Will Leitch: Turn Back Tuesday


A little more than four years ago, I interviewed journalist Will Leitch to debut my first web site! This week, let’s revisit my conversation with him for two reasons: First, Will offered some great insights. Second, this is the first interview on Dreaming Made Simple.

Dreaming Made Simple is your dream destination for practical strategies and resources to help make your dreams happen!

Sam Miller: What is your dream?

Will Leitch: All I ever wanted to do was write for a living. More accurately, all I ever wanted to do was to write about things that I care about. For me to have the opportunity to write about what I want in a lot of different places, it is a dream. My dream is to be able to keep doing this as long as I can. It’s not so simple as “OK, you made it. You’re all done now.” I have to keep working hard to sustain that.

Sam Miller: When did you realize you were living your dream?

Will Leitch: If you had told me six years ago, “Will, you’re going to be able to do a movie site with your friend Tim [Grierson]; you’re going to be able to write for New York magazine, one of your favorite magazines; and you’re going to be able to write a big story about Michael Vick for GQ,” I would have been like “Holy crap, I’m living the dream.” Once you’re actually doing it, it’s just work, which is good. I think people have a bad connotation with work. They equate work with job. I like to work. That’s what gets me up in the morning.

Sam Miller: What are the steps you’ve taken to get where you are?

Will Leitch: A large percentage of everything that happens for anyone is luck. You make your own luck, don’t get me wrong. Once you are given an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it. As it happened, Hugo Lindgren was a deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine. (He now runs the Magazine.) He stumbled across one thing I had written at The Black Table and was like, “Hey, this is kind of funny. I’ll e-mail this guy and see if he wants to do something.” That was absolute luck. The funny thing was I got assigned a huge story, a big huge story, that to be honest I am not sure I was quite ready for, but I worked my ass off on it. It was luck that he even stumbled across me in the first place. On the one hand, he did come across the story. On the other hand, I also wrote a million other things that he did not just stumble across. People misunderstand luck. They think, “That person’s just lucky.” No, you have to put yourself in a position to be lucky.

The first step was deciding that this was what I was going to do. I don’t know if I had necessarily decided that when I moved to New York. I think I knew it in college, but there is a difference in knowing what you want to do and to be, like “I’d do this forever even if I die.” I remember a lot of people in my journ program or different English programs that wanted to be writers, wanted to be journalists. They’d say, “I’ll give this [career] until I’m 27 or 28, then I’m going to law school.” Well, in my opinion, you’ve already lost when that happens. I remember a conversation that me and [Deadspin editor, A.J. Daulerio] had. I was 26, he was 27, and we were both really struggling. We had a friend of ours who was a lot older than us. He was not doing well with his career. We thought, “He was a failure. Are we willing to be failures?” We both decided yes. We were willing to have it not work because we wanted to do it and believed in it.

I think that’s the most important thing – to be willing to go down with the ship. You can’t look for an escape hatch.

If my wife had met me in 2003, I was the biggest loser you could find. I could barely afford rent, I had a crap job, I was writing for free, I was a mess. But I knew what I wanted to do eventually, so I had to put in the work and hope that I caught a break and, if I did, to take advantage of that break.

Sam Miller: What lessons have you learned?

Will Leitch: The main one is not to get distracted and not to give up. I find a lot of people act like a job is owed to them, or they deserve it, or they’re special. A lot of the people who have a really hard time are people who are not ready to deal with setbacks.

A lot of people want to be writers but they don’t realize that requires a ton of work. I don’t think there’s a mystery to it. I think people want there to be. I know a lot of people who love the vision of themselves as writers, but really, you’re committed to it or you’re not.

You don’t even want to know how many years my parents thought, “Why is he in New York? What is he doing there? We send this kid to college, and he’s working in a doctor’s office. What a waste of time this was.” I was a total failure for a long time.

Sam Miller: What’s next?

Will Leitch: All I want to do is to keep doing this and to make it work with my life. I want to be able to do the things I want to do while making sure it doesn’t take away from the things I need to be as a husband and a father. That’s my next goal, to figure that out.

There’s no point where you hit a finish line. That’s something I didn’t realize when I was 25 or 26. I always thought I’d hit a point where I made it. You never hit it.

Thanks for reading!  Keep watching this space for more interviews like this one and for more about Dreaming Made Simple

Inspiring Women's Miriam Gonzalez on the Importance of Role Models on Dream Journeys

Inspiring Women
Inspiring Women

Miriam González is the founder of the Inspiring Women campaign, a UK-based organization that gives girls in school opportunities to hear from female role models who cast vision for their futures.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, González, named an Influential Educator by Noodle, shares about the importance of mentors, giving back and seizing opportunities on the dream journey.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for the Inspiring Women campaign? How did your dream originate? How has it evolved?

Miriam González:My dream is that every girl in the UK, and then in every country, realizes that they are free to shape their lives, that the only constraints they face should be the extent of their own effort, and that there are lots of women out there ready and willing to help them.

