I recently announced my plans for a 12-month Founders Live world tour. This post covers the last month and other lessons from my journey and what I have learned from taking the biggest risk of my life to date. Follow along here on this blog and here.
The latest month’s travels took me to Denver and Boulder and reached the 11,000 milestone. You can read about our late April drive into the state here. It’s a pretty amazing state.
We arrived in Denver and went directly to my good friend from college Thao’s house in Wash Park area of Denver. This is a nice area of the city, and Wash Park is a “Green Lake of Denver” park, where many people go to hang out and run/walk during the week. During my time staying at Thao’s place, we chilled out, watched hoops, hung out with his family, spend Cinco de Mayo at one of his friends places and went to a Rockies Game one weekend. It was really good to see my ol’ college buddy and get to know his family.
We had our Founders Live Denver event on May 9th at Galvanize Golden Triangle. It was a was fun event, with growing energy in Denver for the event. We originally launched Founders Live Denver in fall of 2017, but it had taken a bit of a hiatus over the last few months, and it felt good to see things get back in motion. The Denver/Boulder area is a burgeoning hotbed for innovation and technology, and we definitely want to make sure we have a strong community and brand in that area of the country. The event’s winner was Event Integrity – At Event Integrity, we help people organize events with confidence.
They did a great job during their pitch and during the Q&A with the audience. Also exciting that night, I met Greg Narain at the event, who has now become our next city leader for Founders Live Denver. Greg spent many years in Silicon Valley and has vast experience as a founder (even building out his own brand called FounderCraft) so I have full confidence Greg can take and run with what has already been established in Denver.
That weekend, Thao and I decided to get out and go to Colorado Rockies Game. It was a fun night to hang with him, boys night out at the baseball game. The weather was a bit back and forth and that night it stormed and rained a bit but not enough to delay the game. I remember wearing a Colorado Rockies hat at like 10 years old when they were an expansion team back in the 90’s, so it was fun to go to Coor’s Field.
My next Airbnb was in Aurora, CO, just outside Denver and was a shared room. This place was $11 per night, and a shared downstairs area like a hostel with partitioned off rooms. It wasn’t very nice and was kind of a pain in the ass but I spent less than one average night of Airbnb on the entire week staying at this place so it was worth it. In the end, I established my surroundings, found the nearest Starbucks, got my running loop down and got comfortable. Not too bad actually. It even snowed in late May! Which was quite surprising but melted off after a day or so.
After Aurora, it was time to venture to Boulder for the rest of the week. I went on a hike overlooking the city, did the Bolder Boulder 10k run of which 50,000+ people ran that day, had a few meetings at the Google office and worked out of the coffee shops on Pearl St. We then went to Red Rocks Amphitheater and saw a concert – Disclosure. This was a big bucket list thing for me as I have wanted to see a concert at Red Rocks for so long, I just hadn’t had the opportunity until now. The Amphitheater is beautiful and I have to admit is a better place to see a show than The Gorge in Washington. Surprising, it’s a smaller venue than I thought, holding only about 10,000 people total. But the views! And the sound! So great.
I left Boulder and flew back to Seattle for May 30th – June 2nd. This wasn’t a planned trip originally but due to scheduling, flights, and needing to see some of my family I decided to make the quick trip back to Seattle – to remind myself how beautiful the city is under the sun and how great our community really is there. We had Founders Live Seattle event on the 30th at Thinkspace, was great to be back and see all the people. The winner of our Seattle event was Nomena, they are building out some interesting stuff in the data protection space and I’d say they are hitting the market at a perfect time. I actually pitched the TV show concept at the event (find the video of my short talk about the show here), made it much more public. People are loving it. It feels so inevitable at this point and it’s just a matter of getting the right people around it and involved in the appropriate way. We have decided it’s time to get more serious about the show, and what are the next steps to get agents, executive producers and studios involved. Things are progressing at the right speed.
Now entering month 6 of this journey things are at least becoming a bit more clear to me. First, travel does get easier and more manageable as time goes on. You learn your intrigues, your needs and wants, and your daily habits or things you need to do each day and each week no matter the location. You learn how to be flexible. You learn how to be efficient. You learn what’s most important to you and how to get shit done no matter where you are in the world. There’s always a coffee shop or lounge to slide into and work for a few hours. You can still take your calls, but you have the ability to also go see and discover random parts of the world at a moments notice.
Secondly, I am starting to understand myself in more depth. I haven’t discovered the entire end game yet or “who I am” per se, but I am starting to realize who I am not. I am not the man who found himself in Seattle in a less than optimal situation 6 months-year ago. I knew I needed more and needed to evolve and change. To grow. And I needed this experience and all its challenge to pull it out of me. Lastly, with the emergence of the TV Show concept, the growth of Founders Live around the world (40 cities and 15 countries currently reaching tens of thousands of people!) each and every subsequent city experience solidifies 1) my belief in how impactful Founders Live can be in a community and around the world, and 2) the responses of the event and Founders Live brand are the same from city to city. From a user experience and customer research standpoint, this is exactly what I set out to discover. “Yes this is awesome and we need this here in our city.” Yes, I say, don’t worry Founders Live will be here for quite a while!
What’s next? I just left Bozeman Montana and I’m currently on my way to Minneapolis. This next leg of the Tour feels different for a few reasons. This entire tour has been in the West or Southwest of the US, but I am now heading east for quite some time. Initially to Minneapolis, but then to Boston, DC and NYC for the summer months. It feels more serious and I’m now venturing quite a bit farther from home (wherever that may be right now!) so it feels different. Well, see you on the trails.