Progress Report

Work dot Com

After 7 Years Doing this Work, I’m [Re-] Branding. Here’s how I’m making decisions.

Are you considering creating a "brand" for yourself or a project? Maybe this will help.

I got thrown into this. Two-fold.

I got thrown into the work I’ve been doing. And I got thrown into a situation that’s led me to question everything, rethink and restructure, and make decisions that feel like an overall “brand.”

While I’m happy I’m here, one of the strongest forces that’s guiding what I do next is precisely avoiding how I got here: no more being thrown into stuff. Seem easy? Maybe. Probably not.

I’ll get to that in a second, but first the back story.

Continue reading → “After 7 Years Doing this Work, I’m [Re-] Branding. Here’s how I’m making decisions.”

Updates | Status

Totally new site. Slightly new direction.

Howdy! Today marks two turning points: the design of this site has changed (from this to this), and the name has changed (from “Dear World” to “Sam Killermann’s Blog”).

From here on, in addition to things I’ve been writing about before (like happiness & technology), I’ll also be writing about how I DIY (do it myself) in all things social good & online platform related, and posting more personal updates about my work/life.

And totally new: I’ll be creating members-only content! So 🤞to a new experiment.

Updates

2016, A Brief Review of Creativity

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” - Bill Gates

2016 was, well, quite the year.

All in all, I side with what appears to be the consensus that it was, if given only one descriptor, a dumpster fire. That said, it was also more than a dumpster fire, and I want to take a moment to reflect on some of the things I made this year — something I basically never do.

So, with that said, following is what I finished, published, and/or created in 2016.

Continue reading → “2016, A Brief Review of Creativity”
Updates

Meet FacilitatingXYZ: A Free Online Resource for ALL Facilitators

Why I'm so excited about launching this new project (another collab with Meg Bolger)

Updated September 12, 2016: we officially launched this project, after about 11 months in development, production, and ideation. Woohoo!

FacilitatingXYZ is everything I wish I had when I got started as a facilitator — and together, we can build it into something that helps us continue to learn, develop, and grow. It’s a free online resource with videos, articles, downloads and (soon!) community to help all facilitators improve their craft.

Continue reading → “Meet FacilitatingXYZ: A Free Online Resource for ALL Facilitators”
Updates

I’m Publishing A Book

And then it sunk in: I get to publish an amazing book. I get to share this with you.

I’m writing from a rooftop in Austin, taking a break from my break — which was part Naomi Klein and part Real Ale — to share a reflection that just sunk in: I’m about to publish my first book, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Now, to be clear: this isn’t me publishing the first book I wrote (that happened a couple years ago, and still hasn’t sunk in); this is me, under the auspices of Impetus Books, publishing my first book someone else wrote (in this case, I’m glowingly happy to say that someone else is Karen Rayne).

Continue reading → “I’m Publishing A Book”
Updates

InTolerance: Why I’m Writing A New Show About Prejudice, Faith, and Identity

Debuting in Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 23, I'm producing a very-new new show that's open to the public.

In a few short days, I’ll be debuting a new show. To those who have followed my work, I understand that the topic (faith) and setting (a church) feel like they are coming out of left field. And that feeling couldn’t be more right — that’s why I’m doing this show.

Granted, I’ve written about Christianity a bit, both here and at It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, but it would be accurate to say that Faith is not my usual go-to topic when I hop on stage. In fact, I’ve never talked about faith on stage, and, if I’m being completely honest, I feel palpably uncomfortable in churches. But again, that is, in essence, why I’m doing this show.

Christian/Religious people don’t often engage in dialogue with Atheist people. Straight/Cisgender people don’t often engage in dialogue with Queer people. Don’t get me wrong: there is a lot of talking at these different groups, but that’s not the same.

There are a lot of “national conversations” led by members of all four of these groups, but so few actual conversations. And who’s leading those conversations? Who do we have speaking on behalf of us? Are we comfortable with everything those folks say on our behalf? Do we (whatever We you are) really feel that way about them? (whatever Them they might be).

