Thank you again for your letter. I reply to your two observations, starting with your second one.
Yes, it's important that I explain "What's in it for me?" Please do help me find that. It may be easier for you than me because you're not me. You're not so stuck in my point of view.
I've set up a directory of "ways of figuring things out". I have 551 ways so far:
I would like to find 5 or 10 customers per year who would pay me $5,000 to $10,000 to work further on this directory.
Why would they care?
I'm providing authenticity, which helps them engage skeptical people. I'm making transparent in a particular domain (such as law, engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals, business, finance, government, arts,...) what are the ways that they figure things out? This gives confidence to people who may be skeptical. Authenticity is very important for marketing and almost impossible to create.
What form could this take?
* I would collect and share a hundred or more ways of figuring things out from their particular field.
* I would do interviews with experts in the field as I did with Dee Guyton http://www.internetinetv.lt/?View=PostCollection/ViewPost&id=755
* I would group the ways into 24 "mindsets" as I have for math, physics and my philosophy
* I would do a blog post, perhaps every other week, at their blog, about a particular mindset, what it means in their field and how it relates to ways in other fields
* I would reach out to relevant online communities, find more ways and thank my sponsor
* I would train people to collect and enter more such ways
I'd really like to find interested customers and make this meaningful for them.
I'm also looking to "crowdfund" my research at http://www.kickstarter.com
or elsewhere. I might seek $2,500 per month for 6 months which is $15,000. This would keep me from going bankrupt and in the meanwhile I might find customers.
I appreciate your help to think, what would make this attractive for crowdfunding? My main passion now is to collect more ways from various domains and also write up my own work. At some point, I would like to create learning materials for self learners in math and other subjects. This could take the form of games. For example, June Terry would like my help to learn algebra so that she could pass her teaching certification. I don't know if I should focus on my directory now or on creating related math learning materials. I could do either if I knew what people would prefer to fund.
Diane, you also observed that I could separate my endeavors from making a living. Yes, I did this in graduate school (1986 to 1993) and after graduate school (1993 to 1997). I couldn't do this in Lithuania because it was too poor of a country. That is why I started Minciu Sodas (1997 to 2010) to try to relate the two, at least a bit, by serving independent thinkers such as myself. I failed financially and now have $140,000 in loans. I returned to Chicago to try to repay my loans. My boss refused to give me any more work because I was honest. I asked God, did he want me to look for more such work. God said No, he wanted me to apply myself creatively.
I have two months or so before I go bankrupt. I'm using those two months to make my efforts above work. If I succeed, I won't go bankrupt and I'll be doing what I think I should do. If I fail, I will not have wasted my time, and I will not regret wasting time looking for work where I am not needed and my honesty is not appreciated.
If I must go bankrupt, then that will take about six months. Then I will need to look for honest work. But only $1,000 per month or less. So perhaps I can find something part-time, twenty hours a week at $10 an hour. I will try. At that point I will be free not to care about people any more "what is in it for them", just as they need not care about me. I can do what I alone think is important.
But is there honest work for me? At this point in my life, I would not work at McDonald's or Coke or other companies that contribute to the obesity epidemic; for the Federal Reserve System which is a house built on sand; for Argonne laboratory testing nuclear power plants as I have in the past; for the medical industry profiting from bureaucratic regulations as I have in the past; for a destructive education system as I have in the past. I'm not going to take jobs that other people can do and want to do, such as shoveling snow. I'm not going to compete. There is a shortage of work. Let other people do it. I can do chores, but I don't need to earn money. God has invested so much in me and I have work to do. I'm happy being a mooch and I don't mind living in homeless shelters, so long as I can work on my directory. Then I will focus on writing down my own wisdom from my life and my philosophy, which may be best. And when I'm done with that, when I'm good and ready, I will organize people in Chicago as I did in Kenya, and I will turn this world upside-down if it won't turn itself right-side-up.
Diane, the major reason for linking "making a living" and my "endeavors" is that it allows us to bring forth a new economics where we meet each other half way. I'm very good at justifying ways of spending my money. I spent $1,600 on rent to live with David Ellison-Bey in Englewood rather than give it to an apartment building to live on my own. I invested $300 to get Holace Penn off the streets for two weeks in a cheap hotel because I thought it would be great to be roommates. I gave out to other people 5 bags of groceries that I got from the food pantry or bought with my food stamps. I'm contributing all of my "intellectual property" to the "Public Domain".
