Class & Cowgirls

There’s an old saying out here: ‘If your daughter is riding a horse, no one is riding her.’

I laughed so hard I almost fell off the couch. 

Russ looked at me like Garfield peering at Odie—with utter disdain.

So, is that true?”

I stopped laughing long enough to say, “Well, I was divorced for ten years, and now I’m married. What do you think??” 

Russ shook his head and I doubled over laughing even louder. 

We broke down and bought “Yellowstone.” Broke down because I can’t quite wrap my head around paying for a streaming service and paying for streaming a program on top of that. I’m all for supporting the arts, but this feels akin to double dipping in my pocket. I’m cancelling all of the streaming networks next month. I told Russ it’s time to get outside, especially after the year we have all experienced.

My first writing class wrapped this week. I am so grateful to my mom for sharing the link for the class two months ago. I could not have handpicked a better fit if I tried. The teacher was incredibly nurturing,  full of resources and ideas, and contained only a dozen students, all with the same goal. After being one of the oldest students in all of my Section4 Sprints this past year, I suddenly found myself one of the youngest in class. While I enjoy the froth of yearlings chomping at the bit and kicking up their heels, being in the field with seasoned hunters was a nice change of pace.

The writing class was part of Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. I’ve looked several times in the past for classes in DC, but so far I’ve only come across asynchronous programs, or programs for professional writers. Finding classes that are synchronous, longer than a weekend, but not a semester long, was harder than I anticipated. 

She opened our last class with “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

After much searching, I did find another writing course with a similar format that begins in two weeks. This one originates from a writer’s organisation and is led from New York City. This should lend a different flavour to the “Brene-Brown-like-twang” experience of Houston.

I am also wrapping up a two-week Section4 program: Platform Strategy with Mohan Sawhney, Associate Dean for Digital Innovation at Northwestern Kellogg School of Business. I’ve enjoyed learning the components of platform companies and the crucial ingredients necessary for reaching critical mass (sustainability) and for thriving (reaching expansion). Sawhney started class with: “It’s not about great ideas, it’s about solving problems.” It’s identifying a customer’s pain points, such as Uber addressing what taxis fail to provide, or latent assets, such as Cessna selling the “empty” time in their jets, creating ride-sharing in the air. 

The class hosted a guest lecture with Jackson Jhin, SVP of Cameo. He discussed the inception and growth of the company. I still find it hard to comprehend how Cameo scaled a platform with the sole objective of connecting celebrities with fans for a few seconds on video. Three years after inception, the company is now valued at $1B. No doubt the pandemic added some necessary fuel, but idea must have had its own stickiness, appealing to the masses. 

We live in a culture destined to eliminate the middleman, whether you are a financial advisor (thanks to Jack Bogle and Vanguard), a real estate agent (Zillow), or a car salesman (Carvana). This list is long. Platforms bring information and accessibility to billions of average people just like me. I can take a workshop with Anne Lamott (in May!), purchase my own stocks, invite Kevin Costner into my home, and gain access to our country’s best professors for a fraction of the cost. I can compare prices worldwide, across every industry, to find the best product or service that solves my need or problem. 

This week I ran into two coworkers in the office who I haven’t seen in over a year. One has triple the grandchildren now, strengthening the point that life moves on, even during a pandemic. The other one said, “Have you seen Yellowstone yet?

I said, “Russ and I are just beginning season three!”

She said, “I was watching that, and it reminded me of you! All those horses, and the mountains.

Have you seen that girl yet? The one who likes that funny guy, the one who rode in the rodeo and got hurt.

I said, “The dark-haired girl? The one who met him at the hospital?

Lighting up she said, “Yeah! That’s the one! She reminds me of you!

Last I saw of her, she was riding a cowboy, so maybe the old saying isn’t true after all.

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