I would like to see the Inspiring Women campaign expand abroad, and I would simply love convincing UN Women to support the campaign worldwide.

I started the Inspiring Women campaign in 2013. I have always been passionate about gender issues, but it wasn’t until I had been myself subject to many labels in the public eye that I realized I should speak up publicly about the remaining sexism in our societies. I believe in women speaking up and talking to the next generations of women. That is what the Inspiring Women campaign is all about.

Also, I had read an interesting survey conducted by Girlguide in the UK, saying that more than 55 percent of girls aged 11-21 years old don’t think they have enough access to female role models. So I thought, “That is ridiculous, there are thousands of great women out there. Let’s just bring them to schools where the girls cannot miss them!”

And that is precisely what we do. We ask volunteers to give one hour per year to go back to school to talk about their life, their career, their choices… In two years, we have gotten nearly 20,000 wonderful volunteers from all backgrounds within the UK, and we have reached 500,000 girls at state schools across the country.

Now, we are about to launch the campaign internationally, and we do hope that the U.S. joins us soon!

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Miriam González: Being able to start the Inspiring Women campaign is one of the things I feel most proud of. I feel very privileged for having had the public exposure (thanks to my husband’s role as the UK Deputy Prime Minister the last five years) that has allowed me to set up the Inspiring Women campaign and have such big success.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Miriam González: I have had many dreams throughout my life and my career, but I never had a plan. There is not a clear path for everyone, and we all have ups and downs. The most important thing is to aim high and keep trying, no matter what. I have always worked hard – I still do work hard - and I have taken most of the opportunities I have found on my way.

Thanks for reading Sam's Dream Blog!  Click here for more information on the Inspiring Women campaign

Brad Webster: Making Your Mark

Brad Webster
Brad Webster

Brad Webster is brand strategist/ creative director at Webster Branding Strategy & Design. This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, Brad shares about the importance of planning, taking risks and having right beliefs during the dreaming process.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream?

Brad Webster: To propel people, give them an opportunity to step into their own calling. Some of the best ways I can do that emotionally is to encourage people and continually call out their potential. Practically I can be a person who provides opportunity. So basically, my professional dream is to hire people with potential, give them an opportunity to do what they love and earn a good income.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Brad Webster: Some highlights are putting on a benefit concert for the Costa Rican rainforest when I was younger. I had some connections and brought in Anthony Kiedis, who is the lead singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers... I used to be a sponsored snowboarder, so getting on the Airwalk snowboard team in '97 was cool... Also I was a snowboard coach and coached two of my kids to national championships.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Brad Webster: The main thing is follow through. When we have a dream, we almost always imagine that dream in full glory, but it's quite a process to slog through the initial start-up part. There are details we never thought about, as well as road blocks and disappointments.

Often money can be an obstacle, and right now, for me, that is. What I am learning, and the advice I would give others, is to make a plan. Pretend you have the money sitting there and then make your plan. It needs to be a real plan, not just a pretty plan for investors, one that you will actually execute. At the end of the day, the ones leading any conversation will be the people who actually did it - whether it's a bad movie or a good movie, a book, a business idea, whatever. If you don't do something, there will be nothing to talk about, only what others have done.

SDB: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Brad Webster: Easy: risk. At the end of the day, you can plan all you want, but at some point, you have to step off the end of the dock. You have to push away and actually try it. It was scary to leave a steady paycheck, and it's always a risk. Any dream you have is a risk inviting you to push the envelope in some area. Otherwise it wouldn't feel so appealing or enticing. That is one step.

Another is having a plan. A third is having people believe in you. You need people to push you on when you don't know if it's possible anymore. I needed to know my wife backed me in my risk. Having people run with you is really, really important.

Wealth is not about money. Wealth is about influence. It is that simple. When you believe that you are powerful and you can make a positive difference in the world around you by going after your dreams, you move forward. When we move forward and bring change, we create momentum for ourselves and hope in others that change is possible.

If you ever speak to a homeless person, they may have definitely had some bad things happen, but the difference is they have lost their belief that they can influence or change the situation. They think if something in the system was changed, or somebody else would make a decision to help them, then things would be different. They basically have lost their influence on their own life. They believe they have 0% influence and the cold, hard world has 100% over them. But it's just a deception. It's a wrong belief. So always believe that you can do something to make a difference.

You pursuing your dream will bring personal fulfillment to you as well as release the potential for others to be inspired by you, and go after their own. Others will see them, and it creates a strong ripple effect. You can do it!

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!

John ZuHone: The Sky's The Limit

John ZuHone is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, John shares about realizing a childhood dream, pushing through doubt and endurance on the dream journey.

Sam's Dream Blog: What's your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

John  ZuHone: My professional dream was to do something with outer space. I think it started when I was a child. I loved to read, so my family bought me books on all kinds of subjects. One book (which I still have!) was on the planets. I was hooked. I begged for a telescope, and at age six, I got one. We lived out in the middle of nowhere, so it was easy for me to see the night sky.

