Kim & Jason News

Rattling Cages: Behind the Scenes of Our Latest Battle Against Adultitis

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Late night planning meeting at Colectivo Coffee across from the State Capitol.

Writing, designing and illustrating Penguins Can’t Fly was easy and fun, at least compared to the marketing, promoting, and selling part of the process. Since the beginning, I knew that the bulk of the latter was on us, not the publisher. This is something that few authors grasp.

You see, with all the books that they publish, there are only so many resources a publisher can put behind a first-time author. (Technically, I am not a first-time author, with four books and several thousands of copies sold, but I AM a rookie when it comes to the traditional publishing game.) St. Martin’s has invested a considerable amount of money in making this a full-color, hardcover book, and for that I’m super grateful.

Since the day we signed the contract, Kim and I have known that creativity is our number one asset when it comes to promoting this book. Especially since we don’t have a ton of A-List blogger friends or a boatload of money to invest in marketing.

A few months ago, one of the women on our marketing team sent us a list of potential bookstores where she could arrange book signings. Although you might consider book signings to be exciting and glamourous, I can assure you that unless you are already famous or have a relatively large online following, they look something like this: you are sitting at a table with a stack of your books. What seems like a thousand people walk by without even a glance. One person stops, picks up your book, puts it down, and walks away, without a single word. Another person stops to ask you where the bathroom is. Finally, another person stops and buys a book. This person is either a) your mom or b) your dad.

So yeah, sign me up for a few weeks of that. Not.

In any case, when you write a book about breaking rules that don’t exist, you kind of put a bit of pressure on yourself to not do things the way they are always done. [Read more…]

Why You’ll Want to Pre-Order Extra Copies of Penguins Can’t Fly

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Have you heard? If you pre-order 5 or more copies of Penguins Can’t Fly +39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist, you can score some pretty neat bonuses.

First of all, anyone who orders at least one book from anywhere can email their receipt to penguins@escapeadulthood.com and get a special e-Book containing five bonus rules that didn’t make the original cut, a Permission to Break The Rules Coupon book, access to the video of one of my 70-minute speaking programs, and a cache of digital wallpaper. (Details here.)

If you’re interested in buying a bunch of books to share with friends, family, and sworn enemies, you are a committed Adultitis fighter and deserve to be rewarded as such! Of course, you are eligible to receive all of the digital candy mentioned above, as well as some other exclusive prizes. First of all, I will personally sign each copy, and depending on whether you order 5, 10, 25, or 100 books, you can also get:

  • Rules That Don’t Exist” postcards
  • Marty the Penguin eraser
  • Limited edition “Penguins Can’t Fly” t-shirt
  • 16″ x 20″ “Rules That Don’t Exist” giclée print
  • 24″ x 24″ stretched canvas print featuring your favorite artwork of mine
  • A chance to win a complimentary speaking presentation for your company, association, church, or community group.

Learn more about all of the specific deals here.

Wondering what you could possibly do with all those books?

You could just give them out to strangers on a random street corner or build a little fort for your Lego minifigs, but here are some more practical suggestions: [Read more…]

Joining Up the Dots

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I recently had a nice chat with David Ralph on his show, Join Up Dots. It is a podcast inspired by a quote by Steve Jobs, who said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

The in-depth conversation I had with David went in a lot of interesting directions, which made it fun. We talked about my partnership with Kim and what it’s like working with your spouse. We discussed “spaghetti throwing,” and the long and winding road that led us to where we are today. And I shared many of the dots from my past and how they shaped my story. If you’re at all interested in those behind the scenes, “making of” special features in DVDs, you will like this interview.

I’ve enjoyed all the episodes I’ve had a chance to listen to. I learn something interesting from each one. (Don’t miss the great interview with our friend and Bubble Man, Geoff Akins.)

Getting Healthy by Getting Rid of Adultitis

adultitis-kit-logoI was happy to be a recent guest of Meredith Rhodes Carson on her WebTalkRadio show, The Roots of Health. It was a fun chat, and we talked about a lot of things, including how you can diagnose your own degree of Adultitis, what happened in our lives to infect us with this disease, what could happen to you if you live undiagnosed, and how can we begin to combat Adultitis in our lives.

As a veteran of many Jell-O cook-offs, Meredith knows a thing or two about fighting Adultitis herself!

You can listen to the interview here.

New Postcards at the Lemonade Stand!