I'm looking for people wealthier than me who would behave likewise towards me. Or I'm looking for a way to crowdfund from many people who may be poorer than me but might at least show moral support. I'm looking for partners who might benefit. For example, I could create learning materials for self learners and the Catholic diocese could offer them to adults who send their children to Catholic schools, to encourage the adults to learn more and to help their children learn, too. Churches and individuals could make money selling such learning materials in the US, Africa, around the world. I'm looking for people who would benefit from me.
Diane, you have a great heart. Thank you for your love and support. You also have a great imagination and a wealth of sensitivity. Perhaps you will have ideas or at least you will help me keep coming back to key points.
Here is a list of 60 stories about "my money mind" that I put together in 2006:
and I'm putting them in my directory:
Diane, thank you again for allowing me to write. Perhaps others will speak up and share thoughts, too. What is it that I might do useful? "What's in it for me?"
Thanks for sending me so much information in such a compact, organized package. I have browsed through the various links and digested a good deal of what you're trying to do and who you are. I want to give you a big hug because there is so much goodness in you - wonderful ideas, a generous heart and a fervent desire to help people.
I can understand your frustration at not being able to find the best way to use your talents and your good intentions to benefit ALL people and to be able to make a living......
A couple of observations:
One: Despite all the time and energy and thought you have put into your endeavors, perhaps all this is NOT something you should be doing with hopes of receiving any payment at all. Perhaps that pesky wrinkle of needing to earn money is the element that makes it all feel so difficult. What if you pursued a separate (albeit, related) career for the purpose of earning money and continued with these efforts separately --- as a pure hobby, with absolutely no expectation of compensation? You would be able to devote fewer hours to this work, but it would be wholly unconnected with money. I think that this would make things simpler and more straight forward.
I realize this is most likely NOT a welcome observation. But, as a disinterested onlooker, I think that this is a reasonable suggestion. My opinion: it may be too tall an order to do everything that you want AND support yourself from the same endeavor. And I think you may be surprised that your efforts, if they were 100% separated from financial motivation, may be cleaner and your (separate) commercial endeavors might complement and aid, from a separate vantage point.
Two: If you can not contemplate the above and simply MUST continue along the path you have been traveling, then I think you would be well served to stream line. I love the intricate thought you have put into your writings and I love the complexities and insights you have presented. But this is a busy world and people have become accustomed to microwave ovens, mobile phones& internet and instant foods. I think it will be a tall order to lasso enough angel investors because so few people will take the time to genuinely absorb the opportunity you are presenting. Is there a way to offer a bite size serving? And - one more thing...... I have been impressed with a marketing term called "the WIFFY." This stands for "What's In It For YOU." In short - what will the take-away benefit for the customer be? What - exactly - would they get (in very basic reality) for their money? I think that needs to be spelled out so that it's clear within two minutes of reading the introductory sentence. Sad but true, people nowadays are accustomed to 30 second ads on TV and their buying decisions are made very quickly...... and, although you are selling something rich and deep and of tremendous value, that is not something that is perceived quickly.
I hope that I may have been able to help you in a small way. I know that what you are trying to do is a wonderful GIFT. And it is so frustrating that the pieces of the jigsaw are not fitting together.... at least not yet. But maybe it will turn out even BETTER than you are imagining if you can figure out how to "market" your ideas more like a product.
I'll continue to keep thinking --- and, meanwhile, you will be in my thoughts and prayers ---
with best regards,
I write you because you are an understanding person. I would love for
you to be my champion.
I share with you my vision and then the obstacles I face to make a
living. I appreciate your thoughts. I share my own more broadly,
starting with my working group, Living by Truth,
I wish to nurture a culture of self-learners. I think that in our short
lives we can choose to live, grow, learn forever. We can choose such a
life here and now. I think that is the will of God who loves us.
I aim to inspire such a culture in the way that Robert Baden-Powell
inspired scouting. You and Community Cousinshttp://www.cuzz.org
inspire a culture. You also know of my work with Minciu Sodas,
although I've had to move on, as I write
We do manifest the ideals that Jesus
declares as the kingdom of heaven. The Pyramid of Peace
is a wonderful example.
