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Subscribe to Curious Tribe, a weeklyish email from the brain of Justin Shiels, designed to spread a little love.

i blame the iphone

There are so many things competing for our attention these days and it seems like everyone is a little more irritable, a little more exhausted, a little more emotionally fatigued.

Given a limited amount of energy, we have to be careful where we direct our focus.

And recently I’ve found my face 8 inches from this magical device that houses all the information in the universe. More often than not, it’s primary purpose in my life is endlessly scrolling through photos and text and funny videos of little children saying ridiculous things.

When I decided that I wanted to start creating more, I knew the first step was to quiet the noise and focus on producing my own content.

What are you want to create today?

Make it something simple.

Then set a timer for 25 minutes and see how far you get it.

When the timer goes off you’re done.

If you’re in the groove and want to keep going, reset the timer for another 25 minutes.

Do this every day for a month.

5 podcasts

In the beginning, podcasts were beyond boring, but years later they have become one of the most interesting ways to learn, laugh, and connect with your internet famous friends. Here’s a list of my 5 personal favorites.

Missing Richard Simmons – A 6 part story that investigates why America’s favorite fitness guru totally disappeared from the public in 2014.

The Read – 2 queer commentators throw shade and spill tea about black celebrity gossip. No star is safe, except Beyonce and Blue Ivy.

How I Built This – Learn the startup stories of some of the biggest innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists.

Reply All – A weekly podcast about kooky internet culture. Episodes have included trained rats, time travel, celebrity dogs, and lovelorn phone scammers.

Call Your Girlfriend – A podcast where long distance besties talk pop culture, politics, and menstrual cycles.

all the feelings


I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness. More specifically, the pursuit of happiness and how it can be this all-encompassing marker of success.

Being human is complex.

And so often we can feel so many feelings at the same time.

I’m happy that I reached this goal.

But I’m a little annoyed because I haven’t eaten in a few hours

And I feel a few pangs of guilt for having to flake on meeting with my friends

Lately, I’ve been trying to embrace all of those feelings. Instead of projecting this image of always having it together, I’d prefer to be the living embodiment of all of these little nuances.



wait for it


8 months of indecision are maybe over soon. Leaning into the impermanence of my existence.


Introducing Curious Mail

Beautiful Humans,

In this email I’d like to introduce the Curious Mail, but first a little back story.

I had finished about 80% of the content for the first issue of the Curious Tribe digital magazine and plotted out the next 12 issues… then He Who Shall Not Be Named was elected President of the United States of America.

I was already reeling from a breakup with my longterm boyfriend and the reality of this massive step backward for our country threw me into a sadness unlike anything I had ever experienced.

I was on total autopilot for 3 full days. I flew to New Jersey for a Dear World photoshoot and listened to the stories of college students and faculty trying to process Hillary’s earth shattering loss. I smiled when I was supposed to and gave genuine hugs to people in pain, but ignored my own feelings for fear that they would leave me unequip to do my job.

When I finally got home, I crawled into bed and stayed there for 6 days, only getting up to find fast food and make cocktails. I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone and discovered Desperate Housewives, an ABC show on Hulu with 8 seasons chock full of drama and intrigue. The perfect distraction.

I slept. I cried. I mourned my losses.

And on the seventh day, I got up. There wasn’t a miraculous healing. I was absolutely not okay. I was actually genuinely depressed. But I needed to throw myself into a project. I needed to make something, so I could work through my feelings. So I built and launched the first issue of the Curious Tribe magazine online. I even built a fully functioning iphone app, but held off because I knew I wasn’t quite ready. The idea was close but not quite where I needed it to be.

While I was in bed those days, I kept coming back to the same question: How do we change the hearts and minds of people that make their decisions from fear and in the worst cases hate?

That question has haunted me for months and to this day I still don’t have a solution. But I discovered something that I knew to be true along the way. These are scary times and many of us are living our day to day lives feeling like zombies. For months, I was one of those zombies.

We have to stay engaged; we have to stay informed; and we have to continue to resist. But even in these troubling times, I decided that one valuable form of resistance is consistently spreading joy. People need to smile. People need to feel affirmed. People need to feel empowered to build their happiest life.

Curious Tribe started because I wanted to redefine the idea of a traditional magazine and that goal still remains. Over time, however, I’ve realized that the real mission is to inject a little joy into your everyday life.

In business, this is called a pivot, when you abandon the initial concept to work on Plan B. Initially, I wanted to create a digital experience that helped creative professionals grow their business. Right now, I think there’s more value in creating an offline experience that spreads some much-needed love in the world.