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Our first series of postcards are now available at the Lemonade Stand! They’ve been a part of our Adultitis First Aid Kits since the beginning of the year, but now you can buy them individually or as a set. These 4″ x 6″ beauties are printed in full color on 14pt card stock, with a sultry matte finish. Perfect for sending or framing!

Check ’em out here.

Read the First Three Chapters of Penguins Can’t Fly for Free

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The book doesn’t officially come out until June 23rd, but you can read the first few chapters of Penguins Can’t Fly +39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist right now. For free.

When we were kids, we were winning at life. But as we got older, Adultitis began to set in, and we got inundated with a bunch of rules that don’t exist. Things like “act your age,” “hide your wrinkles,” and “hate Mondays.” Following these so-called rules is a terrific way to stress you out, sap your energy, and ensure a boring life. But there’s a better way.

This book, which is packed with pages of my full-color art, uncovers some of the most useless rules so you can shift perspective and start seeing the world with wonder once again.

Download the fun-sized version now.

It’s time to stop living by someone else’s rules.

How to Get Jason to Speak for FREE to Your Company, Association, Church, Moms Group, Chamber of Commerce, Secret Society…

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[ UPDATE: We have exceeded the number of slots we had available for this offer. Thank you to everyone who expressed interest! Click here for more information about bringing Jason in to speak at your organization through more traditional means. We have options to suit almost any budget, so don’t hesitate to get in touch! ]

pre-order-now-penguinsYou may have heard that Jason has a book coming out with St. Martin’s Press (an imprint of Macmillan) this June. Hopefully you’ve already secured your nomination for “Awesomest Person Ever” by pre-ordering a copy or ten. This is a big deal to us, because it’s the best opportunity we’ve ever had to increase awareness about Adultitis. It’s such a big deal to us that, for a limited time, we are willing to waive our speaking fee for orders of 150 books or more!

That’s great! But what in the world am I going to do with 150 books? [Read more…]

Pre-Order Penguins Can’t Fly

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Pre-order “Penguins Can’t Fly” now and get rad bonuses!

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About the book

Did you know there are lots of rules you’re dutifully following every single day…that don’t actually exist? Even worse, they’re stressing you out, sapping your energy, and keeping you from living your best life.

Life is supposed to be fun. We knew this instinctively as kids, but somehow forgot on the way to adulthood. We got busy and overwhelmed, started valuing things that don’t matter, and learned to follow a ton of so-called rules:

Hate Mondays
Only celebrate when the calendar gives you permission
Don’t make a mess
Don’t play hookey
Hide your weirdness
Hide your wrinkles
Care what other people think

Following these rules is a terrific way to stress you out, sap your energy, and ensure a boring life. But there’s a better way. In this enlightening and beautiful full-color book, author and artist Jason Kotecki uncovers some of the most useless rules so you can shift perspective and start seeing the world with wonder once again.

It’s time to stop living by someone else’s rules. Your life is a story, and a short one at that. Discover what small but mighty actions you can take today to turn your life into the fun, adventurous and exciting story you deserve.

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Pre-order Bonuses

Penguin’s Can’t Fly + 39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist is being published by St. Martin’s Press (a division of Macmillan) and will be released on June 23, 2015. We’ve got some special goodies for you if you reserve your copy now…

FREE Bonuses! Regardless of where you pre-order the book, if you email a copy of your receipt to penguins@escapeadulthood.com, we’ll send you a link to a top secret page where you can download some awesome stuff:

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Penguins Can’t Fly Extended Cut: A special ebook containing five bonus rules that didn’t make the original cut but probably should have.

 

Permission to Break the Rules Coupon Book: This hilarious yet handy coupon book provides the nudge you need to break some of the most common rules that don’t exist.

 

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Once Upon a Time Video: Access to a 70-minute presentation from Jason about Adultitis, the rules that don’t exist, and simple tips for living a better story.

 

Digital Wallpaper: Spruce up your favorite digital doohickey with some official wallpaper featuring art from the book’s cover. Specially formatted for a variety of devices!

 

How to Order

option #1: if you want ONE book…

If you’d like to pre-order a single copy, that’s great! It’s available at any of the fine retailers below, and wherever books are sold. And remember, if you email a copy of your receipt to penguins@escapeadulthood.com, we’ll send you a link to a top secret page where you can get your free bonuses!

