqueness. We’ll see. 

As a proof-of-concept, I’ve stitched together my first 30 seconds, representing my first month here. You can find this video below:

When I began working on the project, I asked Cesar Kuriyama, “What if you do this every day for a year and the resulting video ends up being incredibly boring?”

Kuriyama responded, “That’s good! Because then you’ll look back on how boring your life was and you’ll resolve to change things.”

Not a bad point, that. I don’t know what the end result will motivate me to do. I can only hope it will show a life lived full, with love, laughter, and friends, a humble aspiration for the beginning of my new life.

[I am indebted to Cesar Kuriyama for his counsel and for helping me to establish a workflow for pulling these clips together. Be sure to check out his other work.]

A Kirkus Star for The Dangerous Animals Club

The venerable Kirkus Reviews has reviewed Stephen’s upcoming book, The Dangerous Animals Club, which is an adaptation of the podcast that I produce with him, The Tobolowsky Files. They’ve also given it their prestigious Kirkus Star, which is awarded only to books of “remarkable merit.” Here’s an excerpt from their review [Subscription only]:

Tobolowsky contributes intriguing insights into the absurdities of TV and film production (his description of acting against a green screen is particularly amusing), the politics of graduate school life and the perils of pet ownership, endowing both the most mundane and rarified endeavors with equally close attention and appreciation. His reminiscences of the early days of the AIDS crisis and the decline and death of his mother provide the collection with profound emotional ballast, but even in the heavier sections Tobolowsky’s light touch and effortless empathy delight and sustain readers’ engagement.

A copiously examined life rendered with humor and heart.

May it be the first of many.

The Tobolowsky Files in Boston and NYC (February 2012): A Photo Journal

This past week I had the privilege of traveling with Stephen Tobolowsky to the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Boston and to The Bell House in Brooklyn, where Stephen shared his stories and his insights with hundreds of fans. There’s something magical about live storytelling that binds us together in the words and performance of another human being. It’s an unforgettable experience and I hope each of you get to experience it at some point.

Below you’ll find a photo journal of our travels. New York was so lovely and exciting that I’m reminded of how sad I am that I don’t live there. Huge thanks to the fine folks at the Coolidge, The Bell House, the Independent Film Festival of Boston, Bumpershine, and Creaghead & Company for making these performances possible!

On the Uselessness of New Year’s Resolutions

Merlin Mann wrote this piece on new year’s resolutions (via Marco) almost a year ago but it’s still advice that I hold dear. Essentially, Mann argues against making huge, sweeping resolutions, in favor of smaller, more systematic decisions that are reasonable and achievable. The latter is a more mature way to go that will probably end up leading to more change:

Don’t set yourself up for failure by demanding things that you’ve never come close to achieving before. I realize this is antithetical to most self-improvement bullshit, but that’s exactly the point. If you were already a viking, you wouldn’t need to build a big boat. Start with where you are right now. Not with where you wish you’d been.

I have the will and the time to start a workout regimen but I’ve recently been beset by some pretty significant injuries that prevent this. Therefore, one of my new year’s resolution is to walk 5 miles, 4 days per week. It’s simultaneously small but ambitious. I’ll be using the Runkeeper app on my iPhone to monitor my routine and you can keep up with me here. Here’s hoping that 2012 will be a more healthy year than the last one.

Announcing the Launch of Davechensphotos.com

I’d like to make this official: as of this moment, my new photography website, Dave Chen’s Photos, is online!

It’s been a long journey to get to this point. I’ve spent the past year amassing thousands upon thousands of photographs from a wide variety of events and situations. I’ve studied with master photographer Jerry Ghionis and read up on the techniques of flash photographer David Hobby. My hope is that the new site will reflect the breadth and quality of my work through an elegant, simple, classy design.

Shortly, I’ll be writing a blog post about the two photo website services I’ve tried this year: 4ormat and Bigfolio (which hosts the current version of the site). I know many of us dislike flash but there are reasons why I chose to use a service that only hosts flash websites. I will get into those later, but iPad and iPhone users are not left out, as there’s a fully functional mobile version of the site as well.

In the meantime, check out the new site! Put it through its paces. And ask yourself: would you hire this photographer if he was local? Why or why not? Your answers and feedback are welcome in the comments below.

