One of the trickiest aspects of pulling together my internship has been staying focused on my goal, of extracting stories through interviews and performing them. As I wrap up my first week of summer break, I’ve either performed or gone out to interview folks four times. Not only do I wish that I had done more, but I’m surprised by how hard it was for me to make even these four outings happen. In the moment before each outing, I was deeply entrenched in figuring out logistics for my project (e.g. fixing up my car, amassing video equipment, trying to find a collaborator in Los Angeles, raising funds) and felt really conflicted about dropping it to go out and perform or interview folks. And yet when I’ve gone out, I’ve never regretted the decision.
As I think about this challenge I’m reminded of a story about Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, as recounted in the chapter on “Rapid Prototyping” in Tom Kelley’s “The Art of Innovation.” Writes Kelley, ” Rapid prototyping is about acting before you’ve got the answers, about taking chances, stumbling a little, and then making it right. [When Bezos decided that he would launch Amazon] he quit his job on Wall Street, called a moving van, and packed and had his things taken before he even knew where he was going. Incredibly, Jeff hadn’t yet figured out where to cast his e-commerce seeds. His short list included Portland and Lake Tahoe. Unable to make up his mind, he instructed the moving van to simply head west. Think of it: nothing on paper, no place to land his imagined company yet he was already hurtling toward his destiny.”
With Jeff’s example in mind, my new measure of success for my internship is not the quality of my recording equipment, or the number of sponsors that I’m able to recruit, or how well I’ve packed my car, but rather the amount of time that I’m out in the world interviewing people and performing. The rest I’ll figure out as I go along. With that, come hell or high water, on June 1st I start my drive to LA.