On August 8, 2013, I launched bulletjournal.com, with a tutorial video and step-by-step instructions. For the first few days – nothing. As expected. I remember being thrilled when I passed 100 visitors to the site.
One day I was casually checking traffic and I noticed what I thought was a bug. It wasn’t. I was getting thousands of views.. that day! I had been featured on Lifehack.org. Then a few days later on Lifehacker.com, then FastCo. My little website had gone viral.
Soon, the first tutorial video was getting hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Bullet Journal communities sprung up to share their customizations. I started getting interviewed on podcasts. One particularly fortuitous interview was with the Pen Addict podcast hosted by the wonderful Myke Hurley and Brad Dowdy. They introduced me to a notebook made by a company called Leuchtturm1917.
For a year I looked on in disbelief as the Bullet Journal became more popular. Blogs dedicated to the Bullet Journal starting popping up. Forums appeared all over. They were sharing so much valuable information and helping each other in very meaningful ways.
Unfortunately a lot of it was getting lost online. So, in September of 2014 I launched a Kickstarter to raise the funds to build a new website to curate the best of what the community was sharing.
By this time I was a Leuchtturm notebook convert, and I thought that a special edition would make a wonderful reward for Kickstarter backers. I reached out to the folks at Leuchtturm to see what could be done. We agreed to create a limited edition designed from the ground up for Bullet Journaling.
So, I launched the campaign for $10,000 to build the new site. Then two unexpected things happened. First, I met the funding goal in 8 hours! Secondly, when all the notebooks sold out, people got…upset. Like, a lot upset. It quickly became clear that the notebook was just as interesting to the community as the new site. I went back to Leuchtturm and we decided to partner together.
In September the new website launched with all new tutorials, content, and a fresh new batch of notebooks. Along with the new website, the Bulletjournalist blog was unveiled to feature community content! It meant the world to me, as it ushered in new voices that could speak to things I simply can’t.
My ADHD often left me feeling like my mind was unfit for traditional education systems. Imagine my surprise then when I received an email from Yale University to give a TEDx talk!
It was a terrifying honor that forced me to confront a host of longstanding insecurities and fears, especially one: to publicly share my beliefs about something I deeply cared about.
So far I'd been focusing on what we do, and how we can do better. Though important, I think they pale in comparison to the Why. Why do we do what we do? How do we live an intentional life?
I'd been quietly answering these questions for community members for years. This talk was the turning point where The Why became the main focus. It made it clear that this is what I want to talk about, what I wanted to write about... It kicked off a series of events that would change my life.
The TEDx talk forced me to deeply consider how intentionally I was actually living. Even though it had been five years since I had launched Bulletjournal.com, I was still working a demanding —and very rewarding— job at a digital design agency in New York City. Working what was becoming two full-time jobs was not serving my employers, my community, or myself.
I had just successfully pitched one of the biggest tech companies in the world a multimillion dollar deal- a real high point of my design career. Waiting for my plane home, I received a message from a community member letting me know how Bullet Journaling had saved her child's life. In that moment, the choice was made: I would go Bullet Journal full time, the question was how.
I went on to find a wonderful literary agent Jon Mass with Park Fine and with their incredible support I signed a book deal. The next three years of my life were spent writing, designing, and promoting The Bullet Journal Method.
Though Bulletjournal.com highlighted a lot of wonderful community content, it's not a community platform. The platforms where Bullet Journal communities connected were increasingly subjected to the whims of algorithms, clickbait, bots, spam, trolls, and a lot of misinformation.
I wanted to create an intentional social network, a home dedicated to the communal practice of the Bullet Journal Method where we could learn, share, and explore what it means to live an intentional life together. With this in mind, I set out to create Bujo U, our membership site.
It was a massive undertaking that I couldn't do on my own. I finally got the excuse to hire the incredible Jessica Chung, a longstanding Bullet Journalist and professional leadership educator to run Bujo U. The team began to grow...
In the years since the Kickstarter, the community grew exponentially. With that in mind, I took a lot of feedback from the community to create an even better notebook for the modern Bullet Journalist. The result was the Edition 2,which featured a brand new sustainably-sourced paper that suited both minimal and artistic Bullet Journalists.
If you're interested in seeing me geek out about its design and many features, you can read this article here.
One of the most common questions that I got (and still do) was "How do I learn how to Bullet Journal?" Though there is a lot of free content out there, there was no comprehensive, completely accurate learning experience.
As someone who struggled with formal education, I wanted to create a course that addressed my own challenges from back in the day. It would have to be highly visual and have bite-sized lessons to walk me through step by step, while making it very clear why each step mattered.
It turns out it's not easy. It took me two false starts and three years to finally put together Bullet Journal: Basics & Beyond, a fully self-paced online learning experience that covered the essential lessons about Bullet Journaling. After teaching and talking about the Method over the last several years, I also got to update my language, tools, and frameworks around explaining Bujo in this course.
It's really hard to believe that this little side hustle went on to completely change my entire life. Now I get to work with a team of loving and extremely capable Bullet Journalists.
This year we had our first team retreat! This little project may have been a business for a long time, but this year it finally turned into a real company.
There's an African saying that says if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others. There are others now, and they breathe new life and possibility into this work.
I feel like we're just getting started, and I could not be more grateful to be able to do this every day. Except for logistics days. I will always hate them.
Learning is one of our core values. We think that it's one of the most powerful ways to take advantage of the limited time we have on this earth. We also think it's something best done together.
With that in mind, we're working some new educational experiences! They will offer participants an opportunity to use the Bujo practice to author the life they want. They are very much works in progress so it's much too early to share any details or dates. If this interests you... please signup for our newsletter below to be notified when we're ready to say more.