Thoughts on the First Tobolowsky Files Live

Last week, Stephen Tobolowsky and I took to the stage of the Brattle Theatre for our first-ever staging of The Tobolowsky Files Live. By most measures, the shows were a success: hundreds of people showed up, most of whom appeared to enjoy themselves (based on the comments I got afterwards and the general “mood” of the room. See also this lovely review from Pajiba). More importantly, Stephen and I got to play around with how we are going to do this thing in Seattle in January, when our audience is estimated to be around 700 people. Subsequent shows are currently being discussed for New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and maybe even Boston again in a few months.

Photo: Tech Check at the Brattle (t-minus 2.5 hours till the show!)

The Brattle Theatre was an excellent host for us. Not only did they take a chance on what, at this point, is somewhat of an “unproven property,” they also made a whole weekend out of it, honoring Stephen by playing many of his movies in the theater, and by making him the guest of honor at the annual Brattle Gala. Here’s a video of them presenting a gift to Stephen at that gala:

As for my own personal experience, it was, by any measure, a thrill. Many people from the audience had never heard Stephen live, so it was great to be spreading the “Tobolowsky gospel.” Moreover, I met tons of amazing fans, both of the /Filmcast and of the Tobolowsky Files. One couple had driven four hours just to see the show that night. It was humbling and inspiring to see. And it was heartening to know that I had helped to create something that brought people together in a way that I hope was powerful.

Beyond that, there is something magical about the art of live storytelling — the idea that by uttering a few words, a person can change the entire mood of a room, can make you re-think your life, can move you and make you angry, sad, or joyful. Stephen Tobolowsky has this gift. To see him deploy it in an intimate theater with people whose hearts were open is an experience I shall never forget.

Some of my personal thoughts on Tobolowsky Live night #2 (mp3)

A few other snippets of media:

Here’s a video I recorded of Stephen and I chatting before the very first show. I was pretty nervous. Stephen may have been too, but he remained a consummate professional:

I was able to place my iPhone in my front breast pocket before I walked out on stage the second night. The video is almost incomprehensible, as the camera is at an extremely weird angle, but I still think this gives you a sense of what the mood was like for the packed audience that night.

Lastly, here’s a photograph I took of Stephen and Ann on their last day. Her support and encouragement helped to make last weekend possible.

Stephen and Anne

The Tobolowsky Files LIVE

It’s been a bit quiet here this past week. That’s because I’ve been busy putting together the following:

The Tobolowsky Files will have three LIVE performances in Boston during November (11th, 12th, and 13th)! Then, in January, we’ll be heading to Seattle for a performance at the historic Neptune Theater. It will be epic! Buy your tickets now!

I am beyond excited about this. There is nothing quite like seeing Stephen perform his stories live; I’ve seen it happen and the results are moving, powerful, even transformative.

More importantly, I can’t escape the thought: this is how it begins. With a few, jam-packed shows at a cozy, intimate venue. If these go well, not only will it do much to spread the word of Stephen and of the show, but it will also demonstrate that we have a viable business model on our hands. Perhaps even viable enough for me to seriously consider a career change…

Stephen recently did a live interview for a packed house for Seattle public radio. Our show is apparently quite popular there. It is not popular in Boston, where pretty much nobody knows that it exists. In my mind, this presents a number of interesting challenges and questions for us:

– From state to state, how big is the podcast’s reach? And how many of our listeners in each state are big enough fans that they are willing to spend money to see Stephen live?

– Given a situation where most people are not aware of the podcast, is Stephen’s existing popularity as an actor sufficient enough such that people will come see his show even with no knowledge whatsoever of his storytelling abilities?

– Suppose people don’t know about the podcast NOR do they know any of Stephen’s work. What are ways to entice them to come?

Stephen already has a Facebook and Twitter page, and I’ve created a Facebook event for the live showing in Boston. In the weeks to come, we’ll be playing around with some ways of selling the show that I hope will be effective. I look forward to sharing them with you.

I hope you’ll join us in Boston or in Seattle. And if we sell out (or come close to selling out) both locations, you can expect there to be many more performances down the line.

A Word of Thanks

Just wanted to give a shout out to my online buddy, Scott Neumyer. In addition to his day job, Scott is an author as well as a photographer. Coincidentally, these are two fields that I’ve recently made some inroads into, with the new Kindle Single Stephen and I just published, as well as my increasingly serious photographic pursuits.

