Guys and gals. We're at the Forbes Under 30 Summit and it is pretty much amazing. There's something rejuvenating about surrounding yourself with like-minded people. There's a pulse and an energy here that lights a fire in your soul. When spending your days (and nights-sleep isn't a thing here) with people who are working on sustainable farming methods, encrypting your cell phone conversations, raising money for micro loans in sub-Saharan Africa and revolutionizing the orthopedics industry, it's impossible not to think, "How can I do more? How can I push myself further? How can I truly change the world?"
As some of you may know (yes we blasted it everywhere, we were super excited), we were semi finalists in the Forbes 2016 Change the World Competition. Which is what brought us here. We came to seek out grant money, but are leaving with so much more.
In three short days, we've cultivated relationships with mentors, partners, creatives, innovators, and people who will probably be our friends for life. Upon our arrival, Emily and I made it a goal to establish real, meaningful relationships. We both hate the term "networking." It seems so cold. So forced. That's not us. We love people. Genuinely love people. So we sought out those who would inspire us, those who made us think, those who made us laugh. And there are hundreds of them here. There are so many motivated, determined, brilliant young people. If you are hating on millennials, I challenge you to go to a Forbes Under 30 Summit. Your entire perspective will shift. Ours did. We are a generation of gamechangers. We are a group of free thinkers. We are a people who are finding ways to work smarter not harder. We are addressing problems locally and internationally with innovative solutions.
One of the people we met founded Lokai, a company that crafts bracelets with mud from the Dead Sea (lowest point on earth) and water from Mt. Everest (highest point) to remind you that when you're at the lowest of the low, there's hope. And when you're at the highest of the high, you must stay humble. Another group we met runs Culprit Creative. They're "saving the world from boredom" by creating stunning video content for brands. We met people who are creating an underwear brand for men with ultimate breathability. We met people with labs at MIT researching cyber security. We met people who work in the creation of financial infrastructures for nonprofits. And on and on and on. People are amazing. People are inspiring.
There are four stages/ concentrations at the Summit. Tech, Creative, Capital, and Impact. We're attending seminars at the Impact stage, as the focus is social entrepreneurship. We were told that Impact is ultimately the heart of this Summit because we are living in an era where you must make an impact to have a successful business. Our generation loves Warby Parker because we see a company that defies the monopoly of eyewear while giving back to those who can't afford glasses. We love Toms because we see something that is fashionable and paying it forward. More and more companies are realizing that having a social cause or purpose elevates their motives and brings in a committed clientele. We are a part of this movement. We are committed to creating quality products that give back to women and communities that we love. Hearing that this is an overall direction of companies in general is exceedingly comforting. Running a business, especially a nonprofit, is hard. The hardest thing we've ever done. It's a constant hustle. And when your heart is 120% invested, it's hard to not make every setback or inconvenience personal. But being here, we are reminded that failure and obstacles are so normal. We are exactly where we need to be right now. Doing exactly what we need to do for right now. And we're making an impact in the lives of women. That's pretty awesome.
So much of what we're learning is information that we inherently believe, but there is power in reiteration. It feeds the soul to be reminded that authenticity is still noticed, that change is necessary, that in a culture of talkers we are called to be doers. We'll be sharing more of our learnings and perspectives in the coming blogs, but for now, know that we are making moves, we're believing that the greatest business opportunities are the greatest social issues, and we're fired up and ready to tackle those issues head on.
Until next time,
Kelsey and Emily