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September 14, 2011 0

Connecting the Dots Between Past Students and Great Teachers of the World

By Kevin in Projects

Within 24 hours of moving to NYC, I shook hands and agreed to sublet this awesome bedroom in Park Slope, Brooklyn for my first two months as a fresh West Coast transplant. I’d spend the coming weeks in the lovely company of Nick and Stephanie, enjoying a beer on the stoop and applying Tattly tattoos I’d bring home from the office.

Nick is only a few years older than me, working as a middle school teacher nearby. I remember one night as we discussed how he stumbled into the job–a path that involved starting out in architecture and ending up in a philosophy Master’s program–I asked him in passing, “So…did you have any really amazing teachers growing up?”

I love that question. I love it because everyone seems to have a great story to answer with. I wouldn’t connect all the dots as to how this new idea came to be, but over the next few weeks that conversation would linger, and I would soon be lucky enough to find myself with a small team of people invested in bringing ThanksForTeaching.Us to life.


Launched as an original project by TBD (a badass social good newsletter I get to handle with Sophia these days), ThanksForTeaching.Us is a platform for you to share your thanks for a standout teacher from your past. It’s simple. There’s a big madib-esque form and a growing grid of allstar teacher stories overlaid on some sweet custom doodles.

The education system in this country has been getting a lot of heat recently. In my circles, topics like the California public education budget crisis or the lack of creativity among teachers and students are hot topics that (although incredibly important) definitely add to the negative energy surrounding our school system. It became apparent a few weeks ago, that with the approach of back to school season there was no better time to provide a space for the spotlight to shine on the positive effect that great teachers have had on us.

We are the product of great teachers.

Amidst the tough challenges facing education today, there are still these great memories and stories that occur everyday thanks to influential educators. Lots of times, I boil down making positive change to putting awesome, passionate people in the best position to be awesome and passionate. For me, ThanksForTeaching.Us started with the goal to get these thank you messages in the hands of those educators. We don’t show our appreciation often enough, and after speaking with some of my past teachers, that sort of recognition of making a difference makes the job worth it.

ThanksForTeaching.Us has been live for just about 12 hours, and we’re honored to have over 400 touching, personal great teacher stories already posted. We haven’t figured it all out yet, but I think there’s so much potential there in that simple human connection, and what we have now is a step in that direction.

Nick obviously had a great story about a past teacher as he replied to my question. Someone made him think, challenged his understanding, and inspired him to do what he’s doing now. I’m not sure where this project will lead, but if I can make someone’s day, or inspire one more stellar teacher out there to keep affecting students’ lives, it’s all been well worth it.

Learn more and submit your story at thanksforteaching.us
Big thank you to the team: Sophia, Elena, John (vid), Yoko (web), and Nathan

If you have any ideas for where we can take this project, I’d love to hear from you. Say hello at kevin@ourfutureistbd.com

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August 14, 2011 0

Time to Wake Up

By Kevin in Awesome Orgs, Projects

Creative Mornings

I moved to Brooklyn a little over a month ago with two giant suitcases, an overstuffed backpack, and a black duffel bag… I believe that’s the maximum amount of luggage a human being can physically move by him or herself.

Nonetheless, as expected, time has flown by since my humble arrival as the princess in the airport attempting to operate a revolving door with one too many rollies to fit through.

Flash forward to my current state. I have the absolute pleasure to work on a lot of things, with my biggest project helping build out this wonderful idea called CreativeMornings.

CreativeMornings map

Started by Tina aka swissmiss aka master and chief about two years ago, CreativeMornings is a free, monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types. What started as a simple meetup at Tina’s studio has become a global movement with chapters worldwide in New York, LA, SF, Vancouver, Boston, Zurich, Milan, London, Auckland, and Tokyo among others.

It’s nothing fancy, but somewhere between fifty to a few hundred people get together once a month to mingle with good folk, enjoy some free breakfast, and listen to that killer speaker that’s usually reserved for the multi-day, heavily pricetagged epic conference. There’s no better way to wake up.