I am contributing hundreds of ways of figuring things out that I've used
in my philosophy and my personal lifehttp://www.selflearners.net/ways/
I've sketched a theory of how they fit together into a "house of
I want to write
them up, but also share others' accounts of how they have figured things
out. People may not care about the questions we've asked or the answers
we found, yet they may care about the ways that we have figured things
out, because they can apply them in their own lives as they think best.
We can help each other find our own answers. This is a culture of the
"poor-in-spirit" who would rather take many small leaps of faith than
one big one. We remake our lives and our world so that all truth is
right at hand.
I want us to express these ways as games so they are easy and fun to
use. Robert Baden-Powell transformed "Do unto others as you would have
them do unto you" into a game: "Do a good deed every day". Similarly, I
think that we can remake all of learning by illustrating deep ideas at
play. We can find Truth and vouch for it. We can engage God through
every way of figuring things out, starting with our favorite ways. We
can express every aspect of our culture as games so that everyone may play.
I'm currently living in Black America, in Chicago's South Side. This is
the most distraught and most inspiring place I know. Here is where the
culture of self-learners can truly prove fruitful. June Terry, who
sings with me at St.Benedict the African, dreams of starting a day care
for the learning disabled. She's very excited about my Face-the-Facts
Phonics Flash Cardshttp://www.face-the-facts.com
We've started to pray
in twos-and-threes to make our dreams come true.
I wonder how to make a living. I failed at that with Minciu Sodas. I
have about $140,000 in debt. From 1998 to 2010, I had about 30 clients,
but I could never make it work. I came back to Chicago to work as a
tutor. I thought I would work for a few years. However, some students
and parents complained because I told them what I think, which is that
studying for tests and getting help with homework is generally
counterproductive. My boss wouldn't give me students anymore and soon
I'll have none. I'm morally very sensitive. I doubt if there is honest
work for me. The education system, academia, the finance system, the
health care system, the government, the nonprofit sector and the
corporate world in general all seem to be at odds with their purposes.
I ask God if he wants me to look for such work, and he says, No. He
says I should apply my creative talents. He has a lot invested in me.
I therefore thought through what I want to do, as I wrote above.
I can be flexible as I pursue my vision. I therefore seek customers or
sponsors for whom I would document "ways of figuring things out" in
their domain of interest, such as math, science, engineering, computer
science, biochemistry, genetics, medicine, law, finance, administration,
security, journalism, fashion, cooking, agriculture, music, art, dance,
theater, ethics and so on.
There are so many
domains. I would do great if I could find 5 or 10 customers a year who
would each contribute $5,000 or $10,000. I think they would benefit as
I reach out to online communities, thanking them along the way, as I did
for Mornflake cereal's video contest, see the links here:
I think the benefits will
grow clear as we share the many "ways of figuring things out" from the
Who would want to be such a customer? I seek "angel customers" who'd
start me off.
I imagine they would be individuals with the heart, mind and means to be
my angel. I think of your husband, Larry Bock, who I learned of through
you. I admire him as the founder of the USA Science& Engineering
@USAScienceFest I would
love to document and share ways that the scientific method is used (so
differently in astronomy, geology, genetics...) and also how scientists
come up with their ideas. I could interest all kinds of online groups
in the festival. I did contact him, but please, you may be able to
I have a list of people who I imagine might fund my services.
I think of inventors such as mathematician Stephen Wolfram of Wolfram
Alpha, Mathematica and "A New Kind of Science". Larry alerted me to
"How Stuff Works", and the leader Jeff Arnold has now co-founded
ShareCare for health care questions, where I could share how doctors
figure things out. Dachis Group includes Dave Gray's XPLANE, and Dave
is a co-author of "Gamestorming", which is central for my vision and for
which I created a "cheat sheet"http://www.gogamestorm.com/?p=536
Jones is a "thought leader" in the venture capital community. I live
about four blocks away from the Gary Comer Youth Center
which is funded by the Comer Science and
Education Foundation (Gary Comer was the founder of Land's End) but I
can't get in the door there, even as a volunteer.
In principle, this should all be possible. In practice, I will find out.
I think that our culture will have a playful economy.
I'm trying to learn that.
I look forward to your ideas!
+1 (773) 306-3807