Unexpected Lessons 4

Spirit Lake

I’ve been out and about a lot lately, from Minot to Fort Berthold to San Diego to Fort Totten, all within a few weeks, and now back home in Santa Monica.


I spent a lot of time with the staff at Spirit Lake Vocational Rehabilitation Project, had dinner with teachers from middle and elementary schools at Fort Totten.

Christmas play

Then I went to my lovely granddaughter’s preschool Christmas play.


I finished the week off by working on a video I’m putting into our newest game, Aztech, for which I needed a lot of images of corn, cacao beans and other items used for trade by the Mayans. In the process of searching, I spent a lot of time on the USDA site where you unexpectedly find a treasure trove of photos, dating back from over a hundred years ago on up to about yesterday. In the process, I ended up reading a little about the farmers, researchers and public servants around the country who took those photos during the course of their work.

People who read my blog posts on this site tend to be a pretty courteous bunch (thank you!), unlike a couple of other site where, when I state something like what I have discovered recently, readers make comments like,

I cannot believe you have a Ph.D. and it took you so long to find out something anyone with a shred of common sense or intelligence would have known by the time they were eight years old.

I do have to wonder how such enlightened individuals find the time to post on my blog, but I digress. My point is this: When you are building a startup, it consumes your life. Your entire day is spent thinking about developing better games, research on what makes a good game, research on what makes good education, meeting with investors, meeting with people who can introduce you to investors, meeting with potential customers, pitching your product at events … and on and on and on.

To do something that obsessively, you have to truly believe it is supremely important, that this is an opportunity to improve education for millions of children.

However … in the middle of what my lovely daughter, Ronda, calls “the grind”, it is easy to lose perspective, to think that what you are doing is the only important work.

This past week, from vocational rehabilitation to teachers to preschool directors to researchers trying to improve agriculture, I had evidence staring me directly in the face that the world is full of people who are making it a better place. They aren’t on the E! showing off their luxury purchases or the nightly news being arrested so they too often fade into the background of our lives.

old corn picture

It’s really good to stop and notice that we are surrounded by good people doing good work, without fame or seven-figure salaries, just quiet competence that adds a grain of sand to the scientific beach, helps a child understand how to write a persuasive essay, makes a toddler’s day happier or adds thousands of photos to an Internet archive so people around the world can use them and learn.

Life is good.

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