My next guest is Steve Hermosillo. He leads a yearly pilgrimage of 60 revelers to Burning Man where their theme camp, I'm OK, You're OK Corral, erects a saloon that slings drinks, live music, guest DJs, and a bevy of shenanigans. It's their collective gift to the community and 2022's event marked the camp's 19th year bringing their camp to Black Rock City.
We talked about:
(2:29) (5:33) How do you describe Burning Man to others?
(16:32) What were some transformations you witnessed?
(18:52) What is the Man?
(25:19) How to design a camp that lasts?
(29:02) What's great real estate placement in Burning Man?
(32:32) Tell us the importance of cultivating relationships with your neighboring camps
(38:41) Tell us about your invitation process
(50:15) What rules do you have to ensure fairness in the camp?
(55:37) Why did you pick 60 as the optimal size for your camp?
(61:21) How do you give people the right jobs so they can grow and succeed?
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[00:00:00] CK: My next guest is a co-founder of AVO and he is also a fearless leader of a burning man theme camp.
I'm okay. At urk corral, that's been around for the last 19 years. Please. Welcome Steve hermal hermosillo yeah thank you. Thank you so much for being here, Steve.
[00:00:20] Steve: That's my pleasure. I'm excited to be here. Absolutely.
My pleasure. So 19 years, that's quite an accomplishment.
Yeah, yeah. It's uh, I don't really think about it in those terms, but then when people ask I'm like, oh yeah, well, I mean, our first camp was, was oh one and, uh, The first time I went to Burning Man was 2000.
And, uh, it it's amazing that we even came back because that year in particular, um, it rained for four days straight. So the, it, uh, I know that you've been to the event. Uh, was this your first year? This year? No, this is my third. Oh, [00:01:00] your third. Okay, cool. Nice. And, um, when rain gets introduced out there, it, it completely shuts the entire city down.
Yeah. So we were, the dust
[00:01:08] CK: turns into mud, right?
[00:01:10] Steve: It turns into mud and you can't roll a bicycle on it. You can't walk on it, you can't drive on it. It's just, you're just screwed and, uh, so it shut, shut the whole city down for four days straight. And then it finally led up on Saturday, the night of the burn.
Wow. And that was a, a, a, a, you know, an eye opening experie. and, uh, and then it inspired, inspired myself and a few others to, um, want to bring something back. You know, my wife and I were in an RV pulling out in the year 2000 and we were looking out the back window and I said to her, you know, I don't think I could ever come back here and not want to be a part of this community.
You know, all we did, uh, all we did that year was take, we were takers. We were, uh, [00:02:00] you know, we were, uh, not participants and, you know, go going into it. I, I didn't, I had no expectations. And so oftentimes when you have no expectations and then people are just gifting you things and showing you things and, and there's a different spirit that comes out in people out there.
Um, it was very, uh, inspiring. It changed like how I would want to interact with people with humans. How, how
[00:02:28] CK: would you articulate? How would you articulate that different spirit that you just, just talked
[00:02:32] Steve: about? Yeah. You know, like, I'll, I'll tell you I had a, a weird experience, so, and, and it's experience that's repeated year, year after year is, uh, my very first year, you know, the greeters they come in and they invade your space and, and they're, you know, the people, my first year were like clowns and they were all dressed up with makeup and they were like, welcome home.
And they gave me this big hug and I was like, okay, this, this is already challenging. [00:03:00] Uh, my, uh, my personal space or, you know, just the way they were communicating, I felt it was a little bit hippyish and like, you know, uh, that, you know, they're welcome home brother. And, you know, I was like, okay. Yeah, sure.
And they have you ring the bell and you do the best bunnies and all that stuff. And, uh, and then it was, you know, we experienced the event. Uh, you know, had, had, had, had to help some people cuz their, it was 80 mile an hour winds and their, their tent got blown away. And so we had to like take them into our, you know, rig and feed them and, and uh, uh, let them sleep in our RV.
We already had five people in the RV and now we had, I think, three more. So there was eight of us. Wow. And, uh, and anyway, it was, uh, it was an experience, but the next year that I came back, I was so looking forward to that welcome Mo . I was like, oh right, yeah, yeah, yeah. Welcome home. [00:04:00] Yeah. Right. And it just changed my perception of it and, and how you would, uh, integrate into community that is truly, uh, you know, money's forbidden and, and uh, you know, it's a gifting society and you got your 10 principles and all that stuff and you know, you really start to like go, wow, this is a different, um, way of communi.
[00:04:25] CK: So for someone who has never been mm-hmm , I'll actually use the younger CK as an example. Okay. So I never been to Burning Man three years ago, or actually 2017 was my first year. Right. And then before 2017, I would think like, oh, okay, Burning Man massive party in the desert. And that's it. That's the extent of it.
Yeah. That was my understanding of it. Cuz I'd never been. And I don't understand, I didn't compute in my mind. Why would, yeah. You want to do a massive party in the middle of a [00:05:00] desert in the heat with no shower, no power. Right, right. And obviously I am now a convert mm-hmm right now evangelizing for burning man.
Sure, sure. It's a, it's a different experience. So if you don't mind going into paint a picture for people who's never been who just imagine it to be. Party a festival, right? Yeah. Festival, uh, Coachella esque, right? Sure. What would you say to them? Well, that's, that's not really it. How do you describe a burning man?
What's burning meant to you?
[00:05:35] Steve: I think that, um, it can be interpreted, interpreted in so many different ways. Um, so let's take this event, that's in the middle of the desert. There's no resources. Uh you're, you know, you're exposed to the elements. You've got severe cold, severe heat, wind dust. Um, [00:06:00] you know, the, the, the best way I can put that is it's a giant asshole filter.
And so think about that. Okay. So think about if the event were held in golden gate park. Well, that would be a disaster because it would, then the cities would be involved and of course, there's. Issues with BLM and police and all that stuff at burning man too. But, but you'd have this really reg regulated event.
Um, it would be very accessible. Um, you know, it, it, it, uh, people would stay in hotels. So then there breaks the communal part of it. Um, there's just so many barriers to entry of what it, it, the further you bring it out and push it into this remote area that is really not hospitable in any way, shape or form, that sets up a platform for people that really want to be there that truly get it.
[00:07:00] And they want to go out there and they want to participate and they want to see art and they wanna, you know, they want to dance in a theme camp. They want to go have a, a beer with, in a camp like our. Or they wanna ride an art car or they want to go meditate. Um, a lot of art camp mates are super into, uh, yoga.
So they hit the yoga camps in the mornings and, and do all that. You know, there's, there's something for everyone out there. And, you know, there's even a kids bill where, you know, kids run around in this centralized section. I've only been there once. Cause I had some friends that had kids out there and that was strange to me.
I, I don't like necessarily kids in the environment just cuz I, I think it challenges, um, a young, young mind, although I've had good experiences with young minds out there too. So I, I don't know. I'm still divided on that, but um, getting back to your core question, you were asking me to describe it. I think [00:08:00] that the event is, um, it will challenge, uh, if, if you're truly open to the experience, it will challenge, um, How you interact, you know, one of the key components of a camp, our camp is I always try to pack it with about 10% of people that have never been.
And, you know, we have our tribe version quota. Yeah. We have, I, I do keep an eye on that because that perception heightens the perception of tried and true members. I've had, I have people that have been in the camp from the very beginning, uh, people that have been with us for 15 years, 10 years, five years, but there's always that small contingency of, of folks.
And it, it, it doesn't necessarily happen by design, but I do, I do have my radar up and I do kind of shoulder tap some of my core members and go like, Hey, you know, um, what about that person? Because I met that person at a barbecue [00:09:00] six months ago, those people would be fun out there. Any, any, uh, interest, you know, you, you learn to kind of spot key.
um, indicators about the way that people already talk or already think about things and you're like that those people should be, should see this. Mm. And sometimes I go literally outta my way, you know, I'll, I'll have a friend or an associate or something and I'll literally go outta my way to be like, Hey man, I have this camp at burning man.
And I think you'd be great there. And, uh, you know, it's, it is a curation over time and, you know, I've had many of those same conversations with, uh, some of my best friends and took them out there. And, uh, yeah, you know, it, it does change their perception and it does add to, um, you know, already a deepened connection with that person.
Some of 'em aren't as deep as others, but, but you do get this sense of com community and that you're going out there, [00:10:00] um, to build something that's another big. Topic that I'm sure we'll get to in this talk, but
[00:10:07] CK: yeah. And actually, so before, uh, we talk about sponsorship effectively what you were talking about.
Mm-hmm how do you sponsor new people? Mm-hmm I wanna double click on a, a theme that you had just talked about. You, you wanna maintain 10% of people who see burning man for the first time. Yeah. And I'm recalling the conversation I had with a podcast guest in June, June. Mm-hmm he said to his people, um, show me the world through your eyes.
Mm. So for someone who's been in burning man for 19 years, it's a different experience when you can see, uh, the burning man through someone's fresh eyes for the first time. Yeah. Right? The, the, the awe that they see the blown, how much they're moved and touched by. Yeah. You know what may be normal for a 19 year veteran.
[00:11:00] right. And you get to experience that life or burning man. Yeah. Newly through that person.
[00:11:05] Steve: Totally, totally. I had a, a wonderful experience, um, this year with a young lady that, um, uh, very corporate job and, and very successful and sought this out for herself. Um, she, she was a friend of, one of my best friends and said, you know, I want to be, uh, I want to go out there and see this thing.
And, and so I said, well, you know, we, we, she happens to live close to us, my, my wife. And I said, my wife and I, and, and my bestie, Tiffany, we, uh, we said, let's go to breakfast, let's meet this girl. So we went to breakfast and we broke bread and, and I loved her right away. I was like, oh, if this girl's great, she's awesome.
And, um, but, and then I, you know, explained, Hey, you do understand it's a working camp, you know, there's, there's, uh, there's a lot of upfront work and then there's work on the back end. everything in [00:12:00] between is, is just fun. Um, and she's like, oh no, I'm down. I got it. You know, I, I, I want to go out there. I don't want to just go out there to go out there.
I want to be a part of something. I want to build something. I was like, wow, you got it. That's cool. So we go out there and, you know, we get out there, uh, the day before the event opens and we set our camp, we had a record time set. We set the entire camp in one day, which has never happened. It's usually a two day poor deal.
We had a solid crew this year. And so she busted her ass and we are we're, uh, you know, full steam ahead. And then, uh, we, we run a little saloon, the okay. Corral has a saloon in it. And so we got the, the saloon set and, you know, the ice bender and just getting it all gussied up and decorated. And then we, we start running the event.
