Recently I had the pleasure of participating in the Global Innovation Fellows Program. From what I gathered, it was started to bring students out of the classroom and into the real world which is a great initiative.
When I first moved back to Los Angeles my good friend, Ariel, invited me to join him only three days after my arrival and because nothing else was going on, I decided to dive in head first; especially when I heard we were visiting Google and Facebook up in Silicon Valley!
Wouldn't you have wanted to go too?:)
We started out at Junior Achievement where I bumped into a friend, Marisa Materna, whom I've known for over 10 years and had lost contact with.
The guest speakers were great, but have to admit, re-connecting with an old friend definitely was the highlight of that day.
Although all the speakers were excellent and inspiring too. Recognize anyone?:)
Throughout the week we were able to visit Idealab, CAA, the Fashion District and many more businesses across Los Angeles. It was wonderful to hear amazing speakers and visit companies I've admired for a long, long time.
The only bummer was trying to get from place to place logistically due to LA traffic and consistently running an hour behind for each session which ultimately resulted in certain sessions being canceled due to the delays.
In addition, choosing to drive up to SFO without knowing where to stay and arriving at 2am only to be expected at our first session by 8am when we were still an hour away was very difficult; and it was very disappointing to learn two key speakers for that morning were canceled last minute who I really wanted to hear.
Overall though, a good experience. The program is free, fairly new, run by only one person, and you get what you pay for.:)
I've never understood why women don't travel more, but after experiencing this last-minute trip with no guidance or assistance from the organizer, I now have a deeper understanding of what those who've not traveled much experience which was beneficial all on it's own for my travel company, Joy's Travel Adventures.
It also opened my eyes to the tech community's need to have assistance with travel which is a great side benefit too. Sometimes life's greatest frustrations turn into life's greatest opportunities and provide insights into needs not normally revealed in normal, every day experiences.
The opportunity to hear all the wonderful speakers: Freddy Nager (USC Professor & Founder/CEO, Atomic Marketing); Richard Pan (Entrepreneur/Investor); Gustavo Demoner (UCLA Professor & Brazilian Innovator); Kent Smith, (Executive Director, LA Fashion District); Russell Hancock, (President & CEO, Joint Venture Silicon Valley); Alex Maleki, (Business Development, Idealab); Philip Leslie (Engineer, Google); and more...see first hand how companies are run while visiting them on-site, learning new things, and taking tours of Google and Facebook was awesome, especially for a social media junkie like myself!
I felt like I was on a technology high my whole time in Silicon Valley seeing Twitter headquarters, hearing speakers at Kiva
and Code for America,
and squeezing in a visit with my friends, Roger Royse and KP, my co-organizer with StartupMind, too.
I learned a lot, made some great connections, spent time with new friends and had a blast touring SFO as a tourist with Ariel and Avanti, my road trip buddies,
Logistically, there are things to improve, but program-wise, Global Innovation Summit on the surface is an excellent concept. Great cross-section of business, non-profit and variety of industries. I wish the organizer well because he's onto something positive.
That's why my interest is piqued in attending the California Connections Fellows program through the Southern California Leadership Network/LA Chamber of Commerce because of the opportunity to meet with civic leaders, learn from experts in their fields in their business environment, and in this instance, the ability to network with government officials also, which is always beneficial to one's career.
Plus, the cost of the program includes all travel logistics!:)
I heard someone say once they don't believe in criticism which I think is missing the point if it causes you to improve and correct what needs to be changed to make something stronger and provide a better overall experience for all involved.
Plus, if everyone blows smoke at you and you never hear the truth, what good does that do anyone?:)
That's one reason I'm excited to begin working with two new members of my Joy's Travel Adventures team, Lana Leazer and Shar Martin. I've come to realize I can't do everything on my own, other people have skills, connections and experience I don't have, and by combining our backgrounds we will develop something even stronger for female travelers.
More on this later, but next up is my MAGIC experience which was so overwhelming as a newbie, I had to take some time to digest everything I saw and all the wonderful brands I met. Very cool to see the huge variety of clothing, accessories, shoes and booth decorations. Very fun too!
I posted pix from both experiences on my Facebook fan page which you can review here: http://www.Facebook. com/JoysTravelAdventures