I just got back from a 3 day cruise. I don’t quite know exactly where we went. I do know however that words can’t quite describe the experience I just had. To put things in perspective, one tweet I read today by @Tim_Rutten said “unreal & mind-blowing experience! ROI? A new life!”. I think that’s a great way to put it. Sure I am an entrepreneur and yes I loved meeting VCs, rock star CEOs and potential clients/partners, but that was only quarter of the story.
Our trip began on Friday where a thousand of us boarded a Celebrity Cruise Lines ship. Brett Leve (the Summit Series Co-founder) pointed out that never before had Celebrity let a DJ pump music thru the customs hall, but you have to set the tone right? Summit staffers walked around handing out cookies and brownies, a cocktail would have been nice, but I am sure they were already pushing the limits with the music. Right when we boarded we ran into Gary Vaynerchuk who would later
turn out to give one of the most inspiring speeches of the trip (he had a standing ovation). Gary’s friendly attitude kicked things off right. Here is a best selling author and Internet celebrity, yet on board he was just “one of us”. That to me was the main theme that kept swirling around my head on the ship. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was super cool. There wasn’t a sign that said “check your egos at the door” (actually it said “Make No Small Plans”) but their might as well have been.
Here is a ship that if it had sunk, global markets would have crashed yet the entire weekend I didn’t run into one asshole. Hard to believe I know.
If we were at SXSW, CES, TED or Davos there is always going to be this clear separation from the billionaire rock star celebrities and the hungry “up-and-coming CEOs” who just want to learn how to become billionaire rock star celebrities. However once you stepped foot on that ship, everyone was equal. There wasn’t a conversation I couldn’t step into and immediately get a warm welcome. I don’t care if it was Tony Hseih, Russell Simmons or Peter Theil, everyone was warm, generous and on the same page. What other conference has this class? Well if you know about one, please tell me because I haven’t experienced it until last weekend.
I attended Summit in D.C. last year and it was still a wonderful time, but there is just something about a captive audience. In D.C. there was other people staying at the hotel besides Summiters. Also you had a lot of people who lived in D.C. so I felt at times things were a bit cliqueish. However on the boat it was the ship’s crew and our crew. There was no outsiders to disrupt a conversation. Nobody to give you a weird stare if you were talking about a subject they didn’t care about.
Summit Series is invite only so as the old saying goes, “good people know good people”, and that’s what happened.