Uncovered: Body Image

Body image. A topic I’ve never talked or wrote about yet it’s been something I’ve struggled with every single day as long as I can remember.

I remember learning to count calories and going on my first diet when I was 10 years old. Yep. Circa 1990, the “low fat food” craze was in full effect and I was a follower. From there, the obsession with trying to look a certain way continued on and on. I know I’m not alone here.

As I get older I’ve become a little more in control of the critical monster in my mind but it still floors me that we haven’t talked about this topic openly. Our society continues to romanticize a certain unattainable “look” and the media backs that very notion up. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Either way, it is happening. Now we have social media, which amplifies and accelerates everything.

So let’s start the conversation. Today, my friend Amy Stanton and I, along with our teams, launched a series called Uncovered via a live Google Hangout (full recorded video has bee posted above). With this passion project, we intend to empower women to have those crucial, societal conversations that most people are intimidated to tackle.

The first one is titled Uncovered: Women + Body Image. We’ve rallied several badass women who are kicking open the (virtual) doors and leading the way for others to uncover what is often unsaid. The conversation must start before we can positively shift these taboo topics.

More about Uncovered:

A group of influential women are participating in the first episode of “Uncovered,” a Google Hangout series for women geared towards shedding light and driving a conversation around important, and sometimes taboo women-centric topics.

This compelling Google Hangout will feature a panel of inspiring women from all walks off life including, former professional beach volleyball star and fitness icon Gabby Reece, Equinox president Sarah Robb O’Hagan, #1 female rock climber in the world Sasha DiGiulian, Primal Yoga founder Liz Arch and Psychotherapist and Author Sarah Brokaw. The panel will be moderated by Hall of Fame soccer player and ESPN/ABC Analyst Julie Foudy. These powerful women will speak about body image, how we define “beauty” and how we navigate through these issues that society has presented. Some of the topics that will be touched upon will include: past and present personal body image struggles, media perception, the pressure to look a certain way and advice to young girls on their self-esteem.

To shed light on amazing women and important topics that women often think about but may not discuss openly.

To watch and listen into the Uncovered Google Hangout, you can RSVP here and utilize the Q&A feature during the hangout. Participate in the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #UncoveredTalks and following @UncoveredTalks. Join us Wednesday, August 20th from 10:15am – 11am PST to uncover this important taboo topic.

Special thanks to Alana Golob and Megan Porteous for their help with putting on the first Uncovered hangout.

Tales of an Entrepreneur

Lessons-Learned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My company, Digital Royalty, just turned five! In social years, which is like dog years, that’s more like 35 years old. As I approach my 5th anniversary as the company’s founder, I realize there are some things that I wish I knew back then that I (kind of) know now when it comes to entrepreneurship:

  1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you start your company, there will be a thousand things each day that you’ve never done. That’s okay.

  2. Beware of shiny object syndrome. More companies fail from a lack of focus vs. lack of business.

  3. Your team is everything. Spend a great deal of time making sure the right people are on the bus and in the right seats.

  4. Entrepreneurs tend to wait too long to hire and too long to fire.

  5. Just because you can do it all, doesn’t mean you should. Realize what you’re uniquely qualified to do and delegate or outsource the rest as soon as you can.

  6. Don’t forget why you started your company. Remind yourself daily. (Or hourly if needed!)

  7. Being an entrepreneur is like the Chicago weather. If you don’t like the way something is going, wait 15 mins. It will change.

  8. Your plan is important but accept the fact that it’s going to change and you will need to adapt.

  9. When recruiting and interviewing talent remember this rule as you evaluate candidates: If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.

  10. You can’t turn your business off but if you don’t take time to go off the grid every once in awhile your business will suffer.

  11. Focus on the long game. Society has romanticized start-ups that burst over night yet that’s not the norm. Steady as she grows.

  12. A diverse support system is critical. You’re going to need more than just family and lifelong friends. It’s lonely at the top.

  13. You can color outside the lines without crossing the line. Disruption and destruction create two different outcomes.

  14. When we practice humility, our growth is accelerated.

  15. The people you choose to do business and the people you decide not to do business with will be the important decisions you make.

  16. Celebrate lessons. Lessons + blessings = Blessons. Accelerate the process of learning by sharing mistakes.

  17. Try to learn the difference between when to make things happen vs. letting them happen. Gas vs. breaks.

  18. Always call people back and return emails. Figure out a system for doing so if you’re “too busy”. It’s worth the time and effort.

