Speaking at BDW
Last week, I headed westward to speak at a few advertising/design schools. My first stop was in Boulder to take part in BDW’s Speaker Series. I had read a lot about this program and was excited to see what it was all about. David Slayden, the Executive Director, Founder, is from the midwest too, graduating from IU Bloomington with a PhD in English/Cultural Studies.
As soon as I walked in, I could feel the energy in this funky, compact space. It was midday, between classes, so it was a bit quiet, but still full of life.
David is conducting a personal social experiment by chucking his 4,500 square foot home to live in an Airstream adjacent to the school for 10 months. Of course, it was beautifully appointed and designed perfectly.
I learned about why he started the program, what it’s goal was- “Adapting to a world in permanent beta”, and where he wanted to focus. I have spent a fair amount of time at schools in the past few years, and it was the first time I’d ever heard someone remark that their students were too focused and diligent, that he wanted to make more room for play in the program.
He’s right. The demand for entrepreneurial minded, tech savvy kids is high. Place like Google and big agencies snap these students up faster than he can develop them. But to properly do his job, he knows that he needs to give them space to experiment.
I was able to sit in on a Design Thinking class and hear a client give a real world assignment to the students. I loved hearing their questions, which were all thoughtful. Later that evening I spoke, a little apprehensive that my talk wouldn’t resonate as much with this crowd. But they were a lovely audience and asked dozens of questions.
These students are going to head out and help change the world forever. Possibly the most valuable thing they’ll walk away from their training at BDW is not only the acceptance of change, but the ability to drive it.
*Totally random fact: David had a brief stint in Indianapolis years ago, where he freelanced for our founder, David Young. Small world.