For the longest time I said I was going to be an astronaut (most kids do at some point). As the years went on, I found myself most interested by the science behind what was going on beyond our planet. Eventually, I decided that I would become an astrophysicist. I also enjoyed computers growing up. Little did I know that they would become an essential part of my job--running computer simulations of what's going on in the universe.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

John  ZuHone: I am mainly a theoretician, in other words, someone who thinks about how the universe works and formulates theories to explain what we see. However, very soon I will have the opportunity to use the Chandra X-ray Observatory, an X-ray telescope orbiting the earth, to observe a cluster of galaxies. It is kind of hard for me to believe sometimes that I get the privilege of using a real observatory that is sitting out in space to do real science.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

John ZuHone: Often, the biggest obstacle has been myself. Self-doubt, the idea that I couldn't hack it, that it was foolish for me to keep going because I wasn't cut out for it--those were things I had to overcome. Gaining the confidence that I was truly able to achieve the goals I had set out for myself, with the support structure that my family, friends, and faith gives me, is what got me to where I am.

To anyone who is pursuing their own dream, I have the following bits of advice:

* Know the difference between giving up (which you don't want to do) and realizing that your goals may have shifted from where you thought they were originally. As you move forward, you may find that other things inspire you, that you are interested in other things than what you had set out originally. That's not a sign of failure. It just means you have moved on to something else. And that can be exciting.

* Other people are important. No one ever gets anywhere in life without help from someone else. This includes your family and your friends, but also people you meet along the way. You never know how the connections you make with others will benefit you down the road. And the way you show gratitude for that is by paying it forward--someday you will get a chance to give someone else a leg up when they need it. It's also very humbling--knowing that making the world run, working for things like justice and knowledge and beauty and everything else that's good, takes teamwork. We're all in it together.

SDB: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

John  ZuHone: First, it was lots of school. 10 years, in fact, counting both college and graduate school. That's how long it takes (give or take a year or two) to get a Ph.D.. After that, you spend time building your research career, doing what we call "postdoctoral research." I'm currently nearing the end of that part of my career, transitioning into something more permanent. But a lot of the education that you need to excel in this area, as in many, is self-taught and self-sought. The classroom is very important, but some of the most important things you will ever learn are not taught in the classroom. You only learn by doing them, and usually doing them wrong a few times before getting it right. In that sense, I am still learning.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about John ZuHone's work here

Andrew Skurka: All about Dreams, Adventures and Challenges


Andrew Skurka is an adventurer and guide, best-known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips. In total, he has backpacked, skied, and packrafted 30,000+ miles through many of the world’s most prized backcountry and wilderness areas.This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, Andrew shares about his dream journey, including the preparation and endurance required.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Andrew Skurka: My backpacking dreams evolve every few years. Early on, I wanted to hike as many long trails as I could, and to do it fast and light. Now, I'm more interested in shorter, more intense trips that are largely off-trail. This shift is directly related to my learning, or lack thereof. When I'm not being challenged by what I'm doing, I change it up.

SDB: What makes you most proud of your long distance hiking feats?

Andrew Skurka: I'm most proud of how smoothly most of my trips go. I attribute this to extensive pre-trip research and planning, which ensures that my plan is feasible and that I'm as prepared for it as possible. If I've put in the time beforehand, there are fewer unexpected events.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dreams?  

Andrew Skurka: The biggest obstacle to my dreams was the unconventional lifestyle that I had to live. I don't have a conventional job, and for a long time did not live like a normal adult: no permanent address, little income, no long-term relationships, etc.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Andrew Skurka: There are few substitutes for hard work and persistence.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about Andrew Skurka here

Jessica Watson on Sailing Toward Your Dreams


At age 16, Jessica Watson became the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world.  This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Jessica shares about braving new territory, the importance of a team in your dream pursuits and about overcoming adversity.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for sailing? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Jessica Watson: My family sailed when I was young, but it wasn’t till I was 11 that I dreamt of sailing around the world. I was fascinated by the ocean and wanted to prove what young girls are capable of. These days I love sailing more and more and dream of inspiring more people to give sailing a try.

SDB: What makes you most proud of being the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world?

Jessica Watson: Great question. It was a solo voyage around the world, but it took a whole team of people to get safely to the start line. I’m proud of the hard work from all of my team. I’m also proud of how I managed the mental side of the voyage.  There were times when I was scared and upset, but most of the time I stayed positive.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dreams?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Jessica Watson: At first finding the support and funding I needed was hard.  Then I actually hit a huge ship just before I set off on the voyage. That was a big setback, but I learned so much from the incident, and it made me stronger.  There are lots of things I could say about the determination and persistence it takes to achieve your dreams, but I think the most important part is to take the first step and have the courage to chase your dreams.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Jessica Watson here

Gainlight Studios' Derek Oddo Shares His Dream Journey


Derek Oddo is the CEO and owner of Gainlight Studios branding company.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Derek shares about the evolution of dreams, how to adjust to surprises and how to make your dreams happen.

Sam’s Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?