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option #2: if you want MANY books…

If you’re interested in buying a bunch of books to share with friends, family, and sworn enemies, you are a committed Adultitis fighter and deserve to be rewarded as such! Of course, you are eligible to receive all of the digital candy mentioned above, simply by emailing your receipt to penguins@escapeadulthood.com. But we also have some exclusive prizes available, depending on how many books you order…

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Marty the Penguin
a tiny reminder that nothing is impossible

 

Rules That Don’t Exist Print
featuring all forty rules from the book

 

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Penguins Can’t Fly T-shirt
super soft. limited edition.

 

24×24 Stretched Canvas Print
featuring your choice of Jason’s artwork

 

Buy 5 Books
If you buy five books directly from the Lemonade Stand*, Jason will personally sign each one, and you will receive a Marty the Penguin eraser and 5 “Rules That Don’t Exist” postcards. Order now.

Buy 10 Books
If you buy ten books directly from the Lemonade Stand, Jason will personally sign each one, and you’ll not only get Marty and the set of 5 “Rules” postcards, but a limited edition Penguins Can’t Fly t-shirt in the size of your choice. Order now.

Buy 25 Books
If you buy twenty-five books directly from the Lemonade Stand, Jason will personally sign each one, and you’ll get Marty, the postcards, the t-shirt, AND a beautiful 16 x 20 “Rules That Don’t Exist” giclée print. Order now.

Buy 100 Books
If you buy one hundred books directly from the Lemonade Stand, Jason will sign them all, and you’ll get Marty, the postcards, the t-shirt, the giclée print AND a 24″ x 24″ stretched canvas print featuring your favorite work of Jason’s. PLUS, everyone who orders at least 100 books will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE 60-90 minute speaking presentation for your company, association, church, or community group, at a mutually agreed upon date.** Order now.

the FINE PRINT:
* We are only able to provide the bulk order bonuses for orders placed through the Lemonade Stand. Sorry for any inconvenience, but thanks for understanding that we’d like to avoid bankruptcy if at all possible. :)
** Although the speaking fee will be waived (a $5,000 value), the winner will need to cover travel expenses required to bring Jason to your neck of the woods.

7 Escape Lab Highlights…So Far

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The first Escape Lab is almost halfway done, and I am blown away by the response so far. When Kim and I brainstormed this late last year, we thought we might be on to something special, but you just never know. Well, this has exceeded all expectations!

esc-lab-live-150Last night we took a first step at Escape Lab LIVE, which is basically a party on Facebook in real time. Through our special members-only group, we took questions, posted some of our own, and gave out door prizes. The discussion was fast and lively, with topics ranging from figuring out our superhero names and sharing our favorite black & white TV shows, to deeper fare like how to take the Adultitis out of homework time with kids and tips for finding more “me” time. The hour went by in a flash, and we can’t wait for the next one!

Here are a few more highlights thus far…

1) The Treasure Box, for sure. People have reported that they’re STILL finding things they didn’t realize were in there. (Here’s a behind scenes look, in case you missed it.)

2) Opening the first secret envelope, which included special plastic for making Shrinky Dinks!

3) A super fun interview with Kyle Scheele, the mastermind behind some of our favorite Kickstarter projects.

4) A challenge to step out of our culinary comfort zones by trying something new. Foods that have been sampled for the first time so far include: honey, Bean Boozled jelly beans, brussels sprouts, tangelos, calamari, pork tacos, sushi, and even dog biscuits!

5) Seeing people share some honest stuff on some really challenging life balance topics, and then having fellow Escape Artists respond with heartfelt support and encouragement. So great!

6) Another interview with the brilliant Neen James that yielded some crazy useful productivity tips to start the new year.

7) The neat things people are doing with a single packet of Kool-Aid, which was in the second secret envelope, including this amazing little stop-motion video that was created by Jason Love:

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Obviously, we’re having a blast with Escape Lab. More importantly, people are making some big changes for the better and having fun in the process. I’m not sure when the next one will be, but if you want to the first to hear about it, make sure you’re an Escape Adulthood Insider!

A Sneak Peek at Penguins Can’t Fly

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Omigosh. I just got the Advance Reader Copy in the mail for my new book with St. Martin’s Press, Penguin’s Can’t Fly. Even though it’s softcover and black and white inside (the final version will be hardcover and in technicolor), it’s starting to feel more like a real book. So excited!

P.S. We’re scheduled to start taking next month on my birthday!

Escape Lab Begins!

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Our first ever Escape Lab kicked off in earnest yesterday. Kim and I are so excited about the potential of this idea. In some ways, it’s difficult explaining what an Escape Lab is…

It’s not JUST a list of ridiculously fun ideas to do with friends and family.