Well, she's right there in to the whole time. And, uh, and then now we're into Monday and she's like, man, I am having the best time. And I, you know, and, and I kind of casually mentioned like, Have you, have you gone out to see the [00:13:00] art, you know, have you, have you gone out to the play? And she's like, no, I don't, I don't know what you're talking about.
And, and it just dawned on me. I'm like, no one has taken this girl out to see what's going on out there. And she had no idea that there was even a open Playa with art on it. And, and I was, I was like, okay, get on your bike. Like we, we gotta go out here and see this. And it was just fun to see it through her eyes that way, you know, it, it, it, you know, she she's, like, I had no idea.
I didn't know that this was gonna be this vast or that it was gonna be that prolific. And she truly had a transformational experiences this year. It was, it was fun to see it. I get, I get a little emotional about it because you see it through their eyes. And then, and then they come back and she's sending me messages.
Like that was, that really changed me. It was, it was really profound. And I'm like, yeah, good for you. That's why I like to have virgins in the camp. because it, you, it [00:14:00] renews even the reasons, um, that you're there, you know, that you're like, yeah, this really is exceptional. This really is unusual. And, and I've said this to other people name another moment in time, and it doesn't matter when, where the only purpose was to celebrate life and art.
And, um, uh, commerce is forbidden aside from, you know, all, all the obvious expenses that it takes to get your ass out there. But name another moment in time where something like this has happened. I don't, I don't know what that is. It could have been, it could have been 5,000 years ago or 2000 years ago, there was an event purely set up to just revel and, and people spend 6, 7, 8 months building things to go out there and wow.
Others, um, I don't know anything. That's quite like it it's, it's a very, you know, everybody wants to put that brushstroke that it's, it's [00:15:00] so corporate and Bernie man's dead and all this other garbage. And it's like, I don't know what you're seeing, but I go out there and I see wonderful pieces, um, that people really put their heart and soul into.
And it's, it's, it's kind of rude to just put paint, paint this brushstroke when you know, people truly are bringing, I mean, this year was just you, you were out there. It was absolutely stunning. It was a as a stunning event, people really brought it. Obviously everybody had a three year break from the pandemic.
So people, I mean, I, I, I don't know if I've ever seen more installations out there. And so burning man is not dead. , it's very much alive and it was just cool to see and, uh, and experience.
[00:15:44] CK: I, I love the way you articulated, what is it in very succinct words? It's a container. It's a place where, uh, life and art are celebrated and, and, and it allowed people [00:16:00] to transform themselves accordingly.
It's a self selective process to get people out there. Um, the time the, the, the gear, the preparation, the art card, whatever the thing and the bill. Oh, whatever the thing. Yeah. Right. All that. Yeah. So, so describe to me the transformation that you have witnessed in probably hundreds of people by now, right?
19 years running camp. What have you witnessed that really still, you remember still today, some of the transformation that you saw the before and also the after?
[00:16:36] Steve: Yeah. I don't know. You know, the, the first event I went to, I, I believe the population was 9,000. Um, and then it was. 11, and then it was 14 and it, it, you know, clearly it's much larger now.
I think it's approaching right around, um, 80,000. And so that's one major transformation is I've seen them, [00:17:00] uh, you know, burning men is an experiment. Um, and every year they, uh, they take what they've learned from years past and they try to improve and I've seen them kind of miss the mark, uh, and simp in, in simple ways.
1, 1, 1 of the ways that they did was, um, that I thought they missed the mark is the event was scaling up. They were going from something like 12,000 people to like 18,000 people, which was a significant jump. And so they took the city the same format, but they, they stretched it out and it was too big.
For the, for the amount of people that were there. So like just getting from two o'clock to 10 o'clock across the Playa was, uh, it was like, okay, this is gonna be a two mile bike ride. Right. And, and so, um, so that, I think they learned from that because it was, it was just too, too spread out. And the following [00:18:00] year they tightened it up and the bicycle accidents went through the roof because it was too tight.
So there's some sort of weird algorithm that they've figured out where they're like, okay, X amount of people. And, and this is our, you know, this is our footprint and this is what works like this year, I thought was a perfect balance and perfect balance of art and, you know, people getting around on their bicycles and, and art cars and all of that stuff.
I thought it was a perfect balance. I've been there, uh, where, where it's not, um, another big thing that I've seen, I is just on a more, um, emotional level is like Burning Man. Is, uh, has this non, you know, it's an effigy, so it has this nondescript, um, meaning. So it's, it can mean everything and it can mean nothing.
[00:18:52] CK: mean the man itself? Is that what you mean? The man
[00:18:54] Steve: itself? Yeah, mm-hmm and so, well, the, you know, I had a year, [00:19:00] uh, years ago, my, my mom passed in 2011. That was very emotional year for me. And so I went out there and had a very, um, different experience. It was very spiritual and I was missing her and all those things that go along with it, put a nice shrine to her.
And that was my year. And , it was, it was cool to experience, but at the same time, um, that was the reality of it, you know, and then I've had years where everything is gelling and my relationships are great and my kids are doing wonderful. and you go out there and just, you know, revel in it and truly like push into it and, and experience it.
But that's what I mean is like, it, it has this, um, meeting that changes year by year and you never know what , what you're gonna get until the months leading up to that event. And, and, you know, you, you have [00:20:00] to make space for people that are, you know, you go out to the temple and you've been out to the temple
[00:20:05] CK: and, uh, lot I'm actually interviewing the architect of the temple this year.
[00:20:09] Steve: It was such a beautiful effort this year. He knocked it outta the park mm-hmm and, uh, you know, uh, you go out there and obviously it's a very somber experience and, and, uh, you know, sometimes I go out there and I'm just like just observing and other people in their pain because I, but I know what it's like to be there, so I have to be there to empathize, but I'm not necessarily in tears.
Um, whereas, um, other times, and clearly I'm a cry baby, so. Other times I'm so exposed and I get out there and there's, I just get pulled into it. And, uh, and it might just be from something that I'm personally going through or a loss or something like that. And it, it just has a completely different meaning and, uh, yeah, it can be very, uh, heavy, but also, um, cathartic mm-hmm
[00:20:59] CK: Yeah. [00:21:00] So you are in a unique position where you are not only a participant, but you're also a curator organizer of a camp, you know? Sure. That, that designed a container for 80 plus people for the last 19 years. So I'm curious now, what is burning meant for you?
[00:21:18] Steve: Ooh, man, that I, I would look at it as our experience as the same as how burning man looks at it.
Mm. On a much smaller scale, you know, we're, we're 60 people trying to put on a theme camp mm-hmm um, and, and that, that has, um, evolved over time. So we've. We've always had a home base. Um, for years, probably 10 years. Um, the camp evolved revolved around, uh, a, uh, an art car, various art cars. And, um, that was our, our, um, donation to the community.
Was we, we, you know, we came up with one art car that we could pull. We [00:22:00] could, I think we could put about 30, 40 people on it, as big as, um, we had one art car that we could put about a hundred people on. And, um, you know, it was set up like an old, uh, uh, hoo train, a vintage choo train, and it spit fire out of the, the, the plumes and, and, uh, had a full DJ system and fold out, you know, uh, dance platforms and all that.
Lots of fun, lots of responsibility. Um, and. You know, you're dealing with, uh, uh, there's just a lot of systems that are going on around it and you have to choose your crew and everybody has to be sober and on their game and walkie talkies and the whole bit. So, you know, it's, it's kind of a, a stressful, um, experience, but that was, that was what we wanted to do at that time.
And then it, I just kind of flipped on a dime and I just didn't want to do the art car thing anymore. And, uh, myself and a couple [00:23:00] of other camp meets, um, decided we were gonna do a saloon. We, uh, my buddy Dutch drew up some plans and we kind of ebbed and flowed and changed some things. And then we, we pushed into that space and I wasn't sure how that was gonna feel like it was like, yeah, this could be fun.
And then we took it out there and man, it was a blast. It was really fun. And, and what was even funner was to see our camp rally behind that effort. And truly like, you know, they, the girls dressed like CanCan girls and the guys put on their old, tiny bartender outfits and it looked very soy and, uh, yeah, it was really cool to be in the middle of that and seeing all this creativity swirl around it.
And they're like all of this emanated from just a conversation of us just kicking this ball around and we wanted to do something that complimented the, the name of the, of the group already, which was I'm okay. You're okay. Corral. Mm. And, um, so it's just a natural segue into a saloon and, uh, you know, you, you, that's what I get [00:24:00] a kick out of these days is we put things in motion.
We curate, we pull, we pull all this effort together and you point, and then people go, what if we did it like this? Yeah. Do that. That's awesome. And what if we changed this? And we went left instead of right. I love it. Go and people start to make it their own, and all I'm doing is just pointing. This and kind of pushing it towards an end goal, but then I love it when people want to take it and make it their own and, and make it better.
Hmm. And I, I, that, that is for me, um, being at the middle of that and seeing all that creativity swirl around you, uh, is, is fantastic. That's that is one of the key reasons why I go back every year is, is just to experience that.
[00:24:44] CK: And so if I'm hearing you, right, it's a playground to co-create with your camp mates.
Yes. What new ideas, experiments that you may want to do? Yeah. So let's actually talk about that for, for a bit mm-hmm cause uh, the operations are burning man or running [00:25:00] camps, uh, in my mind is let's see the opportunity, but also the challenge mm-hmm because it's voluntary base, right? There's no,
[00:25:10] Steve: yeah. You know, no compensation.
[00:25:12] CK: compensation type of thing. Like you don't pay for things it's all voluntary basis. Yes. So. So, how do you run that operation, you know, for 19 years? I mean that in itself, again, at an accomplishment for 19 years, right? Yeah.
[00:25:28] Steve: So for years, yeah, for, for probably the first 10 years, um, I, I arranged everything myself and, and, uh, that was, you know, it, it's, it's something that I did out of joy.
And so, you know, you, you, you put as much as you can into it. That makes sense. And, uh, you know, some years the efforts are greater than others. Um, but the end goal is that, you know, you're trying to, to [00:26:00] create something that wows people, when you take it out there and as all for the who's people, who's people, by the way, um, for, uh, people that are at Bema, you know, you're, you're, you know, it's, it's a, it's an experiment in art.
It's an experiment in an experience. um, and also for the camp, you know, I, I do it really for the camp as well. I, I love the, the co creativity and all the things that I described earlier, but about 10 years into it, I met, um, this woman named Deb and Deb was highly organized. And I, I just saw that about her and I, and I said, Hey, I, you know, I shoulder tapped her.
