Exclusive Sneak Peek: Summit Series

Guest post by Greg Price, Chief Services Officer, VolunteerMatch

Summit Series sneak peek“Collision Networking”, “Davos for hipsters”, “Humbling and invigorating”, “Best Dance Party ever.” These are some of the descriptions of “Summit Basecamp,” the latest Summit Series conference that occurred January 27-30 at Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe.

The planners convened 700 people over three days: digital entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, social entrepreneurs, foundations, thinkers, muses, artists, dreamers, adventurers, breathing masters, futurists, politicians and realists. What a smorgasbord of influencers. Since the event is invite only, I’m going to let you in on the secrets of the Summit here, in this blog post.

Over the past four years, Summit Series conferences have brought together thought leaders and doers from all over the world to participate in events meant to inspire and foster collaboration and creativity. There are no lectures, only two-way conversations. No one is a spectator – everyone participates.

This was my second Summit Series, and the best part was sitting next to someone you’ve never met and are unfamiliar with their organization. Every time, I was humbled and energized by their accomplishments and perspectives… the woman who shines a light on Sierra Leone and creates sustainable programs there, the man who introduces schools in Guatemala, the marketer who built vitaminwater and sold it to Coke for billions, the satirist who just released his book, “How to Be Black,” the pilot who was the youngest person to fly around the world, and the marines who started a nonprofit to engage their fellow veterans in service and disaster response as they return home.

My favorite of many fascinating conversations was with a barrister and traveler from New Zealand who is collecting stories across America about what makes us most happy. His outside observation is that we, as a people, are most happy when two forces interact… camaraderie with innovation. It’s part of our makeup, moving west, building a nation, and is best exemplified under the Friday Night Lights in Texas where the huddle (camaraderie) turns into a play (innovation) and is acted upon… and corrected and then repeated.

I’m still unsure how the Summit Series organizers can set the tone so exactly right, but the energy is supportive and inspiring without being distant and without encouraging one-ups-man-ship. For me, the lesson is that we all have a story, we all have a dream, and we all want a better world.

What’s your dream? On your next flight, talk to a stranger next to you waiting to board a plane and see what their dream is. Chances are, you’ll be inspired.

This post also appears on Volunteering is CSR.