  19. A five-degree shift changes your entire trajectory.

  20. Read outside the box. Don’t just read your industry trade articles. Explore beyond.

  21. The company can’t love you back. Logos don’t have feelings. Your team and partners have a human capacity but your logo does not. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t passionately dive in head-first, just manage your expectations.

  22. There’s a big difference between true business partnerships and vendors. Alignment is key for longevity. Transactions are short-lived.

  23. Find a team of mentors and make sure you’re coachable. Then return the favor and mentor others.

  24. Your hustle factor is often your differentiating factor. Work hard.

  25. Where passion, purpose and skill collide, bliss resides.

Where passion, purpose & skill collide

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 9.07.37 AM

What if you took a complete right turn from what you’re doing now in effort to follow what you REALLY want? Where passion, purpose and skill collide, happiness resides.

Awhile back a friend suggested I meet with their friend who was considering moving to downtown Las Vegas. So we met. Cathy Brooks, nice woman, high energy, also in the field of marketing and that was that. She brought her dog to the meeting so I knew instantly that we’d click. Cathy was thinking about bringing her tech/PR/marketing talents to Las Vegas.

Fast forward a few months and I run into Cathy in our community. She made the move! But she decided to do something completely different — to follow her passion. There was a strong need for doggie daycare and a dog park in downtown Las Vegas. (Unfortunately when the mobsters set up shop here many years ago they forgot to add parks and animal amenities. Go figure. ) Cathy to the rescue, her “plan” to move to downtown as a marketing professional was intercepted by her lifelong passion: to work with dogs.

Fast-forward less than a year and I find myself touring The Hydrant Club, Cathy’s creation. To witness someone who has found their perfect spot, no pun intended, is something magical. I get chills thinking about how at home and happy Cathy was when showing me around her park.  She’s created that intersection where purpose, passion and skill collide.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 8.53.05 AM

Cathy’s “plan” was to continue her marketing/PR career in order to eventually someday be able to follow her passion. Then serendipity struck. So many of us live by that same template. Do ________ (insert college degree-centric job) until you can afford to do _______ (insert passion here). But what about now?

I asked Cathy, what advice do you have for others so they can also spend their time doing what they love? Was there a specific moment when you just knew? A sign? She said not really. There wasn’t a white flash or “ah ha” moment. It was more of a series of events, experiences and lessons that consistently pointed toward a new path. What’s unique about Cathy is that she listened to herself, the community and the universe and then took action on what she heard.

I’ve been trying to learn more about how this process happens. Seems one of the misunderstandings is that we can’t look for that intersection where our purpose, passion and skill collide. We have to create the space because it likely doesn’t yet exist.

More about Cathy’s journey here in her TEDx Talk:

Your Guide to Thrive at South by Southwest

sxsw-011

After attending the Interactive portion of SXSW in Austin for many years, I’ve developed a bit of a strategy for navigating through the chaos. Some of you may have followed the event virtually, experienced FOMO and plan to go next year and some of you might be exhausted from the past week. Here are a few things that I wish I knew then that I know now:

  • Hold memorable meetings – Reminder, there are hundreds of thousands of people in a small place at one time. Lots of opportunities to meet up with people. In previous years I found myself going from a breakfast meeting to a coffee meeting, lunch meeting, etc. Now I’ve found a secret place to have meetings. There are hammocks, trees for shade, grassy knolls and it overlooks the Colorado River. You can make this your office for an afternoon, bring a blanket, snacks and rotate (schedule) people to meet you there. Works like a charm. I met someone for the first time and we had our meeting sitting on a hammock. Quick way to know if you have a business bond. (Or not.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 2.50.23 PM

  • Running/Walking meetings – This year, I held a running meeting each morning. (Mid-morning, that is.) They hold you accountable for going to bed and getting up at a decent time, you get your workout in and studies show that you think better while exercising. Also, there’s nothing like bonding over a gorgeous jog. (Check the schedule first to make sure you’re not scheduling the jog during a great panel.) There’s a great running route along the water near downtown along Barton Springs, Town Lake Park and Zilker Metropolitan Park.