I said, Hey, I want to, I want you to come with me out to this event. My, my wife and I were dear friends with her and we said, Hey, we want you, we wanna show you this. And so we, she came out and she was brave enough to get her butt out there. And she had a blast. She loved it. And I'm like, great, you're the mayor
So I created my, my counterpart [00:27:00] and, um, and so, um, I am, uh, a little bit more emotionally driven at times. And so if there's an obstacle in my way, um, I will tend to meet it head on and be very, um, assertive and sometimes. The perception is I'm a little Kurt and rude. And to the point she is the polar opposite.
So she is the Southern girl. She kind of has a Southern draw and she just has this sweet way about her. And, and that's the way she comes across. And, uh, and I thought, man, you would be the perfect counterbalance to me and my asshole persona that you would help to kind of smooth out any, uh, obstacles that were in our way, man, did that work.
Um, she really brought a great, um, uh, arm to the effort and she started immediately butting up to, um, some of the vendors that we rely on, [00:28:00] like the water vendors or the fuel vendors, or, um, uh, you know, even burning man itself and, and just getting us great, um, real estate. She just personalized all of those relationships and, and not only just.
Reached out to them and, and developed a relationship with them, but then was like became their friends year round. And they would like send, you know, here's the picture of my dog in Christmas, or, you know, things like that. You're like, wow, you actually created a community out of this, which is, which is something that I probably would not have done, um, is because I'm busy running, you know, companies with my partners.
And, uh, but she just had the patience and the time for that, and it, it, uh, it's helped immensely, um, on our standing within the community because, uh, you know, they, I, I believe reviewed as a really solid camp, um, cuz we keep getting invited back every year and we keep getting great real estate placement.
[00:28:59] CK: we, by the way, [00:29:00] very much speaking, speaking of mm-hmm, , what's great real estate placement. I, because people mention it and then I don't really understand what are the sort of the priorities or the hierarchy
[00:29:11] Steve: real well, it all depends on, um, What you're doing. So like, if you're a sound camp, obviously the corner of two o'clock or the corner of 10 o'clock are pretty damn good.
Right? I mean, that's, those are the pinnacle spots. Those are the hot zones. And then everything down, you know, that graduates back down a, B, C, those are all that's considered great placement if you're a sound camp. Mm. Um, if you are an interactive camp and you truly want, you know, just a, a, a, a collection of people just stopping in constantly, um, then you wanna be on the esplan, right.
Mm-hmm so you might, you know, uh, you, you, that would be considered amazing, you know, that's prime time, real estate, right? Mm. What I've learned is I like to be [00:30:00] slightly removed from the Esplanade. Um, so, uh, we got shoulder tapped about five years ago, six years ago, to be a part of this experiment that they were doing.
and the portals. So they call 'em the, the three o'clock and the nine o'clock portals mm-hmm . And as you go down three or nine, you have these stopping points. They're they're they're turn turnabouts mm-hmm . And they usually put a piece of art in the middle and, uh, and then they, they place these camps all around the portal.
So there's, there's really four, about four, four to six camps that get placed around the, the portal. And then there's another portal up the way. And I believe there's a third. I think, um, we like being in that first or second portal. And like I said, we were a part of their experiment that they were doing.
And then the portals just took off. They actually have their own little community. I belong to a Facebook group. That's just focused on our portal [00:31:00] and, um, and it's run by, you know, one of the placers and. , he goes out of his way to, to make sure that the, the camps are talking to one another on social and, you know, does any, is anybody bringing a, uh, you know, um, does anybody have an extra cooler or does, you know, people start making requests, uh, you know, tools, tools are a big thing, right?
Does anybody have a, a rotary hammer or a saw all that they can bring, we'd love to borrow it from you? Where are you guys at? So people start to, you know, interconnect that way, um, like a neighborhood type of yeah. Your neighborhood and you're sharing resources, or, you know, well, this year we were next to the post office.
We were right next door to them and we were sharing a, a fire lane and they were just really nice people. So we were going over there and say, Hey, come join us for dinner. Dinner is a big part of our, um, uh, group every, uh, every night. And so, um, Especially when you [00:32:00] look at the, the dinner crews and you can see they've got more food than we can consume.
We start going and shoulder tapping the, the neighborhood like, Hey, come, come over. We're doing, you know, COOs goose and kabobs, or we're doing it's hamburger and hot dog night or it's Italian night, whatever it is. Um, they, uh, we start to, you know, integrate with our neighbor, uh, neighbors and bring them in to, um, you know, break some bread with us.
[00:32:25] CK: love it. Like, uh, community within a community. Yeah. Yeah. Huh. Yeah. How, how important is that cultivating relationship with your neighbors and,
[00:32:38] Steve: yeah, I think what the that's, that's one of the key components to, to the event, you know, it's, it's, it comes in a variety of forms. It might just be that you're just want to, you know, meet your neighbors and break bread with them.
And, and, um, it also might be like a, a. This year, we were having major problems with our generator mm-hmm and, um, we didn't [00:33:00] realize that the generator required, uh, Def fuel it's a Des fuel additive. Mm. And, um, so I, I started looking around for large generators in our community and right across the street was a generator that was almost the same make model as ours.
So I went over there and just had a casual conversation just saying, Hey, we didn't realize this required this. Um, mainly because the generator that we'd rented for the last 10 years didn't have it. So this was obviously a huge upgrade and, um, sure enough, they have a box of, of the fluid that we needed and it kept us going for three days, we ran out again and shoulder tapped somebody else and kept us going for another couple days.
So, um, you know, it goes both ways. You know, it, of course, we'd like to reach out to our neighbors and Hey, come over, come have a drink with us, you know, be very neighborly. but then on the other hand, you're like, Hey, I'm I need something here. I, we screwed up. [00:34:00] And so, you know, it goes, it it's, uh, I think it's very, uh, important mm.
To have a community within your community. Yeah, for sure. I love
[00:34:10] CK: 19 years, you've been curating people that come to your camp. Yeah. And I know a couple of people actually, Isaac Michelle, uh, Isaac's one of my things.
Yeah. Isaac is amazing. And, uh, the founder of second live, I forgot his name. Uh, that would be Philip Rosedale. That's right. Philip great guys. Right. So. Oh, wonderful. Yeah. Yeah. So, so what, when you make your selection. Because these are first class citizens, my experience of your camp mate, so far. And how, what sort of, uh, mental models do you think about when you think, oh, okay.
This person would be great for this camp because yeah. You know, they're all about, you know, whatever.
[00:34:52] Steve: Yeah. I don't know. That's a really tough question to answer. I'll, I'll give you, you know, I think one, we've just been very [00:35:00] fortunate, um, to curate people like we have, uh, it it's it like, I, you know, it's happened over a 20 year span.
Um, the, you know, it, it, it, the thing I get a kick out of is that burning man is not a vacation for some people. It is. Um, but my, the way that I position the camp is like, Hey, this is a working camp. This is a giant pain in the a and you know, it,
[00:35:28] CK: it actually, why don't you just say more about that? Because there are different kinds of camps.
Yes, right. The kinds where you just show up, do very minimum and, you know, you have staff taking care of things for you plug and place, and then versus the working camp. Yeah. We don't describe
[00:35:42] Steve: don't participate that
[00:35:43] CK: way. Um, so for, to educate people who aren't familiar, can you talk a little bit more about the
[00:35:50] Steve: spectrum of absolutely.
Yeah, so the, the camp, um, everyone in camp has, uh, a job. And so, [00:36:00] um, you know, there, it comes in a variety of ways. Um, so we can only take X amount of people, um, with us for set. So this year we had, I believe, uh, 26 people and wait, what? So we set, what is that for? For camp set? So you're setting the camp, so, um, oh, oh bill, you come in a day or two early.
Yeah. Yeah. Um, burning man wants you to have the camp operational by Sunday, which is opening day. And, um, So we typically will show up either on a Friday or Saturday, um, logistically I couldn't get there until Saturday morning. So, um, that was, you know, that was it. It was what it was. And, um, but you, I had, you know, multiple rigs all converge in one spot.
And then we went to our, we have storage, um, in Garlock. So we went to our storage and put it in a 24 foot trailer. And then, uh, we took that caravan [00:37:00] and, and went into the event. And so we, um, that's, you know, we have about a 26 person set crew. We get there and immediately just the doors come down and you start pulling everything out.
You start mapping, we have, uh, you know, rulers and guides and, and, uh, we divide into teams. So we had this year, we had, uh, an electrical team that was setting our electrical grid so that we, we wanna run. We want to run just one generator, that powers, I think we had 15. R. So it's just so much more cost effective.
It's so much, uh, it cuts down the noise significantly. We run this really quiet diesel generator. It powers the whole camp powers, the kitchen, it powers the, the, uh, the saloon and the sound system and lighting and all that stuff. And then, um, we, uh, we had a crew that was set setting the, the, the saloon, um, there's a facade that looks like a movie set.
[00:38:00] And so that was a separate crew that was setting that. And then we had a, another crew that was setting, um, the kitchen. And so we have like a common space and kitchen that we, that we set be. It's kind of like, uh, backstage and we set it up and we light it and we decorate it. And, uh, and then, um, so we had all these crews running simultaneously and myself and another guy, Joe.
We were just walking around between each crew and lending a hand where we could, and we were blown away by how fast the camp camp set this year. Um, never set camp in one day. It's fantastic. Very cohesive group this year. What
[00:38:40] CK: would you, what would you attribute to that expediency to, is it the capabilities of the people?
Is it the chemistry? Is it just a planning? No
[00:38:49] Steve: idea. Yeah. I don't know. I don't know how I, I think also one of the biggest factors was we, um, I had set a call time that morning, Saturday morning, [00:39:00] um, to that everybody meet at six, 6:00 AM. And you, you know, usually you have, you know, people that are still in the shower or whatever, man, 6:00 AM rolled around and we had, we had, we had our group, I was blown away.
People were prepared and ready. They had their gloves up. Let's go. And so we all caravan out to the, the storage. Everybody was there on the same time. We got everything into the out of storage and into our transport trailers got on Playa that, you know, getting through the greeters is about two, three hour experience.
And, and then we get to camp and everybody's showing up at the same time and boom we're off and running. I think just getting up early that early and just getting out there. I think that was, it was typically we probably roll in to, to camp around four or five and you know, it, it, you get about a half day in and then it spills over to the next day.