There is this idea that there is no common ground, that we’re all at extremes, we’re against, at odds, “irreconcilably different,” fundamentally opposed. These are identities that are thought to have clear lines in the sand — party lines, political lines, permanent lines. Us. Them. And a big gap between the two.

But here’s the thing: I don’t buy it. Any of it. I think we’re getting duped, that an extremely vocal minority is misrepresenting the majority, and that we’re more alike than we are different — at least where it counts. From my perspective, it’s becoming more and more clear that’s the case. But I’m aware of how odd my perspective is at times. I’m hoping this show will help build a bigger Us and a smaller Them.

There’s this thing about me — about my identity — that mixes people’s signals

I’m not gay and I’m not Christian, and these are two things that people are surprised to find out (if this is news to you right now — surprise!). So many people assume the opposite that I’ve become accustomed to correcting people, sometimes even before they say anything — an anticipatory strike. And when I do that, I never hear “Oh, I didn’t think you were,” but instead “Really?!” or “How did you know I thought that?” or (the most common) “Are you sure?”

I’m sure.

“But what you’re doing with your life is so Christian.” “But you smell so good.” “But…” “But…” But…” The responses to both my not-gay-ness and not-Christian-ness are many and varied and not worth getting into here (so many for the gay assumption that I wrote an entire show about it).

I’m hoping this show to serve as this middle part of the venn diagram that brings these four distinctly different groups together

I’m an atheist who is often assumed to be a Christian, a straight, cisgender man who is often assumed to be queer.  As a result of that, or at least as a result of me engaging with those confusions, I’ve had a ton of conversations with people who fall somewhere into all four of these groups. And what I’ve found is there really aren’t four groups at all. Instead, there are a ton of individual people who align somewhere on, between, beside, or outside of each of those dimensions.

A lot of good can come from this conversation, if we do it in a healthy, non-threatening, safe way. It’s a conversation that’s already ringing in a lot of folks ears, but by no means the majority. I’m hoping InTolerance will help folks feel more comfortable joining the conversation in their own lives, and nudging that seemingly-silent minority toward a vocal majority.

Hell, or maybe it’ll just be fun to tell stories and laugh for an hour in a church. I know it’ll be a first for me. I hope to see you there.

Technolophizing

How I Keep Track of 50 Projects at Once (& Maintain Some Sanity)

A friend wrote me and asked how I make sense of everything. This is what I replied.

I’m currently in the process of finishing two books, starting another, publishing two new sexuality models, three new live social justice comedy shows, running half a dozen volunteer-based initiatives, building I’m-not-even-sure-how-many websites, and the list goes on. It’s a lot. And as I type that, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But I’ve found a way to make sense of it all, to not lose any of my little ducklings, and to retain a semblance of peace of mind.

It’s just a matter of coming up with a way of not losing track of ideas before they develop into things.

I want to first say that I’m not very good at this — I’m just good enough. And if you’re a notebook/physical thing person, you’re not going to like this, because I’m all digital, baby (in the cloud! disruptive! innoventive!). I keep track of ideas, actions, and creation using [mostly] Evernote, Wunderlist, and Google Drive. I also have a pile of external hard drives. Below is how I specifically use each.

All of these things are [or can be] free, other than the hard drives. They are great for collaborating. And they work on my phone, tablet, computer, and web browser.

To remember ideas, I use Evernote

Evernote is amazing, but it can easily get unmanageable. The trick is to effectively use tags and journals.

I have different journals for different ideations within Evernote (e.g., a comedy one, an IPM one, one for my forthcoming EP, one for each of my books, etc.) but use the same universal tag system for everything. That way, everything has its own place, but with the tags I can draw connections between otherwise unrelated projects.

For example, I originally wrote my gender TEDx talk to be a song, so I tagged it “lyrics” and while it changed from there, it still comes up when I’m looking at “lyrics” to see all the songs I’ve written, which I like (cuz it could be easily changed back).

To remember actions, I use Wunderlist

Wunderlist is almost as powerful as Evernote in its ability to organize, but it far surpasses Evernote’s ability to push me to get tasks done. You can have separate lists for different projects, assign tasks to people, or just have an inbox of incoming assignments (I use this feature a lot with my manager & project coordinator, Chum and Bethany, where we assign tasks to one another on share lists).

