When I was 10 years old, I was exposed to the thing that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. A friend of mine, Scotty, was having a slumber party. Scotty had an older Brother named Eric, Eric was about 16 years old at the time. Eric was a clean cut young man, and his room was filled with some of the coolest stuff. Walking into Eric's room was like walking into a miniature version of Disney. There were posters of Super Hero's, literally hundreds of action figures, model cars and buckets of Lego's. There was a nostalgia about Eric's room that even to this day, when I think about it, awakens my senses to this idea of curiosity, and wonder. There was a sense of adventure and playfulness about Eric's room that sucked you in, and made you want to "create" - to "dream".
While my friends were all having fun, playing pillow fight, eating ice cream, candy and cake, I was completely tuned in to Eric's room. Though I was only 10 years old, Eric took me under his wing that night. He talked to me about "growing up", and that one day I would have to decide on what my "life's work" would be, and though everything he was saying seemed foreign, the passion by which he delivered his message was contagious. Eric talked about "entrepreneurship" and making money! He talked about being "creative" and how your imagination was one of the most valuable superpowers you have. He also talked about technology, the future, and how one day, the "computer" would be deeply important, and those who could use them, would rule the world!! Then it happened ... In a corner of Eric's room there was a small glowing box. It looked like a small television, with a typewriter attached to it. The screen was black, and the writing on the screen was green.
Eric sat down at the small television like device and starting typing lines of what looked like meaningless type, however; when he would hit a button, labeled "enter" ... Things would happen. The machine completed addition and subtraction problems, the lines of type controlled objects on the screen and to me... It was all amazing, and magical.
As he worked, Eric talked about how "computer programming" would change everything, and that one day, people would be able to order their groceries from their "computers" and when they got to the grocery store, all they would have to do is pay, and pick up their orders! He talked about how games would be made that were 100 times better than Monopoly and Candy Land, and that games would have motion and music! And though I thought Eric was crazy, the idea of what he was saying was fun, and interesting to me. I quickly started thinking about how cool it would be if I could take some of my drawings and put them on the computers little black screen. I started thinking about doing this as a living in some way... Making money at it!! Being an "Entrepreneur".
The night went on and on... Seemed like FOREVER. And at 3am on that Saturday Morning. I decided: I want to be an Entrepreneur, that works on the computer, making pictures for people, and they would pay for them. My mind was made up. I knew, what I wanted to be... That was 1982.
Fast forward... Five years later, I was 15 years old. My Dad called me into the kitchen and asked/told me... "Vince, you are getting older, have you thought about what you want to do for work, after school?" ... It was like lightening hit my mind, and body. For the first time, in 5 years - someone asked me the question that I had made up my mind about five years prior. I looked at my Dad and said with absolute confidence... "I am going to be an Entrepreneur, work with computers and art, and people were going to pay me to do it!!" ... My Dad looked at me, and with the same amount of confidence I had, he said... "Have you lost your mind? Are you going CRAZY?? You might want to get real, and start REALLY thinking about your future..." For the next hour, my Dad and I went around and around about my ideas. His conviction and belief in the idea that I was absolutely loosing my mind, was steadfast and strong. He demanded that I "get real" and STOP dreaming. I was in tears, and could not believe what I was hearing. My Mother urged my Dad to stop, and his pursuit of "truth" was relentless. What my Dad did next was revolutionary. He looked at me and said: "Okay... This is what I am going to do... I am going to go get the tape recorder, and record you sounding crazy... Because THAT is exactly what you are!! 15 years from now, I am going to play the tape back to you, and show you JUST how crazy you are!! That was the Summer of 1987.
For the next few years of school, I was fortunate enough to have gone to a school that focused on workplace readiness. I took classes in business law, and selling. I worked on projects that gave me an insight to the world of entrepreneurship. Creatively, I continued to sketch things, and draw futuristic cars and furniture. I designed fake company logo's and business cards. At that time, computers were still very expensive and not as common as they are today, BUT I never lost sight of the third piece of my dream... "Technology".
Upon graduation of high school, I went into the military, the Army. I never lost touch with my vision and what I ultimately wanted to do... I was "discipline deficient", and I knew that going directly into college would be tough (I hated school...). While in the Army, I went to school for Business Administration, in pursuit of an MBA and I worked tirelessly on wrapping my mind around my vision. At that time, computer programming was not very sexy, this was the 1991-92 time-frame and I was still wrestling with how I would combine my love of artistic expression, "design" with technology.
Another leap... In 1995, I stepped away from the Army and joined the ranks of civilian life. I worked several jobs to sharpen my entrepreneurial skills, a time that my good friend and mentor Hajj Flemings would call "the grustle" time because I was in a 9-5 "grind" to build and develop my "hustle" - my dream, my passion... I did everything from sales, to computer networking support to learn everything that I could. In 1995 something REALLY cool was happening ... The introduction of web browsers, combined my two worlds and Web Design was born. For the first time, I saw where my dream met technological capability. We were now able to build websites, and I knew that the web would change how we did business in some profound way, forever.
In 1996 with the introduction of Flash technology (Macromedia) - The web started getting really, really interesting. I would work during the day, and live in the library on the computers at night, learning web design. For a year, I taught myself HTML and ActionScript. In early 1998, I launched Studio Verso ... A Web Design company, the first of it's kind in Indianapolis Indiana.
Rewind ... When I got my first contract, a parsley 2,500.00 project, and that check was written out to Studio Verso, I new that I had finally realized my dream. I took that cha to my Dads house, and I asked him to get out that tape recorder, with the tape of me professing my dream. He gladly got out the tape recorder and we sat and listened to the agonizing debate over my future. He looked at me with certainty in his eye, and said ... "See how crazy you sounded?"... I looked at him with certainty in my eye, and I said, as I passed him the freshly written check ... "Well, no... It's refreshing to hear what a dream sounds like when everything is stacked against it..." He looked at the check, looked at me, and we both wept. And though it's worked out that "building websites" wasn't the thing that I did for the rest of my life (because I am still doing) ... It was, and is a part of my narrative. IF I had believed my Dad, and went down a different path, I really don't think that I would be doing the work that I do today.
In pursuit of creative confidence... Some of us are "dog headed" enough to push through, and not let anything or anybody get in the way of our dreams. Some of us have the "built in" grit needed to go after what can't be seen or touched, BUT not all of us are like that. Some of us lack, or have had the creative confidence in us torn down and broken apart enough to not even try to pursue dreams. This is sad, and it's deeply unfortunate.
In the Fall of 2014, MASSIVE Corporation designed and prototyped Creators Camp. We wanted to create a space where young people could explore, create and pursue creative interest without the fear of failure or limitation. We wanted to provide young people years K-12, a platform that was immersive and year-round. We wanted to re-think the "Boy Scouts" and "Girl Scouts" and deliver something that was fit for the modern context. Instead of learning how to survive in the woods, we wanted to teach kids how to survive in the post-industrial economy.
Creators Camp is our expression of what learning should be like. It's our expression of the pursuit of creative confidence.
Co-Founder, Creators Camp