Pretty much take that whole day. Um, the one [00:40:00] thing we did differently this year, uh, than most is we did have crews that were running independently and, uh, usually we kind of do it all in this kind of, um, we just kind of do it all at once, but no one's really leading. And so this year we kind of went, okay, you're leading this and we had some conversations beforehand.
You're gonna lead this. You're gonna lead this. So I think that was a, a big differentiators that the, the people kind of knew where they were gonna land. Um, and then as people trickle in that, you know, cuz we have about a 60 person camp. So half the camp shows up after set and they trickle in on Sunday and Monday and uh, but then we put 'em to work immediately.
So it's either, you know, um, well the dinner crews are are so we run dinners. Um, uh, I've never seen a camp do it like we do, but this is how we do it. Um, so, uh, dinners start on Sunday and they serve [00:41:00] Sunday through Saturday and um, we're we divide into teams of about eight and so we assign them a theme and, and they can take over the theme.
They, they can control it. So we, we had an assignment on one group and they were like, yeah, we don't wanna do that. We wanna do a Tiki night. And I was like Tiki night. Yeah. Do the Tiki night. So, so they took over their theme and um, they go out and they buy decorations. They, they, um, they prepare everything with top shelf ingredients.
So we, we that's our one criteria is you, you only have to prepare a dinner one time, so make it count. So the teams go way out. They get a playlist together that we play over our sound system, they get decorations. Um, they prepare special drinks. Uh, the food is amazing. Absolutely amazing. And that's one part of curating.
The, the meal teams is you have to make sure that the meal leads can cook. [00:42:00] So, so that they get everybody in line. Right. And, uh, and you know, you end up having, uh, the, the, while you end up eating great out there. That's one part of it. But the reason that we do it is it, it forces the entire camp to reconnect.
The entire camp comes back in the evening. You know, this person got up early and went to the temple and this person went and saw art. And these guys went and danced at some day club and on and on they're, everyone's having these experiences. There's no way for 60 people to just have the same experience altogether, but they do have the same experience in the evenings.
And we typically serve around seven, seven to eight. And, um, it's just a way for everybody to just kind of reconnect, have a, have a nice meal. What did you guys do today? That team gets praised because they always bring it. So they, they, um, we usually have a, uh, little clapping ceremony for them and everybody greatly appreciates it, but they, [00:43:00] they plan, they cook, they prepare, uh, they serve and then they clean up.
So it's a, it's a six hour ordeal. Mm. And you know, that's a, it's kind of a pain in the ass and some people don't get it like a, this year. We had a couple of versions that just absolutely did not get it. And then they had the experience and they went, I got it now. Like that was awesome. I'm so glad that you forced me into that.
I'm like, cool. Then you got it. Cool. But, um, and then the, and then the next day the ne the next team comes in and they take all, you know, they, it it's a clean slate. So then they put up all their decorations and they get their playlist cued up and they're, you know, there's true excitement. They want, they wanna, it, it, it becomes a bit of a competition where people like, oh yeah, we'll check this out.
And so they, you know, they go all out. It's fun. It's really cool. I like it.
[00:43:50] CK: That's really cool. There's something about share hardship that really deepens bonds, uh, explain. Yeah. So, so [00:44:00] one of the things that I've experienced is, you know, I hear people. especially versions who come and say, oh, I don't want to do, you know, menial stuff task.
Yeah. Yes. And I wanna be put to shifts, you know, I wanna enjoy my burn. I, I understand where they're coming from at the same time. Part of the burning man, ethos is you do the work, share the workload together. Yeah. And, and, and in the share hardship, the adversity, the shift, the time invested, the heat, then those that you work with, you get to deepen the bonds together even more.
[00:44:37] Steve: Totally. Yeah. That's, that's a great perception. Um, and one that probably people don't necessarily walk away with, if they're not in a theme camp, because this year was ex extremely harsh, you know, we had, we were battling heat. I got heat stroke. Mm-hmm um, one of the, one of the days, cuz we were, we had music, uh, live instruments [00:45:00] going.
So I was playing with the sun beating down on me. Did an hour set and then, and then took a break and went and cooled down and did another hour set, took a break, cooled down, then did another hour set. Now I'm like really starting to feel it and then started cooking. And I was on the, on the meal team that night and I got halfway through it.
I was like, uh, I'm either gonna have to go to the med tent or I'm gonna have to sit under an air conditioner mm-hmm cause uh, my body was shutting down. But, um, getting back to your shared, uh, I could not agree more. Um, there is, we had this happen this year, where there were, uh, several people that didn't understand the whole working camp.
Uh, thing, one thing that I do is we start talking about burning, man. I don't. So the, the event's over and I don't talk about, I will not talk about it until February. [00:46:00] So people, you know, uh, Start, you know, sending messages in November, October, uh, December, January. I'm like, I'm not responding to this because you know, you, you do need to do things that are not burning in.
So, but we do start talking about it in February mm-hmm . And so, um, you know, our first com is like, Hey, are we even gonna do the camp this year? I always kind of put it to, to our people, you know, it's like, I can't just, it can't just be me, you know? Uh, I, I can't do all that. So, um, this year we put it out that, Hey, you know, what do you guys think?
Uh, are we doing burning man this year? You know, we've had a three year hiatus. And so I put the message out. And within six hours we had almost 50 people that were 100% in. I was like, whoa, we're going to burning man. So that was cool. But then the [00:47:00] messages start and so. um, I deliver about one a month and I just start painting a picture and I start saying, okay, well, the it, you know, I don't have to paint this picture for people that have been in the camp that really the messages are for new people, or it could be for existing people for changing some things up.
Um, and, and also you learn every year. So things get added to your, to your roster of things that you want to communicate. But the bottom line is you start setting the, the standard, you start setting, the we're gonna hit here and you start setting that goal. And then you just keep re-emphasizing every message is, Hey, this is, this is where we're headed.
This is what we're doing. These are the expectations, it's a working camp. And, and then the next message comes. And you're, you know, you say some goofy things and then here's the expectations and it, and, and sometimes I even differ the expectations. I won't hit 'em with 20 I'll hit 'em with my top three, and then I'll hit 'em with [00:48:00] another three, and then I'll hit 'em with another three.
And ultimately culminating to a, a message that we call the state of our union. And I send that out.
[00:48:09] CK: Oh, you have a thing called state of our union. Yeah.
[00:48:13] Steve: And so we, I like it. We do, um, I like it. It's about three weeks out and it's the final message. And I'll just say, okay, so here's, this team is showing up with this.
This is our early set crew. Um, we also encourage everybody to show up by Sunday, um, with that used to not be a rule. Um, but about five years ago, we changed it as an experiment because what was happening was is you have the early set crew come in and they take ownership. Mm-hmm right. They take ownership of, Hey, we did this, you know, and then you got people coming, showing up on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or even Thursday.
And they just kind of plop in the middle of it. And people are, I mean, it's, it's. It's not a rude thing, but you could just smell it. It's [00:49:00] it's this thing that's in the air that who, who are these people? What are they're camping with us? Mm-hmm cause we just busted our ass and built this whole thing.
Mm-hmm and you know, you kind of see I've seen it for years, um, where people start to, I love that they take ownership of it. And then, so then we just kind of drew a line in the sand and said, well, here's our early set crew. And these are, these are the guys that, or the guys and girls that are gonna help us set, but it's imperative that the people at least be there on opening day so that they can, they can help us take it into the end zone so that there's, you know, uh, we gotta sign, put up lights or we gotta light the facade or we gotta decorate the loon or we've gotta take all of our kitchen stuff and actually make it a functioning kitchen.
That's where that secondary crew comes in and they take ownership. I decorated this, I set up the kitchen, I put up the lighting so that everybody has a buy-in. That's why, you know, we, we kind of switched it up about five years ago and we were like patting ourselves on the back going. [00:50:00] That was the most cohesive thing that we've ever done for the camp was to make sure that everybody had a hand in it.
And, uh, uh, that it's, it's a very effective tool. And, and go ahead.
[00:50:15] CK: So I have a question there, because is the volunteering organizational mm-hmm , you know, effort. Yeah. Um, what I've seen, especially in any kind of volunteering organizations is typically the weight of in infrastructure and operation lies a few people, a small percentage, you know, heavy on them, the organizers and so forth.
Yeah. And then few people get to basically walk away with very little, uh, responsibilities. Yeah. Because it's an organizational thing. Yeah. So, um, how do you manage that? you know, is equitable. That is fair. So that way it's not all on you [00:51:00] or a handful of people that you don't get to enjoy burning men and what it has to offer.
Yeah. And then it's, there are consequences or accountability for people to, you know, show up versus just, you know, leaving Scott free, like show up on Thursday and then leave on Saturday and say, oh, I see you guys later. And
[00:51:19] Steve: it was great. Yeah. Yeah. That's uh, a scenario that I avoid with everything I got, uh, um, our, our hard rule is you have to be there for set or strike mm-hmm
Um, this year we had, uh, I'll, I'll explain where there's exceptions. Um, we had, uh, a couple that just had twins and the, the babies are now about nine months old and they just happen to have parents that live in lake Tahoe. So they have been huge contributors. And help to, to, you know, build our saloon and lit, literally help build the saloon.
And, um, [00:52:00] uh, you know, this year they weren't gonna come and I had caught wind of it that they weren't coming because they couldn't be there for set or strike. They could only come in the middle and, and just do three or four days. And then they gotta go back to get the babies. And, you know, it's a critical time.
And, and I caught wind of it. I was like, no, no, no, no, you, if you really want to come to this event, you have carp blanche because you've earned it. Whereas, um, you know, we have, but that's an
[00:52:26] CK: exception.
[00:52:27] Steve: There are exceptions to
[00:52:28] CK: that. What, what are the, the
[00:52:29] Steve: norm, how do you manage, um, the norm is, is that you gotta be there for set or strike.
Okay. So, um, the, you know, it, it, I don't like when people come in post and I don't like when they. before. And, but, you know, sometimes you have life stuff going on. Like we had one campmate, also huge contributor, but he and his girlfriend had to break out early. They came in for set. So they were there, but they had to break out early, um, for a [00:53:00] wedding.
So, you know, it's like, Hey, that's life that's, you know, is that's the girl? I think it was her sister's wedding. So she's like, I gotta run. So of course that was all prearranged and, and all good. And, um, but you know, I think that, um, people naturally filter themselves out. Um, I have had experiences where you go out there and, um, people, uh, just kind of blow it off and yes.