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 2.36.49 PM

  • Remember the folks back home - For most companies, it costs anywhere from $5-10K to send one employee to SxSW. Your employer needs to see your ROI and if you can bring back enough relevant knowledge to share with the rest of your team, you’ll be more likely to get the ticket to Austin again next year. While you’re out learning (and partying) share some short real-time notes with the folks back at the office who are suffering from FOMO and following you virtually. If you choose to only share Instagram photos and tweets about parties and nightly outings it will appear you’re only partying to the people back at camp.
  • Prepare prior (not while you’re on the flight there.) What sessions do you REALLY want to go to? Do your research. Do you even need a badge? Can you get the same content later online? Book your hotel room now. (Yes, a year in advance.) Make it downtown or within walking distance from downtown. Worst part about SxSW is trying to get a taxi. You will likely have a cocktail at some point so keep that in mind so driving isn’t an option either. Who do you want to meet? Set up meetings prior to arriving in Austin but know some (or most) will change. It’s important to have the intent and attempt in place prior in order to make meetings stick. Once that’s done, rely on serendipity.
  • A few other anecdotal notes: It rains (downpours) at some point every year. Prepare accordingly. All of the restrooms seem to have Spanish signs, Know the difference between damas and hombre. If you just want to go to party and hear the good music, it’s better, easier and less stressful to take time off and go to the music portion of the festival.

30-Minute Power Sessions

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 9.31.13 PM

I have the attention span of a snapchat. It’s become a slight problem and it’s a core reason why I took up knitting. If a meeting goes beyond than 30-45 minutes, there’s no guarantee I’ll mentally “be where my feet are” as the meeting concludes. I bet you can relate.

With my knitting supplies in my purse, I went to my first movie (at a theater) in a few years.  I had anxiety about sitting still for that long, especially knowing that turning my phone on (even if it’s on silent) is not smiled upon. It all worked out, my friend got a scarf out of the deal and I checked the family outing box (and truly enjoyed it).

So, I’ve come up with a recent experiment to limit tasks to 30-minute increments. It’s simple: Focus for 30 minutes on one thing and then do something different. It’s amazing what we can accomplish in 1,800 seconds when we focus, see an end in sight and limit our distractions.

Here’s how I’ve been sprinkling 30-min power sessions into my day, feel free to give them a whirl:

  • Business meetings – very few situations need more than 30-minutes. People just can’t pay attention for much longer. Tips:
    • The person who called the meeting should start the meeting with: “The purpose of this meeting is to ________. “  And they should also be the timekeeper, giving the 5 minutes left warning.
    • If someone asks you if you have a “hard stop”, the answer is yes. Hard stop is code for “Is what you were going to do next more important than this meeting that’s taking longer than it should?”  Nearly everything should be a hard stop unless you’re snowboarding, in my opinion. (I said *nearly. Please don’t get fired over this one.)
    • If you’re a participant and the meeting goes off topic for more than 2 minutes in length, everyone else in the meeting gives you permission to say, “We’re getting a bit off topic here, should this conversation take place in a separate meeting?”
  • Big projects. Tackle them in 30-minute increments. Those heavy, daunting, focus-demanding writing projects, proposals and presentations fall into this bucket. If anything takes much longer than (2-3) 30 minute increments to prepare that it’s probably too long for someone to consume. This will help you avoid Procrastination. We often don’t start on certain projects because we have this myth in our minds that they’re going to take a long time to complete and we don’t have that kind of time to even consider getting started. But! We can find 30 mins.
  • Workouts – Same goes here. I used to slave on the elliptical for an hour plus (captain boring) until I started monitoring my heart rate and learned how to train in intervals. Now I accomplish in 30 mins in what I previously did in 60+ because I’m working smarter not harder. (Duh) And, when I get done with an intense interval and I can still check email on my iPhone after intense intervals while in resting zones.
  • Gamify your day – I am very results-driven, not to mention prize-orientated. For example, if you sit down and work on a big project for 30 mins, reward yourself with (insert prize here). Options could be: go for a walk, check snapchat, have a glass of wine tonight, go on a safari, etc. — whatever pushes your buttons! 

Don’t discount what you can get done in a short amount of time.

Amount of time it took me to write, edit and post this? 24 mins.

The Digital Disappearing Act

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 8.40.45 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital things are disappearing. Literally. Like socks that have been eaten by the dryer. Things are missing, they’re gone. But forever? Will they show up someday? The culprit is Virtual Pixie Dust.