Occasionally in my online travels, I’ve had the privilege to encounter super nice people who are willing to help me out, just out of the kind goodness of their hearts. Scott has certainly been one of those people, guiding me through some very uncertain processes and doing so with lots of patience, generosity, and graciousness. Thanks, Scott. Any success in my future endeavors in these fields will be partially due to you.

Check out Scott’s book on Amazon’s e-book store!

The Tobolowsky Files Goes to Amazon’s Kindle Store

From my post at /Film:

Today, I’m pleased to announce the next phase in getting Stephen’s stories out into the world: the first Stephen Tobolowsky Kindle Single, Cautionary Tales.

Launched by Amazon just a month or two ago, Kindle Singles offers “compelling ideas, expressed at their natural length.” It’s a new, curated program that emphasizes long-form reading, with works lengthier than a magazine article but shorter than a full-on e-book (and priced accordingly). As a huge fan of services like Instapaper, I’ve grown to love the long-form reading I can do with my Kindle, and I’ve found that Kindle Singles are an awesome way to consume these bite-sized nuggets of high-quality writing.

The easiest way to get the new story is just to head on over to Amazon and buy it right now. It’ll be automatically delivered to your Kindle, wirelessly. But what if you don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon has released Kindle apps for every conceivable OS, including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, or even for your Mac or PC. Basically, if you’re reading this blog post right now, you can also buy and read Stephen’s new story (which, by the way, has a super cool cover created by artist Mark Crilley).

Working on the Tobolowsky Files has been a joy, but it’s also been an intensive process that has consumed hundreds of hours of my life over the past year. During that time, we’ve put out about 30-40 hours worth of content and done so completely for free. Buying this Kindle Single not only gives you a great new piece of content from Stephen, which you won’t be able to find the podcast (I’ve read the story and, as usual, it’s hilarious and profound), it also helps support all the work that Stephen and I do together. If enough people chip in the $1.99 it takes to buy this Kindle Single, it will ensure we can keep hearing Stephen’s stories continue for many months to come, both in podcast form and in Kindle form.

Buy the new Tobolowsky Kindle Single by clicking here. And thanks for listening!

/Film and The /Filmcast Improve People’s Lives

In the past two weeks, I’ve received news from two colleagues on how their association with my work at /Film has helped to provide them some valuable professional connections:

  • My friend Dan Trachtenberg is now represented by the super-prestigious Great Guns talent agency in the UK. The Great Guns rep first heard of Dan on our “Top Soundtracks of 2010” podcast, in which Dan casually mentioned that he’s a commercial director. This off-handed remark led to a contract being signed between the two of them. Congratulations, Dan! 
  • A while ago, I interviewed Gen Ip, the creator of the amazing Filmography 2010 video. Last week, I received an e-mail from a major trailer-editing company in LA, which actually cut several of the trailers in the video! The representative was looking to hire and asked me if I could connect him with Gen Ip. After checking with Gen, I e-introduced the two of them this morning. I assume great things will come of it.

I’m grateful that the platforms I’ve worked in can provide people with new and exciting opportunities. It’s a testament to the caliber of our listenership and readership that these opportunities exist. It’s also a sign of the sheer talent and greatness of the people willing to associate themselves with /Film and the /Filmcast.

So there you have it folks! Agreeing to talk with me will clearly improve your professional life in ways you can only dream of. Just know that my door is always open. Because seriously, it’s so lonely over here…

In Which I Receive An Award For Something I Wrote

The ecch, “a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the case method of learning,” has just handed out its yearly awards for excellence in case-writing (for those of you who have no idea what “cases” are, go here for more info). This year’s award recipients include a case I helped to write about Facebook and its “Connect” Platform, which is currently taught at Harvard Business School’s MBA program. Here’s the full press release:

21st ecch case awards go global: winners represent three continents

The winners of the first global ecch Case Awards (succeeding the annual European Case Awards) have been announced.

Harvard Business School, where the case method was first developed, was victorious in four categories and also scooped the overall award with Apple Inc. in 2010 by David B Yoffie and Renee Kim.

One new award and two new case writing competitions were added to the traditional ten categories*. 

Outstanding contribution to the case method was awarded to Kamran Kashani, Professor of Marketing and Global Strategy at IMD (for full biography see notes for editors below). 

Case writing competition new case writer was won by Franco Quillico and Gregory Moscato,International University of Monaco, (a first time win for their school) with their case Tango vs Victor, a case about the proposed acquisition of a French soft drinks company by a pan-European private equity fund. 

