People-Centered Nerds

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Everyone knew this kind of kid in school: friendly, always trying to lend you a book, always nose-deep in a notebook working on some semi-secret passion project during class, always breaking into conversations to say the least likely possible thing. The kind of kid whose heart wasn’t just on her sleeve, but on her forehead — lit with blinking Christmas lights.

At ProjectEd, pretty much all of us were that kid.

Sometimes when we’re all in a meeting together, I imagine 23 class photos from all over the world — from the Bronx, from North Carolina, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Indonesia — and I imagine that happy, nerdy kid being plucked from each one and dropped into our Brooklyn office.

Good things happen when you bring people like that together. For one thing, you get really pleasant meetings.

I mean here’s the thing: We’re busy people. We all take on a lot of work here at ProjectEd, and then most of us go home and make movies, make comic books, raise families, volunteer. But when you sit down in a meeting at ProjectEd, it feels like there is one and only one thing happening in the whole world. There’s a lot of listening, a lot of goofy humor, and maybe almost too much nerdy intensity.

What you start to realize here is the particular type of nerd we are: people-centered nerds. We’re nerds who are passionate about things not for the sake of worshipping abstract ideas, but because passion brings people together, and we like people. Sure we’re interested in new trends in design, new ideas about storytelling, new developments in policy. But mostly we’re interested in how those things end up reaching and helping people.

Which, for the most part, is why we’re here. Most of us spent some part of our lives in bigger, flashier design farms doing bigger, flashier things. The other day JP just sort of casually referenced his time creating Courage the Cowardly Dog as though it wasn’t the coolest thing in the world.

But we all ended up here, at a company devoted to education and philanthropy. It’s not an accident. Every day I come into an office full of people that have spent their lives cultivating enormous artistic and intellectual talents. And every day they wake up and think “How can I use my talent to bring people together.”

It’s not a bad sort of person to be surrounded by.

Which hopefully says a lot about what it’s like to work with us.

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