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

Creating a Legacy of Passion-Driven Education

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Santa Maria, California Startup Weekend

The United States is home to one of the most static education systems in the world. We often view a graduation tassel as the first gunshot in the race that is life. Once you have graduated, you are expected to get a higher paying job than those with no degree.  However, graduating high school or even college isn’t enough anymore — and it can’t promise a rewarding job or a steady income. Many students are still lacking basic, fundamental skills that they need to achieve sustainable success.

We can begin to remedy this problem by implementing more entrepreneurial skill sets into our national curriculum. Entrepreneur Cameron Herold, who also held the TEDx talk “Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs,” explains that education reform is something that we have to be entrepreneurial about — and that open-source learning will be the future of education as we know it. Cameron suggested in our discussion how starting with “platform speaking, handling objections, and finances” as core skills to teach.  He also mentions “teaching self-reliance rather than sitting back and waiting on the government to do something for you” as a compelling new approach to traditional education. With the rapid evolution of modern business and technology, we can’t wait on others to reform education for us. 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

How Startup Weekend Works

See full version at our Startup Weekend blog…

In order to be a company with transcending qualities, your core missions and goals must be well known. If every single employee or team member cannot recite the collective goals, something is missing. I am not implying that every person on your team should recite the manifesto word for word but they should be able to summarize it. Test it out in your office sometime. Randomly ask people what their company does. Who do they do it with? And most importantly, why do they do it? Continue reading