Case writing competition ‘hot topic’ case: This year’s subject, Renewable and sustainable energy, technology and development, was won by George Kohlrieser, Francisco Szekely and Sophie Coughlan from IMD with their new case Playing to Win: Leadership and Sustainability at ESB Electric Utility a case about a 95% publically owned Irish utility’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2035 while remaining competitive. 

IMD also won awards in two further categories: Production and Operations Management, and Marketing, with the latter being won with a case authored by Kamran Kashani himself, together with Inna Francis. 

London Business School was the third European School to be represented among the winners taking the Human Resource Management / Organisational Behaviour category with the case Richard Murphy and the Biscuit Company (A) by Michael Jarrett and Kyle Ingram. 

Thunderbird School of Global Management was the second US school to make a first-time winning appearance, scooping the Finance, Accounting and Control category with the case Southwest Airlines 2008 by Andrew C Inkpen. 

The Indian based IBS Center for Management Research, scored a first for Asia by winning the Knowledge, Information and Communication Systems Management category with the case Knowledge Management Initiatives at IBM by Vivek Gupta, Indu Perepu and Sachin Govind. 

Commenting on his award, Kamran Kashani was “honoured and humbled” to be selected by ecch’s executive committee to be the first-ever winner of the Outstanding contribution to the case method award. “This takes a special place in my 37 years as a management educator, because, for me, the case method isn’t just a pedagogical ‘tool’ but represents the fundamental position I take towards my students: it is a respect for their points of view and a profound belief in their capacity to learn from each other.”

Richard McCracken, Director of ecch said “The new 2011 Case Awards are a resounding endorsement of what we hoped to achieve by making them global, delivering winners from three continents in the first year. The results in the new case writing competition categories have demonstrated that case writing is flourishing worldwide. We were delighted with the response, receiving a remarkable 120 entries from 103 places of learning in 29 countries.” 

The hot topic identified by the ecch Executive Committee for the 2011/12 case writing competition will beSocial Media and Change, looking for cases that focus on how companies are using social media in their business development and strategy formulation. (Entry details at: www.ecch.com/casecompetition

For further press information please contact:
Emma Simmons: e.simmons@ecch.com

* Overall winner; Economics, Politics and Business Environment; Entrepreneurship; Ethics and Social Responsibility; Finance, Accounting and Control; Human Resource Management / Organisational Behaviour; Knowledge, Information and Communication Systems Management; Marketing; Production and Operations Management; Strategy and General Management 

The results in full

Outstanding contribution to the case method
Professor Kamran Kashani, IMD 

Overall winner
Apple Inc. in 2010
David B Yoffie and Renee Kim
Harvard Business School
Ref no 9-710-467 

Economics, Politics and Business Environment
Philips versus Matsushita: The Competitive Battle Continues
Christopher A Bartlett
Harvard Business School
Ref no 9-910-410 

Facebook’s Platforms
Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, Thomas R Eisenmann, David Chen and Brian Feinstein
Harvard Business School
Ref no 9-808-128 

Ethics and Social Responsibility
IKEA’s Global Sourcing Challenge: Indian Rugs and Child Labor (A)
Christopher A Bartlett, Vincent Dessain and Anders Sjöman 
Harvard Business School
Ref no 9-906-414 

Finance, Accounting and Control
Southwest Airlines 2008
Andrew C Inkpen
Thunderbird School of Global Management
Ref no A07-08-0008 

Human Resource Management / Organisational Behaviour
Richard Murphy and the Biscuit Company (A)
Michael Jarrett and Kyle Ingram 
London Business School
Ref no 408-083-1 

Knowledge, Information and Communication Systems Management
Knowledge Management Initiatives at IBM
Vivek Gupta, Indu Perepu and Sachin Govind 
IBS Center for Management Research
Ref no 909-018-1 

Xiameter: The Past and Future of a ‘Disruptive Innovation’
Kamran Kashani and Inna Francis 
Ref no IMD-5-0702 

Production and Operations Management
Lego: Consolidating Distribution (A)
Carlos Cordon, Ralf W Seifert and Edwin Wellian 
Ref no IMD-6-0315 

Strategy and General Management
Google Inc.
Benjamin Edelman and Thomas R Eisenmann 
Harvard Business School
Ref no 9-910-036 

