Building a city like a startup: Las Vegas

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I’m writing this post from a bright, beautiful condo courtesy of the Downtown Project in Las Vegas, Nevada. You know, sin city? The city that is known for strippers, the Wolfpack, & other cliché characters. I planned my trip here to take the Zappos tour and meet with some of the Startup Weekend community members. I was excited to meet the people but I certainly was not looking forward to the loud sounds of slot machines and tourists wearing fanny packs. Within three hours of stepping foot in Vegas, I realized my preconceived notions were completely wrong.

An Investment in People

On day one, I began with a tour of Downtown Las Vegas. This is not the strip, Elvis doesn’t take your photo, and good luck feeling like a tourist. One of Tony Hsieh’s many ideas, The Downtown Project, is hand crafting a community based on collaboration and creativity. I had read the stories and retweeted the #vegastech related pieces but I had never stepped foot in it until this week. The tour started in Tony’s actual apartment which is seemingly a direct extension of the Zappos office. A representative from the project overwhelmed me with knowledge and ten minutes later, I got it. The excitement in the plans translated into my own system. This is a hugely ambitious project but it’s working. The downtown portion of Las Vegas has been in dispair since the 1950’s. But now, the streets are filled with people eager to change the game of Vegas. Continue reading

What Travel Has Done to Me

whoaI have always been a gal on the move. Whatever that means. Simply sitting idle has never really intrigued me. I can’t stand it. Even in my younger days as a kid in Indiana, I was moving. This means exactly what it sounds like. The longest time spent in a house as a girl was probably three years. To some, this may sound chaotic. But it engrained a belief into my brain that I still cling to today. Sitting still sucks. Continue reading

Your Hometown Does Not Suck

PINNNI stood slightly drunk in a German themed bar in Seattle, Washington on a Saturday night. For a few hours, I was transported back to my hometown. The beer and German food was all it took.

A man aged about 45 years old was on a geography induced tirade. A nice guy but seemingly uneducated on the mere locations of his own country. He was physically shocked at how close my hometown of Evansville, Indiana was to Nashville, Tennessee. “I thought everyone just wanted to go to Chicago,” he asked. When I told him about the other cities near my hometown, he flew into an eyebrow raising conversation. For fun, I told him the truth that I have never even visited Chicago! Hell, I had only just visited Indianapolis for the first time last year! Continue reading

The Odd Bunch: People Who Love Their Jobs

I have a confession. I love my job. I say that with vigor when asked where I work and the general response is usually a solid laugh. Surely, I am being sarcastic? No, I am whole heartedly in love with my job. We’re in a committed relationship that I see no end to anytime soon. I am not wishing away my week and counting down until Friday. I do not dream of being somewhere else while in my workspace. I truly love my job and it’s time I stop apologizing for it. Continue reading

One Gigantic Shared Experience in Brazil

Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend core team on our last night!

I can barely begin to describe my time in Rio de Janeiro so just stalk my Facebook or Instagram for visuals. For the past five days, the Startup Weekend team + our wonderful Organizers shared stories and fun in Brazil.

Once a year, we all come together to learn and figure out how to keep doing what we’re doing. We refined our dance moves with Samba dancers, saw Cristo Redentor, burned ourselves on the beach, lost wallets & phones, held a three-legged race, fell in manholes, & listened to big name speakers like Marc Ecko & Brad Feld. But in the midst of all of it, something bigger happened. Continue reading

Watch this Movie!

“When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me lying around in invisible pieces. When I look too hard, it goes away. And when it all goes quiet, I see they are right here. I see that I’m a little piece in a big, big universe. And that makes things right.”

-Hushpuppy from Beasts of the Southern Wild

Last Sunday, I went to see Beasts of the Southern Wild all by myself. This was the best film to see without any interruption. I cannot even begin to express how utterly beautiful the story is. Not only is the entire film visually gorgeous, it also presents a heart wrenching story. Set in what I assume is a post Katrina, bayou called “The Bathtub,” Hushpuppy and her father brave the elements to survive. It’s told through the narrative of Hushpuppy, the heroine of the film.

By the end of the movie, I felt as if my heart had been busted open then quickly stitched back together before I realized it. You might cry but you will definitely feel things. It’s a wonderful approach to a topic I think Hollywood is often scared to confront. Racism, poverty, and painful family occurrences make the film full of difficult scenes. But, in the end it is a beautiful, beautiful piece of visual poetry.

I’m Having a Bad Day

detroit rockMy travel experience went from 0 to 8.5 in about two months time. I find a special kind of happy when I’m lugging my baggage and frantically running to my gate. So far, I really like these chaotic things happening now. But today, I am having a bad day. Last night, I left my warm apartment in Seattle at 10:00pm. Then, I  took a plane to Detroit and held my eyes open from 6am until 9am. At 11:30am, they alerted us cranky few that the flight was canceled due to mechanical issues. Many were moaning and complaining and saying, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?” One of those public instances where people bond through negative experiences. I do not like!

For all we know, the plane could have blown up into tiny pieces. We’re lucky that it was canceled. However, I am very much-needed in Evansville, Indiana tonight. I’ve accepted this is not going to happen. After helping organize a Startup Weekend in my hometown for the past 6 months, I will miss opening night. Womp womp.

I was shuttled to a creepy hotel where I watched the Beyoncé documentary and had a piece of pizza. I was just accepting the situation. Then, after some badgering from friends, I called Delta back and insisted they put me on a different flight. So, here I sit once again in the Detroit Airport. It’s cold, I’m cranky, & my usually perky demeanor is somewhere on the floor of that hotel. My next flight leaves in an hour where it promises to take me to Chicago. I’m hoping for a smooth transition but who knows. Things are going to happen as they should. I really do not have any control over it. Flights are great experience for control freaks such as myself. We have to let go and trust the fine folks behind the desks and phones will just get us to our destination.

I plan to make it to Evansville sometime tonight. I hope it happens. I have looked forward to this weekend for months and hate to miss our event Skype Steve Blank. Friday night of every Startup Weekend usually sets the tone and pace for the entire weekend. Luckily, the organizing team is phenomenal and they will be just fine without me.

Cheers to this bad day. It’ll pass and soon I’ll be in my hometown at the very event that changed my life in the first place. I’m going to throw on some Bob Marley and ride out this day.

Too Many Awesome Links Sunday

spacemanI was about to share about three or five different pieces I read this morning. Then, I realized how annoying that will be to my fellow internet friends. So I will just share them here.

Disruptions: On the Fast Track to a 3-D-Printed Future

Nick Bilton of NYT did a catchy few words on the rise of 3-D printers in America. If you’ve ever seen one of these bad boys in person then you can relate to the excitement. I watched one make an optical prototype out of corn product last year. It’s a ridiculous method of creating tangible products. This is a great read to see the progress of 3-D printing, check it out!

Are We Alone in the Universe? 

I also came across a great TED video playlist that revolves around the simple question, “Are we alone?” Fascinating and sometimes spooky research at SETI allows us to begin the early phases of answering the question. One notion that baffled me is when Seth Shostack commented on how seeking out other lifeforms will undoubtedly allow us to progress our own world. If you’re into extraterrestrial things like I am, then give these videos a look.

This Week At Startup Weekend

Things are going well in the Startup Weekend office. This week we joined the national bandwagon of doing the Harlem Shake, duh. You can catch me riding the horse. I mean Dan. Please note all the hidden gems throughout the video. There are a lot. Such as Deb skyping in from London on one of the laptops. Or our main man, Marc wearing a robot hat made out of a box.

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And then we celebrated our fabulous organizers on Valentine’s Day!