I sit in San Francisco Airport with Dustin zoning out on my cup of coffee, on 10 hrs of sleep over the last three days, a pocket full of business cards from entrepreneurs & CEO’s the likes of LinkedIn, oDesk, WordPress, Red Fin, Google [x], and an iPhone full of photos of Chase Jarvis, Guy Kawasaki, Toni Schneider, Megan Smith, Gary Swart, and Kenna Klosterman. It’s OK, I know what you’re thinking – wait.. what?!
Let me rewind Tarantino style and explain how I got here – it all started when my girlfriend, Jessica, sent me a link to the contest on Chase’s blog: Secrets of Silicon Valley Contest. Now the funny thing is, I have NEVER entered an online contest of any kind; not the MAXIM Hometown Hotties back in the day, nor the VOGUE Italia glorified Flickr pool that is a rage today. Not to say that I considered it beneath me or I was better than anyone else, actually quite the opposite, if anything popular finally reached my attention it was so far along that I’d be considered a late-adopter aka jumping on the bandwagon. So I declared I would never try and be trendy and enter such things. Leave it to me that the first one I ever actually enter, changed my life forever.
Here was my actual entry on Chase’s blog that I wrote on my lunch break:
Essentially, it’s a story I polished over the years telling it at job fairs, resume building classes, interviews, etc. to rattle my tin cup, that I thought was the same as any other millennial in my shoes during the last 10 years or so. So I went on about my day as normal, working then riding down to my Philadelphia Sports Network kickball league game (don’t make fun it’s the most fun you’ll have on a Wednesday night). It wasn’t until I was at a bar after the game cleaning my 3rd base-slide-ravaged leg in the bathroom sink (which one should NEVER do) that I got a text from my buddy, Dustin, saying that I actually won the Chase Jarvis contest – bullshit. Least that’s what I was saying to myself since I was still in disbelief of course – it’s now 11 PM when I see the email from one of Chase’s producers. Six hours later, I’m on a plane with Dustin to San Francisco and so it begins.
Just to give you an idea of what we walked into, this is the list of speakers that we had the chance to sit in on and speak with:
Reid Hoffman - Founder of LinkedIn & Ben Casnocha, entrepreneur (The Start-up of You)
Tim Ferriss - New York Times bestselling author (Solving your Business Problems)
David Goldberg - CEO of Survey Monkey (The Art of Asking a Question)
Chris Guillebeau - New York Times bestselling author (The $100 Startup)
Pamela Slim - Business coach and author of Escape From Cubicle Nation
Megan Smith - VP of Google[x] (Networks Effects: 21st Century Collaboration and Opportunities)
Guy Kawasaki - New York Times bestselling author (The Art of Enchantment)
Glenn Kelman - CEO of Redfin (How to Sell Your Company without Selling Your Soul)
Sarah Leary & Nirav Tolia - Co-founders of Nextdoor (Look Before you Leap: How to Evaluate a Business Idea)
Spencer Rascoff - CEO of Zillow (Lessons from 15 Years in Tech)
Toni Schneider - CEO of WordPress (Managing a Distributed Workforce)
Gary Swart - CEO of oDesk (How to Get More Done)
Niniane Wang - CTO of Minted (Creating a Great Website on a Budget)
Everyone who spoke was amazing, but a few that specifically spoke to me were Glenn Kelman, Toni Schneider, Guy Kawasaki, and Megan Smith – but what was worth noting was the order they presented in really made the overall messages speak to you, almost grab and shake you in your seat:
- Have a story to tell
- 9-5 office life isn’t for everyone – modern workplace culture shifting toward being more distributed
- Empower people
These ideas being said in that order kept solidifying all the things I already knew but slacked in applying them into my everyday life. After some seven years of freelancing and making my own schedule for the most part, with the exception of studio jobs, I realized I may never be able to go back to a normal 9-5 office job. That thought used to scare me, but speaking with all those entrepreneurs and CEO’s made me realize there’s nothing to be ashamed of; there’s all kinds of thinking out there that doesn’t fit into the typical 9-5 mold and that’s OK.
But don’t fret, we got to do typical tourist things too.
Hanging with friends:
Seeing the sights and being foodies:
And of course, hanging out getting 1-on-1 time with this man, Chase Jarvis, who I owe this all to:
I could keep going on regarding the topic of 9-5 vs. working from home, but since it’s a topic so near and dear to me I think I should just save it for another post all together. In fact, thinking like this lead me to a bit of a breakthrough while I was there as well:
I’ve decided I’m going to start writing a book with the help of Guy’s APE about the story of my tumultuous twenties through a recession and finding my creative passion in the process. Don’t rush to grab your Kindles’ just yet, but know that I am going to start taking moonshots and get my story out there to people in an effort to continue the creativeLIVE mindset of educating whoever is out there wanting to listen about this crazy, life-long thing we do called – art.