A BIRTHDAY PRESENT
In my family, we were foodies before it was cool. We live to eat, whether that means finding special restaurants or cooking for days to host a feast. Back in 1998, my dad told my mom she should type up our family recipes and make a book. She laughed it off and said that there were probably only 15 or 20 recipes and that it would be a pretty slim book! But she started typing them up anyway and added in lots of little anecdotes and bits of family lore. After ten years, it came to over 300 recipes! Mom went to Kinko's and had the whole thing bound in one of those spiral notebooks. Eventually, I moved the files to Dropbox, so I could access them from my phone and make spur-of-the-moment grocery shopping a little easier.
We always said we'd edit it and clean up the typos, but never quite got around to it. Something always came up and Mom seemed sad that the spiral bound print out was the only hard copy. So, with Mom's 70th birthday coming up, I decided to finally get the thing made. I found a copy editor to review the language and standardize the units. (Tablespoon wasn't consistently T. or tbsp.) All our family friends and relatives emailed me their favorite food-memories or stories about my mom, and some even sent photos. A woman in my UX class turned out to be a cover designer at Penguin, and she recommended a colleague for the interior layout. I met with the two designers to look at examples of covers and treatments that I liked and talk about what I wanted the book to feel like. I told them that I didn't want this to feel amateur or cutesy. I wanted her to open it and feel like it was "a real book." We went through a few iterations and got the design settled with plenty of time to spare for printing.
You can't imagine her smile when she tore off the wrapping paper and realized what she was holding...
ANYTHING FOR A LAUGH
BREAKING INTO COMEDY
In 2012, I helped a startup that made technology for selling premium content online. It could be used as a paywall or a stand alone payment mechanism for pretty much any kind of content. This wasn't long after Louis CK and Aziz Ansari put their own specials online, which meant that they could keep more of the revenue. I predicted that more and more comics who had their own fan bases would want to sell their work online. To get some buzz in the stand up community and simultaneously generate content for the startup, I put together a 90-minute special featuring 7 comics in the New York scene. I hired a video production company, booked the comics, and promoted the (standing room only) show.
This is definitely one of my favorite projects... The night was extra special because my family flew in from Ohio to be in the audience! My dad raised us on stand up: he would always play Steve Martin and Robin Williams tapes in the car.