Day124 — Watson Summit ❤

A room with incredible energy produces incredible interactions

December 6th, 2016

Woke up. Jog. Breakfast. Social Media. I discovered a few interesting things online: an interesting article, research initiative, and think tank.

A message was posted on Facebook. The conference room at Spark was booked up until 4:00 for Watson people to practice. So I, Salmine, and Isaac met and walked down together. It was 11:45. I took 30 minutes to practice on my own. I went into a small, private space with no one around and went through my pitch. I definitely have this internalized. I know what I want to say. I’m very consistent when I practice on my own.

Regrouped in the conference room. We each took turns pitching. I was third. I pitched. I delivered the content I wanted to deliver. I got through it without much problem. Feedback: my energy. I didn’t carry the same energy that I carried last night. I seemed a bit exhausted, not fully invested. Make eye contact. Don’t forget. This is important. This was good feedback.

Got lunch with Cicy. Korean food. It’s amazing. We both acted fairly chill. We appeared ready. Now there was just 5 or so hours until show-time. After a certain point, its OK to just do other things.

It’s 1:00. I find myself reflecting on two things. What is my intention for the Summit? What is my expectation for the Summit? “Intention” has been a huge buzz word at Watson, many people have used it many times throughout this semester. While I have a vague idea about what intention means, I still am a bit confused. Time for Google.

  • Intention = attention that’s consciously applied to an area of focus
  • Expectation = to await a specific outcome

Ok, these definitions are helpful. My intention…. What is it? Where is my attention? How is it applied? Where is it focused? At the end of my speech I ask people to share a failure story. My conclusion: failure as feedback. Feedback → learning. There is no shame in learning. There is no shame in failure. This is it. My intention for tonight is to communicate this idea. For people to see failure differently. This is my intention.

My expectation for the night is that I go up and pitch. That is the outcome I expect. To do it, to get through it, that is it. I don’t expect for it to go perfectly. I don’t expect to WOW the crowd. I don’t expect to have meaningful conversations with strangers after my presentation. I would like these things, yes, but I don’t expect them. I am letting my expectations lose, I just need to do it. And to put forth my best effort. To not shy away, but to embrace. Embrace the moment and let the moment happen, however it may happen. This is my expectation.

Walked from Spark to Chautauqua. The pitch would start in just 2 hours. I returned & changed into khakis and a button-down. Everyone was dressed up, getting ready. By this point there was nothing else to do but walk to the venue, which was right here at the park. Us scholars arrived about an hour early so we could help setup. We gathered in a corner and did some mindful exercises. Moving our bodies and breathing deeply. Making noises. Raising our arms. This was helpful, very relaxing.

People slowly trickled in. And the room got pretty full. The final count: 150 people. The event started with an introduction from Eric. He spoke about the meaning of Watson and its future. Then the transition into the pitches. Dwayne. Jack. Cicy. Garrett. Salmine. Vishal. Theresa. Elan. Zake. Kanchan

One-by-one they went. And they were incredible. They made me so proud. They made me so happy. Each one of them presented like champions. They shared their messages with confidence. With energy. I gave much of my attention, much of my presence. I was into it. I wanted to listen. To hear their message. And because of this, my focus wasn’t so much on me. It was on them. Although my hands were starting to shake with adrenaline as Kanchan, the presenter before me, was on stage.

It was now my turn. Nervous, yes. Calm, yes. Present, yes. Ready, yes. And so I shared. I shared my failure story. I talked about the highs and the lows. I talked about failure and what it meant to me. I talked about how my understanding of failure evolved over time. I talked about the games, the groups, the coaching. I talked about my traction at Tulane and at StartupWeekend Boulder. And I talked about the new “failure filosophy.”

Throughout the presentation I felt the audience’s good energy. It is what carried me through. The smiles. The eye contact. The engagement. It fueled me. I communicated what I wanted to communicate with relative fluidity. When I talked about the problem, they cared, they listened. When I made a small joke, they laughed. When I shared my recent success, they interrupted with claps. When I made my conclusion, I heard a few “aha’s” and felt a few light bulbs flicker.

I don’t know what was up. Was it the crowd? Was it the moderators? Was it the previous pitches? Was it me? It was all of the above. A mixture of different things coming to play at once. Like preparing a meal. The ingredients were right, the temperature was right, and the seasoning was spot on. Wow, I felt amazing. I did it. Intention. Check. Expectation. Check.

Concluding remarks. It was over. I felt pounds lighter. Got into line for food and the conversations began. After this pitch, I was now the “failure guy.” If you include both strangers and friends maybe 20 or so people came up to me and congratulated me on a “successful” presentation, and how they felt during it.

I met a few new people. I spoke with employees at a local high school who are embedding social entrepreneurship into their curriculum. They loved my message and would love to chat. I spoke with an employee at StartingBloc, a network of 2000+ of aspiring social entrepreneurs. She wants me to join their network. I spoke with a woman from Bolivia, who shared with me her failure story. I spoke with a couple of guys. I spoke with a Watson alum who currently lives in Denver. And a few others. Meanwhile, I ate lots of food. Lots of pulled pork and cole slaw. Tonight, dinner was on Watson. I took advantage of that!

And just like that, the Watson Summit was a wrap. I was energized, ready to celebrate with my Watson friends. But then my age kicked in. And I got tired. I think the younger folk went out (read these lines with a joking tone!). But I’m staying in. Sleep? Yea, that’s important to me. I really love it. Especially after a long day.

3 Things I’m Grateful for

  • Those who put in so much effort to organize & promote the Watson Summit
  • All of the individuals who attended the Summit and gave such positive energy.
  • Everyone who spoke with me before, during, or after the event encouraging all of my efforts & ideas. This really helps

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