It’s not JUST a box of awesome stuff, tailored to surprise and delight your inner child.

It’s not JUST an empowering curriculum of inspiring content and practical ideas for living with less stress and more fun.

It’s not JUST an invitation to an amazing community of cool people as serious about beating Adultitis as you.

It’s a little bit of ALL of that, plus a smidgen of nostalgia, a pinch of whimsy and a dash of magic.

So far, people have expressed excitement in receiving and opening their Treasure Boxes. We shipped most of them out on New Year’s Eve so everyone could get them in time for yesterday’s kickoff.

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Each box includes an Adventure Journal, a slick customized Moleskine notebook for recording insights along the way.

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We set up an assembly line that look up the entire lower level of our house. If this thing grows up like we think it could, this may be the last time we’ll have the ability to do that because we’ll probably need a warehouse. Or part of a football field.

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It was such a joy to see how invested Lucy was in helping us prep and package the boxes. Here she is stamping “Let’s DO this” on the inside of each one.

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This is a shot of all the goodies in the Treasure Box. A number of things were wrapped up or enclosed in envelopes and stamped with specific “open on” dates. Grown-ups don’t often get to experience anticipation, surprise, and delight. Escape Lab is our chance to change that.

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Stamps rule!

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Here’s Lucy showing off some of the boxes she helped pile up in the foyer, their last stop before…

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…filling the trunks of several cars, before being hauled off to the post office. Afterwards, we celebrated like it was the last day of 2014.

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The only real hitch we experienced were some broken coffee mugs. Luckily, the company was able to to reprint new ones, and we got them out to everyone in time.

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Jenna, our Chief of Customer Wow, was the MVP when it came to the shipping logistics, helping us make sure everything got to our Escape Artists safe and sound. She is on a first-name basis with the people at the Post Office.

So far, Kim and I have been thrilled with the buzz and response from the inaugural participants of this new adventure. And we’re excited to see how it unfolds!

Escape Lab is Here!

Let me ask you a few questions…

Would you like to make room for more fun, new memories, and deeper connections with the people closest to you, just by making a few simple adjustments to your everyday routine?

Would it be helpful if you could develop strategies to quit the things you DON’T like doing to create more time for the things you DO?

Do you have any interest in uncovering ways to slow down the speed of life in order to become more flexible, energized, and productive?

Would you like to become just a little bit more brave, adventurous, and rebellious against Adultitis and the rules that don’t exist?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, I enthusiastically invite you to be a part of our newest adventure: Escape Lab!

An Escape Lab is a one-of-a-kind, guided experience that artfully combines immersive online content, a vibrant community, and a curated treasure box of supplies and surprises.

Our first one begins on January 12, 2015 and runs through February 6th. It’s the perfect antidote to the cabin fever that’s sure to set in after the fun and excitement of the holidays!

Since this is our first Lab, we’re purposefully limiting access to make sure we can ensure quality and provide the best experience possible. So admission is open through December 12, 2014 or until we fill 150 spots, whichever comes first. Honestly, we don’t know what to expect with regard to response, but there are over 14,000 people who are getting this message, so if you’re interested, it makes sense to act fast.

Please visit MyEscapeLab.com to learn more about how it all works, and why you’d want to join us on this adventure. We hope you will!

P.S. If you’ve ever wanted to attend an Escape Adulthood Summit but haven’t been able to because of timing, cost, or any other reason, this is the next best thing. (In fact, our goal is to make it even BETTER :) Sign up today!

When Toy Companies Have Adultitis

One of the most interesting (although not necessarily enjoyable) parts of this book-making adventure has been turning the nearly-finished version over to the lawyers. They scour the copy and artwork for potential legal land mines that could arise.

My editor warned me that companies that make toys are some of the most litigious and Adultitis-ridden entities around. Sadly, she was right.

A fair amount of my art features references to universally recognized pop culture icons from childhood. Most cleared the legal hurdles because they are relatively generic depictions. I was encouraged to change a few things, however, in order to protect us from lawsuit-friendly doo doo heads. So, I had to make this box of crayons into something more pedestrian.

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And I added the fork marks along the edges of this, um, toaster pastry, in order to keep it from looking too much like a certain something something.

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Whatevs. These were relatively easy changes to make, thanks to the power of a digital workflow.