So then you just kind of move on the next year. You just, and they, and they don't get invited back. Yeah. You know, it's, it's, it is by invitation and we do kind of draw a line of like, Hey, this is our crew and this is what we're going in with. Um, one of the, the hard lines that I have. Is, I'm not, I'm not big on, um, Rangers being in the camp and I appreciate the Rangers, so I really do.
I think they do. Interesting.
[00:53:53] CK: Okay. So that's, I think they do a wonderful service. Yeah. Say more about that.
[00:53:57] Steve: Why? Why? Yeah. So I, I think they do a wonderful service [00:54:00] to the community. I know a lot of Rangers, it is a, it's a big ask. Um, they are the world's worst camp mates. Just the worst. Why is that? Why is that?
Because they're rangering. So it's like, um, okay, well Tuesday is your, your meal night, blah, blah. Oh, I can't, I can't do that. I I'm out rangering. Oh, I see. Oh yeah. Well we're all gonna go and do this thing. I can't, I'm rangering. We're gonna be there for set. Yeah. But I gotta go for my pre uh, you know, thing and we walk the ply and we do all this stuff and I'm just like, so you're not in camp and you know, if it was a one time experience fine.
But when you have years of that, you just kind of go, okay. You should go camp with the Rangers mm-hmm because nobody knows who the fuck you are. Mm. Because you know, you're a part of this camp, but you're gone. Mm-hmm . And so it's just, it's, it's not, it's just not a good relationship to the camp, especially if you're trying to build something and be [00:55:00] cohesive and, and bring offering to, to the community.
And then you've got, and I've, I've had, uh, uh, instances where we had three Rangers in camp and they were ghosts mm-hmm and all, all was the carcass of their, of their, um, motor home, you know, is, is in camp. And then they, they do these wacky shifts and then they come home and they sleep and then boom, they're out again on another shift.
And she's just like, who are these people? And they're they're dear friends of mine and love 'em. Yeah. But it's like, okay. So we just kind of drew a line in the sand and we just went no more Rangers. I gotcha. It doesn't make any sense. Yeah.
[00:55:37] CK: So, how did you end up with saloons drinks, music and the size of 60?
Because that's, you know, an evolution I'm sure. Yeah. And that you would continue to evolve I'm sure. But how did you arrive here?
[00:55:50] Steve: So, um, at one point we grew the camp out. Um, we had, I think one year we had about 110 people Uhhuh, man, that was just [00:56:00] a job that was not enjoyable. And, um, too many people, too many needs, very hard to focus.
Um-huh that group. Um, we did it and we had a successful experience, but it wasn't enjoyable for me. Mm-hmm . And um, so then the following year we capped it at 60 and,
[00:56:21] CK: um, it was some arbitrary number that you just pull out of the
[00:56:26] Steve: sky. Well, you know, we we've, we've had the, I mean, obviously I've been out there and had the camp at like 25 mm-hmm , um, especially in the early years.
um, that makes for a very fun experience because it's just some, it, it, it, it's a tighter group. Mm-hmm , um, 60 is a great number for a variety of reasons. So 60 allows you to split good, uh, dinner teams out. So it's enough people to hit those dinner teams, [00:57:00] uh, you know, getting a, a, a group of about 25 to 26 people to co go in for early set and then have the other half of the camp show up the next day really works.
It just there's something about it that works. Um, it's, it's the right amount of people where people are friendly and want to interact. And, oh, there's somebody new. I, I want to go meet this person at, at a hundred people. People are like, okay, I give up there's too many people. It's just
[00:57:33] CK: too much. So Dunbar's number 150.
Didn't quite even get there just a hundred people was way too many
[00:57:40] Steve: too way too many. Yeah, I see. And so, you know, you see it, you try to see it through the experience of your camp needs as well, because, you know, uh, we we've had groups of about 50 and that's a great number as well. Um, I've always said that our magic number is 55 mm-hmm and, um, you know, if it, if it's [00:58:00] 50, that's fine.
You could still get by with that. If it's 60, it just creates a little bit of a buffer, um, where it, you know, uh, we're having problems with fuel this year, getting fuel delivered. So we had a team going out there to interface with the fuel company. We had problems with water, cuz it was so dusty and they shut the water delivery trucks down.
So, um, we had a team going out and, and, and Del, you know, uh, picking up that, uh, we had a new mayor this year. So my, my, my girl did. Wanted to take it off. And so we, uh, I shoulder tap my friend, Angela, who's got a very, very ly similar temperament to Deb. And so she became our mayor and that was a learning experience for her to be out there and just kind of, I'm sitting on the side, just seeing it from her eyes and, and seeing how she's handling all the adversity.
And she did amazing. She was great. And, uh, so you know, it it's, it's, uh, [00:59:00] I think she put it the best. She's like, you know, I agreed to do this, but I had no idea of all the things that all the working parts of this, and it wasn't until we were about a month out where she was, she was asking questions, well, what about this?
Okay, I did this and what about this? And this is handled and what about this? And, and then she started putting it all together. She's like, I need to know more about all of this, if I'm gonna do this again. And I said, well, I didn't wanna scare you. . So I assigned you these three things. I want you to handle these things.
and, uh, and I'll pick up the rest and then she's like, okay, next year we're gonna divide and conquer. Like, I, I need, I need more. Buy-in absolutely. Next year you have, you have it.
[00:59:41] CK: So, so putting in company terms, uh, you are effectively the, the founder, right? With the TAA knowledge mm-hmm and you have a GM right.
General, you know, as a, as a mayor mayor. Right. Who runs the things, but you, you are the buffer, [01:00:00] right. You have the TAA knowledge and you can show up and, and boost, um, operations, if NPI. Yeah, yeah. Uhhuh.
[01:00:09] Steve: Yeah. You, you had said something earlier that I, I keyed in on, uh, you were talking about the balance of it all and you know, um, this year we did spread out a little bit more.
Like I had a, a, a dear friend of mine, uh, Joe, He, and I were working on electrical, but some of it was a little bit, uh, challenging cuz we were trying to get the machine to work. And so we shoulder top another good friend of mine, Chris that came over and really helped fill in some, some blanks. Um, you know, you, you, you had to get just really good at knowing people's core competencies.
Mm-hmm and then playing into that, like, Hey, you're getting this, get this out. This is yours own that. Um,
[01:00:59] CK: so quick question [01:01:00] there. Yeah. Cause not everyone is a professional electrician or whatever builder, things like that. I mean, I'm assuming most people are sort of hobbyist. Right. They, they have some knowledge, but they're not professional at it.
Yeah. And so you also want to give them an opportunity to try out some of these new responsibilities. How do you strike that balance between. , you know, knowing that they could do the job versus giving them an opportunity to possibly fail, but possibly succeed.
[01:01:31] Steve: Yeah. That's a, that's a good one. That's hard to answer.
Um, I think it just comes through experience and, you know, if you like, I, I'm a creative director by trade and that I know how to create something. And so you can sit and have a conversation with somebody about creation and like process and, and, you know, job flow or whatever, whatever the topic is surrounding that, that subject.
And you can sniff within 10 [01:02:00] minutes, you know, whether this is real or not. Right. Because you're just so used to talking about it. Mm-hmm well, the same rules apply, um, where you're, you know, you're hosting a camp and you start having conversations with people. Like, so I'll give you a perfect example. So my dear friend rose who's who's, I think this was her fourth year in camp.
Um, she wants to do more. . And so I, you know, the more I learned about her, she's an events person. She hosts events for a living. And, uh, so this year she said, how can I help? And I said, well, we need help curating, um, talent. I want more talent in the camp. Meaning, uh, musicians, um, DJs, we've got the sound system, we've got a control board.
We've got microphones. Um, I, I, I wanted to do this in 19, but we didn't, we didn't quite pull it together, but I really wanted to do it this year. And, and she knocked it out. The part, she went and started hitting [01:03:00] forums and, and, uh, you know, every day we had people showing, showing up, Hey, I'm here to play for you guys.
I'm like, wow, that's so cool. I love that. She, uh, she had a calendar and signed everybody. You know, people either they were on time. A lot of people were strangely on time. Um, yeah. Quiet time. I I get it and I don't expect people to be there on time, but man, I, I gotta tell you, like people were largely on time.
It was unusual that I think they, I also, I think like people really like bringing their art, whether it's a bass player or guitar player or, or, uh, uh, a, uh, a DJ, they really want to come out and play for people, you know, they're there to, to, to do that cuz that's their gift. So, you know, we have this platform and they, they show up on time and they're ready to, to show people, uh, a good time with whatever way that comes out.
And uh, it's cool. We had a great, um, people I'd [01:04:00] never met before, uh, just coming all just through reaching out and, and shoulder tapping people and one would show up and they would, uh, have a three hour set and then another person would come in and have a two hour set and another person would come in, have a one hour set.
I was like, man, that is fantastic. It was really, really, uh, inspiring to see that culminate just by her asking a question. Can I take this and run with it? Absolutely. I love it.
[01:04:26] CK: So yeah, she killed it. That's awesome. So on that, so it sounds like there's a culture of accountability and Michelle actually.
Yeah. Michelle actually made a point about the, okay. You know, his observation of being there the first year, he said you had the perfect balance of accountability and
[01:04:45] Steve: openness. Yeah. That's, that's definitely happened over
[01:04:49] CK: time. Yeah. Yeah. If you could concretize, so again, make your response say, you know, to someone who may be thinking about starting a camp or running their [01:05:00] camp in the first year, and it was a disaster because people were accountable to the thing mm-hmm what would you say to these aspirational camp organizers so that they can hit that balance between accountability and at the same time.
Openness democracy, right? Flow all these
[01:05:17] Steve: beautiful qualities that the player provides. Yeah. Um, well, that's a tough one to explain, but let me give it a shot. So, uh, definitely there's been an evolution over time. I mean, I always take into consideration that burning man is comprised of volunteers and, you know, people are out there cuz they're pulled in for whatever reason they want go see the art or they wanna go dancing in the nightclub, whatever it's.
Um, so I always take that into consideration that I, I, I want them to have their experience. I don't want it to be this, this job, but at same time the
[01:05:52] CK: military camp.
[01:05:54] Steve: Yeah. Military camp. But at the same time, um, over the years you have people that [01:06:00] are truly, um, they, they understand what it is that we're building.
So, you know, if, if I was bringing out a group of versions, uh, you know, if it was a 90 version. Camp, uh, and a and a, which I've actually seen camps do this, um, where they bring out all these volunteers and, um, man, it's just a cluster. Fuck, man. It's crazy. cause it, it it's, uh, there's no cohesiveness, they're all strangers and you know, you've got somebody leading the charge, but it's you even see how they lead the charge.
