I create context. I also write blog posts:

Movember Update!

Posted: November 23rd, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »

So I’ve reached my goal of $300, and I couldn’t be happier! In fact, it only goes down hill from here for me. If you read the previous update, you know that if I raise $400, I’ll keep the mustache for another month. Well, folks, I’m only $95 from that. I don’t *really* want to go through another month of being made fun of, but if you’re willing to go the distance, I am too. So whaddaya say? We gonna make this happen? Click it:

Of course, I don’t want to forget to say thanks to everyone who’s donated so far. We’ve done a lot to further the cause against prostate cancer (my 300 bucks raised is part of over $61 million that’s been raised by Movember participants in the last 23 days! This has been an awesome month!

I Want To Create Things

Posted: November 15th, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »

I’m not an innovator. I’m not an inventor. I’m the last person on Earth who would ask, “you know what would make this easier?” and then answer myself with something never before thought of.

I just don’t think that way.

But I’d like to.

I’d like to create things. I’d like to come up with the next Twitter to change the way we communicate, or the flying car to change the way we move. I’d like to invent some sort of device that allows us to interact with the world more and better. But I’m no Steve Jobs.

At least I know that. I’m a writer. I craft messages and tell stories. But I’d like to do more.

I’m not going to invent something to rival twitter or to fly from place to place, and I’m certainly not going to redesign the MacBook Air or the iPhone. But I’m trying to open myself up to that kind of thinking. I recently bought a Wacom tablet because I’m trying to make my writing more visual. I’m enrolling in drawing classes because I want to think in doodles, not outlines. I’m paying more attention to creators than I am writers, because I want them to help shape the way I think.

We don’t have to be creators or writers or any other one thing. And we don’t have to be everything. But when we know there’s something beyond what we see on a daily basis, we gain from knowing that we’re not the best we can possibly be yet.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I need to create something before I sleep.

A Little Movember Update (challenge included!)

Posted: November 13th, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »

Hey Everybody!

Here’s the deal: We’re in the month of Movember, where men across the world grow mustaches to support research for prostate cancer and other male cancer initiatives. This year, I finally took the plunge and entered my upper lip.


Here’s what it means for me: I’m growing a mustache. I shaved my beard off at the beginning of the month, and started from scratch. It’s been ugly so far, and I don’t think it’s going to get any better, but I’ve finally got a mustache worthy of a bad cop show. And I’ll have it until the end of the month.


Here’s what it means for you: You get to laugh. A lot. Because when I say ugly, I’m talking really ugly. But I’m doing it for a reason. I want to help raise money to support efforts against prostate cancer (this year’s beneficiaries are the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LiveSTRONG). I don’t know much about the disease — other than the fact that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with it — but I do know that I’d rather have a mustache than prostate cancer. If you can help me raise money, I — and my mustache — would appreciate it.


Here’s my goal: I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this for the first time, but I’ve had a chance to see how things are playing out, and I’ve set a goal. I’d like to raise $300. It’s not much, really, just $10 a day. I only need 30 people to get on board. And I’ve already had a few generous donors pick up the tab for the first few days this month. Let’s get this show on the road!


Here’s what happens if we exceed my goal: If we reach $400, I’m gonna keep the ‘stache for an extra month. I won’t get rid of it before midnight on December 31. Think about it: any photos I take on Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Years will all feature me and my mustache. And you’ll be able to make fun of them… but only if you donate. I’m willing to look ridiculous, but you have to be willing to help!


Here’s proof that I’m willing to do it:

What more can I say?


Here’s how you can help: Just head on over to http://mobro.co/peteshelly and hit the donate button!




What’s Stopping Us From Being Better?

Posted: November 6th, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »

(Still getting used to my new Wacom tablet; how’s that for handwriting?!

Just saw someone online saying that, with Twitter and other nearly-immediate online news sources, the press release is becoming defunct. Now, I don’t want to talk about the merit of press releases, because, frankly, I don’t know anything about them. But I do want to use this as an example of a broader thought, which is about ideas and where they come from.

So anyways, there’s this article that points out how journalism is changing and one of the conclusions to be drawn is that press releases are less relevant than they used to be (again, whether that conclusion is right or wrong, I don’t know…). And I started thinking about a recent press release that got my attention, because it was a good *idea*.

In August, Hubspot (a marketing blog) announced they had purchased social media marketing company One Forty. They did so with a series of tweets… that made up a press release.

To make things interesting (and easily sharable!), the company wrote out the announcement in 140 character chunks, perfect for pasting to Twitter. It caught my attention because it’s exactly the kind of thing that combats the “press releases are becoming defunct because Twitter boils everything down to the shortest possible blurb” theory.