Derek Oddo: My professional dream has always been to run a successful business that provides for my family and others.

This dream likely originated as a child. I grew up in a large family with four other siblings where there was no such thing as an allowance. Any discretionary money for baseball cards, video games and other items had to come in large part from money I could scrounge together. I mowed lawns and cleared driveways from a young age. I helped neighbors with tasks they did not want to do, all the while collecting any money I could to buy the same things my friends had. That is not to say my parents did not help, they most certainly did when they were able; it was merely a requirement for me to contribute financially if I truly wanted something.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Derek Oddo: The things that give me the greatest satisfaction are old interns who reach out years later to let me know how much I impacted their lives. It is seeing a t-shirt I designed years ago still out and about in the community. It is seeing a logo I designed mounted to the side of a building. Everyone, everywhere, inevitably wants to know that they somehow impacted the world. While these may be minor, they serve as pleasant reminders to stay the course and cause you to realize there are things beyond money that make you appreciate what you do daily.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Derek Oddo: The biggest challenges I have faced are those related to changing circumstances. I became a business owner because I like knowing the decisions I have made or have not made are impacting my bottom line directly. The realization, though, is that I am at the mercy of a number of factors. And as sure as night and day, life will always be there to throw you curveballs.

The best advice I can give to dreamers like myself is to remain nimble, to remain hungry, and to always move forward. Always seek to improve on something every day.

SDB: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Derek Oddo: Many, many little steps. The two largest being sacrifice and a willingness to execute. Everyone has dreams. Every single one of us. These are as simple as daydreaming about a new car, to something more complex like trying to impact your family generationally.

The only difference that separates the dreamers from the doers is execution. It’s taking those small, tangible steps in the direction of achieving these dreams, regardless of how crazy those around you might think you are.

Along the way, you will be called to sacrifice. Sometimes, these sacrifices are easy, like skipping a night out with friends to be up early for a meeting with a new client. Other times, they are far greater.

It is too easy today to get caught up in instant gratification. We hope to see immediate results, and sometimes we can realize our dreams quickly. But, for the great dreamers, it often takes years for the seeds we plant to become fruitful. It is why it is important to stay the course.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Gainlight Studios here

Kenji Claudio: The Creative Journey

Kenji Claudio is managing partner/director, executive producer at BYOB Bring Your Own Board Orange County TV series.

This week on Sam's Dream Blog, Kenji shares about following childhood passions, making your own opportunities and finding your team.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate? How has it evolved?

Kenji Claudio: My professional dream is to write and produce fun, compelling stories in film, television, any medium that allows for the story to be told and enjoyed. I was four years old when I watched Jim Carrey's "The Mask" and was in awe of how somebody got all of the intense car action scenes on camera – like, did somebody just happen to have a camera and press play when all of this happened? My childlike awe for film has stayed with me through the years.

I graduated, majoring in public relations and working in a comfy government job. Meanwhile, my friend was directing and producing a full-length feature film in Georgia. I asked him, “If I paid my way out there, would you let me work for you?” He took me under his wing. Eighteen-hour days, six days a week, pushed me to near-exhaustion, but I awoke every morning feeling like it was all worth it. That is when I knew that this is what I wanted to do, not just for a living, but for my career.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Kenji Claudio: My most proud accomplishment is when I began producing, at the green age of 22, a full TV series worth of content on a shoestring budget with all my friends. I didn't really know what I was getting into when I called up my friends, asking them, “Hey, wanna make a TV show with me?”

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?

Kenji Claudio: Three years later and two seasons in, I look back, and I see how truly difficult producing a season of TV is. But my naiveté kept me going, not really knowing how hard it was until I finished doing it. Other producers go through hell producing TV shows, but I chose an easy format of television, shooting scripted reality that can be done in a way that can always be produced no matter where I am...because there is always a story to be told wherever you go.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Kenji Claudio: My advice to others is to find a group of friends/creators that love to do what you do. Go with them as a team into whatever idea/venture that you're all passionate about. The creative process is a journey, and you won't know where you land until you get there. In the end, I think about all the fun times I had and remember that failure is a very real thing that can happen at every turn if there is a diva in your squad.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Kenji Claudio and Bring Your Own Board here

D'Wayne Edwards Educates Emerging Designers

D'Wayne Edwards
D'Wayne Edwards

D’Wayne Edwards is the founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy.  “PENSOLE’s ‘learn by doing’ curriculum teaches students the entire footwear design process.”

This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Edwards, one of the youngest design directors in Nike’s history and a man whose designs have sold more than $1 billion worldwide, shares about planting seeds, dreaming bigger, and about discovering your ‘why.’

Dreaming Made Simple: What is your professional dream, and how has it evolved?

D'Wayne Edwards: I’ve honestly achieved almost all of my professional goals. I am more focused on my goals as an educator, and the first one is to make you forget I ever designed shoes. Not that I want to discount my previous life, but if I can get people to talk to me as an educator, that means I am doing something right if it overshadows my past.

My new focus is not about designing the next great shoe but designing lives that will design the next great shoe.