I have about 60 – 70 Wunderlists going at any given time. I have one for each of my live personal projects (things like IPM site, Jack and/or Jill, etc., which is about 30ish), one for each of my collaborations that are still ongoing (like the Safe Zone Project), for every freelance gig I have open, and then I have some general life ones (e.g., “Rainy Day in Austin,” “Things I Need to Buy”).

Some of the tasks have due dates, which makes it easy to know what I have to get done today, if anything (by browsing the due “Today” tab). But if that’s not absolutely necessary, they don’t. And I just open a list and work through it when I’m inspired to work on that project.

I also recently started doing “pre” and “post” lists for speaking/shows/trips, and I’ve really liked that idea. “Pre” is things to pack, print, buy, etc. “Post” is all follow-ups I accumulate while I’m there. And I have those forever until they’re complete, like the one from a trip I did back in January that is still not complete. Gotta get on that.

To get started on writing and creation, I use Google Drive

Google Drive is amazing because you can create, share, edit, and publish [limited, but not bad] all from one place. It’s as much a shared drive as it is a studio, and because of the universality of google accounts, it’s perfect for collaboration.

Right now, I have 22 top level folders in my Google Drive. As you’re starting to likely get the sense, I use these separations to help me stay organized. But for Google Drive, I don’t separate just by project, but also by collaborators. I give Chum and Bethany access to all of my personal projects, so there’s just a “CHUM & BETHANY & SAM” folder. I share access to that folder with them once, then they have everything inside, which includes everything from new articles I’m writing for a variety of sites, to bios, to show schedules, to contracts, to budgets.

Some of my other top level folders are more broad, but all with the same goal of making the sharing easy. The only reason I’m writing and making things on Google Drive instead of my laptop is because I can click a button and allow someone else access (to edit, provide feedback, take over, etc.). So it’s with that in mind that I choose how I will organize what goes where.

To finalize and publish, I use my laptop

Granted, I’m using my laptop for a lot of the things above as well, but here I mostly mean Adobe Creative Suite (for all the design and print stuff) and Sublime Text 2 (for programming web stuff). And I back up all of the finished products of everything on external hard drives.

To organize my computer, I created a new top level folder (on the same par as “Documents” and “Movies”) called “Projects.” In Projects, I have a subfolder for everything I’m currently actively working on. Everything finished or dormant stowed away on an external drive. The nice thing about the Projects folder is that now I can still use the Documents folder for what, I think, it was meant to be: a hodge-podge of personal things (like tax returns) and other files you’re not sure where to put (like resumes, animated .gifs of Ellen dancing, etc.).

As far as backing things up, I have separate external hard drives for three different divisions of my work: photo/video (all on one hard drive), design, and organizational. So I know that if I need the raw video clip of a testimonial from a keynote that I gave three years ago, I plug in my blue hard drive where it’ll be organized hierarchically by type and date, and I can find it in 2 minutes. Ditto with a poster I made four years ago and haven’t thought of since (just happened as I was redesigning Dear World). Or an organizational structure and position descriptions for something I did in 2012. All on separate hard drives, waiting to be resurrected.

Each of those hard drives is backed up as well, of course. And my computer (with all of my live projects) gets backed up every couple of days on a separate hard drive altogether.

This is how I do it, not how you should

The above system works really well [enough] for me. But I came to it through a ton of trial and error. And the best advice I can give to anyone is exactly that: try things, try different things, then try some other things.

You can start with the things above, but don’t stop until you’ve found a system of techniques, software, writing on your hand, pinning notes to your shirtt, whatever, that feels right. You’ll know when you find it. Or, rather, you’ll know when you haven’t, so keep experimenting until you hit your stride.

Updates

Do, Reflect, Tweak, Do: From Thought/Day to Dear World

The new direction I'm taking this site, which is mostly just a new name for the same direction it's always been going.

When I first started this project several months ago, I was pretty clear about what my goal was with the writing here: in short, nothing.

