This week, I hung out at Code for America, where I got a glimpse into the life of a fellow. Along with the coworking space’s beer on tap, weekly community-prepped lunches and group pushup sessions, a guest speaker is also invited to the office. This Wednesday, it was David Binetti, co-founder of Votizen.
@CodeForAmerica: David Binetti talks to @codeforamerica fellows. @votizen @dbinetti
I thought I was on vacation in San Francisco, but with earworms of pivoting, disruption, the four steps to the epiphany and Steve Blank, how did I teleport three time zones ahead, back in Jeff and Jeremy’s classroom?
Last Saturday, Spot.Us’ David Cohn and I facilitated a discussion at the Online News Association‘s annual conference titled “I screwed up (and you will, too!).” It was a fantastic conversation, a vulnerable moment where because the room chose to be truthful, many rich shares came out of it.
Two of the most memorable questions came from Christopher Wink of Technically Philly and Laura Amico of Homicide Watch. How do you know when you’ve failed and it’s time to throw in the towel? How does an entrepreneur’s perception of failure mature with his/her project?
Check out the summary over at ONA11 along with this Twitter archive of #ONA11 #screwup. The following is my closing anecdote for the session.
Being from the nonprofit world, I’m sorta cheap, so I go on vacation where I have friends. And I really want to get a glimpse of the city, so I’ll tag along to some of my friend’s volunteer activities. I was visiting a friend once and sat in on a bicycle union meeting. The director was explaining a grant from the city that enabled the group to work with volunteer mechanics at each neighborhood farmers market to fix anyone’s bike who had biked to the market that day.
UPDATE: Two links to this blog entry, which has been a fascinating experience so far. The Black Bottom excerpted this post while MLive included it in their West Michigan links roundup. The MLive trolls this way come, and oh lordy.
Last night, there was a panel in which Detroit and Grand Rapids heavyweights mingled on stage to discover what each of the two cities could learn from each other. Among them was Carl Erickson, who owns a custom software firm just down the street. I respect Carl greatly, and in typical Carl style, he laid it out, no gloss: In his travels to Detroit, he appreciates the diversity of entrepreneurs. He comes back to GR, and it’s all white. Carl doesn’t think it’s an issue of where are minority entrepreneurs; he thinks they aren’t here.
It was jarring, not least because of the bluntness. The absence of diversity is fact, and it’s a big topic (too big?) to spring on stage. In tackling the topic, one GR panelist said this was her biggest grievance with the city. The conversation moved on, and I left.
It’s been simmering since last night and during my morning walk. Working for a 30+ year-old nonprofit, I’m not technically an entrepreneur, but I think of myself as a self-starter. So I considered myself an appropriate test case: What would it actually take to make me stay in GR?