Interning at IPI

This summer while all my friends were lounging on the beach, basking in the last days of summer before facing the tremendous monolith that is college, I began my internship at Idea Platforms. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect—would I just be reading email and answering the phones? Getting the mail and organizing file cabinets? I ended up doing all of these things this summer, but thankfully they were a small part of the whole of my incredibly busy and wonderful experience at IPI.

Most of the work I did this summer was supplementary research and copy-editing. I also got to read manuscripts from prospective clients and design the prototype of a soon-to-be-announced IPI media venture. I’ve always loved research and reading so this job has been pretty much perfect for me.

The first day was pretty intimidating, though. I felt like I was stepping into this fast-paced, foreign, hyper-academic world, like nothing I had ever really experienced before. During the staff meeting, John and Anna went through a long list of names of people and books that I didn’t know and announced imminent deadlines while Hannah cupped her hands in the shape of parentheses at random points in the conversation. What is she doing?  I wondered. Turns out she was using IPI code to illustrate going off on a tangent, a gesture that I would come to see so very often over the next few weeks.

Coming to IPI having never worked in publishing before, it’s been interesting for me to examine the process that goes into bringing a book to press. I draw a lot in my free time, and over the course of this internship, I’ve come to realize that publishing and art-making have a lot in common in terms of what it takes to create a finished product. In both art and publishing, you experiment with ways of presenting ideas and explore different mediums. A lot of time and patience is required, but in the end you make something wonderful just by virtue of the intensity of the process. So at IPI when we copyedit manuscripts, research supplementary material and outline chapters of books, we are, in our own sort of way, making art.

It was always odd explaining my summer job to my friends. No one really understood the concept of being a research assistant. “So you just look at Google for hours?” they asked. “No! Of course not,” I said. “Google is just a starting point. There’s The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, LexisNexis and all these other really cool search engines, too!” Cue my friends’ eyes glazing over. But whatever, I find it all really interesting.

Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned while interning at Idea Platforms was not to be afraid to share my ideas and not to feel self-conscious about being intellectual.  Being just fresh out of high school, it’s motivating to work with people who don’t hide their intelligence and work together to gain new knowledge. So while I might have missed out on some good days at the beach with my friends before heading off to school, the 2 hours plus I’ve spent commuting each way from Newton to Concord to get to work every day (yeah, I know, I need to get my license) have been worth it to me because I get to be around people who are not only smart, but actually care about what they are doing.

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About Idea Platforms

Idea Platforms, Inc. collaborates with individuals and organizations to develop and structure idea-driven content, create various forms of expression (including books and visual media), and help build self-reinforcing platforms that extend and enrich content across many channels and venues and over extended periods of time.

Highlighted Works

Overlay Books

The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong In a World Where Things Go Wrong

The Idea Platforms team collaborated with author Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, to develop the proposal for this book on social resilience, place it with publisher PublicAffairs, conduct interviews and field research—in Colombia, Kenya, India, and the United States—draft and edit text, and help build and support a platform for Dr. Rodin and her ideas. The book is a "revealing examination of the anatomy of resilience" according to the Kirkus starred review. Endorsers include President Bill Clinton, Arianna Huffington, Michael Bloomberg. (PublicAffairs, 2014. 384 pages.)

Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire and the Internet of Things

IPI worked closely with author David Rose, serial entrepreneur and MIT Media Lab lecturer, to develop this book that presents an alternate vision of the future of technology, one of technology-infused but humanistic objects rather than more screens and apps. The New York Times writes of the book: "Delightful... In the scrum of talking heads wrestling to gain control of the narrative behind the Internet of Things, Mr. Rose is an engaging, plain-spoken guide." (Scribner, 2014. 320 pages.)

Trading Up: The New American Luxury

The IPI team partnered with co-authors Michael J. Silverstein and Neil Fiske of The Boston Consulting Group to create this definitive work on consumerism and support the book in multiple media. It won the Berry-AMA Book Prize for 2003 and was a BusinessWeek bestseller. David Brooks writes: "Trading Up is far more than a dissection of a single consumer trend. It is packed with insights on how shoppers think and behave. I found it incredibly smart and illuminating." (Portfolio/Penguin, 2003. 316 pages.)

John Butman, founder and principal of Idea Platforms, has been involved in the development of ideas and the creation of expressions with a wide range of partners and collaborators, including influential organizations and institutions such as The Boston Consulting Group, NASA, The National Park Service, and The Rockefeller Foundation; influential companies including American Express, IBM, and GE; educational institutions including Brandeis, Harvard, Tufts, and the University of Massachusetts; as well as rising individual stars including entrepreneur and technologist David Rose, psychiatrist John Sharp, and executive Vineet Nayar. John has worked closely with clients in Africa, China, Europe, India, and throughout the United States. He is the author of six books, including Breaking Out: How to Build Influence in a World of Competing Ideas (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013) and is a frequent speaker for clients including American Express, The Chautauqua Institute, Google, and many others. His work has been featured in major publications throughout the world, including The Atlantic, BigThink, The Boston Globe, BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, Hindustani Times, Huffington Post, The Independent, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time. His titles include bestsellers in The New York Times, BusinessWeek, and The Boston Globe. His media work has been featured or awarded honors at festivals and competitions around the world, including The American Film Festival, The Athens International Film Festival, and the Chicago International Film Festival. According to Jeanie Duck, formerly of The Boston Consulting Group and author of The Change Monster, John is a "dream come true as editor and collaborator."