The real challenge arose with the need to do something about the Fisher-Price Little People that appeared in a few pieces. We all agreed that changing them to look more generic would be lame. You’d lose all the nostalgia that comes from their iconic look. Of course, the iconic look is what creates the problem.

I suggested the idea of contacting Fisher Price directly, to see if we could get permission to proceed as is. After all, in the context of the book, it’s a minor element, and the art is a loving homage to the classic toy. In fact, it seemed like a potential win-win opportunity. Maybe Fisher-Price would see the value of having their beloved toys associated with such a positive, empowering (and we hope bestselling) book and even consider buying a bunch themselves to use as a promotional tools.

My agent Michelle offered to contact Fisher-Price about it and see what they thought. She sent along a detailed synopsis of the book and an example of the actual layout. She got back a pretty generic but definitive no. This is what they said:

Thank you for your interest.

We have reviewed, and must decline your request for permission to use the iconic likenesses of the Fisher-Price® Little People® figures in the soon to be published book.

Best regards,

Commercial Permissions

Undeterred, Michelle followed up, if for nothing else than to get a little bit more clarity. To their credit, they sent her a reply:

Good Afternoon ~

Because the images you are asking about are of our older products, they do not comply with the current safety standards.

If people do have these older products, they could possibly give them to children to play with.

To say that we were all a little perplexed would be an understatement. Apparently, they want the world to forget that these toys ever existed. The idea of a parent seeing my book, fondly remembering the great joy they had playing with their Little People, and then being inspired to dig them out of the basement to share that joy (and positive association with the Fisher-Price brand) with their children, is like, the worst thing ever.

The ironic thing is that three years ago, we did this very thing. Kim excavated her collection of Little People out of her parents’ basement for our young children to play with. We’ve even purchased additional vintage sets on eBay to give as Christmas gifts. They are one of the top three things our kids love playing with, hands down. A true classic.

And I am happy to report, no choking deaths thus far.

(The good news is that I know who to sue if there are. :)

Although I was really disappointed to hear their decision, I hold no ill will toward Fisher-Price. Obviously, they are ultimately trying to limit their liability here, but the whole thing just reeks of adults ruining everything. This reality that we live in, one that includes lawyers fearing other lawyers, lawsuit-happy jerk heads, and the complete disregard for common sense, is the essence of Adultitis unleashed.

We have a long fight ahead of us, friends.

Ultimately, I had to remove any appearances of the Little People from my book, which meant having to create all new art. Thanks to some inspiration from fans and readers, I was able to develop a new concept that I think actually enhances the message even more. (Here’s a sneak peek.)

I also had to figure out what to do with a painting of a toy band that featured the classic Little People dog as the lead singer.

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So in a move that is reminiscent of Van Halen replacing David Lee Roth with Sammy Hagar, the dog got bumped in favor of a gummy bear. He beat out Green Army Guy and Rubber Duckie, even though he is not even a toy. (A victory for diversity!)

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I’m not sure if the band will ever sound the same, but the at least the gummy bear was pretty fun to paint.

And just think of all the millions of children who will now be safer for it.

Something Exciting Coming Soon!

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One of the most successful and rewarding things Kim and I have ever created has been the Escape Adulthood Summit. People who have attended one rave about it. It’s an experience like no other; a weekend filled with fun, inspiration, community, and magic.

We’ve hosted three so far, and each one has been worth every bit of the enormous amount of work put into it. But it is a LOT of work.

As you may have heard, I have a book coming out next year, our first with a major New York publisher. In fourteen years of business, it is undoubtedly the best opportunity we’ve had yet to share our message with the world. We want to make the most of it, and that requires focus, as well as a willingness to say no to something good in order to say yes to something better.

Which is why we’ve decided to suspend the Summit for a year. With the book coming out in the summer and three kids under six, we just can’t execute both projects as well as we’d like.

We first made this announcement at the conclusion of of this year’s event. Although everyone was disappointed, it warmed our hearts to see the groundswell of people who pledged their support however they could.

But still, we hated thinking about not doing something in the spirit of an Escape Adulthood Summit.

In fact, we’ve spent years wondering, could we create something brand new that was inspired by what makes the Summit great, but didn’t have its limitations of geography, cost, time, and space? After lots of time thinking and dreaming, we finally discovered our yes! And what has emerged from all the brainstorming is a vibrant, original concept that excels in areas where a live event just can’t.

We call it the Escape Lab.

We can’t stop thinking about it, and we can’t wait to share it with you!

Coming soon. Very soon.

One Chance Only Sale: Long Sleeve Tees!