They're like, you know, it's like, it's like a job and you know, they're trying to do big things out there. I'm like, okay. All right. That's cool. Don't wanna do that. Um, uh, so you know, you mentioned, uh, Philip Rosedale, right? Mm-hmm so Philip is a doer and you know, this just by a [01:07:00] conversation. Right. But then he comes out there and he starts, you know, all right.
Well, I don't really know, but I'm a logical person. I don't know how we're, but here let me just, uh, you know, and he's just in, he's just a very visceral hands on kind of guy. and so Michelle, well, Phillip introduced me to Michelle and, and Phillip's like, don't worry about it. This, this guy knows he he's got it.
I'm like, cool. I say no more. I didn't, I usually I'll sit and like break bread or, or just at least have like a video conferences so I could get it like a feel, Nope, didn't need that. All I needed was Philip to say, no, dude, this is this guy's gold. Cool. So we, we, um, you know, that that's a, no-brainer the people that are, um, a little questionable that's who I'll go after and, and try to understand and, and then work with them to set expectations.
Um, I even had dear friends out [01:08:00] this, this year, dear friends of mine. Like, I love these guys, but they were like, you know, complaining, okay, what are we doing? We're going to, we're gonna build something out there. And then. Then you want me to be a part of a dinner thing and ah, this is sounding like a lot of work I'm like, trust me, just trust me.
and, and then I had other mates working on 'em too. Just like, just, just give it one shot. And we went out there and we, we, all it took was for them to get sweaty and to see results. Right? So we set camp, they were part of set this, this is a Virgin going out there and saying, I want the whole experience. So we set camp and that's all it took just, uh, six hours of work.
And he was like, I get it. Like, there was just this excitement. You can see it in the desire. He's like, I totally understand. Now I got this. And then they were, they did their dinner team and they were fired up and ready to go. And I was just like, I, this guy, this was the same person that was saying, I, you know, I don't really wanna do all [01:09:00] this.
I just wanna go out there. And, but, but then they, they get, there's a pride about it. Right. Cause that, and that's what you're trying to do. You're trying to go out there and build something and give them that experience. Of like, Hey, we, we actually came out here and did this through adversity, through extreme heat, through sandstorms, all of it.
And then, and then we take it all back down. We put it back in storage and we wait for the next year. Um, and that whole experience, he was like, I was not prepared for how transformative that would be. I'm like good. The mission accomplished. That's cool.
[01:09:34] CK: Have you ever dealt with primadonnas like, yes, celebrity or, you know, some famous founder or you had celebrities in
[01:09:41] Steve: camp, but, but, um, not, uh, it's been all great experiences.
I'll, I'll tell you one experience I had that was cracked me up very artistic. Well, the, the woman was, it was a couple and she was extremely artistic, you know, super into [01:10:00] music and constant, you know, she just had this really artsy feel about her and her husband, um, was kind of along for the ride, but they were, you know, just kind of.
They really wanted to go to burning man. And so we, uh, you know, we, we fired it up and at that time we weren't a saloon. We had this art car thing and, um, you know, it's just a lot of, lot of work, you know, you're setting camp, you're setting the art car, you're getting the kitchen set, all of these things that go into it.
And I just thought this was a no brainer for these guys. They hated it. They hated the entire experience. They were, they, they just didn't get it. They, it was just, wasn't their cup of tea. I was like, wow, that's amazing to me. But turned the corner two years later. And there they are, they're out there. And I ran into 'em.
I'm like, okay, you know, it was almost like, what are you doing out here? And they said, you know, it, it [01:11:00] took a couple of years for this to sink in for us. And we realized, wow, that was an amazing experience. It just, we're just. Needed to process it. And they, and then they came out and they were part of a big AR uh, uh, theme, camp, huge theme camp, 2, 2, 300 person theme camp.
Wow. And, uh, they, they wanted that experience. It was like, okay. I, I give up, I don't, you know, I don't, uh, I don't have a, a litmus test for how this is gonna play out, you know, it's like, okay, whatever. And then I had, I had another experience, a dear friend of mine, or I think she was, I think she came out and was a part of the very first, um, corral and, uh, very prim and proper she's that girl that you go, uh, to a restaurant with.
And she, she says, well, I, I don't want the cream sauce and I want this thing and Uhhuh, can you take the arugula out? Cause I don't really, really like arugula. And she just has like a soliloquy with the, with the waiters SLI. Yeah. It's fantastic. [01:12:00] You know, you're just like, I love her. She's so great. And she wanted to come to Bernie man.
I was like, I don't think this is really gonna work. I don't, I don't see her thriving out here. Right. And, and we got out there and I, you know, I couldn't see her dirty. I couldn't see her busting her ass and, and taking things, you know, trying to set things. I just couldn't see it. I couldn't feel visualize it.
I'm like, okay, whatever you want to go out there and see it, fine. Let's go. She's a dear friend of mine. And we got out there and she busted her ass. That dust didn't do anything to her. She was looked like a beautiful angel. And I was just like, well, I give up, I don't, I don't have explanation for that. You know, I don't know truly who's gonna work out there.
It's an experiment.
[01:12:43] CK: so, so what I'm actually getting from this is whatever preconceived notions that, you know, we may have about this person, like, oh, this is gonna be a great burner. May not be, this is not gonna work. May totally work.
[01:12:58] Steve: Yeah. You just don't know. [01:13:00] Yeah. Well, the other thing that I've seen, I mean, obviously.
This is 20 year history is, um, you, you ha you have, um, this interchange of people. So this year, myself and my wife were the only original camp mates in camp. Hmm. So, you know, it started out, we took a group of 20 out and then it, that grew to like 35 and that grew to 50 something. And then it went all the way up to a hundred and something people.
And then we started ratcheting it back. And, um, there's been, you know, people have kids or they get married or they move and it's no longer convenient. Um, there's just, you know, life gets in the way you might have an alien parent, whatever it is. Um, it, there, you know, there's no longer room in their lives for this thing.[01:14:00]
And, um, So you have these batons that are being, uh, not, not literally tossed, but there's these, uh, swaths of people that are exiting and, and people that are entering and, and then that exits and enters and that exit in it, it, it it's cyclical, it repeats onto itself. And you know, if you look at our, our camp now and you go back 10 years, there's probably 20 strong mm-hmm
And if you took that, if you took a camp from now and you went back 20, I mean, clearly, clearly it was just my wife and I were the only, uh, core members. But then what's cool about that too, is, um, you might have members that haven't been five, six years and you kind of you're like, okay, well it's not their thing.
And then they're like, okay, we're coming. [01:15:00] And. There's no, um, it requires no effort. They literally plug in, they know they got it and you know, there's no like, okay guys, this is how this is done. There's just none of that. Right. They just, the efficiency,
[01:15:14] CK: the communication, they, yeah, it's
[01:15:15] Steve: all, it's like, oh, been here for, you've done this 10 times.
Yeah. And you know, even though they took a five year break, they plug right back in. They're there for set. They bust their ass. They're great for the dinner teams. They're there for spec. They got, they, they totally got it. Yeah. And, uh, and you're like, yeah, that requires no, uh, brain activities. Like they're on autopilot.
It's great. So on
[01:15:39] CK: that note, I want to ask questions about continuity and community, but I want to wrap up what we were talking about, the striking I balance between accountability. Yeah. Okay. So real quick. So you had talked about people who complied and who gets it right away. What about people who just didn't get it?
Didn't comply. What do you [01:16:00] do? Do you watch them, do you just sit down with them and tell them like, Hey, this is really important and the consequences such yeah. Right. Those type of conversations. How do you manage the people who don't comply?
[01:16:12] Steve: Yeah. So who can get it? I've only truly ever gotten upset with someone I think twice.
Um, and one was a person, I didn't know. And they were a referral and they, the, the person that referred 'em said, oh, this guy's he'll be great. And, uh, I was like, okay. And then these just really oddball started coming over and it was really, uh, he was getting a little forceful and. Wanted to March to his own drum.
And it was just like, I just went back to the person that invited him. I'm like, okay, tell me who this person is in your life. Oh, well he's a friend of a friend. I'm like, wait a second. [01:17:00] So this isn't your like dear friend. And, uh, and he said, well, no, no. I mean, I know him, but I don't, you know, he's not like one of my, in my inner circle.
I'm like, okay, so you're gonna now in uninvite him because I don't wanna deal with this guy too many, like oddball things. He's getting a little rude. This is your problem. Take it off my plate. I don't wanna deal with this guy. So that was one instance. Okay. Um, another was, uh, we had a guy come in. It was a couple, but he just completely missed his dinner crew.
Um, he unfortunately was a part, he had all the ingredients, but he let them go bad. I mean, it was, it was just a cluster flu cluster fuck, through and through. And it was very frustrating. And so, uh, I literally, he was the only person where I've ever walked up to him and I'm like, dude, you're not gonna be invited back like this, this pissed me off.
Cuz he was just [01:18:00] so aloof. And uh, and I, you know, he was a referral from another friend. I'm like, okay, you get this guy outta here. like, uh, it was just a bad experience. And uh, and, and just, he, he was almost combative about just being in step with the camp. He was a non-conformance, which I get I'm a bit of a non-conformance too.
All right, sure. Who isn't that goes to bring it. But, um, you know, we are trying to do something out there and we are trying to create something and it does take a cohesive group, a step in unison and it's, it's a pretty simple ask, you know, be there for set or be there early. Participate. You've gotta, you know, you, you've got saloon duties where you're slinging drinks to people that come in.
That's just fun. And everybody looks forward to that. Um, you know, it's, it's a, it's an easy ask it's it is not a very complicated camp and that's by design. Right. I see people out there doing really amazing [01:19:00] things. I'm like, I don't want no part of that. um, I just wanna keep
[01:19:03] CK: it simple. Say more about that.
Actually say more about that before we,
[01:19:07] Steve: well, you know, I know, I know camps that are two, two to 300 people big and they, you know, they bring out the, the fire effects and they have the full concert audio systems and mm-hmm and you know, it's an experience. I get it. I, I love what they're doing. It's so cool.
And it adds so much flavor to the event, but they show up a week in advance to set that thing. Mm-hmm and they're, you know, they have cranes coming out and it's like, okay, I don't, I don't think I want to be a part. I mean, I literally camp next to them. and saw this, these, you know, beautiful things go up.
