I’m copying it here for posterity.
My team jokes that the bigger the event, the longer the Dan email. This one’s a whopper.
Let me save you the trouble of reading.
- We’re OK.
- I’m posting some stuff in Free Laser Designs you might like. It’s labeled with #homemade. I’d love it if you joined me in sharing what you made, too.
- We’re working from home to make you proud to be a Glowforge owner.
- Join me here at 10am PT on Sunday to hang out. I’ll answer questions. My kids may photobomb. It would be great to see you, because home is better with friends.
- Our company is strong, sales continue to be wonderful, and we’re going to be here for you for a long time to come.
There. You can skip the rest.
(I sent this because you bought a Glowforge from us. I send these very rarely. If you’ve heard enough from me, I don’t blame you: the unsubscribe link is at the bottom.)
A box full of dreams
Five years ago, FedEx forklifted a 485 pound wooden crate in my garage. It was an industrial carbon dioxide cutting laser, imported directly from a factory in China. I was excited. My wife was… patient.
I was not prepared for how big it would be.
I spent three months working from home, creating a business from scratch around a board game I invented. I used that laser every day, and grew to love and hate it. It was magical at its heart, but boy, it was hard to get to the magic.
Then one day, my twins cornered me and gave me a very stern, “we have to talk right now” look.
“Daddy. Why can’t we print ourselves iPads?”
I realized that, by having this creative technology in our home, we’d accidentally created something very special. Something very old, but something we’ve been missing for many years.
We created a household where kids expect to make things, not buy them.
I invented Glowforge with the dream that, one day, every home would be like our home.
Back to the present day, and our home is on lockdown.
Making things as a family, for our family, is more meaningful than ever.
I was just on a call with the whole Glowforge leadership team discussing COVID-19. We’re talking about our future. We’re talking about the livelihoods of more than 80 employees – plus hundreds that work in our factory, suppliers, and more. It’s scary, but the signs are good. We can make this work.
We are going to build, so that you can build.
But the only reason our company is strong is because of you. From the very beginning, we’ve been overwhelmed by the support of this community. You’ve helped us create something magical, and now we’re able to keep that magic alive, even when the workplace becomes a tough place to work.
We know this is possible because people believe that there’s a future for them at home. Creating at home, starting a business from home, providing for their families from home.
Our company has a strong future because of, and only because of, your belief in us. Because of our shared vision for the future.
I was explaining this passionately in that meeting, when one executive on our team pointed at her camera. “Hey Dan,” she said, grinning. “There’s someone behind you.”
My now-11-year-old daughter was standing in the corner of the camera, in full view of the entire leadership team except me, waiting patiently.
“Dad, is the potty pass done printing yet?” She smiled sweetly.
That was a heck of a mic drop on a conference call.
The potty pass was news to me, but I appreciate that she’s finding “creative” ways to solve a dispute with her brother. I’m not sure what the backstory on this is yet, but I’m sure I’ll find out.
When we launched our company, that was a phrase I used a lot. “Reinventing homemade.”
People asked me if I meant “handmade”, because “homemade” is usually for food. But I disagree.
What does it mean for something to be homemade? Homemade means higher quality. Homemade costs less. Homemade is exactly the way you want it. Homemade is personal. Homemade is self-sufficient. Homemade is practical. Homemade is special.
For all of human history, we humans made our own food. Everything was homemade. They were our ingredients, our recipes, and they were for our families. Even now, no two grandparents make the same soup.
But then in the 50s, everyone was somehow brainwashed to believe that TV dinners were the ultimate fine dining. Mass-produced for the masses with limited variation and questionable nutrition. Consumers bought in and ate it up. Serious, thoughtful people speculated that all food should be made in factories.
They were wrong.
And it’s not just about cooking. Until just a few hundred years ago, if you wanted something, you made it yourself. Furniture, clothes, art – they were all made by you or people you knew, in your own home, or in theirs.