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Since we like making stuff way more than we like managing inventory, every once in a while, we create something we think is cool, take orders for a week or so, and then buy the exact number of goodies we need to fill those orders. So whether it’s two or two thousand, I get to make cool things, you get a chance to own them, and we don’t waste any money on stuff that takes up space in our basement.

Now, does this mean we will never, ever, EVER offer this product again? Not necessarily. But if you see something you like, your best bet is to snag it while you can. Chances are it won’t be available anytime soon because we’ll be busy creating the next thing :)

Just in time for chillier weather, our latest offering is three long sleeve tees! The brand new Pop Star design joins two classic bestsellers, Bee Optimistic and the re-imagined Penguin Possible.

Printed on a Gildan Soft Style, 100% cotton pre-shrunk jersey knit, the unique tapered neck and shoulders provide a super fit on both guys AND gals. Featuring double needle hemmed sleeves and bottom, and a seamless double needle 3/4″ collar. These shirts are ridiculously soft, but hold up to a good washing.

Your chance to order this item goes “poof!” on Friday, October, 2014. Order yours today!

Book Update: A Cover, A Release Date, and the End of a Long Beginning

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There’s some big news to report on the book front.

penguins-cant-fly-coverI have learned that Penguins Can’t Fly +39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist will officially be published on June 23, 2015. (That’s the cover right there!) It will be published as paper-over-board, which is basically a hardcover book without the dust jacket. And it will cost $16.99. It was originally going to be $14.99, but after doing a more thorough cost estimate, St. Martin’s Press decided to raise the price rather than cut corners on quality. They are really committed to making a beautiful book, which I couldn’t be happier about.

The manuscript is complete, surviving several rounds of edits and proofreading. I have been busy finishing up the art and layout of the book. In the world of traditional publishing, it’s incredibly rare for a single person to be responsible for the writing, the illustration, AND the layout of the entire book. It is a privilege I am incredibly grateful for.

As I’ve been building the book in Adobe InDesign, it’s become clear that in many ways, this book is my magnum opus. Especially at this point of my my career. When the book is officially realized, Kim and I will have been at this for exactly fifteen years, one month, and three days. It’s been a long road. This book has artwork that’s literally fifteen years old (I did that painting of Super J up there in 2000) as well as some that’s about fifteen minutes old. It’s the culmination of fifteen years of excruciating lows, amazing epiphanies, best practices, stories collected, jokes refined, and profound lessons learned, packaged in all its full-color glory.

It’s got humor and insight and hope. Quite simply, it’s my heart and soul on display.

And it feels like the final exam of a class that was thirty semesters long.

It also feels like it’s the end of a long beginning and a beginning of something even better.

I can’t wait to share it with you.

The 15 Most Powerful Adultitis Antidotes on the Face of the Earth

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I am super excited to announce our newest ebook you guys! This bad boy is a collection of 15 of our most powerful (and fast-acting!) ways to stop Adultitis in its evil little tracks. Basically, it’s the greatest hits guide, featuring things like Pajama Run, Barbarian Spaghetti, and more. Applying just one of the treatment options within will immediately result in a state that is less stressful and more fun.

And the best part? It’s FREE to all Escape Adulthood Insiders! If you’re subscribed to our newsletter, you can snag it right here. [Read more…]

Our Silly Take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

We inevitably got called out in the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has taken the interwebs by storm. We happily accept the challenge from Michelle, our book agent, plus we will be donating $100 to ALS research. We enlisted the help of some friends for this one…

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By the way, this whole Ice Bucket Challenge thing is a stellar example of how the world is aching for silliness, but oftentimes, we just need a little permission. Making a video of yourself dumping a bucket of ice water of your head is pretty silly. People don’t make a habit of doing things like this.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t.

When someone else is being silly, it gives us the cover to jump in and be silly ourselves.

Be a permission granter. Go first.

The Best Thing You Can Buy for a Buck (Other Than a McDouble at McDonald’s)

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A few months ago, I teamed up with a company called Snippet to create a new type of ebook that contains lots of interactive “discoverables” like video, photo slideshows and conversations on social media. The book is called “Tinker,” and it’s filled with 20 simple ideas – small experiments, if you will – that will get you thinking in new ways and get your story moving in exciting new directions.

Last week I was interviewed by Matt Gartland about the book, and the conversation covered things like publishing, speaking, and how Kim and I got started on this crazy journey.

