Kim & Jason News

#Notarule Tour Drops Into Dream Bank in Madison

The Madison stop for the #Notarule Tour was held on Saturday, in conjunction with the beloved Art Fair on the Square, and it was a huge success! We originally wanted to hold it at the local zoo near the penguin exhibit, but like many zoos we ran in to, they weren’t that interested. As fate would have it, the exact morning we got a thumbs down from the zoo is the same day we stumbled into the Dream Bank for the first time.

The Dream Bank is a neat community space sponsored by American Family Insurance. It’s in an old, renovated bank, and they offer all kinds of free community programs, from small business seminars to Pinterest parties. It was love at first site, and we started a relationship that not only includes this Tour stop, but a bunch of presentations Kim and I will be putting on in the next year.

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It was such a perfect space for our message, many people commented how they couldn’t tell where their stuff ended and ours began.

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Taking advantage of Art Fair on the Square and the fact that my book is chock full of artwork, we made this event part art show, part book signing, part rule-breaking extravaganza.

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ekum-crew [Read more…]

Adultitis-Free Audio

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In the whirlwind that has been the launch of Penguins Can’t Fly, I have had the great privilege of being the guest on some neat radio shows and podcasts. I wanted to share a few I haven’t already blogged about. They are definitely worth a listen if you are interested in hearing tips about fighting Adultitis, finding balance, and having more fun.

The shot above was from an interview I did on The Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio. The neat part about this experience (besides meeting Joy!) was the opportunity to be live and take calls from listeners. The hour went fast, and we covered a LOT of rules that don’t exist.

elise-podcastI was also recently on Elise Gets Crafty. I first heard about Elise a year or so ago, and although I am not exactly her target audience, I have enjoyed following her blog and podcast. She does a great job of sharing the behind-the-scenes process of her small business, and her podcast is a great resource for creative people of all types. Plus, her Get to Work Book is fantastic. I am totally getting the 2016 version.

My friend Craig Price has a show called Reality Check. I met Craig in New York a few years ago at a National Speakers Association conference. Some folks might wonder why we get along so well, considering he is known for embracing negativity, while I am usually labeled as very optimistic. But I would describe Craig as a “sunny pessimist.” He does a great job of showing us how negativity is useful. And he has a heart of gold. And he’s a dang good photographer. This interview covers a lot of unusual ground, including how I make my art, a confession from me about Stormtrooper armor, and why Craig’s wife makes him sleep on certain sides of the bed at hotels. And I made this title art for the episode!

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Next up on the #Notarule Tour: an Art Fair and a House Party!

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The #Notarule Tour is a curious cavalcade of unusual events united in the purpose of helping you break rules that don’t exist. Fueled by the message of my new book, this is one unconventional book tour, with stops at all kinds of unexpected places.

We’re taking advantage of the great opportunity to experiment, and we’re really having fun with it. We just had our first stop at a zoo, and in the next week, we have two more unique events going down.

The first is this Saturday in Madison from 1:30 – 3:30 pm at the Dream Bank across from the State Capitol. In conjunction with Madison’s beloved Art Fair on the Square, this is part art show, part book signing, part interactive experience featuring ugly cookie decorating! This is our big hometown release party, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! Get details here.

The second is happening on Monday, July 13, in St. Charles, Illinois. Bummed out that we couldn’t secure a spot at Cookie Dough Creations in Naperville, we had a superfan throw out the idea that she and her family would be willing to host a stop at their home. After verifying that she was in fact serious, we figured, “what the heck!” and are excited to invite you to an Escape Adulthood House Party! All are welcome, but we can only accommodate a total of 50 people for this intimate evening gathering. Learn more about the event and how to RSVP here.

For more tour stops, visit http://escapeadulthood.com/blog/2015-notarule-tour

Breaking Rules Can Help You Be Ah-Mazing

I had a wonderful opportunity to sit down for a fun conversation with my dear friend Neen James, who is a productivity guru of epic proportions. Now, many people might put “productivity gurus” into a box of boring, bland and beige individuals who have all these rigid restrictions. Not Neen. She loves the color pink, rides a Harley, and is a first-class rule breaker. We share the sometimes helpful trait where if someone says we can’t do something, we automatically want to prove them wrong, just on principle.

Anyway, please check out what she has going on, and enjoy this fun video conversation about rules, Adultitis, and my new book, Penguins Can’t Fly +39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist.

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#Notarule Tour Stop at NEW Zoo in Green Bay

On Wednesday, Kim and I packed up the animals that live with us and headed up to NEW Zoo in Green Bay for the third #Notarule Tour stop. Fortunately, they all took naps on the way up.

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Upon our arrival, we were excited to be stationed directly across from the penguin exhibit. Fitting.

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It was a beautiful evening, and we had a steady stream of folks stop by to say hi. We even sold a nice stack of books!

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As advertised, we had a bunch of fun rule-breaking activity stations for people to enjoy. Ben used the special coloring pages I made to demonstrate that contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to color inside the lines.

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We also have a jar of free scrunchies next to a sign with the rule, “Only children shalt wear pigtails.” Definitely #notarule.

pigtail-girls [Read more…]

#Notarule Tour Kicks Off in Ottawa

The #Notarule Tour officially kicked off this past Saturday in Kim’s hometown of Ottawa, Illinois. A steady stream of people stopped by the Book Mouse, the adorable little independent bookstore that hosted us. It was great to see so many friendly faces and meet some new people, too!