I see myself as more of a farmer, planting seeds across the industry that will make the industry better than when I entered it. My dream is for PENSOLE to be the best academy in the world!

Dreaming Made Simple: You let go of your dream job at Brand Jordan for an uncertain future pursuing a new passion at PENSOLE.  What convinced you to set your former dream aside, and what has been the result?

D'Wayne Edwards: I have had several dreams and am proud to say I have accomplished several of them, but I never had just one. I set daily goals. Those goals are attached to dreams, and once I achieve one, I move onto my next one. Ironically, working at JORDAN was not a dream of mine because I was not dreaming big enough. Once I was blessed to work at JORDAN, that taught me to dream bigger. If a poor, African-American kid from Inglewood, who could not afford to go to college for design, still reached the top spot in the athletic industry, I realized, if I put my mind to it, I could achieve anything. So to me, why can't a kid with no college education start a school that does not exist, in an industry that is $68 billion...?

Dreaming Made Simple: How does someone keep dreams and passions alive, even when it’s not immediately possible to live them out?

D'Wayne Edwards: First, people need to discover what their dreams are.

Most people don't dream. Dreams are FREE, and there should be no limits on them.

As people we put limits on ourselves, and when we do that, we never discover or realize our full potential. Mark Twain has a quote that says "There are two important dates in our life: One, the day we were born; and two, the day we discover why." I did not discover why until I was in my late thirties. I thought it was to be a top footwear designer who designed for the greatest athletes in the world, for the best brand in the world. But I was wrong... It was to become a designer so I could help others reach the same level of success I was able to achieve, and then for them to help others the same way I helped them.

Most of the time the only thing keeping people from keeping their dreams alive is they don't know WHY they are living....

Thanks for stopping by Dreaming Made Simple!  Learn more about more about D'Wayne Edwards and PENSOLE here

Dick Traum Inspires to Find a Way

Dick Traum
Dick Traum

Dr. Dick Traum is the president and founder of Achilles International. Achilles International is a non-profit organization with members in 65 locations nationally and internationally. The “main objective is to bring hope, inspiration and the joys of achievement to people with disabilities.” Dick is an above-the-knee amputee with a successful computer applications company. Dick became the first amputee to run 26.2 miles.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for Achilles International? How did your dream originate? How has the dream evolved over the years?

Dr. Dick Traum: At the beginning, my dream was to have a local running club. Currently, there are chapters in each major city in US, with hopes to expand internationally to 100 chapters in total. Additionally we want to expand Achilles Kids from 12,700 members in 14 states to 25,000, and we want to expand the Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans to include older disabled veterans.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?

Dr. Dick Traum: Race directors are not yet ready to include large groups of people with disabilities.

SDB: What is something more able-bodied people miss when they relegate people with disabilities to merely being an “inspiration”?

Dr. Dick Traum: They do not realize that people with disabilities are more similar than different. Also, they are unnecessarily uncomfortable with them.

Thanks for stopping by Sam's Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Dick Traum and Achilles International here

Book Review: "Silver to Gold"

Book Review: "Silver to Gold"

You know it is summer when people start talking about summer reads. Whether you need an excuse to stay inside or you need something to take to the beach, here is a book sure to encourage you on your dreaming journey!

Behold the Possibilities

This picture reminds me of the heartland. Few things make my soul come alive like the lush fields of Illinois.

Gazing across the horizon, it’s as if the possibilities are as limitless as the eye can see.  There’s nothing standing in the way, just wide open spaces to dream, explore and create. Look at all that green!  It might as well be freshly-grown dreams, planted some time ago.  Of course on that day gone by, there probably wasn’t much to see.  No matter.  Memories of springs gone by were sufficient.  Seeds sprouted before, and they would sprout again, to be sure.  And now?  A wide expanse of vibrant green life rewards expectation.

So what’s the point, you may ask.  First, plant today so you can reap when the time is right.  Do what you know to do, and confidently wait.  Second, ask yourself, “Where can I go to refresh myself?  When I’m lacking inspiration, how do I regain what is missing?”  For some, the answer could be traveling.  For others, it could be going to an art gallery or to a sporting event.  We all need a reset from time to time.

What is your reset?  What refreshes you?  Leave a comment below

Child's Play: Gamers Joining Forces to Fulfill Childrens' Dreams

Child's Play's Program Coordinator and Development's Jamie Dillion shares with Sam's Dream Blog about a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s the dream for Child's Play? How did your dream originate?

Jamie Dillion, Child's Play: The dream of Child's Play has always been to improve the lives of hospitalized children through the power of play. In 2003 we organized a toy drive for Seattle Children's Hospital with the goal of providing a brighter holiday for the kids there. Now we send video games, toys, books, movies and more to more than 90 children's welfare facilities around the world.

SDB: What got you thinking about gaming as a charitable idea? How has it progressed?