Like, I don't want, I don't want to participate in that. I don't wanna, it is just it's it's, it's a, it'll take a month. Mm-hmm and then, and then obviously it's really expensive. So they're fundraising, mm-hmm throughout the entire year. In fact, I know a group that just [01:20:00] went out and they just brought it and, and probably 250 people takes to pull that off.
And a week later they held their first fundraiser for next year . Oh, wow. Okay. All right. Whatever, you know, it's like a decompression coming off, fly out, whatever, but I just, I don't have that in me. I don't, I don't want to par I mean, I, I guess if it was my job and I was a promoter. Okay, great. But you know, my that's not my job and, uh, yeah, I, I just want to keep it simple.
And we have a, a, a simple footprint that we do, um, and we've got a good crew and, and you know, it, it's, it's just a lot easier to pull off. Does
[01:20:47] CK: that answer your question? Yeah, you did. You, and it didn't sound like there was a lot of corrective, you know, SmackDown, so to speak, you know, other than you don't get invited back, you know?
[01:20:58] Steve: There there's [01:21:00] been a, several, there was, uh, uh, there's been a, just a few people over time that, you know, just weren't pulling their weight and, you know, I usually won't step in and I might let a year or two go by and like, Hey, come on, you try to bring this person along. They have good years, they have bad years.
Um, but when it becomes, you know, outwardly a problem, I've had some uncomfortable situations where you're like, let's just take a break. Yeah. And. And then you, you know, you double back and that person is now a little butt hurt. And you're like, okay. I understand. And I always, you know, like I said, going back, I was saying something earlier, I always try to keep perspective that it is an event for fun.
Right. And, uh, that, you know, you're, you're trying to, to bring a little secret sauce out there, but at the same time, keep everybody, everybody happy and fun. And this is [01:22:00] engaging. And, you know, I don't know. I don't know how to, uh, to, I mean, clearly we have struck a line and said, okay, this is what it takes to be in the camp, but it, you know, people typically will step up if you, if you hit them continuously with here's the expectation, here's the expectation.
It's right here. This is it. And it happens over a nine month period. By the time they get there, they, you know, they got it, you know, They understand. Okay. I, I, I gotta jump through a couple of hoops in order to be invited back. Yeah. It's not that hard. Yeah. It's easy.
[01:22:38] CK: Got it. So speaking of, um, continuity friendship ecosystem, yeah.
Over 19 years, do you actively try to curate the growth of this community or is it just ebbs and flow of life people flow in when it's, you know yeah. It's their time people flow out when [01:23:00] it's their time, you don't actively try to manage
[01:23:03] Steve: it. No, I keep it really, um, you know, I don't, all I am is a suggester, so I don't, um, I don't try to hard sell people on it.
I think people, if they're truly, um, gonna do something like this, they truly have to have their own reasons for going out there and doing it. You know, they, they, they have, there has to be a draw. And, uh, all I can do is make suggestions. So I'll say, okay, well, this is what we do, and this is what it's all about.
And some people, um, uh, I will go after a little bit more aggressively just because I believe that they'll flourish out there. And especially if it's like a Virgin and it might be a one year, two year, three year conversation where you're just planting seeds. You're just like, I think you would be great out there.
And, um, and that happens with other, um, people in camp too. Like I have a [01:24:00] core group of probably 20, 20 to 25 and they are truly in step and they'll, you know, I'll get messages. It could be six months out. Hey, I think these guys would be amazing. They'll give me like, you know, the, the two paragraph rundown, like I got from, uh, Phillip's wife, uh, on Michelle and Chloe.
Um, of like, Hey, this is who they are. This is what the da, da, this has been their experience. This isn't their first burn, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm like sold, done. Got it. We're we're, let's move. Um, whereas other people, um, might require a little bit more hand holding, especially if it's somebody that I'm seeking out.
Um, uh, I will, I will suddenly suggest, and ultimately they have to come to the, you know, I can't say, Hey, this is what we're doing. You're coming with us. And I won't accept. No, come on. Let's go. You
[01:24:58] CK: know, it's like, yeah, yeah. I don't [01:25:00] mean the evangelizing aspect of it. Mm-hmm I mean, the people who have been camping mm-hmm do you actively say, Hey, this is our community and you try to grow this community and people, you know, interconnecting with each other.
Yes. That kind of management at all, or not really. Yeah.
[01:25:17] Steve: Whatever happens. Well, we do things, you know, we all are dear friends and there are, um, We have a, a decompression that we do ourselves every year. So this year we're doing it in the first week, first weekend of November. And we pick, pick a central point.
So I, I live in San Diego, so we're going out to Paso Robles at a campground there, and people will come from the bay area. People will come from Los Angeles and San Diego. I think we've got some people coming from Idaho. And, uh, um, we'll just converge there for three days and go do a little wine tasting, be normal, go to the ocean, let the dogs run, you know, stuff like that.
It's just a decom for us. Um, some of us [01:26:00] vacation together. So we might go out to Mexico or we might go to, you know, Europe or whatever. That's always fun too. Um, we are connected and stay connected throughout the year. And we're we're, it's not just about burning man. We are dear friends and, um, you know, that that's, I believe is the key component of cohesiveness.
Mm. Um, and you know, it's, it really has nothing to do with burning and it, it's just, you just love these people, right? This, this is your tribe. So, yeah. And, and this year, you know, I, even though I, I had multiple experiences this year that were interesting to me. I had a, a, a girl that I was explaining that we, uh, took her out there and she just forged head in floes and she didn't even see the open ply.
And it was that story that I was telling you about her, her name's Carmen. And, um, I love seeing the event through her eyes. I had several camp mates that I hadn't necessarily connected with strongly in years past. And [01:27:00] I made it a point to go and just kind of sit and talk with them and hang with them. Um, uh, and I got a kick out of that, you know, and we had new camp mates that one of 'em is a creative like me.
And so we had a lot to talk about, so we sat for a couple hours and just kicked that ball around about, you know, being in an agency model and. what that's like. And, and, you know, we just had a lot of, lot of commonalities, so I connected with her fantastically and, um, you know, I don't know. I think that the cohesiveness, uh, I, I, the number one thing I like to see in cohesiveness is I'll see, like the Facebook post or I'll see something where people that didn't know each other and they only met at burning man in our camp are now out on a motorcycle ride or they're camping over in, you know, New Mexico or whatever.
And it was like, oh, that is so cool that these relationships, these bonds happen and, [01:28:00] uh, there's relationships that, that flourish and come off the play and boom, they're, they're doing something with those people. And I, I just love to see that love that all culminates from this center point where we said, we're gonna go do this thing as a group.
And these people don't know each other, and now they do. And now they're friends and now they're hanging. That's so cool. Cause that's part of the experiment,
[01:28:20] CK: right? So would you say that's part of the success metrics, KPI of putting up all the effort, all the work, all the fundraising, all of the shenanigans, you know, that people may have in moments?
[01:28:35] Steve: Well, ultimately it is about the community, right? I mean, that's why I do it. I love, um, not only to give back to the, the strangers that we don't know. Um, and, but we meet out there, but I also, that's the thing I get a kick out of. I love that you, you take a group of people and you get a give 'em a common goal and you say, this is, these are the things we're gonna go do.
They personalize it. [01:29:00] And then we go out there and we run and, and, and, um, to see that come to life is a true treat for me. That's that's why I do it.
[01:29:08] CK: LA, last question, actually, second to the last question. What would you say to someone who is. And now inspired thanks to your testimonial running camps. Yeah.
Uh, but also still a little intimidated cuz they don't know it's uncertain. Right. It just seems a lot of work. A lot of bandwidth, a lot of you gotta put up with sure.
[01:29:29] Steve: So a lobbying lobby position.
[01:29:33] CK: So, so what would you say to that person?
[01:29:35] Steve: Uh, I would say, uh, K a S S keep it simple, stupid so, uh, uh, I've seen plenty of people go out there and they create this lofty goal mm-hmm and some of them achieve it.
They, some of them do out, go out there and knock it outta the park. But if it's [01:30:00] super complicated and requires a lot of technology and power and all these things, and you're a first time person kind of going out there, it it's, uh, I've seen a lot of people fail. You know, uh, somebody shared a stat with me this year that I was amazed by 20 no, 30%.
I think the, I think the stat was 30% of art cars nohow. So what does that mean? People have so, so to, to take an art car to Bernie man is a, is a, an endeavor. So you've got to, uh, you know, you've got a lobby first and you've gotta like put your plans to the DMV and, um, and then they've gotta like sniff it and they'll they there's, I mean, it's like, it takes two hours to fill out their application.
Mm-hmm and you have to answer all of these things about safety and lighting and you know, the structure and, and before you even get into this thing, [01:31:00] you've gotta have a fully big plan and, and here's, what's screwy about it. You have no idea if they're gonna approve your plan, but you've gotta start building.
So you put the best plan you can together and you, you throw it, throw it that their way. And you're like, I, I have no choice. I gotta start building this thing cuz it ain't gonna happen overnight. Right? Some of these builds, uh, I did a build that took six months. So you, you started on it and you might be 10 grand, 15 grand into this thing, just with your fingers crossed, just going.
I hope these guys approve this cuz we are up shit Creek if they don't and, and uh, you know, I've never had it not approved, but I've had plenty of people that didn't get approved because you know, the I'm a planner by trade and I'm an artist by trade so I can get renderings, uh, pretty convincing renderings, uh, generated.
And um, but the, the stat that I heard, somebody was telling me that 30% of the people that [01:32:00] jump through all of those hoops and fill out that application and submit things and, and all of that, 30% of them don't even show up. That's amazing. That's incredible. That's amazing failure rate . So, you know, for whatever it was, maybe they just didn't have the right team or the, the idea was too complicated and, uh, they ran outta money, which is obviously a thing, you know, art cars are expensive.
And so, um, for, for a variety of reasons, they never, it never even sees the playa so my, you know, especially if you're doing this for a first time, um, just keep it simple, do something simple, something that you can easily rally people around. It's not too, uh, we had a camp that was flinging, um, beignets, uh, in the mornings in the afternoons mm-hmm mm-hmm but they came rolling through our camp several times with hot [01:33:00] beignets.
I'm like, that's simple. I love that
[01:33:02] CK: it's easy.
[01:33:04] Steve: Or our, our dear friends, uh, down the way, uh, altitude lounge. um, Greg, that he heads that up. They, they build, you know, I, I think it's a six story, um, scaffolding mm-hmm they put these really bright lights on it and, and you can go up the scaffolding and kinda see the, see the play from, from up there and, uh, super simple, um, offering, but it's something that they do every year.