Once called “TED for the rest of us,” CreativeMornings is this amazing blend of no frills creative pow wow meets heavy hitting, inspiring speakers — not to mention it’s now even venture-backed by the ever-innovative Collaborative Fund. Past speakers in just NY include John Maeda (President of RISD), Milton Glaser (legendary designer of I<3NY), and Yancey Strickler (co-founder of Kickstarter).

CreativeMornings craig mod san francisco

CreativeMornings/SanFrancisco with Craig Mod, hosted by Typekit

CreativeMornings blurb

CreativeMorings/NewYork with Liz Danzico, hosted by Blurb

CreativeMornings is at an exciting point, as we’re launching new chapters every month, expanding exponentially. My job as Breakfast Lecture Series Specialist (hell yes) involves a variety of things, so let’s just boil it down to doing all that I can to make CreativeMornings as badass as universally possible.

Find the nearest chapter to you, and join us next month. If you’re around NYC, don’t hesitate to drop me a line, and I’d love to show you what we’ve been up to. I promise it’s worth waking up for.

For more information head over to creativemornings.com
The next NYC event is this Friday with Kirby Ferguson of Everything is a Remix, sign ups open Monday (tomorrow) at 11am
To stay up to date, follow us on twitter @creativemorning

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August 8, 2011 0

Kevin should __________.

By Kevin in Projects

kevin should be useful

There are times when you work on a project and you find yourself with that rich, solid feeling in the pit of your stomach that what you’re doing has the potential to really affect someone. This was not one of those times.

Kevin should _____. is one of those little ideas with highly-questionable worth that inevitably bring me so much joy. The site sports an ultra sophisticated AI response engine that says things like “That’s bad for your back,” or “Maybe after dinner.”

kevin should answer

Some of the favorite requests thus far include:

Kevin should jump rope to Mars.

Kevin should dougie.

Kevin should promote kitty litter.

Kevin should get Jay-Z’s “Watch the Throne” album.

Kevin should host a Harry Potter marathon.

Tell me other things I should do at kevinshould.com

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August 2, 2011 0

Words Just Being Words

By Kevin in Projects

words being words classy martini

I hear it’s a classic assignment for graphic design students: depict a word as what it describes.

Kind of my guilty pleasure, I really like these little typographic experiments. They can be so simple yet so clever, giving a word so much character and animation.

words being words hide

words being words heal

As part of my Create Every Day blog I started putting a few together myself and eventually decided to let them live on in their very own big boy tumblr.

words being words

I call it “Words Being Words: Nothing fancy, just words doing their thing… minding their own business.”

P.S. For a few more, check out some by Ji Lee (now Creative Director at Facebook) here.

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July 18, 2011 0

The Best Week My Arms Have Ever Had

By Kevin in Awesome Orgs

On Tuesday, the killer gang (and new friends) at swissmiss studio launched Tattly, an online shop for “Designy Temporary Tattoos.” Fed up with applying often hideous, Clip Art-esque temporary tattoos to her daughter’s arm, Tina Roth Eisenberg took matters into her own hands.

Tattly Kevin
Photo by Rusty Meadows

The store, built by next door studiomates, Oak, now offers tatts from an all-star cast of contributing designers including Jason Santa Maria, Jessica Hische, Frank Chimero, and James Victore just to name a few.


Twas a pleasure joining the studio just before launch to be able help the talented peeps behind Tattly where I could (i.e. moonlighting as a temporary tattoo arm model.) Plus, a big congrats to Rusty, Yoko, and Tina for bringing Tattly into the world. Designy children everywhere will be forever indebted.


Tattly offers its tattoos in pairs as well in a complete set for the first two weeks with the Launch Special Everything Pack.

As Tina puts it, “Life is too short to drink bad wine and wear ugly temporary tattoos. Right?”

