By: Kirsten Settle
When we stepped out of the airport towards the Lyft ride that was transporting us to our hotel, I was greeted by a California state flag waving in the breeze. The gleaming sunshine warmed my skin and filled my mood with excitement and wonder for what the next week in a place I’d not yet traveled to would hold.
When evening came and the whole group was settled, we took a taxi to the hotel where our Professor, Barcley Johnson, was staying for a welcoming dinner with the students and faculty who comprised the trip. The dinner was quite enjoyable. Everyone was relaxed and conversed about what expectations and desires they had for the upcoming week. Us students talked casually about the travels and the week’s upcoming plans. The group of faculty advisors and students was one of the best aspects of the entire trip. They were some of the most intellectually driven, motivated, and level-headed students I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with. The group dynamics were so constantly healthy between us, and I attest this as one of the successes of the trip to the student body.
The second day of the trip was a day that allowed everyone the freedom to do what they wanted with their day and explore the city of San Francisco. Three other group members and I made the journey to experience the Alcatraz National Park. It was an extremely exceptional experience and I appreciated that we were allowed time to do typical tourist activities. That night we had a networking event, where everyone that was going to be in attendance at the conference came and mingled until the night’s speakers began. I got to meet some of the most fascinating and diverse people. I met a couple who started their own female youth empowerment summer camp program, and a woman who is CPO and Executive Director of an online pet adoption company. The networking event was a fun and interesting experience that helped me overcome my social anxieties and gave me more confidence to initiate conversation with other professionals.
Over the next two days, our group attended the actual Lean Startup Conference. I loved the entire Lean Startup philosophy. I learned about how it’s an entirely new perspective on what corporate American businesses have the potential to be. The Lean Startup methodology strays away from the typical Midwestern American version of business and sheds a whole new light on alternative ways to do business. I liked how the Lean Startup focuses on meeting the needs of the customer and valuing their feedback. I also appreciated the philanthropic aspect of the Lean Startup. Philanthropy and creating positive social change has been adopted by this methodology, which I passionately agree with and relate to. I appreciated the humanitarian approach the Lean Startup contributes to, and I think it’s a very positive outlook on the potential businesses have.
During the conference, I meet some of the very influential, upcoming people. I listened to Guy Kawasaki, one of the creators of Apple, give the conference’s opening keynote speech. Mr. Kawasaki explained the most important things his dear friend and colleague Steve Jobs taught him. This was a very powerful experience for me. I also met and befriended a woman that has created an app that will help teach non-primarily English speaking elementary students the English language. I met and discussed with her in-depth about her startup and future ideas and plans for her product, which was very moving because she valued and considered my feedback. Additionally, I met and conversed with the female producer of the Lean Startup conference. She told me her fascinating story about her job and the struggles she’s been faced with being a woman in the male-dominated profession of entrepreneurship and technology. All these interactions I had at the conference were fascinating and opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on business.
I was incredibly sad to leave the conference and the city at the end of the week. Being there and experiencing all the culture and diversity that San Francisco offers gave me a whole new outlook on what my future is and what goals I want to accomplish. The business professionals and the entire San Francisco experience within itself was so inspiring. I truly am grateful for the opportunity, and I think every collegiate should invest in pursuing this type of powerful experiential learning.