Report from a Comic-Con Virgin: Goal-Setting for Creatives+She-Ra! [San Diego Comic Con 2011]

No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.“―Yoda to Luke

Comic-Con 2011: Lego Storm Trooper

What goals did Lego need to set to put THIS statue together? Comic-Con 2011

I imagine my first experience at Comic-Con was much like the first time an infant goes to Toys R Us – an overwhelming sensory wallpaper of noise, color and shiny stimuli.

What do I want to grab at?  Everything looks like it’s jumping out at me!  The crowd flow is mindlessly taking me down the aisles the way mommy and daddy insist on carrying me through the store without my consent! The bathroom is two football fields away! Ooops. I think I pooped my pants.

I decided this is the year I would volunteer a day to help my friend Ryan at his blacklava booth at Comic-Con. Sell some Asian American gear to the inevitable droves of yellows and browns who’d be at this “Nerd Thanksgiving!” Experience the pop art convention first-hand!  The pageantry!  The freaky costumes!  The overpriced soda!  Sell product and take a few spins among the spectacle.

To say Comic-Con is “big” is missing the point.  Comic-Con is the clown-car of “big.” If Comic-Con was a brightly-colored VW bug with daisies and happy faces on the doors, each vendor and artist would be a floppy-footed clown unreasonably stuffed inside – just way too much colorful delightfulness to squeeze into one place…it almost becomes sad…the way most clowns leave people feeling.

My CreativeLife Companion in Crime with the Goal-Setting Handout

My CreativeLife Companion in Crime with the Goal-Setting Handout

Goal-Setting for Creative Types Workshop

A highlight of the day was the workshop my friend and I attended called “Goal-Setting for Creative Types” given by the self-described “Tony Robbins of Geeks,” Douglas Neff.

Yeah. I could’ve spent that same timeslot at the Twilight workshop, ogling the very mortal incarnation of the vampires.  But nay.  I’m on a mission to live MY creative life…not the creative life of half-skilled, porcelain-skinned actors.

Neff’s workshop was concise and understandable.  He used great Comic-Con friendly examples to explain the “Ten Magic Coins to Collect on Your Path to Success”  (Lord of the Rings and comic book references galore).  He opened by asking who in the room wanted to eventually be on the OTHER side of the workshop table presenting at Comic-Con.  Nearly everyone raised their hand.  All those creative aspirations in just that one big room! Boggles the mind!  There are some really great details in his materials.  But an overview is just as interesting. Here’s the skinny from Douglas Neff of Toucan Learning Systems (

  1. There is no magic.
  2. Make it specific.
  3. Make it measurable.
  4. Make it attainable.
  5. Get some help. (Coach.  Cheerleader. Scorekeeper [what I’d like to call Quality Control])
  6. One step at a time.
  7. Play to your strengths.
  8. Do your homework.
  9. Know your Nemesis.
  10. Never ever ever give up.
Douglas Neff: Goal-Setting for Creatives presenter at Comic-Con 2011

Douglas Neff: Goal-Setting for Creatives presenter at Comic-Con 2011

What I appreciate about Neff’s list is that it goes beyond the typical SMART goals (Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, TimeBound).   Creatives are often operating without much structure. Neff’s list go beyond SMARTly-considered goals to identify other important factors we need to set us up for success.

One such factor for success is the need to get appropriate help.  He broke “help” down into three roles: Coach, Cheerleader, and Scorekeeper.  Each role should be done by separate people.  The Coach holds you accountable to the work.  The Cheerleader is supportive, positive and encouraging.  And the Scorekeeper is in charge of quality control feedback on the content itself.  I like it!  I’ll use it.

Another key idea: you must produce results.  That was really the overall framework above and beyond the 10 items on the list.  You need 1) Talent, 2) Craft, and 3) Results.  The ability to consistently produce good to great work requires an ethic of practicing the craft.  It requires getting sh*t done.  Making the stuff.  And Neff emphasized making these goals do-able.  Hearing this talk really gelled in my brain what I need to do to get my “results”-driven creativity going.  Here it is.  I shall declare it to the internet-world:

  • I will write 5, 8-minute comedic monologues.
  • I will create 3 versions of my Asian American teen book idea. They’ll be short little zines.

There.  Take that, Results!

She-Ra: Princess of Power! She lives! And she lives…IN ME.

He-Man and She-Ra at Comic-Con 2011

"by the power of greyskull!" I used to think I was She-Ra.

She-Ra: Princess of Power.  She always looked flawless.  She kicked ass. And never sullied her perfectly flirty white skirt.  It doesn’t hurt that she has super human strength and a cool winged unicorn, Swift Wind.

She-Ra was in the flesh at Comic-Con! I had to take a picture of her, in front of the larger than life He-Man statue.  I watched both shows religiously as a kid, one of the many cartoons that helped this little immigrant girl from Taiwan learn English! I used to tell the exact time to my mom while she was in the kitchen strictly by knowing where the cartoons were in their story arc and commercial breaks.  Yes. It was a sickness.

Penny from Inspector Gadget

She was smart and crafty! And Penny rhymes with Jenny. 🙂

This reminded me of the other great cartoon role models that I had as a child.  My female role models growing up were mostly blondes.  And mostly cartoon characters (I have since attempted to de-colonize my mind).  In addition to She-Ra, I loved Penny from Inspector Gadget and Jem. Jem was just fashionable and fun.  She inspired me to wear black capri leggings underneath a flouncy short skirt to school in the 4th grade.

I loved Penny’s intelligence and craftiness. She was so courageous and righteous!  Always willing to get to the bottom of the wrong-doings and solving the crimes for Inspector Gadget while, ergh, protecting the Inspector’s ego by not letting him know she was behind it all.  I also really really wanted a little compu-book like she had.

blacklava booth at Comic-Con 2011

Thanks to Ryan Suda of blacklava for letting us help out with the booth!

Oh. And Hi to Lonnie Millsap (Rollyhead Publishing) and Friend at Keith Knight‘s booth (K-Chronicles and (th)ink) at Comic-Con! Was great to meet you all! (Lonnie has a book launch in Venice, CA this Saturday night! It’s called “I Hate My Job!” Ha! You had me at hello, book title!)

Lonnie Millsap at Keith Knight booth at Comic-Con!

Lonnie Millsap at Keith Knight booth at Comic-Con!


Written while listening to Little Dragon’s “Ritual Union” and the rest of the album.

Also David Banner & Ninth Wonder’s “Death of a Pop Star” album (Diamonds on My Pinky)

I tried suicide but the gun wasn’t working… bang It’s the same damn thing Boys clubs hoes while they building PF Changs
Look at ya pinky ring if your souls on it mane Yeah we really ballin dead souls on the hand
But i’m from Mississippi where you let ya nuts hang
And the white folks let my ancestors do the same


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4 responses to “Report from a Comic-Con Virgin: Goal-Setting for Creatives+She-Ra! [San Diego Comic Con 2011]”

  1. inspiredbysandy says :

    Just another one of our Sandy-Jenny adventures in our lifelong quest for creative living. You rock, Jenny, and I’m so happy I could experience my first Comic Con with you. 🙂

  2. BRAD DUNN says :

    Good article. I am looking for remedial technical services for my firm in PA. I heard about Field and Technical Services there. Do you have any idea about them? Pls let me know.

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