This Friday marks the end of an experience that started for me April 27th. In early April I was invited to be part of the audience of 10 individuals for a series of HD web broadcasts through educational platform Creative Live in Seattle. The class Make Your Dream Trip a Reality has been led by two fellow Portlanders, Chris Guillebeau and Stephanie Zito, two of the most experienced travelers on the planet. Chris has been to every country in the world, his personal quest completed before he turned 35, while Stephanie has been to 120 countries, mostly doing humanitarian work. We spent 4 full days, April 27th through April 30th in the Creative Live Seattle studio. We broadcast three one hour live shows, one each on April 28, 29 and 30 and additionally recorded 27 segments, each 30 minutes long, that have been aired each weekday since we left Seattle starting May 1, ending this Friday June 5th. There has been a Facebook group of over 1,000 people that have been actively following and discussing the course since the first live broadcast on April 28th. I feel like I might even have some fans ;)
The goal of the class was to learn how to earn and spend airline miles efficiently. The promise was that by the end of 30 days anyone can earn enough miles to take a dream vacation anywhere in the world. What is clear, unlike Bitcoin, airline miles and credit card points convertible into airline miles, represent a very stable and active currency that properly managed can be earned and easily spent to have wonderful experiences all over the world, regularly, not just once in a while.
My participation in the class was pure serendipity because I just happened to see a notification fly by on my Macbook Air screen of an e-mail from Chris' Art of Non-conformity website offering the chance to apply to attend the class as an audience member. It peaked my interest on two levels. First, I wanted to meet Chris ever since the 2013-14 school year at the School of Visual Arts when I used his book on micro-entrepreneurship, The $100 Startup, as a text in my class in the Design for Social Innovation program. I have also been curious the past couple of years about his World Domination Summit in Portland, a gathering of micro-entrepreneurs from all over the world. Second, after one glance at another live show on Creative Live's website I knew I needed to understand it as a novel educational platform. In the words of Chase Jarvis and Craig Swanson, founders of Creative Live, "anyone can watch our live online workshops - for free - and interact with instructors in real time. The future of education is interactive, free and live. Our focus is creativity because it is the new literacy". That is a very powerful mission statement, one that I am still mulling over weeks later. The more I have thought about it, the presence of an in-studio audience receiving targeted personal instruction from teacher(s) coupled with a web audience from around the globe able to participate through text-based chat, is beginning to feel to me like a secret sauce for all five of the "channels" that Creative Live is operating out of their Seattle and San Francisco studios. There are many true "aha moments" where student's eyes light up that are priceless. Think of it as "reality education".
The class was a personal success. Noelle and I will be on our way to Asia on Singapore Airlines starting with a stop in Hong Kong sometime this fall, the "Dream Trip" I worked on in class. The real gift the class gave me was the reawakening of my travel urge which had been mostly dormant for over 10 years, but no more! I used to travel more than I remembered, well over 2 million miles. I started the class thinking at most I had maybe 200,000 miles between AMEX Mileage Rewards and an old British Airways account. As it turned out the class caused me to look deeper into my travel history and I found 400,000 miles / reward points I didn't even know we had. Needless to say we are going to manage our access to airline mile currency more carefully from here on out. Meanwhile the serial entrepreneur in me is keeping a close eye on Creative Live, thinking hard about how it might fit here in a Portland studio with an alternative focus, a different group of channels that can capitalize on our local strengths. I have some ideas.
Thankyou so much Chris, Stephanie, the team at Creative Live, led by the host of our class Kenna Klosterman, and the other 9 members of my audience cohort - the "CL Travel Hackers" - an amazing group of individuals. Feel free to join the conversation on Facebook - I am certain it will extend beyond Friday.