THE STORY GRID: A Five Part Video Series from Shawn Coyne.




Subscribe RSS

Subscribe to SPO.

What It Takes

What It Takes

Captain Crunch for President

By Callie Oettinger | Published: August 28, 2015

“Deez Nuts” was the first to arrive — and then over 200 copycats followed, upping the count on the Federal Election Commission’s “2016 Presidential Form 2 Filers” list to 891 (as of the time of this posting).

Recent additions include:

Porcupines R. Spikey, Jr. brought a laughter tear to my eye — as did the name of Forrest Gump’s campaign committee — as I scanned the SEC’s list and clicked on the paperwork links for a few of the candidates.

I love a good joke — and have to hand it to the parents of the 15 year old behind Mr. Nuts, who are supporting his run, because that teen is getting an education on campaign politics that will eclipse his peers’.

For the copycats: Like you, when my kids get a laugh, they often go in for a repeat, trying the same joke, hoping for the same result. I always tell them that the second time might earn a smile, but the third time — and without a doubt the 50th time — will not. Instead, they’re treading in the unfunny arena. “Try something new,” I beg them. “Don’t waste your time on the same thing.”

Why do they ignore me at times and go for the copycat act?

Because it’s easier to copy than it is to birth an original idea — something that’s amplified online, where it’s also easier to like a cause than actually do physical work for a cause, or follow someone’s work instead of learning from them and doing our own work.


Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

The Third Man

By Shawn Coyne | Published: August 21, 2015

After each three minute round, the boxer gets a one-minute break.

Tough Love

He collapses onto a stool.

His cornerman squeezes water into his mouth and places a bucket beneath his jaw to catch the run-off.  He then towels him off with an aggressive rub down to keep the muscles elastic.

All the while a second man, the fighter’s trainer peppers him with advice.

Stay out of the corners! Body blow, body blow, uppercut!

For the fighter, these two support systems are critical.

But they are not indispensable.

The third man in the corner is.


Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

To Review or Not to Review: Externalities in the Making

By Callie Oettinger | Published: August 14, 2015

If you find yourself visiting San Antonio with a child in need of an emergency room, you’ll also find yourself in need of advice on which hospital to choose.

If you read FiveThirtyEight, once you’re on the other side of the emergency room visit and on your way home, you might start thinking about Mona Chalabi’s article “Does It Make Sense To Split The Check At A Restaurant?” Within the article, Chalabi addresses the economist-coined concept externalities:

Any time you make a decision that affects someone else without considering how it might affect that person, whether positively or negatively, you create an externality — it’s basically a fancy way of saying “indirect effect.” There are positive externalities (e.g. when you decide to get a flu shot, other people benefit) and negative externalities (e.g. when you decide to fart, other people suffer).

The connection between externalities and the emergency room?

Sitting on the hotel bathtub, holding back my daughter’s hair with one hand as she was sick for the eighth time that morning, I looked up hospitals via the phone in the other hand. Desperate for good reviews. Bad reviews ruled instead. The tie-breaker? A U.S. News & World Report hospital ranking and my past experiences with university teaching hospitals.

In the immortal words of Taylor Swift, “the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” – while the lovers and likers are often silent, silent, silent, silent, silent.

I’m among the silent, silent, silent crowd. I send praise from time to time, but in general all’s quiet on the review front. The San Antonio experience forced my hand. By not reviewing what I’ve liked in the past, I’ve created negative externalities, allowing the bad reviews to dictate instead of making a decision to post reviews that help others. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
Sign up for first look access.

Enter your email to get free access to every new thing I do.

No spam, I promise!

Gates of Fire
The War of Art
The Authentic Swing
The Lion's Gate
Turning Pro
The Profession
The Warrior Ethos
Do The Work
Tides of War
The Afghan Campaign
The Virtues of War
Killing Rommel
Last of the Amazons
The Legend of Bagger Vance
Additional Reading
Video Blog