A letter to AC4D

Dear AC4D,

Recent events left me feeling a mix of thoughts and emotions so I decided to write you a letter.

You are an 8-month graduate program, but you’re also a solid community. You are great mentors, but you are also all makers. The group of people coming in and out all day provide constant reassurance but they also never hesitate to jump in to challenge why we are doing what we are doing. You provide tools but not answers. You’re a safe place to learn like how a child learns – you know, start doing something, make mistakes, ask dumb questions, repeat, and eventually all of it become tacit knowledge. People go work on different things and have different definitions of success, but you welcome them with open arms as long as they’re still trying to change the world.

AC4D never really ends. For us alums, having the current students around in the same space keeps us on our toes. Accountability easily goes out of the window when the 8-month program was over. It’s too easy to not follow through, to come up with excuses, to let life get in the way. Watching new projects emerge is inspiring and it almost becomes your engine of innovation to ensure we never stop asking “what if’s”. In return, I hope we alums provide comfort for the current students that all of this is possible. It’s still fun, and I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. The energy is┬ácontagious so no one ever feels like they are fighting a lone battle.

You don’t leave your students graduate with just a “good idea” either. The audience who came to the Q3 presentations today asked tough questions. “What are you actually doing? What is your role? Why would people want to use this? What are all the touchpoints? How do you build trust and protect your people? How do you change perceptions and create brand? How do you build expectations and instill responsibility and create delight? Who is paying who? How do you build a collective? Where do you start?” My heart beat really fast as I watched the students think on their feet with all eyes on them tackling every question being thrown at them. I’m so impressed and blown away with their work and how far they’ve come.

I have every faith that they will figure it all out and make it happen, as will all of your future students because of what you have created. In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”