4×4 Blog Tag

This is a belated response to Tim Brunnelle’s March 24 post Tagging me with the 4×4 meme making its way around blog circles. It’s a concept that gets bloggas posting out of their normal zone, especially if they are more business oriented. Tim quoted Marketing Prof, Ann Handley, on it: “The object is for the tagged writer to reveal personal bits about themselves that you wouldn’t know otherwise, and then to tag other blog authors to similarly spill their guts.” I’ll probably add this as a page on my blog because it has an evergreen and personal quality that the “About” page won’t capture. On to my 4×4:

4 Places I’ve Been:

1) Everywhere, USA ’95-’97: traveled around the U.S. with a ¾-ton Dodge Ram Cummins Diesel pulling a beautiful, silver 34-foot Avion travel trailer to appleseed our business while business partner, Pat Hagerman, was growing the company infrastructure back in S.F. I think I got the better job. We stopped in central destinations (Portland OR & MA; Kutztown, PA; Chicago; Naples, FL; Austin, Albuquerque, etc.) for 1-3 months so: we could get a phone line for internet connectivity to publish/create from the road; Darci my wife could take classes for ceramics and dance; I could meet with prospective marketers to share our vision. We also ended up hitting a significant number of state parks—many hikes blur together—and were successful at supporting our business growth.

2) I painted with contemporary aboriginal artists up in Carnes, AU. Not a lot to share here, because the experience was transcendent and words will fail to describe the event or impact it made. I will say that after the experience, I committed to living a life surrounded by creative thinkers while contributing to the community and believe I’ve succeeded in this.

3) Two thousand years ago. Anyone who has opened their soul to the spiritual and spontaneous experience traveling in Greece represents will understand the time-shift description. I was transported to a time when gods walked among men, champions died for the chance to compete on the world stage, oracles revealed fortunes and Sappho softly shared her voice in a theater on Lesvos (intended spelling, b/c Sappho and alt is loaded with different contemporary cultural baggage).

4) The Keys to Happiness. Darci and I were married on Key West on December , 1995 in an act of planful spontaneity. We were on our 2-year US appleseed travels working under the “be together for the rest of our life” program. Around Chicago I proposed to Darci by offering to overcome my institutional bias on marriage if she felt I was with holding love in any way from her. I believed that the institutional definition, marriage, didn’t improve the state of love and often became a proxy for relationship cruise-control and eventually failure. She appreciated the gesture but wanted to sleep on it. Around Portland, ME she accepted. Months later when we were down in Florida we learned that getting married was a quick process. As we checked into our hotel we got the business card of a minister who married us the next day barefooted on the beach. That’s a longer story, but the day was one of our brightest and happiest. And as I say to our children at the conclusion of any worthy story, we’ve “lived happily ever after.”

4 Jobs I’ve Had

First, I’ve had jobs about as long as I can recall, from lawn-mowing/yard work (with some required pro-bono work for an elderly neighbor) to retail to bartending and everything in between. Internet/Start-up Guru, Dave McClure, uses the Dr. Seuss story, “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” to describe the entrepreneur’s role and I believe the hundreds of jobs I held even before my professional career served me well in creating the work ethic, values and resourcefulness required to build a great company. Here are four memorable jobs:

1) Crossing guard. There was something about strapping on the belt/harness and holding traffic while kids crossed the street that stuck with me. It could have been the community aspect of walking with many of my seven brother and sisters “to work” and greeting everyone that crossed. It could have been the responsibility I had for others. Or it could have just been the cool badge. I’m over the badge now, but still enjoy facilitating passage for others along with knowing and greeting fellow travelers at intersections and cross roads.

2) Shucking Oysters. The secret, my friend, is to smack the oyster hard with the butt of your shucking instrument before prying it open—this shocks the creature and removes any muscular resistance to your work. I have found this same sort of directness and immediacy successful in communications as well; quick, direct communications can have a way of disarming and allowing people to release previously fiercely-held positions that impede a goal or objective.