Take Snapchat for example . . . this isn’t news. There’s been a great deal of conversation about that platform and it’s magic ability to share content and make it disappear. But what about other types of disappearing digital data?

Mark Cuban just shared what he sees in his crystal ball for the tech industry. Enter Cyber Dust, an app that lets users send disappearing texts and multimedia.

“Anything that can be misconstrued in any way, shape or form, I’m going to do it on Cyber Dust,” Cuban said. “There’s a digital footprint for everything, and it becomes harder [to own] the playbook of our lives on Facebook or on email or texts. It’s hard to have context that’s right.”

As I process this digital disappearing epidemic, a few questions come to mind:

Is it ever really gone? The content, that is. Where does it go? Can an intern at Snapchat access these short videos that have disintegrated from the publisher’s (my) hands? Does Cyber Dust have an insurance policy?

Is this allowed? Can we really erase everything we do? It’s like having a dry eraser following in our digital footsteps. Yep. This is allowed because there were never any rules against the idea. The folks who write the rules would never imagined the need for a ban against digital pixie dust. It simply wasn’t on the rules roadmap.

Is this ‘freedom’ or ‘lack of accountability’? The i-jury is still out on this one.

What else are we going to be able to delete next? Does this raise “free speech” into question? Imagine: No digital footprints, just virtual pixie dust. What if you could lock your information into a virtual vault and only people whom you gave permission could access your digital data? (Kind of like a credit score.)

Vision vs. Sight

VisionQuotez

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a recent formal (wink) board meeting, I encountered a moment I’ll never forget.

Each month, I meet with my Board of Directors. We’ve never met at a boardroom table or even in an office. These monthly board meetings are conducted at a local bar, over dinner or during a walking meeting through our downtown Las Vegas neighborhood.

I digress . . . this post isn’t about board meetings, but it was necessary picture to paint for the plot of this post.

One of my fellow board members has this ‘project‘ going on, which I’ve written about and mentioned several times before. It’s a $350 million, privately funded, mission to change a city in a way that’s never been done.

This project is to the local Las Vegas media as a political election is to late night TV and SNL. The daily articles about the project put the efforts in a heroic light during the morning press and then in the afternoon they claim all is evil. The local media, bless their cotton socks, seem confused and exhausting at times. If you don’t live in downtown Las Vegas it can be tough to have a clear lens.

Whether you agree with the Las Vegas “Downtown Project” or not, is not my point.

What happened during our (walking) board meeting the other day explains it all. A homeless gentleman approached one of my board members who happens to be leading the efforts of this project. The man walked up to him, patted him on the back and made eye contact. He said, “Good job, Tony. You’re doing good work down here.”

Tony flashed his famous barely-there-half-embarrassed-of-the-attention humble smile and said, “Thank you.” Then he kept walking and we resumed our board meeting.

Thinking back, the gentleman probably didn’t have a place to sleep that night and he likely doesn’t know where his next meal will come from. However, he showed gratitude and grace because he’s been given hope.

It occurred to me that my board meetings aren’t necessarily about my business. They’re subliminally teaching me about what it means to create and implement a Vision beyond what you can see. Each month guides me. It’s pretty unique to live in an environment where you witness the art of a Visionary every day. It sure does serve as great curriculum. If you “live it”, you will learn it.

Visionaries don’t predict the future. They place bets on their ability to form and create what the future looks like based on their previous experiences and lesson. There’s a difference between betting against the house while gambling blind and placing a steep calculated bet on the belief in yourself and the belief you have in the team you’ve attracted.

Nearly two years ago when Tony Hsieh asked me to move my company to downtown Las Vegas he shared his vision with me. None of his vision yet existed in plain sight. Today is a different story. Nearly 2,000 jobs have been created and our neighborhood looks completely different.

Turns out, it doesn’t matter who believes in the Visionary because they believe in themselves enough to draw the right people around them and create physical proof for others.

TEDx Talk: The Renegade Factor

)

So much focus is applied to gender inequality. Instead, I suggest we focus on the common denominators among certain women that allow them to experience hockey stick growth in their careers, and better yet, their lives. Together, we can identify how some women have been able to soar and what other women need to know in order to replicate the formula. The Renegade Factor.