Factories came and took that creation away from us. They convinced us that things should be made half a world away and shipped on boats across the oceans to be housed in warehouses and ordered by the millions. The factories call this efficiency. They’re wrong too.
Homemade means things created where they’re needed, when they’re needed, for the purpose they’re needed, by the people who need them. When creation is delegated across the oceans, we all lose something important. Homemade is better.
A home that can’t make things is like a home without a kitchen. Exporting our ability to create, delegating to others the magic of making, meant giving away a piece of our birthright. Humanity is defined by our ability to create tools. Without that, something fundamental to our human nature is missing.
We have a chance to bring it back, together, right now.
If you walk through my house…
You’ll see the results of that belief.
All of our favorite things are on display, and we made them ourselves. Our lamps, our toys, our sea monkey tanks. (The sea monkeys are… between generations right now. But that’s not the fault of the tanks.) When we want something, we don’t have to go to Amazon - we look to ourselves, and our own creativity.
Right now, I’m trying to do what every parent used to do: raise children who make things, instead of buying them.
But what do we make of the world right now?
The world changes. Sometimes in ways that make our lives easier, and sometimes in ways that make our lives harder.
Today, I can see something going on outside that’s making life harder. A lot harder. When that happens, I look for ways to make things easier.
I want to make things easier for my kids, easier for my friends, easier for my community. And ultimately, easier for everyone.
We’re all in this together.
Here’s an example:
Schools are closed because of COVID-19. But we won’t let that stop our kids’ education.
I called on a bunch of friends and family to teach each other classes. It takes a (virtual) village to educate a child. My brother Ari, the host of NPR’s All Things Considered, offered to teach them current events. That was easy.
Then I thought - what if I could share that with all of you, so your kids could learn too? Then it would be easier for everyone. Together we’re launching shapiroschool.org. Go ahead and subscribe if you’d like to learn alongside us! There are some amazing teachers who love to share.
We’re all learners.
But you don’t have to be a master to make something magical.
We can all make something that means something to us. Our forum is full of things that are beautiful because of what they mean. Beautiful because of what they represent. Beautiful because of what they are.
OK, and many of them are just regular beautiful, too.
But that’s not all of us, and it doesn’t have to be. I’m no designer, but I can make a design. Will you join me?
Let’s all make something at home, together.
When I’m at home, I print something new. Lots of those things aren’t very interesting to anyone besides my family, like my family’s names on an 18th-century papercut design, or a webcam stand that fits my monitor and webcam precisely.
You understand. You know the value of creating, and creating things that matter to you.
If you’ve got your Glowforge with you at home - I’ve posted a few things you might enjoy here, on our Free Laser Designs section of the forum, and I hope you’ll join me in doing the same. Just put #homemade in the title, and together we’ll share some stuff we made at home. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I just engraved the WHO handwashing guidelines on a piece of plywood for our kitchen - I’ll put that in there too. Together, we’ll share what we make.
One last thing.
To keep each other safe and healthy, we’re all kind of cooped up right now. It’s incredibly important, but it’s still hard for me to be separated from so many people I care about, and from so many places that are special to me.
That’s where you come in. Every day I see what you made. Every meeting, every review, every work crisis, every hour - it’s so that you can make the things you do.
That’s why I’m so profoundly grateful for the community of makers using Glowforge. The things you make in your home inspire us, no matter where we are.
I feel so lucky that during this time of physical isolation, we have each other for inspiration.
So let’s hang out.
When: Mar 22, 2020 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Glowforge customer hangout
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +16699006833,998103979# or +13462487799,998103979#
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 929 436 2866 or +1 253 215 8782
Webinar ID: 998 103 979
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/atlKVjm1e
I have no idea if this is going to work, because I’m just going to be livestreaming from my house while my kids are on a Skype call doing remote sunday school. Maybe they will drop in and say hello. But I’ll be there, and if you would like to join me, it’d mean a lot.
I can’t wait to see what you make next!