Curious Mail is designed to delight, encourage and intrigue.

Every month you’ll receive a surprise delivered to your doorstep:

  • a beautiful art print
  • 2-3 amusing cards
  • our motivational newsletter
  • and a small gift

It’s $19 a month or $45 for the quarter.

The big thing for me personally is that I will be moving from curator to creative by designing and illustrating the majority of the content. (Below is a collection of work from the past few years.)

5 Creative Entrepreneurs to Watch

Every month we highlight creative people that you should know. Are you making waves in your local community or online? Get on the list.


Trevor Mark Photography
Photographer Trevor Mark

New Orleans-based photographer Trevor Mark embodies what it means to be a freelancer. He specializes in beautiful wedding photography that reflects the emotion of the moment. Beyond that he’s built a portfolio of natural lifestyle photos that feel authentic and full of joy.

“Beauty can be seen in all things. Seeing and composing that beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Trevor Mark Ekanger

Image via @sara_gabriellas




Curator Maceo Paisley

Maceo Paisley embodies the term “creative entrepreneur.” He’s a singer, a dancer, and a model. He also runs a print magazine. Most recently, he’s worked with Teresa Hu to launch Nous Tous, a gallery and retail space located in Old Chinatown, Los Angeles.

The duo has partnered to create products and experiences that invite patrons to think critically and familiarize themselves with their own intuitions in the hope of building empathy and finding creative identity.

Nous Tous is a retail gallery and cultural exchange that works to support emerging creative talent and serve as a stepping stone and creative think tank to explore new career paths in the fields of art and design.





Digital Entrepreneur Regina Anaejionu

The internet is full of it’s fair share of online entrepreneurs, but Regina Anaejionu is the real deal. She helps coaches, teachers, and digital nomads that want to profit from their knowledge + passions in a purposeful and authentic way. She creates epic content and hosts incredible workshops and online courses. She is also the queen of the hotel workation and most importantly is learning JiuJitsu.

Photo by: @rickyflorack




Musicians John Michael Rouchell and Alvin Ford, Jr. of Tysson

New Orleans duo Tysson creates effortless alternative pop music. Band members John Michael Rouchell and Alvin Ford, Jr. “are 20th century musicians living in the 21st century world.” Their new self-titled EP offers candid lyrics with vibrating electronic production that hits you square in the heart.

Photo By:@electraking





Coach and Business Strategist Cyndie Spiegel

Cyndie Spiegel is genuinely magnetic. She’s the type of person that will ask you a simple question that makes you feel like you could change the world. Following her instagram feed keeps you inspired and goal-focused. She created The Collective of Us as a business accelerator for women entrepreneurs.

Photo By: @irajames




An Update


Over the past week I’ve been focused on developing incredible content for the first 4 issues of the Curious Tribe magazine.

I want this magazine to be more than just words and pictures.

It’s genuinely important to me for each issue to have interactivity that takes advantage of all the technology available to us. This means the addition of video, an incredible resource library, and audio slideshows.

But most importantly, I want this magazine to genuinely connect with our subscribers.

I need your feedback.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing in your day-to-day business life? Is there something specific you need help with? Does it feel like there’s something holding you back?

Send us a tweet to let us know what you think. 

Weekly Roundup: The Feel Good

“Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker


This week I wanted to specifically focus on spreading love, joy, and self care. Primarily, because if I hear one more thing about “he who shall not be named,” I might just explode.

Here’s an original illustration I created inspired by



Apparently your astrological sign can tell you exactly how you should cope with stress.

Janne Willems likes to play with societal rules and perspective. This former employee of Loesje started the international social art project Seize Your Moments in which she approaches strangers to draw a beautiful moment moment from last week. Her mission is to collect 1000 beautiful moments per continent. I love this Ted Talk.

Mother O has been spreading gems my entire life. Here are 5 Oprah Life Mantras That’ll Make You Content With Your Imperfect Present.

Why do humans often want to create a world of “us” vs. “them”? And what can we do about this unhelpful, often damaging, yet somehow reassuring instinct? Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger has some useful advice.

I’ve been spending the majority of my time trying to distract myself with good tv. I’m beyond excited about the Gilmore Girls reboot.

I’m really digging a Tshirt I’m seeing everywhere that reads “The Future is Female.” Here’s the story behind the phenomenon.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year and this meme makes me smile at least 3 times a day.     

It’s surprisingly easy to book a quick, last-minute getaway without drawing up a new budget for your winter vacation plans. Let’s take a break.