They've got it down. Um, doesn't take a big camp. I think their, their camp size this year was 25 people mm-hmm . And so they came in and set set camp in, in a, or they set the scaffolding in a day and they, you know, ratcheted it down and all that stuff, uh, um, super, super simple offering doesn't require pyrotechnics.
this is a very simple thing. And, and then I've seen people go out and do [01:34:00] art installations in the open play, and I greatly appreciate that as beautiful work that happens out there, especially I'm. I will check out your interview with the, uh, temple building, cuz wow. That was inspirational this year. He did an exceptional job.
Good for him.
[01:34:14] CK: Yeah, he has COVID right now. So that's uh, saving some of the vibes for
[01:34:18] Steve: recovery. I, I got it. Uh, coming off the play this year, myself too. Oh yeah. Seven camp mates that came down with it and I was the seventh. Wow. I was the sixth actually.
[01:34:28] CK: Well you, you seem perfectly,
[01:34:30] Steve: you know, it, it, so all I had was apply a cough.
I just had cough. Yeah, same. Yeah. I couldn't get rid of it for several days. And um, my, my grandson was coming over grandson. Yeah. Yeah. My wife and I have a grandson.
[01:34:46] CK: Wow. Yeah. So you, I would not have believed it if
[01:34:50] Steve: you didn't do that. Yeah. So my, we have two daughters. Uh, our youngest is 25 and our oldest is 34.
Wow, amazing. So she, um, we got started, we [01:35:00] were high school sweethearts and we got started early. So it's, it's been a journey. And, uh, so my wife said, you know, you got that cough. And I said, oh, it's, it's just a cough. And she goes, well, I don't you to take a COVID Testment well, we can take a COVID test, but I don't have COVID.
And she gave me the test. She's like, you have COVID Mr. . I was like blown away. I could not believe it. Cause I had no achy body didn't have no flu symptoms, no runny nose, nothing. And, and I never did it. Never. I just tested positive for like four days and then it tested negative and it was gone. Okay.
[01:35:37] CK: yeah.
Uh, Steve last, any last words? So you wanted to share it with anyone who is interested about starting camp or interested about burning man or wanted to be a camp organizer or want to be part of, okay. Corral. What would, what would, what would you say is like, Hey, if you remember this one thing, remember this.
[01:35:59] Steve: [01:36:00] well, I think, I think that the, the KSS is a, is a key component. Um, especially if you're gonna go out there for the first time, um, keep the group at 2025, um, you know, don't make it too complicated. Like even our camp can be a little complicated at time. We have, uh, a water cube that gets delivered so that we have fresh water for all the rigs.
I think we have 15 rigs this year and everybody was pulling from the water cube. Um, we have a central generator, uh, which complicates things, right? I mean, it's great cuz it, you have one gin running everything, but it's also, you know, requires fuel and all of that stuff. Um, we have, uh, a whole electrical grid that we roll out complications, right?
I mean, there's, we haven't had that in years past, but in the last 10 years we've gotten a little bit more sophisticated. Um, uh, camp dues are a must. So, uh, our dues this year, I [01:37:00] think were set at three 15 per person. And, uh, it allows us to, you know, we had some things that needed to be fixed. So we got that fixed.
It, it pays for our storage for the year. Um, this year, uh, we had, uh, our main on our speaker system, uh, broke. So we'll have to get that fixed for next year. That'll come outta next year's dues, but, you know, there's just a lot of infrastructure, um, fuel for the kitchen and, um, just a variety of things that, um, uh, we were also out of practice this year.
So, you know, uh, there's a three year break between the last time we were on ply. So we didn't necessarily have a, a strong inventory. So we were like, kind of pulling everything out. And so we have a whole full list of things that need to change for, for next year, um, to be operational and, you know, That's an evolution.
Um, try to find something that [01:38:00] you can all sync on. Uh, uh, that's, that's easy to execute and, uh, don't get too, too lofty as, as time takes away. And you start to develop that, that crew that you can depend on, at least for two to three to four years, then you can get a little bit, you can turn up the volume a little bit.
[01:38:18] CK: Mm, got it. I love it. Yeah. Actually one last question 19 years mm-hmm and burning man is such a transformational container in my mind with any kind of transformation. The, the event itself is one thing, right?
Mm-hmm , it's beautiful. It's great. All that beautiful things. But to me, it's the integration. What lesson did you learn? Did you clarify what action you're gonna take from. Do you offer any kind of integration plans having done this for 19 times to yourself? No following, but also with your community.
[01:38:52] Steve: I I'm not following the exact definition of the question integration plan.
How can you be a little bit more specific? [01:39:00] Sure.
[01:39:00] CK: So any kind of transformational events, your meditation burning man is huge for a lot of people. And then from that they're realizing lessons that can extract from that. Yeah. Right. You journal about it. You, you, you have conversation about it. You have lessons, then you also put into plans like, Hey, here's some of the things I'm gonna implement in my life based on insights that I learned.
Do you, uh, you, yourself, what kind of integration plans and actions you do? Yeah.
[01:39:34] Steve: That's okay. I understand your question. Yeah. Yeah. That's a big question, man. Um, so yeah, the, the event did change how I interacted with my children. It changed how I interacted with my parents, with my friends, even with my colleagues.
Um, one of the, you know, I, I, this year's has been a, a tough year for me professionally, just because our, um, we're just in a lot of [01:40:00] flux in my professional life. And we're, we're scaling things here and trying to grow this here. And it's just been very stressful and it, it, I was definitely not in the mental state to, to be out there this year, just cause I was so Preo preoccupied with my professional obligations.
And, and then I had, um, I, I got about halfway out there and I, I felt like I was there for reasons to connect with joy. And you know, when you get so concentrated on. You know, running a business with, you know, say a hundred employees is there's a lot of, um, responsibility that comes with that. And it can be very, uh, stressful at times.
And so, you know, going out there and just unplugging and just being in that moment and, and, you know, [01:41:00] even though you're stressed about these things, I just kind of went, you know, I, I, I, there is joy in this and, um, you know, it was like a cathartic thing for me to, to kind of come to real realization that I needed, that I, I needed that and I didn't realize I needed it.
Right. And, um, so yeah, I, I would say that there, there, there, every year delivers, you know, some years you're kind of on autopilot, I would say 19 was, was an autopilot year for, for me personally, just because. um, there were no major curve balls. The, the weather was perfect. Um, the camp went off with a, without a hitch.
We didn't have any mechanical problems. It was a very enjoyable experience. Therefore it didn't really put you emotionally through the paces, but this year I went in with kind of a heavy heart, just kind of going, okay, lots going on there, but there's, you know, I've made this commitment to my [01:42:00] camp to organize it and get it out and get it going.
And, and then we started having problems. So we had, uh, we camp set. Great. But then we had problems with our electrical. And so we were tuning that and we had problems with deliveries. And so we were tuning that and it just added by the time we got to the end of the event, I, I think everybody was like, man, we truly faced some adversity this year.
And the camp as a whole. That was one, you know, it's part of my experiment is. How do they handle adversity? Right. I mean, when everything goes, right. Okay, great. But like we handled adversity beautifully and it was a, you know, there's lessons to be learned in that it was like, wow, look at that. Like everybody just powered through and didn't let it, let it affect them.
They just, you know, we're solution people as opposed to problem people. And it was great. It was great to see. Great to witness. Yeah. [01:43:00] Transformational.
[01:43:01] CK: beautiful. Well, Steve, I wanna take a moment to just really thank you for sharing. Thank you. What you have share over the 19 years of running this camp.
[01:43:13] Steve: And, and as you plot for next year, please keep me in mind. I would love to talk about, you know, if you're, if you're truly gonna do that, um, talk about how to organize that and I can share with you spreadsheets and things that we do, tools we use and language that we use and all of that. Just to kinda get people moving in a, in a cohesive direction.
[01:43:36] CK: I would say here are some top takeaways that I got from our conversation. One is, uh, six months out, you know, start to have conversations with people about what it means to, to camp, start to communicate responsibilities and expectations. Cuz ultimately that's that, that duration, the regularity, you know, sets the [01:44:00] culture of what's it like what's expected, you know, from the citizens of this village, this camp.
Yeah, totally. Um, choose your people wisely, right? Yep. Uh, that's a big one, the core 24. Right. And also the last thing is, as you say last, keep it simple. Yeah, right. It's very easy to get inspired by. Let's say the P Alchemist groups, right? The huge, beautiful pyramid at the same time, it comes with a lot of overhead and infrastructure.
[01:44:31] Steve: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I love that those guys bring that out there. I really truly do. Or like, uh, you know, we're all familiar now. Everybody says the words, Mayan warrior, the art car that goes out there. How could you not revel in that those guys bring that they drive that in from the Yucatan, from the bottom of Mexico.
Oh, wow. And that's a, that's a whole group of people that just, they just, wow. That's a tremendous [01:45:00] effort. What a beautiful creation. I have nothing but respect for that, you know, it's like good for you guys.
[01:45:05] CK: Yeah. They're very, very, dedicat. Yes, they are. Um, so regarding all of that, thank you so much for your generosity, your time and your wisdom.
And can't wait to hear more about all the beautiful stories and transformation came out of, uh, okay. Corral. Awesome.
[01:45:23] Steve: It was great talking with you. Likewise.
Together with his team, Steve creates and develops solutions that distinguish brands in today's marketplace. Their purpose is to explore new modes of communication through the use of emerging information technologies. Since the inception of the various companies Steve's co-founded, they've maintained an industry-recognized creative force fueled by a dynamic team-centric culture.
During my career, I've had the privilege to work on significant brand development projects for Amtrak, Apple, Bell Helmets, Best Buy, CBS Radio, Dell, Hansen Medical, Hewlett-Packard, HBO, Hulu, Intel, LIFX, Microsoft, Oracle, Paramount Pictures, Plantronics, Porsche, Qualcomm, Roku, Saleforce.com, Seagate, Showtime, Sony Playstation, Sun Microsystems, Target, Tesla, Varian Medical, VMware, Walmart, Wyse Technology, and Yahoo!.
For fun, Steve leads a yearly pilgrimage of 60 revelers to Burning Man where their theme camp, I'm OK, You're OK Corral, erects a saloon that slings drinks, live music, guest DJs, and a bevy of shenanigans. It's their collective gift to the community and 2022's event marked the camp's 19th year bringing their camp to Black Rock City.