jazz lover, expat New Yorker, Lego-ing parent, Cornell alum, black belt in silly behavior, green curry (medium) addict
dinners, conferences, talks, concerts, day trips, classes, parties, mastermind groups, book clubs, group vacations
friendships, business alliances, romances, mentorships, volunteer collaborations, hysterical laughter partnerships
folks I call
warm, funny, bright, sincere, giving, empathetic, open, genuine, compatible souls who are too rare to gather naturally
What folks say.
“The best lunch date of my life. We were there for two and a half hours, but could easily have stayed for five.”
“I continue to love what you’re doing. Great ideas.”
“The moment Tina walked in I knew we were going to have fun. Our conversation was rich and the time flew by.”
“If an eagle and a tiger had a human baby that was then raised by ninjas, it would be Ted.”
“Ted is extraordinary at what he does, and he’s a man of his word.”
“It was a wonderful time and a really great meal.”
“I had a very enjoyable lunch with Seth [Godin] yesterday — a smart and likable guy. There are degrees of kindredness (as well as of heresy). But we do seem to share a fair amount. Thanks for matching us.”
“It was such a great experience that I’m wracking my brain for other problems in my business that Ted could solve with a thoughtful connection.”
“I wanted to thank you again for the past weekend’s amazing fun and incredible opportunity to have an exchange of notions with Anil [Dash]. I feel even richer for the ideas & starting-places that have come out of the whole thing!”
“You know how it seems like everyone has a personal trainer, now? I believe Ted is the progenitor of a new kind of empathy-based collective problem solving that everyone will take for granted some day.”
“Sugarmaples is a collection of passionate, ambitious, big-hearted visionaries, and Ted is the Master Cultivator.”
“I have to say, you are very good at what you do. The timing was perfect and with one introduction you’ve enabled a ton of fruitful connections (which in the long run, might actually help save lives) in the span of a few days.”
What happens when Sugarmaples gather.
Sugarmaples. We all know one or two of these amazing folks. But we rarely see them gather in groups; Sugarmaples are simply too rare and the planet is simply too big.
A group of Sugarmaples is like a delicious Lasagna. Someone who knows what they’re doin’ has to assemble it. Over the last twenty-five years, I seem to have become that person.
Below is a short film that will give you a good sense of what it’s like when a group of Sugarmaples is assembled together in a very specific physical place for a very specific purpose. The film is about my Sugarmaples problem-solving conference (called a ‘Meddle’) which I held last year at a 15th-Century manor house in the English Cotswolds.
How I define a Sugarmaple.
They are …
This is the first thing people notice when they meet a Sugarmaple. They are very personal people. Hugs over handshakes, always. Kids adore them.
Sugarmaples think of laughter as fuel for living. They notice, appreciate, and get a kick out of reflecting on the ironies and absurdities of life.
Sugarmaples are quick. Quick, quick.
Sugarmaples are artifice- and pretension-free. They feel a very strong obligation to answer questions truthfully. WYSIWYG.
Sugarmaples give without worrying about whether it will be reciprocated. Life has a way of working out.
A Sugarmaple’s natural reaction to another’s distress is empathy. They are wonderful listeners. They resist offering advice unless pressed for it.
Sugarmaples are entirely comfortable answering “I don’t know.” It isn’t seen as a weakness.
“What we have learned is like a handful of Earth. What we have yet to learn is like the whole World.” ~ Avvaiyar
Sugarmaples spend their time doing the thing they were born to do (or they’re fighting to). A pursuit doesn’t need to hurt to be worthwhile.
“It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities and talents.” ~Eric Hoffer
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
I can introduce any two Sugarmaples – no matter how their interests, histories, or cultural backgrounds may otherwise differ – and they will hit it off.
I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years and it’s still amazing to me the way Sugarmaples take to one another so readily.
The very unusual way I run
and charge for gatherings.
Gatherings are designed specifically for Sugarmaples and are by-invitation-only. Each gathering has a set price, but attendees pay nothing in advance.
The day after the gathering, I send out an email to all who came with a ‘pay’ button. If you had a wonderful time, you click the button and pay. If you didn’t, you pay nothing. Doing things this way keeps me on my toes.
To find out more about this approach to business, read my Pudding Manifesto.
A bit more about my background.
A few years ago I realized I was more passionate about my hobby of making connections than I was about my ‘official’ work. So now, this is what I do.
When I was about eight years old, I found Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s first duet album, Ella and Louis (Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, and Herb Ellis), tucked between Dinah Washington and Mel Tormé on my father’s shelves of records. That was the moment I first realized what can happen when two or more Sugarmaples gather in the same place at the same time.
I live and work in Denver, Colorado. I’m married to Allison, an architect. We have a second- grader, Oscar, and an enormous Newfoundland dog called Tatou.
My other passion project is Fall: In Love with Music, a music venue I’m developing for Denver.