Identifying the consistent ingredients that women need to have in order to exceed the baselines that have been established will allow us to replicate the formula, implement it into our society and schools and accelerate the process of women breaking through.

The rise of women is not the downfall of men. Absolutely not. However, women are one of the most valuable resources in the world yet a large majority of these resources aren’t being applied toward discovering solutions and overcoming challenges. This isn’t about doing “good”; it’s about evolving as a society. It’s about global growth and equal contribution.

 

Fail Early and Often (then celebrate)

Failure

By: Amy Jo Martin

I’ve become a professional student of failure. I figure the better students of failure we become, the more successful we’ll become. Here are a few notes I’ve taken while getting schooled:

Failure is not a stigma; it’s a badge of honor. I recently had the opportunity to list to Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist at Google, talk about innovation. He said, “We don’t fail, we morph. We launch often and early – ship and iterate.” For example, gmail was in beta for five years. They didn’t wait for perfection; instead they focused on constant improvement. The first Google Glass prototype took 90 minutes to build, and it looked like ski goggles (shown below). The quicker we fail, the quicker we learn how to improve. Every time we fail, we end up taking knowledge from that situation and applying it to the next project, solution or concept.

Google_Glass_slide

You’d be surprised at the long list of products that have been killed at Google, not to mention the 72 projects have been publicly killed. Someone has even been kind enough to create a virtual burial ground for all the RIP Google products.

It helps if we better understand the process of learning. I just read The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and he explains that the secret behind getting really good at something is by understanding how to fail smarter. The struggle (mini, frequent failures) we go through when learning is what accelerates the process of learning – there’s a physiological effect that happens during this process and Coyle refers to it as Deep Practice. Plenty of science involved in the process and I’ll spare you the details for now but encourage you to read the book.

So, creating a culture of failure is one of the most important concepts of creating an innovative culture. If we know we can become more talented by failing more frequently, isolating the weak spots and focusing on them until they improve, then we should celebrate, (or at least talk about our failures more) right? Here are a few ways:

Celebrate Blessons - At Digital Royalty, lessons plus blessings equal blessons and we celebrate them! In our team huddles we have a point in the meetings where blessons are shared. It becomes a moment of pride because we’re helping our fellow teammates out by allowing them to learn from our lessons and leapfrog our mistakes.

Document Failures - Not only should we document our failures but also the lessons learned from those failures. You can create a Wall of Failure in your office or home, keep a list of failures, post your failures on your refrigerator, or your home screen on your mobile phone, just make sure to post the lessons learned as well. Want to learn more about failure walls and see some specific examples? Here ya go.

Semantics - Sometimes the word “fail” trips us up due to the negative connotation. A few other handy, and somewhat cheeky, synonyms and phrases to replace that evil word: false step, non-success, non-performance, stalemate, “I tripped”, “I’m sailing through a lesson at the moment”, “It’s time to pivot”.

As mentioned in Renegades Write the Rules:

“Fail early so when everyone else jumps on the bandwagon, their best practices are being polished while others’ are just starting to fail. Sometimes it’s not about being the best or smartest; it’s about being the first to try and the first to learn from failure.”

 

My First 365 Days in Las Vegas

SerendipCity

I’ve sat down to write this post a few times. For someone who’s written a 55k+ word book, you’d think I’d be able to easily write a simple blog post about where I live. Nope. What I’m about to explain is complicated and difficult to put into words. Here goes . . .

A year ago, my team and I packed up our bags and our hashtags. We moved our company, and our lives, to Las Vegas. Not only did we move out west to Sin City, we moved to “Old Vegas.”  (Have you ever seen the movie Casino? Yep. The MOB museum is a block away from our office.) And yes, by the way, people actually do LIVE in Las Vegas. I’ve been asked this question numerous times since moving here. Someone has to turn on the neon lights and clean up after all of the tourist’s shenanigans.

So a year ago, we were the new kids on the block. There was one restaurant we frequented in our neighborhood and a pocket full of vision for this thing we call “The Project.” For the past year, the majority of my team and I have both lived and worked in Downtown Las Vegas. If you’re not familiar, there’s quite a bit of change going on here. The private budget is $350 million and wishes are being granted quicker than tourists get tipsy. You can read about the lofty goals and mission online. In fact, let me Google that for ya. If you’re not up to speed on how Digital Royalty ended up here, take a peek at this.