Case writing competion ‘Hot topic’: Renewable and sustainable energy, technology and development
Playing to Win: Leadership and Sustainability at ESB Electric Utility
George Kohlrieser, Francisco Szekely and Sophie Coughlan
Ref no IMD-4-0302

Case writing competition: New case writer
Tango vs Victor (A & B)
Franco Quillico and Gregory Moscato
International University of Monaco
Ref no 110-062-1 and 110-063-1

Notes for editors

ecch is the largest single source of management case studies in the world, with more than 68,000 items in its catalogue, available through www.ecch.com. An independent, membership-based, non-profit organisation, ecch has offices at Cranfield University, UK and Babson College, USA. ecch is dedicated to supporting authors and users of case studies and promoting the case method of learning. It provides the interface between the authors of cases and the educational institutions and businesses that use them for teaching and learning. ecch has an international programme of case writing and teaching workshops and events. 

ecch Case Awards are presented annually to recognise worldwide excellence in case writing and to raise the profile of the case method of learning. The Awards (formerly the European Case Awards) have been presented since 1991. Awards are made in up to nine management categories; for one overall winning case; two case writing competition categories for a case by a new author and for a newly authored case on a ‘hot topic’; and to recognise the outstanding contribution of an individual associated with the case method. www.ecch.com/caseawards 

Outstanding contribution to the case method: Nominations are collected by ecch and the executive committee, and the committee votes for a winner from the shortlist. 

Kamran Kashani is Professor of Marketing and Global Strategy at IMD. He teaches topics in marketing, strategy and innovation. He is currently researching marketing innovation in large global companies. An Iranian and Swiss national, he graduated from the University of California, UCLA, and gained his Doctorate in Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Professor Kashani’s articles and books in marketing and management have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He is the winner of several awards for best paper and case writing. He has researched and written more than 50 case studies and has won four ecch Case Awards (marketing category 2011, 2001, 1995 (runner up) and 1993) and two EFMD awards (marketing category 2005 and 2003). As a coach to teachers in the art of case method, Professor Kashani has been presenting ecch case writing and teaching workshops workshops since 2000, reaching over 220 educators worldwide. He has been a faculty member of ITP (International Teachers Program) at London Business School, UK, New York University, USA, SDA Bocconi, Italy and IMD, Switzerland where he co-directed the programme. kashani@imd.ch

Case awards and competition judging criteria 
ecch identifies winning cases through an objective process – cases are judged anonymously. 

Overall winner and nine category winners: All cases registered with ecch during the last five years are put forward for consideration. The winning case in each category is the one that has achieved the highest growth in popularity among peers worldwide, based on the number of individual organisations ordering and teaching the case during the last calendar year. A case that has won a category award in a previous year cannot win again, but is eligible, once, for the overall award (eg the 2010 overall award winning case won the marketing category in 2009). 

Case writing competition categories: All submissions must have been tested in the classroom, completed in the specified time frame and be in English. They may be compiled from field research, published sources or generalised experience. Authors may submit a single case or a case series. The case, or case series, must be a maximum of 5,000 words, excluding exhibits and annexes. Each submission must be accompanied by a teaching note for which there is no word limit. 

Hot topic: For 2011 cases were invited that feature a business situation within the area of ‘Renewable and sustainable energy, technology and development’. Judging panel members:

  • Stephen Evans, Professor of Life Cycle Engineering, Cranfield University, UK
  • Michiel Leenders, Professor Emeritus, Richard Ivey School of Business, Canada
  • Richard McCracken (Chairman), Director, ecch, UK
  • Stuart Read, Professor of Marketing, IMD, Switzerland
  • Giselle Weybrecht, Author of The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide to Green Businesswww.thesustainablemba.com
New case writer: Submissions must be the first teaching case in any business subject area, prepared by the author(s) in a format that can be used by other case teachers. Judging panel members:
  • Jamie Anderson, Professor of Strategic Management, TiasNimbus Business School, The Netherlands
  • Geoff Easton, Professor of Marketing, Lancaster University Management School, UK
  • Jim Erskine, Professor Emeritus, Richard Ivey School of Business, Canada
  • Kamran Kashani, Professor of Marketing and Global Strategy, IMD, Switzerland
  • Richard McCracken (Chairman), Director, ecch, UK

The case method of learning was pioneered in the early 20th Century at Harvard University. It has become the favoured teaching method of most of the world’s leading business schools.