Join the typographic, design, temporary body art revolution at tatt.ly

As featured in: FastCompany, Gizmodo, Gawker, Cool Hunting, Design Sponge, Laughing Squid, Design Milk

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July 10, 2011 1

Stayin’ Full While Gettin’ Light

By Kevin in Projects

food for stuff logo

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon amidst great conversation, and I had the biggest smile on my face. My shoes were off, my stomach full, and my car was sneakily parked at the nearby grocery store. It was a feeling of ultimate satisfaction…one you would only get from trading a full size IKEA foam mattress and Costco TempurPedic topper for a Gregoire’s Fried Chicken Sandwich with a side of Potato Puffs.

A month ago, I was on a mission to stay full while getting light. In preparation for my move to Brooklyn, I had one week to get rid of a bunch of stuff I had accumulated throughout college so I could board my plane with no more than two oversized suitcases. Hence, Food For Stuff was born.

It was pretty simple. Once I arrived in the Bay Area and cracked open my storage unit, I photographed and listed a wide array of things on a tumblr I hastily put up. I would give away anything on the blog in exchange for simply some good conversation and food. That’s all.

potato puffs gregoire
Photo by ghirson

Within minutes of posting the link on Facebook, I had requests left and right for everything from the mattress to three half-finished bottles of detergent (totally useful). Food and friendship just seemed to be a better type of currency. Over the next week, I scheduled meals and made deliveries around the Bay Area (in a car I would soon give to my brother in exchange for a Sonic corndog and Taco Bell).

Collaborative Consumption

I largely attribute this little experiment to very recently finishing Rachel Botsman’s “What’s Mine Is Yours,” a great read on Collaborative Consumption and a great motivation to not only have less stuff but also smartly share the stuff you own.

Food and friendship just seemed to be a better type of currency.

What I dreaded would be a painful experience of hustling on Craigslist and trashing too many useful things, became an incredibly enjoyable send-off to savor some of my favorite local foods and converse with many fantastic people. From the Salvadoran Pupusas in the SF Mission, to the homemade Persian meal, to the feast at China Village, I’m sincerely grateful to all of the lovely people who transformed what I thought would be a chore into a delicious, social experience.

In hindsight, it would’ve been a good idea to photograph everything I ate and the people I ate with…but to be honest, I was way too busy stuffing my face.

Food For Stuff has since finished, but if anybody else would like to give it a shot, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I have a feeling the tumblr’s single post is probably hungry for a little lovin’.

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July 9, 2011 0

Final Hoorah: Last Word/Play This Week

By Kevin in Projects

final word/play

I’ve made the difficult decision to hang up the Word/Play hat to spend more time and energy on other projects. It’s been a great 15 weeks, and I’m incredibly grateful for all of the participants and the amazing creations that have come through.

The final Word/Play will be this Monday morning, so if you’ve like to jump on board for the last hoorah–sign on up at playonword.com.

For the the longer story, you can read the email announcement sent out to all of the fabulous Word/Players. (text below)

Hey beloved Word/Players,

Kevin here. After much deliberation, I’ve made the difficult decision to hang up the Word/Play hat (at least for the time being). This upcoming week will be the final Word/Play.

dun dun dun…

This little experiment started off about 15 weeks ago when I roped in a couple of lovely friends in hopes to just share the joy of making things. After hundreds of submissions and over a hundred different participants, it has been my absolute pleasure to facilitate this experience, and I’ve been inspired countless times by the incredibly clever things people have thought of. Thank you all so much.

Someone once pointed out to me a common theme among Word/Play and my other sideprojects. In a lot of ways, it’s been about realizing the potential in just a tiny slice of time where you make an honest effort to be especially present, mindful, and actively engaged. And if during the course of Word/Play, you’ve ever surprised yourself with what you’ve made, this has all been well worth it.

I’ve decided to focus more time and energy on some other projects, but if any of you have any interest in revamping this little word game, thoughts on a future iteration, or any feedback whatsoever, I’d love to hear it.