Jamie Dillion, Child's Play: Child's Play was founded by passionate gamers, and we knew the gaming industry was full of generous, passionate people. As technologies like web streaming, multiplayer functionality, and more develop, the community harnesses it for more complex, more powerful fundraising for the cause.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Jamie Dillion, Child's Play: It's hard to say; the game community blows us away every year with their incredible enthusiasm, and the stories we hear from families, patients, and doctors about the impact made by games and toys in the hospitals are deeply heartwarming. 2013 was our tenth anniversary, and we managed to surpass $20 million lifetime raised, expanded our network to benefit domestic violence shelters, and raised $7.6 million in that year alone! It's all thanks to the support and dedication of the donors and community who make it possible.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing Child's Play's dream?

Jamie Dillion, Child's Play: We've been fortunate to have an extremely supportive grassroots fundraising community, so many of our challenges have been logistical: building a network of 90 facilities doesn't happen overnight, and growing as consoles and technology change and evolve is a shifting and challenging process.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Jamie Dillion, Child's Play: Connect with and cultivate a community of people that will encourage and support your dream; seek out people with similar dreams and goals and help them on their journeys. By working together and fostering strong relationships, we can support each other in achieving our dreams.

Learn more about Child's Play here, and check back for the next SDB post on Feb. 18.  Thanks for reading!

Lisa Nicole Bell on Carving Out Your Entrepreneurial Niche

Lisa Nicole Bell is the CEO of Inspired Life Media Group, a company that creates and produces content for Fortune 500 brands, major media outlets, and venture-backed startups in the realms of entertainment and technology.

Dreaming Made Simple: Would you tell Dreaming Made Simple readers how you carved out your niche and how you figured out a twist on what you offered?

Lisa Nicole Bell: I carved out a niche by identifying what I was good at and then identifying which skills I could develop to build a career for myself. Most people kind of fall into their careers instead of carefully strategizing what they really want to do and what it will take to get there. I spent a lot of time reading and researching career paths to figure out how I wanted to start my business and grow it.

SDB: What’s your dream for your business?

Lisa Nicole Bell: My dream is to grow my next company into a $100MM+ entity. It's a much bigger idea than anything else I've ever pursued so I'm excited about the possibilities.

SDB: What are one or two lessons you have learned in the process of going after your dream?

Lisa Nicole Bell: Knowing the right people is super important. Time spent on strategic networking will never be time wasted.

Also, your mindset determines how far you go. It's so important to feed your mind with the right information and continue to build your image of yourself in the right way.

Learn more about Lisa Nicole Bell here

Trevor Kaufman on the Boulevard to Hollywood

Trevor Kaufman is a manager/producer. He manages feature/TV writers and produces material. This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Trevor tells about his work in Hollywood. He shares about the importance of being patient and having a support system in the midst of a dream pursuit.

Dreaming Made Simple: Is there a typical day for you?

Trevor Kaufman: I manage writers and directors. What that means is I develop material with writers, which would be features and TV scripts, and go through the process, all the way from an idea to script form. I help [writers and directors] get jobs and I package their materials, whether that is for other producers or financiers or actors or directors. It’s all in an effort to get the scripts made into a feature or a TV show. I do a lot of reading scripts and conference calls, I meet with executives and all the people from the industry to stay connected with what’s going on in the town. In this industry, there’s a 1000 different ways to get a movie or a show made.

Dreaming Made Simple: Do you freelance or do you work for a production company in particular?

Trevor Kaufman: I’m a freelancer now. I used to work for a production company. The last couple years I have branched out and done my own thing. It’s been great. It’s a little more challenging because you don’t have the same stability as you would with a company, but I like the freedom of doing it myself.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your dream for working in the industry and how did that dream start?

Trevor Kaufman: Basically to make projects that I am proud of and that I am passionate about, not just to make a buck. I guess everything originated when I was a kid and my Uncle George introduced me to Sylvester Stallone movies and to Beverley Hills Cops. I got really into movies. When I got into high school, I started seeing stuff like Fight Club. That’s when I started to realize that becoming a filmmaker was something that I not only truly desired but that I could accomplish.

Dreaming Made Simple: Do you have any advice on pursuing dreams?

Dreaming Made Simple: What have you learned in terms of discerning good professional opportunities?

Trevor Kaufman: It’s important to know you want to do things the right way, no matter if it takes longer to accomplish. I guess it’s just being patient. It takes a long time to build up contacts in the industry, from people you interned with or people you speak to over the phone. It’s actually a pretty small town. You want to think about how you want people to see you. If you work for a certain boss or a certain person, you’re going to be associated with that sort of mindset and work ethic.

Dreaming Made Simple: Talk about the importance of having people to support you in your dreams.

SDB: What did that journey from Illinois out to LA look like?

Trevor Kaufman: I always knew that, to work in the movie business, I had to be in Los Angeles, so it was how do I get there? I went to two years at Southern Illinois University with my buddy, Nic Camp. Then he and I transferred to Columbia College in Chicago. Colombia had a semester in LA program, and I used that as my last semester to graduate. Once I got out there, I stayed out there. I didn’t even come back for graduation. I got internships, then I started getting entry-level jobs. I kept at it and didn’t expect things to happen overnight. I just tried to enjoy myself and kept working toward getting a movie made, which is what I ultimately wanted to do.


