Til It’s Over

Looking Back

Since I wasn’t sure how to begin this or could decide on what I really wanted to say, I started by looking back on my initial introductory blog post. Before long however, I was reading through the whole class’ introduction blog posts.

For me, that says it all.

When I first learned that I had been admitted to TechTrek, I was stoked for mainly two reasons. One, I was going to have the chance to go home for spring break and two, I was going to see and speak with an incredible mix of entrepreneurs and businesses. While I was looking forward to meeting the class, never did I think that they’d be people who would made this trip unforgettable.

For me, I’ve been lucky enough to go on two other school sponsored, week long trips in my life. One was the to the Washington DC in eighth grade with a travel group and the other was to a sustainability based program called the Island School. While both trips resulted in incredible friendships and impactful experiences, I don’t either had as fun or as caring of a group as the TechTrek crew.

Thus, despite being a technology focused trip, my biggest takeaways were less about the tech and more pertaining to the people that made the tech and the trip possible.

The Trip

Starting with our first dinner Sunday night, I was blown away by the thought and consideration that seemed go into every one of CJ’s and Jesse’s answers. In particular, Jesse’s short talk was transformative for me in my understanding of cryptocurrencies. As someone who has read extensively on cryptocurrencies for a couple years now, I had actually begun to lose interest earlier this semester after CJ came in and gave a talk on ICO’s. Although I’m sure he pointed out many positives that I simply missed, my biggest takeaway from the talk was that crypto centric venture capitalists have an unfair advantage in the ICO process. This idea was extremely discouraging to me since I had always thought cryptocurrencies would take the power away from institutional investors through their decentralized existence. Jesse helped relieve me of my crypto pessimism by clearly articulating the value of cryptos as an asset. Although I’m sure I had read about cryptos in this context before, my understanding had been clouded by the idea that cryptos’ purpose is to act as a form of currency (like their namesake) or at very least a vehicle for fiat currencies. His talk, along with some of my questions he answered, allowed me to realize the potential of cryptos as an asset, something I again believe could help create incredible positive change.

While our dinner that first night was my favorite part of the trip, my second choice had to be our last visit.

Completely burnt out from the three companies we had visited earlier that day and the twenty plus we had visited over the course of the week, it took everything I had left in me to stay focused during our visit to Split. This effort was well spent since it was during the visit that I think I started to understand the purpose and importance of values in a company. Although almost every other company we had visited before had talked about their values, it was difficult to understand their significance to the company and why they were anything more than some “buzzwords” they had hung up on the wall. However, after asking Trevor what gave their values authenticity, I began to learn that values aren’t just some arbitrary words or ideas but principles that have come out of the experience of building a company. Not only did this transform my understanding of values but it helped me realize that building a company is just as much about applying lessons that come out of building it as it is about having the expertise needed to do so in the first place.

The second bit of advice from Split that stuck with me was that a great group of people can substitute for a sexy idea. For me, this was especially impactful since I believe life isn’t always going to allow us to pursue exactly what we want when we want. Moreover, happiness rarely comes from what we think we want but rather the process of pursuing something and our relationships with the people who are going through that thing with us. Thus, despite being a tech focused trip, this advice gave the trip very human centric end.

The People

Along with helping me see that I misspelled “learned” in my first sentence, reading over my introductory blog post made me realize how backwards my initial understanding of TeckTrek was. This misunderstanding is summed up in the conclusion to my introductory blog in which I state “More than anything, I hope to use TechTrek as a way to better understand our changing world.” Not only might that be most unoriginal and overreaching sentence of all time but it fails to reference the force behind TechTrek and our changing our world. In other words, the people.

Not only was it the people that made this trip as fun as it was but it was the people and relationships we shared that I learned the most from. Without that, the tech doesn’t matter.

 

Side Note: Here’s a link for the song from the Apple commercial (not going to call it a film even though it was hella dope). You may recognize the title 😉

5 thoughts on “Til It’s Over

  1. First of all, you are a hero among men for finding the Apple song: Thank you!!! I just read Mike’s post and I’m in a very reflective and appericative spot for the opportunity to go on this trip, to meet all the amazing companies, to experience San Francisco/Palo Alto, and to connect with the class. Your note about CJ and Jesse’s thought and consideration really resonated with me. What was most impressive to me about the whole trip was how universally true this was for every company we visited. For most of the people we met, they were not primarily profit driven and this is a disruptive concept for many kids in our class used to east coast business.

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  2. Will, it was so awesome to get to know you on this trip. You were probably the person I knew the least before packing my bags to go to San Francisco. You (along with JB) did an amazing job showing everyone around, so I think we all owe you a thank you for that. I totally agree with your point that the people made this trip. Not only our fellow peers (I never would have expected to make so many deep connections), but also the entrepreneurs and executives at tech giants that we met. We got to witness their passion firsthand, and their ethic: Angus the ambitious leader at Ouster, Margaret Gould Stewart the powerhouse of design at Facebook, and Doug Mack the experienced CEO at Fanatics to name a few. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience, and I am glad to have shared it with you and all our other classmates!

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  3. Your SF insights added so much value to the trip! I completely agree, the trip to Cali (and I know you know I’m saying this ironically) was so memorable because of the people– getting to know you, the rest of the class, and being introduced to some incredibly brilliant minds on the best coast are what made this trip incredible. I also think that the Split visit was one of my favorites. We walked into that office exhausted and a little delirious, but the environment was so real and startup-y; all about the grind, hyper-focused on company values and goals.

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  4. After visiting a bunch of massive billion-dollar companies, I too felt that the values they talked about were merely buzzwords and for good PR. However, all of these companies started somewhere like Split and ultimately, these values are born from the work, mistakes, and goals of a company. These thoughts about culture and values have pushed me to think more deeply about businesses as more than just product creators. Now, I think of businesses as complex systems with their own unique rules and belief systems. Thank you Will for being a solid roommate and for being our unofficial SF tour guide!

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  5. When there’s a Will, there’s a way.
    Despite openly admitting you thought I was a weirdo when you first heard me laugh, I’m happy that our friendship has grown since that moment of laughter. Two claps. Thanks for imparting all the local knowledge of what Frisco has to offer, I really feel like a local Cali boy now. I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment of the last visit- I really thought that the start up vibe of Split encapsulated what it means to be in Silicon Valley. I also agree with your thought that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had high expectations for what TechTrek was to be, but I feel like I was looking in the wrong direction or just flat out didn’t know what to expect. I guess the KoolAid does that to ya. Man, I’m happy to hear that we could bring a unique and positive perceptive to your hometown, and I look forward to laughing around you for a while.

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