3) Entrepreneur. By far the most rewarding and what my Father had in mind for each of his sons, I believe, as each are following in his footsteps with their own companies. I’ve started up 4-5 companies and initiatives over the last 14 years, including initiating the launch within Omnicom of CareerMosaic, one of the first 100 commercial properties on the web.

4) Father/Husband. Seems like a job in the best sense of the word: takes focus, commitment, unpredictable hours, responsibility, communications, time management; incredible upside and rewards. As Kahlil Gibran said, “work is love manifest,” and this is a job I cherish. Never thought I would. Frankly, the combined job of Father/Husband wasn’t in the original master design of life, but happily wisdom intervened in the person of Darci, my wife, and I’ve found a job I can show up for everyday for the rest of my life.

4 of My Favorite Foods

1) Beer: Liquid bread. The most approachable, sociable, storied and versatile beverage ever. Worth starting a website that 500,000 guys visit each month: www.realbeer.com

2) Huevos. I believe I’ve discovered the best and second best huevos anywhere in the world. Challenge anyone to beat them. And I’m constantly trying new challengers to see if I can unseat the champions.

3) BBQ: if you could see the thought cloud above my head when I think the word “BBQ” it would look like a “dead-red” version of Bubba Gump’s shrimp soliloquy in Forest Gump. BBQ Ribs, Baby Backs, Pulled Pork, 18-hour smoked Brisket, Hot Links…

4) Chili. For the uninitiated, Real Chili does not include beans. Ever. Anything else is a casserole of some kind. Might even be tasty and interesting, but if it has beans, it’s not Chili.

You might be spotting a trend here. If I had four more choices it would include Mexican, Thai, Cajun and Indian foods. I love the local color and taste because brewed into the food is the story of the people and region.

4 Scenes in Movies I Wish I’d Written and Directed

Great moments and scenes aren’t always in movies I wish I’d written and directed. In fact, they’re probably two lists with little intersection.


1) Martin Sheen in opening scene of Apocalypse Now as he smashes mirror and has a break down in the hotel room waiting for his next assignment. In the making-of documentary, Heart of Darkness, I found out that Sheen was actually having a real world crisis on his 36th birthday that entered into the work.

2) Angelica Houston sobbing as she gathers money scattered around the room back into the suitcase she fought her son for as he lies bleeding to death.

3) John Tuturro in Miller’s Crossing in the woods begging for his life.

4) Seann William Scott in “Dude, Where’s My Car” squirming in the back seat anguished as the takeout drone demands another order selection. “and then? and THEN? AND THEN?


1) The Departed

2) Living with an Idiot, Zhizn s idiotom, (Russia, Indy seen at SFIFF)

3) Fight Club

4) Transformers—If I written and directed would remove lots of unnecessary juvenile and indulgent gaffs while maintaining socio-political themes of: friend/foe among us; the love/hate of technology; good v evil; man v machine; self actualization. I would actually take it more into a Philip k Dick meets Greek Mythology while maintaining the awesome special effects and merchandising.

Tagging more than my four: Ian Schafer, Brian Morrissey, Daniel Stein (might get him off can and start blogging), Rodney Rumford, Rick Webb, Renny Gleeson, Adam Cohen, Stan Heironymus, Susan Bratton

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4 responses to “4×4 Blog Tag

  1. Nice! Good work, Mark. It’s awesome getting to know you better via the 4×4.


  2. Hey Tim, back at you. I love the video recaps (http://usefullunacy.typepad.com/useful_lunacy/) you created for your class. Count us in as a great shop for your graduating students that want to be in SF or NY. Cheers! silva

  3. Hey Mark – @adamcohen here, thanks very much for the tag! I recently participated in a 4×4 here:


    …thanks for letting me know this counts and the suggestion to comment. I always enjoy getting to know others out there and am relatively new to blogging myself.

  4. Showing unusual restraint:


    I’m more looking forward to the responses from those I tagged.

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