Christina Igaraividez Shares Her Acting Aspirations

Christina Igaraividez
Christina Igaraividez

Christina Igaraividez is an actor, planner and buyer. She came to New York City for an advertising job. This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Christina shares about her acting aspirations.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for your acting?

Christina Igaraividez: My dream is to one day have a large enough audience where I can share my experiences through a self-created project, whether it be through theater, film or digital media.

SDB: When did you think about becoming an actor?

Christina Igaraividez: I always knew I wanted to perform but I actually never had the guts to really do it until after I graduated from college. I'm what we call a "late bloomer" in the biz.

SDB: How have you developed as an actor?

Christina Igaraividez: I got very accustomed to group and ensemble based work, but when I moved here I had to rely a lot more on learning, creating and doing things on my own and at an accelerated speed to keep up.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?

Christina Igaraividez: The challenges have been in staying focused and setting real goals. The only way to learn is to keep moving, ask questions, try and fail and try again, as well as staying hungry.

SDB: What’s it like being an actor in perhaps the best city in the world?

Christina Igaraividez: It’s tough. Everything you hear is most likely true. There are so many amazing and talented people here. At the same time, I have found more support here than I expected.

Sometimes all you need is a handful of people who believe in you to keep your spirits high.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Christina Igaraividez: I always keep a key phrase in my head a mentor told me: "Do good work and people will notice." If you keep your main priority to churn out the best work that you possibly can, then you are going in the right direction. The acting experience is a very personal journey and unlike any other job or career. Everyone's path is different, and there is no ladder to climb that will ensure your success.

SDB: Where do you get your inspiration? How do you keep it fresh?

Christina Igaraividez: I get inspired every time I see a performance, whether it’s on TV, on the street, on stage or a coworker in the cube next to me who came up with an ingenious pun. You stay fresh by keeping up with current trends and events but also by staying true to yourself and knowing your strengths.

Learn more about Christina Igaraividez here!  While you’re at it, leave me a comment below sharing about your dreams

Miller's Musings: Thanksgiving Week Edition

Credit: Derek Oddo/Gainlight Studios
Credit: Derek Oddo/Gainlight Studios

With Thanksgiving in mind, the idea of counting my blessings is a bit more tangible for me this year.  Thank you for supporting Sam’s Dream Blog!  Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Last Monday morning, I awoke feeling guilty. Not overwhelming so, but maybe worse, persistently so. You see, I am from near the area that got ravaged by tornados the previous day (Nov. 17.) So I awoke feeling conflicted. I awoke feeling a twinge of guilt on account of my hopes and dreams. My hopes and dreams are blooming and opening new shoots of growth every day. My neighbors back home literally had their hopes and dreams ripped out of the ground in some cases.

Although thankfully, I’ve never experienced anything like those tornados, I have had tough times. All of us have. I’ve also seen my neighbors flourish like I am now. When I was struggling, I didn’t hold their success against them. I was glad for them, and I believed my time would come. In the meantime, there was a gap between my flourishing friends and me, however. At that point, I was thankful for their help and encouragement. They used their passion, encouragement, and in some cases, resources, to give me hope and vision for better days ahead.

Now it’s my turn to provide that strength for my friends and neighbors. How about you? Is there something you can do to help the needy around you, whether in Washington, Ill., the Philippines, or elsewhere? One thing you can do is to keep dreaming. Then be ready to help others with their dreams.

To buy a T-Shirt with the Central Illinois Strong graphic, click here. All proceeds will go to the helping the victims of the tornado through a donation to the local Red Cross.

The Bouqs Co. Founder John Tabis: Stop Dreaming, Start Doing!

John Tabis is the founder of The Bouqs Co., an online flower delivery service "helping you to be husband/boyfriend/son/daughter/brother/friend/cousin/colleague/whatever you can possibly be." Previously, John worked in marketing strategy for brands including Disney, ESPN, ABC, Marvel, ShoeDazzle and Gerber Baby. This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, John shares about following childhood passion, catching the attention of Oprah and how to act on your dream.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?

John Tabis: Since I was a child, I wanted to make things.  Movies, music, comic strips, forts, musicals, books, you name it.  And this has driven me professionally as well.  It led me to The Walt Disney Company where I learned about managing big brands and telling awesome brand stories, and it's led me here to The Bouqs Company, where I'm so excited to be building a brand from scratch.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

John Tabis: From a personal standpoint, it's my marriage and son.  We're a team unlike any other, and I can't spend enough time with both of them.  Professionally, it's hard to point to one individual accomplishment, but getting to the point where we are today is probably it. At one point, this business was an idea.  Now we employ 10 people and serve thousands of visitors a day with an amazing array of awesome products, wrapped in a fun and interesting brand.  The fact that that brand, which has now been in Oprah Magazine, on Maxim.com and on The Today Show, didn't exist 11 months ago, is pretty exciting.  Creating it is our biggest accomplishment.  I can't say 'mine' here, because this was very much a big team effort.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  How do you overcome a common one for startups, like lack of resources?