Feel free to e-mail me at kevin@kiwimonk.com, find me on twitter @mrkevinhuynh or follow my work and play on my blog. If any of you need would like any help or input on starting your own project, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to chat.

This week’s Word/Play will go out Monday morning, I’d love to have you on board for one last hoorah.

Word/Play was about not being afraid to flex a little creative love, whoever you are. You don’t need to be crtically acclaimed or the world’s best to do something you enjoy and make an impact.

Do what you love, express your art, share it with others, and good things will happen.

Play on,

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July 5, 2011 0

Exactly Where I Need to Be

By Kevin in Awesome Orgs

Photo stolen from swissmiss’ flickr

After a somewhat whirlwind of traveling and many changed plans, I found myself at my first day of work at studiomates, a collaborative workspace (filled with creatives of all shapes and sizes) in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

There’s plenty to say, but just know that my desk is closest to the water cooler, so I’m sure I’ll stay well hydrated. The office is also located right on the water so the view of the bridge is phenomenal.

If you’d like a little more info, check out this swanky NYTimes article about the studio. Otherwise, time to get back to the fun and games.

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June 21, 2011 0

Fifty People One Question

By Kevin in Awesome Orgs

Fifty People One Question

Before the end of today, what would you wish to happen? Where would you wish to wake up tomorrow? What’s your secret?

I stumbled across Fifty People One Question over a year ago. The product of the ever-creative Deltree and Crush+Lovely, the concept is simple, inspiring, powerful, and telling. The short video documentaries feature fifty people in cities around the world answering poignant questions.

Apart from just being a nifty project, Fifty People One Question is just a great example of how small ideas can mean big things. They would eventually go on to partner with Post Secret for the launch of a new book. Ponder the questions, check the answers, and relish in another piece of worthwhile sideproject inspiration.

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June 13, 2011 1

50 Moderately Wise Snippets of Wisdom for Incoming College Freshmen

By Kevin in Advice


College isn’t like the movies…all the time. In fact, I think Hollywood tends to miss some of the best parts. Honestly, how often in your life are you surrounded in a bubble of potentially thousands of people your age tasting newfound freedoms? It’s seriously a silly environment when you really think about it.

I did a little dance across the stage at Berkeley’s graduation a few weeks ago. And thinking back, I had a phenomenal five-year stint where I nabbed a pretty sweet two-for-one deal on degrees and had my fair share of college-firsts. I led things, learned things, made things, and broke things.

While the taste of frat party basement grime and the euphoria of finishing Finals week is still fresh, I’d like to offer a little advice to the next batch of recruits and present 50 Moderately Wise Snippets of Wisdom for Incoming College Freshmen (Berkeley and beyond).

Bon appetit.


1. However you try to rationalize it, grades are important. (Just not the most important.)

2. Surround yourself with good people, the type that celebrate your victories, push you often, and laugh generously.

3. Find homework buddies. To be successful, you’ll need folks to have your back.

4. Yes, your body weight will fluctuate.

5. No matter how big your campus is it’ll become small incredibly fast. Your friends, major, involvements, etc. will create a bubble, and you’ll actually have to make an effort to break that cycle. Reach out and challenge yourself to find new environments every year.

6. Call home. It’ll mean more to your parents than you think.

7. Try many clubs and don’t trick yourself into thinking something’s awesome when it’s really not. There are gems out there, just gotta find’em.

8. Three hours of quality studying beats a draining, distracted all-nighter any day.

9. Drinking is cool, just not THAT cool. It has diminishing returns so spend it wisely.

10. Your freshmen dorm floor may or may not hold lifelong friends. I was lucky to find an amazing rag-tag group of buddies, but don’t sweat it if it doesn’t click.

People in your dorm will become more attractive over time due to extended proximity.

11. People in your dorm will become more attractive over time due to extended proximity. Use that knowledge however you like.

12. Play it cool in the coed bathroom. And guys, invest in socially acceptable underwear.

13. Wash your sheets.

14. Your RA is a college student too. They know all of the stupid things you and your floormates are going to do. Be easy on them.

