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Image Credit: Summit Group. Images from much later events described in this article.
As a new entrepreneur with almost zero connections or resources, I was desperate for a group of other entrepreneurs who could relate to me. So I called the 20 entrepreneurs cold who inadvertently agreed to come on a ski trip that I offered to host. This is the story of that first summit event – a small gathering that, over the next decade, will turn into more than 250 events, some 3,000 people, and it will transform my life in the process.
But in the beginning, I just knew people had to have a good time. It wasn’t easy.
I landed in Salt Lake City on a crisp, clear Friday afternoon in April 2008 – just two hours ahead of my guests. I rented a suburb and ran to a convenience store to pick up some snacks for their arrival, and for the first time in my life I proudly bought beer.
Everything seems to be set when I get home to unpack. I now had a case of beer in the refrigerator and it felt like a mountain of snacks on the table. And it Was Mountain of snacks জন্য for one. We’ll probably have a beer one night this weekend, I’m fictional, And everyone will have one.
As guests began to arrive, I kindly gave each newcomer a tour of their rented house.
“There are no plans for this weekend,” I told Joel Holland, a guest, as we walked into the kitchen. “The idea is for everyone to know each other. A big party all weekend! I proudly opened the fridge door and took out twenty-four cans of beer.
A case of beer? For twenty people? Hey, Joel thought, One party is going to be one hell.
With beer historically proving itself to be an excellent social lubricant for young men and women in uncomfortable settings, those 24 cans almost immediately disappeared when guests found out they were sharing a room with strangers.
Anyone who could feel this moment had a deep feeling of awkwardness.
Ricky Van Win and Josh Abramson from College Humor immediately dismissed all the discomfort and decided it would be fun to create more. Ricky and Josh were already making a plot when the group drove a few cars and my mom headed to the high-end restaurant for dinner.
The group gathered around a long table, keeping me in mind. When I got up to go to the bathroom, Ricky and Josh quickly told everyone about their plan: they would hand me a white card when I sat back down. They ask to play with the rest of the group.
I came back to the table and took his seat, and Matt D’a gave an award-winning performance. “So sorry,” he said remorsefully, subtly placing the note in front of me. He was so sincere that there was obviously a problem.
“Elliott, what is it?” Josh pried.
“I just got the weird card,” I said.
“What does it say?”
Your outfit doesn’t fit the club’s standards, and we ask that you change immediately.
“Oh man, you have to change,” someone called.
“I don’t have extra clothes in my car!”
“Well, where is the nearest store where you can buy something?”
“I don’t know.”
“But you There is To change. “
“What’s wrong with my clothes?”
“Look at your shirt. That’s not fair. “
“It’s a button-down shirt. The same kind You Wearing. “
It is No. The same. Look Color Your shirt!
This continues until every inch of my clothing is thoroughly detached to the contour of my collar. My frustration grew until everyone burst out laughing.
I closed my eyes and gave an involuntary smile. Then I started laughing along the table. At that moment, all the tension that had accumulated since the arrival of everyone was released. The lively conversation spreads around the table, and everyone starts to relax in the evening and connect at a deeper level.
It was an initiation that was a better bond experience than I could have planned. After that no one objected to sharing the bedroom with others. There was a lot of rehash and laughter, mostly at the expense of my will. It felt like summer camp, without more snow and less poison ivy.
The next day, everyone hit the slope. Sam Altman, the future president of Y Combinator and the founders of Vimeo and TOMS, shared stories of their struggles. They were learning about each other’s best business practices and how they balance work with their personal lives. Focuses on past failures and what you can learn from them. Over the weekend, everyone was familiar with everyone else’s business and the stories they created. Some of the guests also started lifelong friendships.
But perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned. Many people are afraid to drop an event, set up a meeting, or even send an important email unless it is perfectly created – so you shouldn’t put yourself there unless everything is perfect.
I realized in that moment that the most important attribute of an event is unplanned – the space for spontaneity and randomness that creates the spark. This is the difference between a highly polished apple found in a supermarket and a slightly injured organic apple falling from a tree. Brush it, and the apples on the side of the road taste infinitely better.
Just as I relentlessly picked up the phone to call people, I followed an incident and threw what even my friends thought I was crazy about trying to host – and now I have 20 new friends who didn’t think I was crazy at all.
In fact, they actually liked me.
As soon as my guests left the mountain, they asked me if she would put together another reunion for six months down the road. The idea didn’t even occur to me; I was just able to pull off a single weekend, and it would take him several months to pay off my credit card debt. After I said goodbye to the crew, I soon received a one-to-one phone call Fate The reporter asked how things went. As the call ended, the reporter raised a final question.
“So, what’s the name of your show?” The reporter asked.
I don’t think there’s a name for the ski trip. Why should I give the trip a name? I didn’t have a name to hang out with friends on the weekends, so how was it different?
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You have organized an event. What’s in a name? “
“All right. Of course it has a name. . “
“Well, what is it?”
I looked at the North Face jacket that I still wore over the weekend and read the words from the sleeve.
Excerpts from the book MAKE NO SMALL PLANS: Lessons on Thinking Big, Chasing Dreams, and Building Community by Elliott Bisno, Brett Lev, Jeff Rosenthal and Jeremy Schwartz. Copyright © 2022 by Elliott Bisnow, Brett Leve, Jeff Rosenthal and Jeremy Schwartz. Published by Currency, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.