Life Curated, Brainpickings at CultureBrain Academy in DTLA

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Last week, I attended CultureBrain Academy in downtown Los Angeles,for an intimate conversation between two friends,’s Maria Popova, and her friend (and ours!), cultural analyst, Sharon Lee. Sharon co-created Maker City LA last October, which houses the CultureBrain Academy, and has been organically fostering creative connection between people from every imaginable discipline in a “co-working” studio space on steroids (its 60,000 sq ft). More on Sharon and this culture clubhouse later.

Wall of Masters at Culture Brain Academy
Wall of Masters at CultureBrain Academy

Brainpickings has been a bookmark on my toolbar for a few years now and has become one of my go-to blogs for a healthy dose of inspiration. My Sunday mornings are usually spent scrolling through the mobile  version of the Brainpickings newsletter, a weekly interestingness digest, and ad-free blog fueled by the kindness of strangers from all over the globe (7 million readers per month). So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that Ms. Popova herself was going to be in LA at Maker City.

“I share these here not because they apply to every life and offer some sort of blueprint to existence, but in the hope that they might benefit your own journey in some small way,  bring you closer to your own center, or even simply invite you to reflect on your own sense of purpose”

Maria Popova, on why she shared Happy Birthday, Brain Pickings: Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living to commemorate on its blogiversary (seriously, you guys, is blogiversary in an actual dictionary yet? I’m scared to check…)

On Wednesday, following their trip to JPL earlier that day, these ladies took the glittery gold stage to discuss curiosity, creating and connecting among a packed crowd of Angelenos who, no doubt, wanted to pick Maria’s brain to find out what fuels her. Besides what I had assumed to be massive amounts of coffee, Maria said that if she doesn’t get enough sleep she feels that she “doesn’t have full access to her creative brain” and I couldn’t agree more!

When asked where the idea for Brainpickings was first hatched, her profound response was that she considers her blog her “personal enrichment tool” that stemmed from her desire  to integrate and immerse herself into American culture having moved to the U.S from Bulgaria to attend college. What a lovely notion, to view your daily working routine in this light. It’s nice to be reminded of why we work hard, to reset your priorities, and to pursue your passions every once in a while, don’t you agree?

Maria, an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow, is an intellectual at heart, there’s no mistaking that, but her relatability is transcendent. She has strong convictions about sponsored content and native advertising (she abhors it so don’t pitch that suggestion, trust me) and believes that the process of writing is learning how to think. I was so entranced by the conversation and taken by Maria’s honesty and passion for self-improvement I was inspired to purchase some of the collaborative art pieces she created with Holstee for the Radix office.

The first, a beautiful letterpress print of the Holstee Manifesto that reminds us to constantly share our passion with others and the second, a visual mobile commemorating 7 life learnings from her journey curating  the rabbit hole of curiosity that is The design was inspired by a mid-century modern children’s book illustration, also a daily reminder to infuse more play into our work environments, something for which Nicole and I are huge champions of.

Holstee Manifesto Poster
Holstee Manifesto Poster

For those who aren’t familiar with MakerCity LA, get with the program. No, seriously, check their calendar or sign up for the CultureBrain newsletter and as Steve Brule would say, Check it out! Its a left brain, right brain friendly and fosters a “ Culture of generosity that encourages sharing knowledge, experimentation and cross-pollination” what’s not to love? 

We believe that certain places are hotbeds of creativity and beauty. Bustling cities, dynamic coral reefs, and vibrant plazas are a few examples. These hotbeds are overflowing with diversity and a bit of chaos, but they provide a magical energy that fuels wild thoughts and big dreams. 

— From the Maker City LA website.

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