*More importantly,* it was a creative spin on things. I couldn’t really care less about the actual event, but I checked it out anyways. It caught my attention, so imagine what it did for people who actually *did* care?

My point: it’s easy to say that one thing changing completely changes something else. So you change too, and move on with life, right?

But that might be a little lazy. What if, instead of saying, “Twitter is killing press releases,” we said, “Twitter is changing the way we need to share information?” Instead of giving up, what if we put effort into reacting and adapting.

When something changes, we need to be more creative in our reactions, not less. It’s not that we’re out of ideas, it’s that we seem to have run out of time to think of ideas. Too often, we say “it’s fine” or “it’s dead” or “if there were a better way, someone would have thought of it.” The press release isn’t dead, it just needs to be refreshed. So does the website and the television ad and the direct mail campaign and everything else we’re doing. Everything needs refreshing, because I keep hearing about things the Internet is killing, and I don’t think it’s all true.

I Don’t Know Much About Prostate Cancer…

Posted: November 2nd, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »

WHOA. Forgot to put a link to donate! Click here:

I don’t know much about mustaches either, but I know I’d much rather have the latter than the former.

So I’m donating my upper lip — and probably some of my dignity if you all play your cards right — to fight prostate cancer and celebrate mustaches.

I did some preliminary research (thanks, Google!). According to the American Cancer Society, this:

About 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. More than 2 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 36 will die of prostate cancer.

How much more do you need to know?!

We’re not going to cure prostate cancer tomorrow, and probably not the next day. But every day is a day closer, and — for the time being — a little more hair on my face.

I’m anticipating it looking something like this:

(And as long as you’re in the giving spirit, why don’t you head over to TheHungerSite.com? Just clicking on the button donates food to the hungry all over the world. It won’t cost you anything but the time to do it… which is about as long as it took to read this paragraph… if not less. In fact, it’s so easy, it’s been my homepage for a while now.)

Cease-And-Desist, Hey Portland, and Pumpkin Beer

Posted: October 2nd, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »

Back in May, I helped start a company called Pollinate. We spent the summer building our website, blogging, and trying to get our name out into… well, whatever you mean when you say “out there.” It was tiring, but it was also rewarding. We were working hard and we were proud of what we were doing. Except, all of that work ground to a halt last month when we received a cease-and-desist letter from another company named Pollinate.

So now we’re Hoist, Ltd. We have a new website up and we’re back to putting our name “out there.”

But our mission is a little bit different, as is my role. That’s because some other things are changing as well.

Kelsey and I have decided that when our lease is up in February, we want to look elsewhere for a new apartment. Elsewhere could mean a few different things: we could find one somewhere else on Long Island, or somewhere else near the city, or somewhere else even further from where we are now.

But the place at the top of our list is Portland, Maine.

We’ve heard only good things about living there, and we’re hoping to find out more when we visit later this month. Further, we’re looking to talk to anyone who has or does live there, so if you know anybody, send them our way! I’ve also created a website called Hey Portland! to try to meet new people and get started making job connections in the area.

But we’re not out of our lease until January 31, so we’re not going anywhere just yet. We’re going to be enjoying ourselves (and, in the case of Hoist, working harder than ever) here on Long Island until the time comes to make the decision. So for now, let’s try to enjoy the coming fall weather and drink some pumpkin beer (or the thing Starbucks makes, if that’s more your taste).

Borbay Shares His Process… And Why I Could Never Do the Same.

Posted: July 25th, 2011 | Author: | 2 Comments »

I’m a huge fan of the artist Borbay. (I should say this right off the bat: I don’t know anything about art except that there are pieces I like and pieces I don’t. I don’t know why I like them or don’t; some works just catch my eye. Borbay’s did.) The first introduction to his work was this piece, “Long Beach Bungalows“. Something about the colors, the subject matter.. I don’t know what it was, but I love this painting. And then I read the post below it, a step by step process of his work on location. And I’m hooked. I can’t paint, but I want to know how painters do it. I want to know where he started, how he got past the intimidating white page of the canvas. Where does a painting start? How do you choose where the first stroke goes? It seems more of a building process than I would have guessed.

Today, I got on Twitter, and he’s taken the process-sharing one step further: he’s got a live stream of his workspace up online, and he’s letting us watch him put paint on the canvas.

I’m sitting here watching — I’ve got this post open in one monitor and there he is painting in my other monitor — I’m sitting here watching with my jaw dropped. Not because watching him paint is so intriguing (the actual brush strokes are cool, but it’s not all that active), but because he’s letting us into the process itself, a process I find in my work to be very singular. It’s one thing to talk about how you created something after the fact, when you have a clear head and a finished product. It’s another thing entirely to show a work in progress, as you’re literally progressing, before you can show where it’s going to end up, before you can prevent people from making judgments based on an unfinished product. Maybe I’m alone in this thinking, maybe creating is a singular process to me and me only, and there are others out there creating beautiful things who don’t see it that way; that’s cool. In fact, I’m envious.