I realize there’s been plenty of national, international and local press about this “project” so I will refrain from the details, which you can read by the fancy publications who have (hopefully) done their fact checking on numbers. Thus far, 483 jobs have been created as a result of The Project (not including construction jobs). A year ago. The Project toured about 40 visitors each month and now we’re touring about 700 folks each month.

My goal is to lend an insider’s lens – my own. This isn’t a Downtown Las Vegas rah-rah cheerleader post and it’s not a Downtown Vegas hater post. It’s just what I’ve personally experienced as an entrepreneur who moved their business, team and life to the “epicenter of sin.”

If you’re considering visiting the “project”, moving yourself or your company here, or if you simply don’t get what all this new hype relative to “Old Vegas” is about, hopefully the following bullets help. I tend to think in bullet points, because they dare me to keep things brief. Often times these bullets turn into paragraphs but that’s okay, bullet points comfort me.

My lessons and observations after living and working in Downtown Las Vegas for the past year:

  • There’s no room for judgment here. That’s one of my favorite aspects. It’s not uncommon to be standing on a corner downtown next to a tourist from Nebraska with a yard of beer, a VC, Tony Hsieh (the project’s visionary), a start-up entrepreneur, a celebrity or Spiderman (walking to work at the Fremont Experience). Flying Elvis? Yes, we have flying Elvi too. It’s a beautiful mixture. When we mix things that don’t typically get mixed, innovation combustion occurs. Living here is a cross between a rad retirement community, college and Vegas.  Imagine if Walt Disney ran Silicon Valley but everyone lived on the set of Cheers. It’s a little like that but with a few other indescribable twists which pop up daily.

  • Pre Project Days, about four years ago, Tony Hsieh and I were on the corner of Fremont St. and Las Vegas Blvd. We were leaving Michael Cornthwaite’s Downtown Cocktail Room (aka, DCR). Tony mentioned that he wanted to build a nacho bar at the corner right there. Turned out, he couldn’t get the space but it turns out he took over City Hall instead and created what I call SerendipCity.  Eventually, he did get the space and The Inspire Theater is going to open soon. This community is a place where thinking big is encouraged and reverse engineering your dreams into reality is actually possible.

  • When I first moved here, I was informed that the goal is to “accelerate serendipitous interactions.” We call these “collisions.” So we’re on a mission to speed up serendipity. Sounds like fluff, eh? Turns out, this is real. If you bring a group of like-minded people in a condensed area, they will literally run into each other and create collisions. Because the people have like-minded personal, professional and social roots, these collisions become quite valuable. Fluff. Restaurants, street corners and elevator are the home of high-volume, equal value exchange. (Translation: Sh*t gets done faster when people who are like-minded actually like each other and are placed in condensed spaces.)

  • If you build it, they will come. Right? Nope. This experience has already proven that if you bring the right people, they will build it.

  • The people in this community aren’t here to gamble. In fact, rarely does anyone I’ve met here actually gamble. We’re in it for the experimental community experience.

  • This is the land of over-stimulation. If you let it, SerendipCity plus Sin City (the strip) can be overwhelming and distracting, especially to start-ups. Shiny Object Syndrome originated here. There are 97 tempting and entertaining things going on each night. Focus. (Thank you again, Captain Obvious.)

  • There’s this email list called The Ogden Peeps. It’s a list of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who live in a building at the epicenter of The Project, called The Ogden. I’m pretty sure there are many folks on the list who don’t actually live there (like me.) My first memorable encounter of the type of communication exchange that happens on Ogden Peeps was someone who was making pancakes on floor 15 and had leftovers. Then someone needed a ride to the airport, someone who lost a dog, then someone who found a dog, etc. The other night this happened. This email list is a blessing (it’s a wish granter) and a curse (the “reply to all” committers get annoying).

  • “The Project” is not just a tech start-up scene. Tech is only $50 million of the $350 budget. Peanuts! I kid. Seriously though, Music, Arts, Education, Small Businesses, Fashion and other things that haven’t been invented yet are being equally funded. For example, First Friday each month brings 20-30k people together in one night to celebrate art, music and food.

  • Recently, The Project has become bigger than Tony Hsieh. A year ago, I don’t know if I could have made this same statement. Tony was the major brain and heartbeat a year ago. He’s still the visionary at this point, but the community has developed its own heartbeat, which grows in strength daily as new serendipitous DNA moves in and we’re fueled by the momentum of our energy and passion.