One highlight was that there were representatives from each of the first three Escape Adulthood Summits on hand, including these three (and a few others who didn’t make this photo):

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Besides the opportunity to buy Penguins Can’t Fly before its official release date, attendees were also encouraged to engage in a variety of rule-breaking activities, including decorating ugly cookies (notice the penguin shape!):

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We think the caterers did a great job of mixing up some of the ugliest frosting we’ve ever seen. And the sprinkles reminded us of kitty litter – perfect! We added Cheese Balls and Bugles to help take the ugliness to new levels.

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The first “Find Marty Art Drop” also happened on Saturday. The photo below is a clue to where I hid a limited edition signed and numbered print, with a little Marty attached to it. I have not gotten word yet on who officially found it, but I checked the spot a few hours later and confirmed that the print was definitely claimed. If you want to be the first to hear about future clues, make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Here are some other fun pics from the day. Thanks to everyone who was able to come out and make it such a fun event. And a special thanks to Eileen at the Book Mouse for hosting us! (She still has a few signed copies left, so if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by to grab one!)

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To learn more about where the #Notarule Tour is heading next, click here.

Talking Cheese Curds, Entrepreneurship and Giving Back

pclogoI recently had a chance to be on my friend Thom Singer’s cool podcast, appropriately named “Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do.”

Thom is a fellow professional speaker, and we actually roomed together at a speaking conference in Miami we both attended earlier this year. He’s a super good guy and we had a fun chat about curiosity, Adultitis, entrepreneurship (which is a topic I LOVE talking about!), and how cheese curds are like crack. My favorite part about the interview was near the end when we talked about giving back, and how we both built it into our businesses from the beginning, even while we were still hustling to make ends meet.

Take a listen online or in iTunes!

A Public Declaration

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The picture above is from 2002, eight months after 9/11. I was focused on my comic strip back then and was three years away from the start of my speaking career. We were in New York City for the first time to walk the National Stationery Show. While there, we met a licensing agent who agreed to represent my Kim & Jason artwork. It was so exciting, and it felt like such a big break. It amounted to a handful of small deals, mostly overseas (I think they made some sort of photo album in Japan), but it didn’t really make the dent we’d hoped for.

That was thirteen years ago.

Since then, there have been many little breaks that felt like they might have been bigger. For several years, we flirted with bankruptcy as we scraped and clawed our way to a business model that could sustain itself. There were many tear-filled nights when we wondered if we were crazy. And there was that two-day craft show in which we sold a grand total of four greeting cards for a whopping sum of $7.92 (after which we drained our profit and drowned our sorrows with a $35 meal at Outback.)

Time and time again, we’ve encountered numerous opportunities that seemed like the “big break” we were waiting for. Some crashed and burned into a heap of soldering failure. Many, although falling fall short of our vivid imaginations, blossomed into a sturdy enough bridge that kept us moving forward.

Through it all, Kim and I developed some tough skin. Some might say jaded. But you can only have your high hopes dashed so many times before you start protecting yourself by downgrading your dreams.

And this is why, before this moment, we haven’t told many people about our dream of this book — the one coming out a week from Tuesday — becoming a New York Times bestseller. Because we’ve been down this road before. It’s embarrassing to put your dream out there and have it not come true with everyone watching. It’s easier to not get your hopes up. [Read more…]

Our Unconventional Book Tour

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The 2015 #Notarule Tour is a curious cavalcade of unusual events united in the purpose of helping you break rules that don’t exist. Fueled by the message Penguins Can’t Fly, this is one unconventional book tour. There will be stops at zoos, ice cream parlors, national landmarks, a few bookstores, and even an art fair!

Rather than repeating the tried-and-true (but insanely boring) model most “book tours” subscribe to, our goal was to tell a better story by creating fun, memorable, and engaging events and experiences. Most stops will feature opportunities for you and your companions to break one or many rules. Some stops won’t even provide any opportunities to buy books (although if you bring one for me to sign, I’ll give you a free signed print!) A few will offer the opportunity to decorate ugly cookies!

Find Marty Art Drop
Every stop will feature a “Find Marty Art Drop,” in which a small cache of goodies (including an adorable tiny toy penguin, a signed and numbered limited edition print, and instructions for claiming a free copy of Penguins Can’t Fly), will be hidden. Clues will be revealed on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and the winner is the first to find it!

#Notarule Tour Notables:

  • Number of states: 13
  • Number of cities: 25
  • Number of zoos: 5 (we tried for more, but many of them have Adultitis.)
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  • I will be bringing along my family (a wife and three kids under seven) for the majority of the stops. This may or may not be certifiably insane. But it’s guaranteed to be memorable.
  • I have a limited amount of time reserved for media interviews. If you would like to schedule a time for a lively chat, please contact his publicist Michelle Cashman at Michelle.Cashman@stmartins.com

Click here for an updated list of cities and dates!

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.

crayons-before-after

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.

pop-star-before-after

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.

toy-band-dog

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!)

toy-band-bear

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!

freedom-summit

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!

one-chance-long-tees-600

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!

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