Spoiler alert! In the video above, we reveal a special coupon code (pssst, it’s TINKERTOY) that you can use to get the book for half off during the month of August, which is now over a third gone. The Snippet itself is only $1.99 to start, but with this code you can snag it for a buck. Insanity!!!

Get Tinker here.

2014 Escape Adulthood Summit Recap

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An Escape Adulthood Summit is made up of many things, including Show & Tell, Recess, and the opportunity to eat dessert first. This year, there was even an ice cream truck! But the most important element — by a mile — are the people who attend.

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Over sixty people hailing from 10 different states convened in Madison for the third annual event. They brought their Golden Ticket, an item for Show & Tell, and the willingness to trust us.

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You see, other than the start and end times, the agenda is largely kept a secret. Which freaks a lot of people out. We keep the schedule under wraps to provide an element of surprise, but also because we want to give attendees the chance to break free from the trappings of time. The goal is to just “be.”

freedom-dinner

And the Olbrich Botanical Gardens was an ideal place to be. We were surrounded by 16 acres of lush beauty on the opening weekend of the amazing annual Blooming Butterflies event. With perfect weather to boot! (That cost extra.)

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butterfly

We describe the Summit as part conference, part retreat, part mastermind group. Our theme this year was “Transform,” and we geared much of our content around the concept of change. We talked about what we could learn from Lincoln Logs, how anything big is really just a culmination of small things, and the enormous value of twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery.

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Our special guest speaker was the esteemed Chris Clarke-Epstein, who earlier this summer received the Cavett Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed by the National Speakers Association. Chris regaled us with stories of her own experience of change, and gifted us with tools for managing and thriving amidst the change we regularly face in our own lives.

chris-in-action [Read more…]

Be Part of My Next Book and Achieve Fame and Fortune!*

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Wouldn’t it be cool to walk into your local bookstore, take a book off the bestsellers shelf, and open it to find your picture featured within its pages?

If you think so, read on…

As you may have heard, we recently got a book deal with a major New York publisher. It’s all about the rules that don’t exist. I have been busy putting it together, and I thought of a neat way to include you in the process, if you’re interested. :)

Send me a picture of YOU breaking a rule that doesn’t exist, and I will do my best to include it in the finished book! No promises, but if the photo is fun, original, and of decent quality, your chances will increase greatly! Keep in mind that we’re looking for rules that DON’T exist, not ones that actually do. (So no pictures of you exceeding the speed limit or vandalizing City Hall, please.)

If you need inspiration, here are the 40 rules that will be in the book (although if you come up with something else, that’s cool, too!)

  1. Thou Shalt Act Thine Age
  2. Thou Shalt Color Inside The Lines
  3. Thou Shalt Hate Monday
  4. Thou Shalt Always Be Careful
  5. Thou Shalt Get Thine Inbox To Zero
  6. Thou Shalt Clean Thy Plate
  7. Thou Shalt Make Thy Bed
  8. Thou Shalt Hide Thy Weirdness
  9. Thou Shalt Care What Other People Think
  10. Thou Shalt Not Wear Thy Wedding Dress After Thy Wedding Day
  11. Thou Shalt Conceal Thy Wrinkles
  12. Thou Shalt Wait for Permission
  13. Thou Shalt Not Play Hookey
  14. Thy Christmas Cookies Shalt Look Like Christmas Cookies
  15. Only Young Children and High School Seniors Shalt Take Cheesy Photos Near Oversized Numbers
  16. Thou Shalt Not Make a Mess
  17. Thou Shalt Remove Thy Nametag Immediately After An Event
  18. Thou Shalt Not Eat Breakfast for Dinner
  19. Thou Shalt Not Celebrate Without Thine Calendar’s Permission
  20. Spouses Shalt Not Swap Sides of the Bed
  21. Thou Shalt Not Let Them See You Car Dancing
  22. Thine Offspring Shalt Be In a Million Extracurricular Activities
  23. Thou Shalt Not Eat Dessert First
  24. Thou Shalt Not Draw on Thy Children
  25. Thou Shalt Embrace Common Knowledge
  26. Thou Shalt Get a Job with Benefits
  27. Thou Shalt Not Wear Pajamas in Public
  28. Thou Shalt Not Have Too Much Fun at Work
  29. Thou Shalt Reserve Thy Fine China for Special Occasions
  30. Thou Shalt Always Wear Clean Underpants Upon Leaving Thy House
  31. Thou Shalt Let Others Define Thy Success
  32. Thou Shalt Wait 30 Minutes to Swim After Eating
  33. Thou Shalt Not Bring Bananas On Thy Fishing Boat
  34. Thou Shalt Be Realistic
  35. Thou Shalt Not Be Ridiculous
  36. Thou Shalt Do and See Everything Whilst On Vacation
  37. Thou Shalt Brag About How Busy Thou Art
  38. Thou Shalt Not Wear White After Labor Day
  39. Thou Shalt Not Jump in Puddles
  40. Thou Shalt Not Blow Bubbles In Thy Milk