  • It’s not called Lost Wages by accident. This city doesn’t stop. I had to learn to run my own race. If I try to keep up with the tourists who visit for 48-hours and head back to reality, my world will be a losing reality. Pace yourself. Things don’t close here and the neon show will outpace you. The house always wins, especially if you don’t make it back to your own house before the sun rises.

  • Downtown makes you smarter. We have this forum, which started in construction trailers and we loosely called the Speaker Series. People come and give talks. People like inventors, futuristic 3-D printer gurus, astronauts, Lady Gaga’s manager, etc. This past Friday, David Copperfield was interviewed by Kevin Rose in our Learning Village. These gigs are free to attend. Speakers from all over the world donate their time to come in and talk to the community, learn and share what they’ve learned. Talent is gravitating this direction for the right reasons.

  • The area where this community is forming is a work in progress. It’s not exactly Nantucket (yet) and it’s not uncommon to hear sirens, helicopters, and bears at night. Okay, no bears yet, but common sense has a strong ROI in SerendipCity.

  • It’s hot here. Really hot in the late spring, summer and early fall. I cannot tell a lie.

  • There was one-ish restaurant, that I considered an option, when we moved here. ONE. Now, there are more than 10 options which means there’s a strong demand for running trails (which are on their way). Many of us  gained a few pounds and had to realize we’re not back in college. (The bottomless beer and no closing time doesn’t help. Leapfrog my mistakes, snag the heavy lessons.)

  • Intent is the only dictator in SerendipCity. If your intent isn’t in the right place, you won’t stay. Not only will you not want to stay, but also you won’t feel welcome. (Because politely, you won’t be even if you have the next brilliant “Facebook” idea in your pocket.) If your intent is to contribute and participate in the community, you will instantly gain a large group of friends who care about you, which is priceless.

  • I wish it wasn’t called “The Project.” That sounds so temporary and has sterile tendencies. I’ve told Walt Tony about this and he’s not really into naming things. He figures people will see them how they see them. (That’s partly why he’s so brilliant, yet I’d personally like to rename the Project “SerendipCity”.)

  • Not sure if Elvis didn’t like to jog through parks or what but there’s a lack of Mother Nature Downtown at the moment. We’re working on it though. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Lake Las Vegas, and Lake Mead are not far away. At the moment, this is my biggest challenge.

  • Sometimes people get frustrated with the intentional lack of intense formal systems and procedures with The Project but it’s been designed that way. There are guard rails in place to guide us, but they don’t suffocate.

  • The State of Nevada ranks near the very bottom of U.S. education lists. Downtown Las Vegas is the home of some of the lowest literacy and graduation rates in the country. That doesn’t change overnight. A new school has been built and the City is working on improving the existing schools, but it’s still a challenge.

  • Downtown is pet friendly. There are lots of animals down here. (No pun intended.) No parks yet, but there’s a dog park coming soon which means Yappy Hours are also on their way – Yay.

  • As I mentioned, wishes are being granted. There’s a wall in Tony’s apartment in The Ogden where the Downtown tours begin. The wall is plastered with sticky notes so when people tour through they can submit their ideas of what they’d like to see created in Downtown Las Vegas. If you have the passion and are willing to put in the hard work, anything is possible. I’ve literally seen it happen on many occasions.

  • Construction – There’s quite a bit of construction going on Downtown. It’s equally annoying and encouraging. As soon as you get fatigued by the equipment you’re served delicious chips, salsa, and margaritas by the new establishment a half a block away.

  • So 483 jobs have been created and we’re touring about 700 new folks each month. In the next 90-120 days the following will happen: the Zappos Headquarters (a few thousand people) will move from Henderson, Nevada to downtown Las Vegas, 80k people will be entertained in the heart of downtown thanks to the two-day Life Is Beautiful festival, a new school will open, the Inspire Theater will open and the Container Park will open.

  • If we fix the cities, we fix the world. Right? Yes. If we can create a Start up city in the most unexpected place in the world known as Sin City, we can do it anywhere. Anything is possible

So please don’t tell anyone about Sin City’s little secret known as SerendipCity. We’re overflowing. Wink. If you do find yourself in our neighborhood though, feel free to schedule a tour and reach out to us!