Overzealous & Overtired

I think that’s going to be the motto for the next few weeks.

Today was the first day of SPI and it was definitely an experience. We took the Metro down to the Woolworth Building, no problem, and even arrived a whole 15 minutes early. We walked into the spectacular main lobby (check out the final scene of the movie Enchanted for reference), past a sign declaring, “No tourists beyond this point,” and up to an info desk, where two well dressed gentlemen informed us that we had the wrong entrance.

A few minutes later, we reentered a much smaller lobby, with low ceilings, no gilded carvings, and a notable lack of sparkle. Much more as expected. We made our way up three sets of escalators, opened the door to the lecture hall that was to be our home for the next six weeks, and… everyone was already there.

We weren’t late. Everyone else had just showed up anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour early. It was strange: despite spending four years at a university full of nerds and teacher’s pets, I’ve never been part of a group of people who were so excited about class.

We ended up sitting in the back row. Here’s the view over the heads of all my overzealous peers:

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The morning began with an introductory lecture by our directors, and then moved into a keynote by Brandon Holley (EIC, Lucky) and Bill Phillips (EIC, Men’s Health), who shared some insights about how to make it in the industry and the mistakes they made along the way. The biggest message? Ideas, ideas, ideas.

Then it was time for lunch (a quick 30 minutes to recharge), followed by a really engaging discussion by Martha Stewart Living’s Pilar Guzman, a conversation about the business side of magazines by Hearst’s Michael Clinton, and a talk from our magazine director, Victoria von Biel. By then, it was 5:30, and we’d been at it for nine hours and were in severe need of caffeine.

But the day was far from over. We split up into our magazine groups, walked to a quick dinner in the (buckets of, pouring, cats and dogs) rain, and then reconvened to plan our pitches for our magazine projects.

The essentials of the project: we have three weeks to invent, design, and launch a magazine bend, from the print edition, to the app, website, and social media, to the business plan and launch party. I got lucky, and was placed in the travel group. We had lots of cool ideas, and at 8:30, I headed home, feeling much more invigorated than I had three hours earlier.

Still no time to shop for food, though. Hopefully my schedule will get a little less busy before I starve.

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