While I can’t guarantee the “bestselling” part, I can tell you we’re putting everything we have into making this book a success. And I know that it’s bound to be better if you’re in it.

So please, send your photo of your rebellion against Adultitis to me at jason@escapeadulthood.com — but hurry! Deadline for entries is August 18, 2014!

* Please note fame and fortune not guaranteed.

Adults gather to escape adulthood at summit

Wendy Whitney Scherer participates in a group performance Friday during the opening day of the Escape Adulthood Summit at Olbrich Botanical Gardens on Friday. The program emphasizes the importance of play for those well beyond childhood. (Photo by John Hart)

Wendy Whitney Scherer participates in a group performance Friday during the opening day of the Escape Adulthood Summit at Olbrich Botanical Gardens on Friday. The program emphasizes the importance of play for those well beyond childhood. (Photo by John Hart)

This article was originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on 7/19/2014 and was written by Bailey Berg.

A flurry of ripped cardboard. Fat markers haphazardly scribbling on sheets of paper. Makeshift hats. Piles of candy. Kazoos.

The Friday gathering at Olbrich Botanical Gardens might sound like a children’s birthday party. But the attendees at this weekend’s sold-out “Escape Adulthood Summit” were all adults.

Bill Thom was one of them. His name tag identified him as a Lego builder, expert napper and Cap’n Crunch fan. What it didn’t say is that he also is the co-creator of a “Device to Save the World” — made up of cardboard boxes — along with more than 60 people on the first day of the two-day event.

The event, created by Madisonians Kim and Jason Kotecki in 2012, is part conference, part retreat, part recess for adults.

“We like to have fun, but we also want to get them talking about what issues they have,” Jason said.

The more than 60 attendees range in ages from 19 to 67 and come from 10 states. Many are married couples, siblings, friends or parents and children. Some are teachers or doctors, others are graphic designers or business owners. One is even a Catholic priest. [Read more…]

20 Tiny Ways to Make Life More Amazing

tinker-book Our lives are stories. Sometimes living a better story requires making a big, hairy, scary change. Like moving across the country or taking a huge pay cut to do what you love. But most of the time we just need to be open to the art of tinkering.

I am super excited to announce a fun side project I’d been working on for an exciting new company called Snippet. They are doing some cool things in the publishing arena and have built a platform with tools that encourage writers to engage and delight their readers with a beautiful, connected experience.

The first of what I hope will be many collaborations with them is a Snippet about tinkering. It features 20 simple ideas – small experiments, if you will – that will get you thinking in new ways and get your story moving in exciting new directions. It also contains lots of interactive “discoverables” like video, photo slideshows and conversations on social media.

I love how it turned out; it’s super cool. And it’s only $1.99.

If you’re serious about improving your story, you should get serious about tinkering. Download it here.

The Escape Adulthood Summit is 45 Days Away!

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Our small team of busy bees is hard at work to make this year’s Summit a weekend to remember!

Kim and I met with the caterer last week to finalize the menu. We weren’t sure if they’d be able to accommodate what we had in mind, but they were more than willing to play with us. Last year was amazing, but this year is going to be epic!

The most frustrating thing about all the planning is wanting to share all the cool stuff we have in store. But our aim to instill as much magic as possible requires that we keep most things a surprise. Which is really, really hard!!!

fp-phoneHere’s what I can say. We have special entertainment booked for Friday night. One of the musicians uses the classic toy to the right as part of one of his instruments. And during the show, we’ll have a cash bar featuring a cocktail custom-made just for this event!

Oh, and the notebooks everyone gets this year are super cool. They feature covers made from actual American Cherry wood, sliced ever-so-thin and bonded to a substrate of kraft paper for durability. Thanks to the natural texture of the wood, no two memo books are the same but all share their origin in the same few hand-picked cherry trees from Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.

With all the other surprises up our sleeves on top of the stunning location, I think that all of this year’s Golden Ticket holders are in for a real treat!

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