The Lab; Portnoy Media Group Blog

Leap First



There is a part of my work that’s heartbreaking. Slaving over an idea that will bring salvation is hard. Confronting a problem that a client is facing can be brutal. Then, finally seeing the green grass and having the plan shot down for a million different possibilities.

Saying yes to something new is hard.

It’s scary, there’s risk, and the average corporation is programed to minimize bumps/risk/anything against the status quo.

It’s normal, heartbreaking and ok.

For these reasons, I really appreciated Leap First by Seth Godin. It’s a quick listen at just over 2 hours and perfect for the morning walk that wakes my creative brain.

Making art or to risk in a creative endeavor is crucial and Seth’s talk was a great reminder to risk, often and in big ways.

My past successes have come through disruptive communication with organizations that had their backs against the wall. They came out swinging and the rest is history. It takes courage to create in the face of adversity and this talk was just the prompt I needed last week.

Grab it on Audible.





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Staying Sharp As A Creative


Christoph Niemann is an author, illustrator and artist. In this talk for 99U (are you sensing the trend?), he talks about the 3 fears that plague every person that counts on their creativity for a paycheck.

Yes, those fears run through my brain but I find that staying focused, not playing the comparison game, and making sure I’m overwhelmed with projects helps a lot.

I’m struck by the 20% rule – spend 20% of your time on something experimental and basically play around.

This is a great way to work out ideas and conduct your own R&D lab. The times when I’m giving myself the chance to play pretty regularly, great things happen. It polishes old skills and develops new ones – plus it helps looking at thing differently, as Christoph shows in this talk.

Check out Christoph’s Instagram or Twitter



Meet The Villain

Gangsters, monsters, bullies, psychopaths, or some blending of them all.

I think villains make a story. The better the villain, the better the story.

So don’t worry if you’re up against a terrible foe and circumstances are dire, you’ve got the best story going.

Who’s your favorite?


Seth Godin: Keep Making a Ruckus



I love this talk from Seth Godin and Scott Belsky. I liked it so much, I wanted more. So I grabbed Seth’s latest Leap First: Creating Work That Matters. (I totally dig it)

Key thoughts: A designer might be making work that’s pretty but an artist makes connection and there’s no map. Do work that’s scary, will offend some and goes against the grain.


From 99u:

In this wide-ranging question and answer session, bestselling author Seth Godin advocates us to be bold. Whether it’s a toxic work culture or stagnation in your craft, Godin urges us all to recapture the child-like delight in taking a risk.

“You may know how to use fancy design tools, but if there isn’t that leap that leads to connection, it doesn’t matter….you’re not making art,” says Godin. “We didn’t build stuff because we need more beautifully laid out menus. We did it because people want to be touched, noticed, and connected.”



Creative Process: David Magee


Screenwriter, David Magee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland) takes viewers inside his creative process in an exploration of where ideas come from.


10,000 Copies!


As of July 2015, The Non-Porift Narrative has sold over 10,000 copies. I couldn’t be more thrilled. A big thank you to so many for picking up the book and making the choice to tell better stories.

The picture above was taken 3.5 years ago just before the release of the book. If was a rough, nine month process to get on paper what I wanted to say in the most concise way.

I owe great thanks to:

Josh Kaufman – for the push to write and the guidance to help me bring it home.

Jenelle D’Alessandro – You gave the project structure and gave me the first inkling of what it could look like.

Tiffany Johnson – So many drafts of reading and rereading and you did it all without a complaint. So grateful.

Sonja Kolstad – Part archeologist and part sculptor – you made this project infinitely better.


I relate so much to writers from Gloria Steinem to George R. R. Martin who say “Most writers don’t like writing; they like having written.” If you’re thinking about putting out a book, I recommend it. I think everyone has a good book in them and with the onset of self publishing – there’s nothing stopping you!


Thank you, thank you!

Save Us Batkid!


This is just one possibility for a non-profit willing to highlight the work they do.

I know, you’re thinking, “What non-profit wouldn’t do this?” Answer: most of them. It’s hard for nonprofits to get out of their own way. Make-A-Wish Foundation was not one of them. I’m sure there were discussions and lots of back and forth and preproduction and excitement before Batkid Day on November 15, 2013 but they figured it out.

Make-A-Wish brought in an experience filmmaking team of Director, Dana Nachman and Producer Ian Reinhard or maybe Ian and Dana pitched the idea. Regardless, they let/make it happen.

And now Make-A-Wish has a global phenomena that is now ultra scalable in a 90 minute retelling of their social media juggernaut. THIS IS HOW YOU WIN IN STORYTELLING!

Good Story + Brand Interaction + Documentation / Multi-media platforms = SO MUCH WINNING.

Do you want to see this? Me too.

Do I think it’s a huge commercial for Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as a feel good story? YES!

Do I think Make-A-Wish has a marketing funnel to have you sign up for emails, a set of autoresponders and to move you to support financially all that they are doing? DUH, YES!

Do I think Dana and Ian have a HUGE hit on their hands? BIG TIME. Already happening. Check out the film festival laurels, they’re making it happen.


So why doesn’t this happen more often?

Great question. Here’s the simple answer, it comes down to vision and resources. Most nonprofits are stuck putting out fires. They get so used to that process that they forget why they’re doing this in the first place. I totally sympathize but please for the sake of everything you hold dear, adjust your schedule to allow to see possibilities. However, some marketers have the ability to see what’s next and lack the funding. Look for partners, don’t do this alone. It’s not the job of an organization to know about film festivals, production budgets; so why not find a partner that knows that information? Plus, money always follows ideas. Make time for a great idea, figuring it out is the easy (easier) part.


What are the possibilities for your organization?

  • Make time in your weekly schedule for the unknown. I block off Friday afternoons for a “What if” session. It doesn’t matter when, it matters that you do it.
  • Check out 35 Days to Telling a Better Story – It’s a daily email I’ve created to help you in your creativity no matter your discipline. Fundamental principles on constantly creating great content. Sign up here.




Connecting Scenes, Connecting Story

I love this piece from Tony Zhou as he explains the difference in lists to connecting scenes and parts of stories….

Meanwhile back at the ranch…..

Don’t forget to use this to connect scenes and action.

Therefore: How other characters will react to that fact. It could be positive or negative.

But: Implies a change in direction.


Stefan Sagmeister: The power of time off

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 9.50.10 AM

I started my morning with this TED talk, thought you’d want to hear it too.


Sidenote: New podcast episode from CJ Casciotta and Sounds like a Movement. It’s an interview with Elle Luna and it’s what got me on the path to watch Stefan’s talk this morning.

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Check it out here.


Setting Creative Goals in 2015


At the end of 2013, I realized I wasn’t producing enough. As a result I wasn’t thrilled with my creativity for the year. I get the most satisfaction from creating and then sharing. Instead I spent 2013 doing a lot of things that brought little satisfaction, so I knew that had to change.

People set goals, successful people have systems.

For 2014 I set up a system that would result in shipping a new project per week. Thinking thatI could reflect at the end of the year on 52 projects would be amazing. They could be cross discipline (Writing, directing, editing) but they had to be finished – one per week average. They could be for a client or for myself if business got slow. Whatever it takes to share something with a weekly average.

In the beginning of November I started adding up my totals to see how on target I was. Happily I was ahead of the curve but didn’t realize how much  – I finished 2014 with 65 projects completed.

I can’t tell you what a joy it was to hit the goal and then move past it. Such a a big personal achievement reset the bar for me and 2015 goals has to ratchet up as well.

Need help creating a system for your creativity this year? I can help with that. Shoot me an email and let’s get cracking! More info on coaching here.