Reflecting on the Rally

We’ll see hundreds of blogs over the next week that reflect on 2016-I hope this one is unique for you. Entrepreneurs deal with many ups and downs every day, and recapping a year is often too daunting — so I’ll make it quick.

I always use the analogy of a windshield and a rear view mirror — its important to recognize what’s behind you, but you should spend most of your time on what’s ahead. 2016 brought the closure of my most recent company, and the first 12 months for my first child. I joined the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) in a newly created role to focus on the founder community. Most of my time at GAN has been spent on testing new projects or ideas for the brand.

If I had to pick one of the projects from 2016 to reflect on, it would be the GAN Rally, not just because it was the biggest, but because of the impact of our sessions on emotional wellness. GAN is made up of local collaborators who create companies that can scale globally. Each local community has very unique resources and personalities, but by bringing them together, you quickly see some great alignment. We had a diverse group of founders attend from 5 continents, representing almost half of the accelerator programs in the network. Both Founders and Accelerator Directors found alignment during our sessions on emotional wellness — even with some last minute changes. As with every event, curve balls are inevitable and one huge one for us was that Jerry Colonna would not be able to keynote our emotional wellness segment. With just a few days before the event, we fired up the phone tree and worked double time to reprogram what we thought was one of the most important parts of the event.

Carrie Barry, Olympic Trained Boxer, founder of The Corner Boxing Club, Photograph by Claudia Lopez

Luckily, we were introduced to Carrie Barry, founder of “The Corner Boxing Club” in Boulder, CO — and coincidentally, Jerry’s boxing coach. We the help of a good friend of ours, Peter Awad host of the Slow Hustle Podcast, we created a fireside chat with Carrie about how boxing can help entrepreneurs shift gears and find their “slowness.” I believe it was one of the highlights of the Rally and Peter just published the live podcast recording of the interview, so please check it out: “Finding Presence and Slowness in Boxing with Carrie Barry” http://www.slowhustle.com/finding-presence-slowness-in-boxing-carrie-barry/

Check out the live interview from GANRally on SlowHustle.com

The conversations around emotional wellness created an intense afternoon with topics ranging from suicide to depression. We welcomed guidance from Impact Founder and mixed it up with some physical sparing on stage with Coach Carrie. At the end of the day we had group exercises from MentalHappy and a much needed break that included puppies from a local shelter (Lifeline Puppy Rescue). A common topic emerged that we can all relate with each other and as hard as it is to have conversations about emotional wellness, talking about it will start to remove the stigma and hopefully prevent tragedy.

IBM and SendGrid sponsored some puppies to help founders shift gears after the first day of the event.

If you need more puppies: https://youtu.be/DQbxxdCWyBs

Overall, what GAN learned from the Rally, was that Founders need more time to connect with each other and step away from the day to day of their business. We recently launched a new event series called “Founder Shift” to do just that-helping founders shift gears after the accelerator, for new capital, new customers and new connections. We just hosted the first two events where we “shifted” founders in Helsinki and Paris (Thanks NUMA for this great recap https://paris.numa.co/blog/gan-founder-shift/). We’ll be sharing more about upcoming Founder Shift events in 2017, but I wanted to thank everyone who continues to help grow the GAN community everyday.

Below I’ve selected some of my favorite photos to reflect on the GAN Rally- Have a happy new year and I hope 2017 is your best year yet!

We started the #GANRally with Magic from Nate Staniforth, not your typical magic show — http://natestaniforth.com/
Some of our culture talks, Left-Reprogramming your Operating System with Josh Allan Dykstra, Right-Accelerating Twice with Techstars Julie Penner, Jacqueline Ros, Andrea Perdomo and Carly Gloge
Founder Fitness, Right-Emotional Health with Kyle Wild and Impact Founder, Right — Finding Slowness with Peter Awad and Carrie Barry.
Did we mention puppies? Rich M from IBM, Photograph by Jonah Lorsung
Founders made connections with Corporate Partners like Mastercard and Comcast(Left), and with each other over lawn bowling and larger than life backyard games(Right) — Photograph by Jonah Lorsung.
We even took the Rally to see Brad Feld and Steve Case on their Rise of the Rest Denver Stop, talking with local entrepreneurs Lee Mayer (Havenly), Jacqueline Ros (Revolar) and Jenna Walker (Artifact Uprising).
Thanks to all of our sponsors IBM, SendGrid, First National Bank and The Kauffman Foundation. We can’t wait for 2017!