15. Ask your parents for a small toolkit. Especially in the dorms, having the goods to fix things and assemble furniture is a great way to break the ice and makes you an immediately useful friend.

16. During the first few weeks, you’ll have free reign to meet new people anywhere. Hell, I still have good friends today that I met in the baked potato line during week one. But soon that changes and people seem to put their blinders on, especially in lectures. Contrary to popular belief, it’s still okay to meet people in classes any day of the week. Just sit down and say hello.

17. Pulling lots of all-nighters doesn’t make you look cool. Looking like you have infinite time to do all the things you do, now that’s cool.

18. Movies about college usually forget the 40+ hours a week you’ll spend in classes or studying. “Work hard, play hard” can definitely happen, just don’t forget that first part.

19. Don’t be alarmed. Random people will talk to you on midterm day because they’re nervous.

20. If you’re really lost in class, you should probably first try reading the book.

21. Some people don’t take notes while others transcribe at 100 wpm. Find what works for you.

22. Don’t move in with your boyfriend/girlfriend.

23. People have magically short memories. Some will avoid eye contact with you on campus even if you’ve met before. It’s an unexplainable phenomenon. Don’t let them get away with it. Say hello, and they’ll be grateful.

Apparently everyone is “bad with names.”

24. Apparently everyone is “bad with names.” Just try harder. Nicknames and Facebook stalking can help.

25. However, being Facebook friends doesn’t mean you’re actually friends.

26. Being study buddies is a two way street. Don’t be the guy that just always asks for notes.

27. If an opportunity scares you, do it.

28. If you can, study abroad. I’ve never heard of a bad experience.

29. Beware of sketchy landlords.

30. It’s possible to furnish an entire apartment for free. It’s a magical world called Craigslist.

31. Experiment and try all that college stuff, because why the hell not. Just remember to keep your head on straight.

32. Mischief brings people together.

33. Chase, date, hook up, etc. It’s exciting and worthwhile. Do remember, however, that love interests can take up a considerable amount of brain space. So if you really need to focus on something, consider trimming the fat.

34. Crazy opportunities will arise if you’re just willing to ask.

35. Classes are great at teaching you what’s been done and how to do things. They can be not so great at getting you to actually do things. Find your passion and be willing to start small on your own time because making ideas happen is a whole different ball game.

Keep the embarrassing shit off of Facebook.

36. Keep the embarrassing shit off of Facebook. Your tolerance for your public image will shift over time, but just trust me; you’ll be better off.

37. Help friends move. They’ll do the same for you.

38. Some people will change more than others. I say try to be on the changing side. (for the better, of course)

39. Don’t take yourself too seriously; people will respect that.

40. Experiment in the dining commons. The Panini machine is a tool of infinite possibilities.

41. Try to eat a couple vegetables.

42. Singing happy birthday to friends at midnight is a thing. So be prepared for lots of late night cake.

43. Your professors are probably brilliant and teaching courses comparable to you teaching fractions. Give them some credit.

44. If you lend someone a pen, don’t assume you’ll be getting it back.

45. You don’t need to buy your books right away. Avoid those ridiculously long lines, not to mention try to buy used, online or better yet borrow.

46. You’re naturally going do things that peg you as a freshman (e.g. wear your ID around your neck on a lanyard). Embrace them and don’t sweat it, there’s plenty of time to grow up.

47. Seek advice from upper classmen. People love feeling wise. (*cough cough*)

48. Take time to reflect but don’t think that sitting around will help you figure things out. Chances are you have to do something about it.

49. Don’t leave your laptop unattended. Yeah, someone might steal it, but even worse someone might mess with your Facebook status.

50. Finally, not everyone knows what they’re doing in life. People just get better at sounding like it.

So there you have it—50 snippets of advice for the college-bound derived from many years of intensive, in-depth research. Best of luck to you and make sure to hit the ground running.

It’ll be great.

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