Thursday, January 14, 2010


Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
- General George S. Patton, Jr.
Our team has been growing at a steady rate, with family and friends willing to lend a hand to this project unselfishly. It has challenged me in learning to express my vision. The ideas are something I've had locked away in my head for nearly two years, so finally putting it out there for a team to understand has been a welcomed challenge. These past three months have taught me a great deal.

Leadership is something with which I've been fascinated for a lifetime. How does one emerge as a leader? Or get elected? While they lead, what makes them succeed? Fail? How does a leader redeem himself after failing?

Working on this film has stretched, humbled and empowered me in so many ways. Recently, with the growth of our team, I find myself dusting off those leadership skills I kept tucked away since they weren't really needed. The amount of leadership training I've had is rather comical, but I was in a position that quieted those lessons for a period of time. Regaining ones confidence as a leader can take a bit of time.

When one of our team members gave me critical feedback this week, it woke me up a little bit and helped me realize that I have to step up the leadership even more. Enabling and protecting those whom work with you is key as a leader. There's mutual respect for one another, the buzzword being synergy.

The opportunity to lead others is a humbling experience. There are many good quotes about it, one of my favorite is, "The greatest among ye shall be the servant of all." It makes you realize that the pyramid is inverted, with the leader enabling others to do what they do best. I hope that I may be so lucky to lead others well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

With Thanks to My Dad

Tomorrow is my dad's birthday. He always asks me not to buy him anything, saying that presence over presents is what's important to him. So, in honor of that request I'd like to say thanks to him publicly.

My relationship with both of my parents is something I take for granted. They are fascinating people, even before being dedicated to and supportive of their kids. To a child, it can be a challenge to look at a parent as a person. A parent has always been a parent to the child. I'm incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to see my parents as the fascinating individuals they are. The people they were before I came along, and the people they've become long after I moved out.

Both of my parents are some of the hardest working people I know. They are passionate, dedicated and talented individuals. I have learned so much from watching them, and talking about life and business with them. They are the foundation in my life.

My father is a very self-effacing man. He doesn't put much stock in bragging or touting what one will do, despite having been in countless news articles and national television programs. He believes in doing great work, and letting the work you do speak for itself.

In fact, I think the only time I've seen him share some of the recognition he's gotten was to see his mother's eyes light up, or because I chastised him for not telling me when he was scheduled to be on TV.

My dad has owned his own business longer than I've been alive. Knowing that most businesses fail within the first few months, much less the first five years, it's incredible to know that his has been doing good for the world of history for more than 30 years.

From my parents, I have gotten a passion for preserving and appreciating history, like the relationship between our Montagnard allies and US Special Forces soldiers.

From my parents, I have the fearless pursuit of entrepreneurial endeavors because the work I do brings good to the world, like shedding light on the plight of the Montagnards.

From my parents, I was given the liberty of dreaming limitless dreams, like the idea that this little production might reach the hands of the President and he might make positive change happen as he promised on his election campaign.

From my parents, I get so many of the qualities that make me who I am. I am eternally in debt to my parents for the things they have done for me. Both have made sacrifices to help make my life better. I am humbled and always grateful to both of them.

Happy birthday, Dad. As Surry always says, "I look forward to our next adventure."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ohh, Mistakes

Over the course of the past few months, I've been showing footage from the film to people. It's delightful and terrifying to sit with them as they watch it for the first time. My mind races. I wonder what they're thinking. What details they're noticing. What emotions they might be feeling. And if they are aware of mistakes I made while filming.

But, no matter the mistakes, they are there to help us learn. You can spend a fair amount of time learning and trying, but sometimes mistakes (when we pay attention to them) will help us improve. Critical feedback is important in shaping the improvements.

It's all a learning process.

Website Progress

Our film's website is making progress, slowly but surely. It'll be great to have it live so that people can learn about the film from more than this blog alone. I spent some time on it yesterday, adding information and photos. Hopefully we will have much more up and ready for folks to view soon!

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Friend Lap

One of life's greatest gifts is finding kindred spirits. They are such rarities that you really feel enriched when you find a genuine kindred spirit, someone that's as equally enthralled by the same subjects that have captured your attention. Someone that you can sit and talk with for hours, and it feels as if only minutes have passed.

While working on this project, I have been lucky enough to meet many kindred spirits, including Lap. Lap is such a kindred spirit, and I have been so lucky to get to know him over the past two years. When we first met, Lap showed up with his lovely wife and charming son. That meeting feels like ages ago now!

Lap is a Montagnard, specifically from the Jarai tribe and has taught me so much. During his on-camera interview, Lap told me about how he came to the States as a teenager. He worked at a high school, and then became a student himself. He has since gotten a high school diploma, undergraduate degree, and now a graduate degree. On December 18, 2009, he graduated with a Masters from Texas Tech University. He thesis was a 2,400-word Jarai-English dictionary, and will be teaching cultural anthropology this semester.

I have been so impressed with Lap and his efforts. Each time we talk, it is usually about exciting things we can do to capture the culture of the Montagnards. We both think big, for sure! I most assuredly look forward to working with Lap in the future, long after the film is finished.

Congratulations on your latest accomplishments, Lap!

So Much Happens In One Week

The film as a whole is making rapid progress each day, a feeling that's very rewarding. So much happens in any one day that I find it tough to capture it all in one blog post. More and more people are joining the team, and we're all hustling toward the finish line. I look forward to highlighting the team publicly when our website is up and running!