Holy Shit! Summit at Sea makes me part of the well funded tech elite and I had no idea! Holy Shit!
Or at least that’s what the internet “news” sites are telling me.
Last I checked, I am an accomplished actor/writer/director/producer with a social good startup on the side who’s honestly still not quite where I want to be in my career, but who’s pretty proud of all the things I’ve managed to do without anyone’s financial backing but my own — actually that’s probably a misrepresentation because both my parents are super dead and some of the things I’ve done lately are possible thanks to a very small inheritance — (KEEP READING, I’m just trying to explain who I actually am!) anyway, so I’m also a person who was really, really honored to be invited to attend Summit at Sea, what I was told was a gathering of 3000 of the most innovative, curious, disruptive, kind, giving, action-oriented entrepreneurs, artists and social change makers in the world in order to cross pollinate ideas with folks you’d likely not run into on a day to day basis.
Geez, that’s not exactly an attention-grabbing headline, is it?
I’m terrible at describing myself in an uncomplicated, un-nuanced and sensational manner so that more people will really “get me” and what I get up to on a daily basis.
Thank goodness an internet news site was able to distill our recent experience at Summit at Sea in to something a little more digestable. I’ve been trying to figure out the right words to describe this incredible experience to my friends and colleagues all day and I’m really glad they’ve done it for me. Give these excerpts from the article a read and see if you get a better idea of our experience this week:
[As a result of this election process] “Our inability to empathize with those who see the world differently is painfully evident. Instead of grappling with this reality, a contingent of the tech elite caught flights to Miami on Tuesday (Nov. 8) before the polls closed to board a cruise ship…
That’s weird. Again, with the tech elite thing, I’m 99% sure I don’t qualify for that title. The other 1% takes into consideration that Klout says I’m in the top 10% of social media users so in lieu of having a mom who says I’m special — see she’s ‘super dead’, above — an internet score says I’m the shit so it might count.
Also, I’m not exactly sure why it’s relevant that we flew to Miami before polls closed. I voted. And then I flew to Miami for a summit I was invited to months ago. Sounds like a pretty normal and boring day to me.
As for grappling with reality, I can say with 100% confidence, I and other attendees grappled THE SHIT out of reality as election results poured in on Tuesday evening. We then boarded a very somber boat Wednesday morning, wondering how our initial goals going into these talks and conversations (which were clearly out the window) were going to change given the circumstances that had unfolded.
Ok, whatever, they’re just getting started at this point in the article, and they do have to hook people in. Let’s see what else they say:
…While a number of tech leaders expressed the importance of getting back to work, this group of 3,000 entrepreneurs and influencers opted to attend the invite-only Summit at Sea, put on by the Summit Series community.
Ok, first of all, I basically had to mortgage my left nut to afford going to this thing, so no WAY was I going to cancel my plans in order to “get back to work” aka continue to read social media feeds and watch media outlets 24/7 while bawling into my five fingers of whiskey (times three) and despair for the world. Are they suggesting we should have just eaten the cost and stayed home? They couldn’t be suggesting…
And while it’s true that if you wanted to make the three days we spent on the boat a poolside, water slide, good food, sexy people, sun-drenched experience, you certainly could. But that’s the beauty of Summit at Sea, you can use your time just about any way you want and do your ‘work’ in many different ways. In fact, I’m willing to bet the folks who went the poolside route are probably going to walk away with more future dolla dolla bills and connections than me.
And speaking of work — I, for one, am not sure I’ve EVER worked so hard as I did on that boat. Three 17 hour days in a row of workshops, conversations, idea exchanges and action plans that challenged and inspired me, made me ask really tough questions of myself and others and frankly demanded I plan a separate vacation just to decompress from this no-sleep-til-the-bahamas experience. I am too old for that shit, I feel like I got hit by a bus today.
Incidentally, I didn’t even see the Bahamas, other than from the cafeteria window. I was too busy WORKING. I regret nothing. Except not being hot enough to get in on the hot tub action in the evenings.
WHY ARE ALL THESE BRILLIANT WORLD-CHANGING PEOPLE ALSO SO FUCKING HOT?
I digress. Back to the article:
For all of Summit’s good intentions, there is indisputable irony in selecting Nov. 9 as its departure date for international waters. Insularity is what brought about a referendum on the tech industry, and for a few thousand entrepreneurs, insularity was its response.