I wanted a space to explore new ideas, to reflect, to write, to share, but without any particular “goal.” So much of the writing I do is extremely goal-oriented. I wanted to see what would happen if I created a space that was less structured. I wasn’t sure what I’d end up writing about, what shape this site would take, and was happy to follow my fingers on an adventure.

And it was fun. I wrote a lot of things I’d’ve never written otherwise, found that I have thoughts about seemingly random things that others find value in reading. I only got a few pieces of hatemail compared to a pile of encouragemail — this was new. I started with only one real rule, but I broke it after about 100 days. I was planning on writing once a day, and when I started traveling a lot at the beginning of this year, I missed one day. And that’s the funny thing about habits — one missed day is alarmingly similar to one missed month, then you’re only a hop & skip away from a never happening again ever.

After missing a few days, I experienced stress related to this project that I hadn’t experienced, and decided that it was time to take a break from it, reflect, and see if it still has a healthy place in my life. I’ve done that now, and I’m happy to say that it does. Kinda.

Gone is Sam Killermann’s Thought / Day. Welcome Dear World, a much more fitting title for what’s going to be happening here. Continue reading → “Do, Reflect, Tweak, Do: From Thought/Day to Dear World”

Better Humaning

Be Bored

"Boredom is the fear of self." - Marie Josephine de Suin

Be bored.

Stop. Whatever else you’re doing. Stop.

Turn off your music. Turn off the TV, Netflix Instant Streaming, Hulu+, Amazon Prime, all the things you use to fill your time. Not forever, not for long, but for right now, this moment, stop. Continue reading → “Be Bored”

Updates

Four Different Versions of Me

"A man is whole only when he takes into account his shadow." - Djuna Barnes

It’s weird, ya know, waking up to emails from four different people I don’t know, who don’t know me, but think they do. Depicting four vastly different mes:

1. A Me who hates families, Christians, and Christian families. Who is dedicated to “destroying Western Civilization” and will be promptly burning in Hell.

2. A Me who is saintlike in his love and compassion for others, who is “a glimpse of light in a world that’s gotten dark.” Whose work “literally saved my life.”

3. A Me who is motivated solely by ulterior motives, greed, and who would “best serve the LGBT community by killing yourself.” Continue reading → “Four Different Versions of Me”

Technolophizing

Let’s Be Honest: We’re Already Dating Our Phones

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” - J.K. Rowling

Yo. I just saw Her. It’s cray. It’s powerfully well-written and brings up a lot of thoughts about how we might relate to technology and one another in the future. But it also made me think a lot about how we relate to technology and one another right now. If you have a smart phone and you’ve seen Her, you’ve likely had a lot of these thoughts already.

It’s hard to convince myself that we’re not already dating our phones. Continue reading → “Let’s Be Honest: We’re Already Dating Our Phones”

Updates

How To Work on the Internet (In 5 Easy Steps)

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” - Arthur C. Clarke

I work on the internet. Even now, in The Year Two-Thousand Fourteen, I have to describe what I do with those five words. A talk I heard recently by Heather Corinna, another person who works on the internet, who spoke about working on the internet, was a reminder of this for me, as I found myself relating to everything she said. Five words still when it should really be two:

I work.

“On the internet” means a ton of things to a ton of different people. “That’s so techy” or “my, how quickly things change!” often translates to me as “ARE YOU FROM THE FUTURE?”

For some people “on the internet” undoes the “I work” part: “Oh, neat, yeah, but what’s your real job?”

This is my real job.

We live in the future, people. There are no flying cars (soon! wanna go halfsies?), but there are shabbily-dressed people working on laptops in coffee shops. The future is here, and it’s unshaven. The only reason we’re still making the “on the internet” distinction is because of the [sometimes willful] ignorance about what the world looks like and how much things have changed in a short amount of time.

If you want to play catch up (please, do not think any of what I’m suggesting here is anywhere near the cutting edge), let me share with you a few starter steps for working on the internet. Continue reading → “How To Work on the Internet (In 5 Easy Steps)”