John Tabis: The biggest challenges to date are the same that many startups face.  Competitive markets for consumers, capital and talent.

Lack of resources to attract these assets is also a common challenge, but it can be overcome through creativity and by really believing in the vision for the company.   Creativity leads you to different, interesting and low-cost ways to overcome these obstacles.  And true belief helps you sell your vision to others who can help you get there.  Because no matter how good you might be, you will need a lot, a lot of help along the way.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

John Tabis: My advice is to do, not dream.  Imagining how awesome something might be pales in comparison to actually doing that exact thing.  I dreamed of running a brand for a number of years while holding other positions, and I always had a reason for not actually doing it.  Having taken the leap and started it, I now wish I had done so a long time ago.   So my advice: Stop dreaming, start doing!

Thanks for reading Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about The Bouqs Co., and check back here for the next feature on Nov. 26.  Sign up for SDB social media updates, and tell a friend while you are at it!

littleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir on Taking Little Steps Toward Dreams

Ayah Bdeir is the founder and CEO of littleBits. littleBits have been referred to as "LEGOs for the iPad generation." Bdeir, an engineer, was named one of Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Dreaming Made Simple: So many people think pursuing your dreams is complicated. What have you learned about taking little steps or "bits" toward making something profound?

Ayah Bdeir: Don’t give up. Developing something new that never existed before takes time. And solving real problems takes time. Devote time to your passion. Weekends, sleepless nights, as much time as possible. You will make progress, and when you get close to something happening, you will feel it and become so energized you won’t be able to stop.

Dreaming Made Simple: You say, "I don’t believe in producing products for girls or for boys." littleBits were designed to be gender neutral. How should society neutralize more of the gender playing field for girls and boys when they are young so they can work together without thinking anything of it when they are older?

Ayah Bdeir: Too many products are gender-focused and are segmenting kids before even making or marketing products to them. Girls and boys play differently, yes, but so do American boys and French boys, so do kids of engineers versus kids of artists. There are too many lines to separate people.  I grew up playing with electricity sets and chemistry kits and (old-school!) video games. My parents never let my gender come into play when getting me toys. I believe I became an engineer partly in thanks to that. I never thought this wasn’t a profession for a girl.

Learn more about littleBits here!

Sugarfina Co-Founder Rosie O'Neill Shares Sweet Treat


Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick are the co-founders of Sugarfina, an online candy boutique featuring sweets from around the world. This week on Dreamin Made Simple, Rosie, formerly Director of Marketing for Barbie, shares marketing lessons she has learned and her three-bite rule.

Dreaming Made Simple: I’ve read your three-bite rule.  How can you apply that advice more broadly as far as keeping consumers engaged?

Rosie O'Neill: The "three bite rule" started as a way to manage my sugar intake while taste testing dozens of candies a day.  It might sound like I'm whining, but it's actually really hard to eat 20+ candies in one sitting, day after day!  So I'd eat just one bite if it was OK, two bites if I liked it and three bites if I loved it.

This rule really applies to all aspects of life.  Try new things as often as possible, stick with what you like, and don't waste your time with the things you don't like? Life's too short.

With candy, I'm always encouraging people to try something new, even if it's just once.  That’s why we offer our candy Tasting Flights and our subscription Tasting Club.  Each box has a curated collection of 1 oz. samplers - such as a collection of candies from Italy or an assortment of artisan caramels in a dozen different flavors.  Often times your favorite candy is the one you wouldn't have tried unless it was in your tasting box.

Dreaming Made Simple: What did you learn from marketing Barbie that has helped make Sugarfina successful?

Rosie O'Neill: I apply the skills I learned at Mattel every single day - particularly when it comes to product and packaging development.  It's pretty cool to know how to take an idea and translate it into a beautiful end product that people want to buy.  Just knowing the basic mechanics of how to create a product, test it, package it, produce it, market it - It's a very rewarding process.

Consumer research was a big part of my career too.  It's so important to understand how people think, how they make decisions, and what makes them smile.  If you can figure out what people want and offer it to them in a fresh new way, you're well on your way to a successful business.

And of course, if, like Barbie, you can have a fantastic career AND have a fabulous collection of shoes?  More power to you.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your dream for Sugarfina?

Rosie O'Neill: Our immediate dream for Sugarfina is to open our first retail shop, which is very close to becoming a reality.  We're creating a beautiful luxury candy boutique in the heart of Beverly Hills this winter.  It will be unlike any candy store you've ever seen!

Long-term, we'd love to grow Sugarfina into an international brand, with luxury boutiques all around the world.  It makes me so happy to introduce people to delicious candies they've never seen or tasted before.  That feeling when you see someone's eyes light up because you've given them the best thing they've ever tasted - That's irreplaceable.  I will always be chasing that moment, with as many people as possible, for as long as I can.