OK WAIT A MINUTE. Have we learned nothing from Alanis Morissette’s unfortunate alleged misuse of the word ‘irony’ in the 90s?! I mean, it makes for a nice sentence, and if you don’t think about this carefully it’s easy enough to buy in. But Oxford Dictionary defines “Ironic” as:
Happening in a way contrary to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this
The fact that 3000 really smart, creative people interested in giving and receiving new ideas in order to change the world, left on a boat to (wait for it) give and receive new ideas in order to change the world on the day of a presidential election, a date that was planned a whole 12 months prior doesn’t feel particularly contrary to what is expected. And I think it’s clear by this point that the folks at this internet news site are not feeling wry amusement as a result of this turn of events.
And since I’ve gone off the rails at this point, let me go ahead and be fucking pissed about this “insularity was their response” line.
This is going to take you a minute to read, but I PROMISE it will be worth it.
During my three days on this boat, I personally exchanged dialogue, ideas, expertise and drunken late night nonsense (I said it) with the following folks:
An award winning TV producer, the president of the Malala Fund, a former writer for the Daily Show, a VC at a prominent and powerful fund, a community organizer and activist from the 60s, a famous poet, a music producer, the head of global for a women’s rights organization, the head of social media for a big digital content company…
…the owners of a mission-driven brand agency, a former lawyer who hates to admit he was a lawyer and will kill me for this mention, the founder of a giant music festival, a data scientist for Google, the co-founder of a fierce social movement, a disability rights advocate, a yogi, a cultural curator, a health food startup founder, the guy who invented the predecessor to “Swipe Left”…
…a travel startup founder, an immigration lawyer at the forefront of human trafficking advocacy, a graphic designer and creative entrepreneur, two professional dancers amplifying the power of movement in our lives, a tv development executive, a tech investor and former basketball player, the founder of a for-profit company with a non-profit soul, a director, a rapper, a Netflix showrunner, the head of international partnerships for a major network, a musician from a rural town in the middle of the country. And there are probably more I‘m forgetting in the exhausted, brain-addled, overwhelmed state I find myself in today as I’m writing.
In what world is that translated to “a few thousand tech entrepreneurs” who kept themselves insular in the days following a contentious election?
Well jeez. Here I was, relying on the professionals to give you a great idea of this incredible, life changing experience I had last week. And it turns out, their description was quippy, pithy, controversial, real fun to read….
And not true at all.
I can only speak for myself (and 2999 of my closest friends), but Summit at Sea was a goddamn gift. It put me in the room with people from all walks of life, all sorts of expertise and experience. Every position and circumstance I can possibly think of and likely had never considered. Every one I ran into, from the very famous to the nameless stopped to introduce themselves and have a conversation with me if I engaged them. There was talking, there was laughing. There were disagreements and planning, follow up and follow through. Where #BTB (before the boat) I was crying and felt despair and had a distinct lack of hope…
#ATB, I am inspired, invigorated and enthused about what I and my fellow attendees will do in the coming days. I am armed with awareness and perspective of way more viewpoints as I plot and plan. I have access to people who can and will help me leverage and amplify the big things I’m already doing to make the world better — and vice versa. I have a new-found appreciation for Perry Farrell like you wouldn’t believe! And, like Quintin Tarantino, I too will continue to ponder the very real question of why there were no margaritas in Margaritaville. You judge me, but the answer could make a difference.
So, turns out, writing the truth can get a little complicated. A little long. A little nuanced. Probably not as sexy as we want it. But it’s still interesting. And it’s TRUE.
Unlike the claim that I am part of the well funded tech elite because I attended Summit at Sea. Although, if anyone wants to pay my car payment tomorrow, as I missed a week of work last week to do Summit, we can probably legitimize this statement. I’m just sayin’…
Oh, by the way — as a wee little postscript. You know who else I met at Summit at Sea? A really smart investigative journalist who said:
Journalists are responsible for being committed to the best obtainable version of the truth. Citizens are equally as responsible for being committed to the best obtainable version of the truth.
Quit it with these horseshit articles. I’m not reading them anymore. How ‘bout you?
Jessica Ryan is a bi-coastal actor/writer/director/producer. She’s performed around the country and the internet, written for some of the biggest companies in the world, voiced spots for Fortune 500 brands and once sang a jingle for an adult superstore in South Dakota (true story, Annabelles, look it up). Member of Summit, founder of Broadway Unlocked, author of the ongoing Death for Dummies series on Medium and proud content creator for Manifesto, a brand declaration agency.