I just think it takes a ton of courage to put it out there like that. To let everyone see the product before it’s polished. I don’t know how painters do what they do, so I can only think about it the way I do writing, but there’s no way I could expose myself like that. There are times the first draft doesn’t look anything like the second draft, and you’d think less of me if you had seen it. There are times when I don’t get the words right, but instead get them quite wrong. You’d think less of me if you had seen them. There are times when I incorporate bad ideas into my writing, when I go in the wrong direction and need to pull myself out of it in a later stage. You’d think… well, you get the idea.

And that’s what’s so refreshing and enlightening about watching Borbay work: creating something is a messy process, one where you’re exposed, and he’s not afraid of it.

I am.

It’s All Downhill From Here

Posted: July 8th, 2011 | Author: | 1 Comment »

All my life, I thought 25 was like, the age to be. I don’t even know how to describe it, other than this vague feeling that being 25 years old would probably be the peak of my life.

And why not? It’s a nice, round number, a quarter century. If I were a professional athlete, I’d be at the top of my game *right now*, right this very instant.

But I’m not a professional athlete. And I’m not yet at the top of my game in any respect (hopefully).

In fact, it didn’t even occur to me until just now that that’s how I’ve felt my whole life. I mean, I had known it, obviously, during the parts of my life when I was thinking it, but I had forgotten that in the last few years. I had lost sight of the greatness that lies just before me. But I’m reminded of it again and that’s great, ’cause now I can do whatever I can to make the most out of 25, right?


Except for one thing: tomorrow, I turn *26*, so the window of opportunity is closing rapidly.

Really rapidly.

Really really rapidly.

So um, I can try to explain away the feeling, knowing that I’m not past my prime and that the only significant part of 25 is that I can now rent a car without paying the “You’re under 25 so we’re going to charge you more because statistically speaking you’re probably going to crash this car” fees at the rental place.

But it’s tough to go back and tell 14 year old me that I was wrong (also, even if I could, it would be really time consuming, because this is hardly the only thing 14 year old me was wrong about).

So what can I do to go out (of 25, at least) with a boom? (Bear in mind that I’m on Long Island, so I don’t know terribly many people — even my girlfriend is out of town right now.)

I’m thinking that porch swing above looks like a pretty good way to spend the final hours of 25.

So what if I’m over the hill in the eyes of 14 year old me? There’s a lot of hill to roll down before I hit rock bottom.

Right, 35 year old me?

17 Tips For a Successful Job Hunt!

Posted: July 1st, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »

A few months ago, I spoke to a class of graduating seniors at Keuka College, my alma mater. We talked about the challenges they face in looking for jobs and some of the ways the job hunt has changed recently. Driving home, I came up with a few more bits of advice that I wish I had thought of during our discussion, so I wrote them down. You can read them here.


Posted: June 20th, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »


Do you think cars mind being left out in the rain all the time?


Do I -- No. I don’t. I don’t think cars have the capacity to “mind” anything.


I mean, they’re just out there, getting wet all the time, getting snowed on. Hail. Leaves.


Hail and leaves? I’m concerned about my car getting hit with hail ’cause I’m the one who’s got to pay for it, but leaves? No, I don’t care that leaves fall on my car.


You know what I mean.


Honest to God, I don’t.


Well, I don’t know how to explain it then.






All right, then if we’re just going to sit here, wouldjya close that window? It’s starting to blow in. I’m ok with it raining on my car, I’m not ok with it raining on me, especially when I’m indoors.


When I was a kid, I used to hate thunderstorms. It sounded like someone was outside my window dropping a giant piece of plywood or something. They sounded angry. I hated it. But somewhere along the line, I started to like it. I wonder, at what point did that change?


It happens gradually, over time.


I don’t know. I mean, there must’ve been a final storm that I hated, and then, maybe the next one wasn’t so bad, and the next one after that. But at one specific moment, something in my head changed from “I hate these” to “I guess don’t hate these.”


You get over it, you mature, you think logically. As a little kid, you’re scared because they’re loud noises and you don’t know why they’re happening. But as you get older, you realize that it’s not anything to be afraid of, it’s not coming after you. And instead of burying your head in the pillow, you realize you can turn around and look at it. You can go out on the porch and watch it come up the lake. And unless you’re on a golf course holding a nine-iron in the air, the only thing it can do to you is get you a little wet.


Do you think the cars know that?

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