As a 1st time “Gen-er” (Is that a word? We’ll make it a word!) to the 5th Annual NextGen Summit I wanted to share a few key thoughts from the observation deck that might prove useful as you go about your day.
Before I jump it, let me take a quick step back. NextGen is a group of thousands of entrepreneurs that are looking to develop the next wave of innovative products and services to shape our future. It was started by Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella five years ago and has had a “rocket-ship like” trajectory in years since.
Enter NextGen Summit.
This is their premiere annual conference to get all of these people together and connect them with great speakers and mentors to help shape their businesses. My journey to the conference was a unique one. See, I’ve gone through a Renaissance period, if you will, over the 5 years to rediscover who I really am and what I want out of life. With curiosity as my catalyst, I decided to start a Podcast called Just Get Started 18-months ago to talk with entrepreneurs and others trying to be fulfilled in life. If it wasn’t for that initiative and subsequently being introduced and then interviewing the Co-Founder of NextGen, Justin Lafazan, I wouldn’t have had this incredible opportunity to even share.
If you were so inclined, here is the first episode I did of the Podcast back in November of 2017 that explains my journey a bit more and how I finally got the Podcast going – Just Get Started Podcast: Episode 1
If you didn’t attend NextGen Summit that’s fine. Keep reading. There may be a few gemstones I gathered from the conference that might alter your thinking a bit and help you on your way to become the superstar version of yourself. Maybe not, but at least you can get the pleasure of my “almost failed English class” writing style.
Find Your Tribe
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
A tribe is only as strong as its people and to make those people be harmonious you have to have great Chiefs. It’s hard to find better Chiefs than Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella. There is no shock that this NextGen community has grown so strong. The passion and drive behind Justin & Dylan’s vision is what makes this event special. That resonates with people and it makes people want to fight to hold onto that feeling they get from attending this event. The energy, the kindness, the curiosity, the sharing. It’s so organic and authentic it almost sounds made-up. So that’s my first takeaway. Who do you associate with that makes you feel that you can accomplish anything? That makes you believe you can change the world? I’ll tell you what. I found that here at NextGen. I’ve never been so motivated and hyper-focused in my life and I know, unlike other times in my life, this feeling won’t burn out as the days pass by but smolder and stay hot as I go forward. That’s what having a great tribe will do for you. They’ll support you. They’ll believe in you. They’ll high five you when you win and hug you when you fail. As the famous quote goes, “The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”. I’ve never believed that more firmly than after leaving this event and excited for the opportunity to keep in touch with my new Tribe!
How is Your Brownie Different
“If you don’t have a seat at the table you create one.” – Jesse Itzler
Jesse Itzler (@jesseitzler on Instagram) was a keynote speaker at the event and this guy literally brought the fire the entire session. I won’t give his bio here but go research him. Fascinating guy. I probably could write the whole article on him but one massive takeaway I gleaned was this, “How is your brownie different” (this is in reference to a story he told about pitching a business idea in school).
The punchline is that you can speak about features and you can speak about service and all that bullshit but when you get down to the brass tax of it all you have to go above and beyond the noise and truly create something that is world-class and doesn’t just limp over the finish line but annihilates the world record. He wasn’t just speaking about business. Personally, what are you doing to create a different experience that is impacting you, your friends/family, and the world. Are you “cashing it in” most days or are you truly trying to be different?
This reminded me of the time I had the Founder of ActiveLifeRX, Dr. Sean Pastruch, on my Podcast and he gave a great quote. He says, “In order to be World-Class, you have to prepare to be un-relatable”. Jesse has done that. He’s thought differently about the world he wants to live in and has set his sights and goals about making an impact in a positive way. He said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table you create one.” Don’t settle for what everyone else around you is doing. If you want to be different, you need to act, think, and perform different. Set the bar high and make your brownie different!
Serendipity Is Real and It’s Spectacular!
“To be called on, you must raise your hand” – Kim Kaupe
(Okay, who got the Seinfeld reference?) I preach Serendipity. The reason I believe in it so strongly is that we have no control over it and yet we have all the control over it. How I got to the conference started long before I got on the plane to NYC. We don’t know what the next step will bring (I could die on this plane flight as I am writing this). Don’t worry, I didn’t. But you get the point.
It’s an opportunity to get outside the dreaded comfort zone and let the universe steer the ship a bit. As Brene Brown once said, “I don’t leap for the perfect landing, I leap for the feeling in the air”.
As an introvert in sheep’s clothing going up and talking to people is tough for me at times. But I met some incredible people. People that I never would’ve crossed paths with if I didn’t accept the invite from NextGen. Full Disclosure: I declined for scheduling reasons initially and glad I made it work out. Who knows what some of those relationships will transform into but it doesn’t matter. My life and hopefully the people that I met will be impacted in a positive way forever. Kim Kaupe (@KimKaupe on Instagram), Founder of the SuperFan Company, spoke about this in her keynote in relation to growing your brand and business. She said,“To be called on, you must raise your hand”.
Sitting on the sidelines and telling a story to yourself of why something isn’t going to work out might seem cozy and nice but it’s not the way you make a splash and it is certainly not the way your create your own luck. If we live in a bubble then truly serendipitous moments are very few and far between. It might be a safe life but what’s the fun in that? Here’s a secret: The “comfort zone” is a made up place. Have the courage to challenge that mindset and look at creating life-changing moments for yourself and your business and not only will you be more fulfilled but serendipity might just connect you with something or someone in a magical way you never could’ve dreamed of.
Come Out of Hibernation
“You have two lives. The second begins when we realize we only have one” – Confucius
Just like a bear hibernating from a long winters nap (literally some hibernate for 7 ½ months), we all have pounds of weight we need to shed. But in my weird animal metaphor I’m not talking about physical weight. A lot of time it’s the mental burden of negativity and the mind warp we’ve all been through for most of our lives that needs to be erased. We’ve all heard it. You can’t be that. You’re not good enough. You’re too young. You’re too old. Whatever. It’s a bunch of Malarkey. Once you accept who you are and what you’re about and why that is absolutely good enough you can start to finally move forward. Maryellis Bunn (@maryellis.bunn on Instagram), Founder of the Museum of Ice Cream, gave a passionate talk about the journey of learning and asking questions that shouldn’t stop when you reach adolescence but should continue on for your entire life. I was amazed when she explained that children ask around 125 questions a day compared to adults who ask only about 6. What happens to that wonder and amazement and imagination we all had? Society happens. That’s what. We become this comatose society of zombies that are following old rituals and habits that haven’t made people any more happy or more successful. So why do it? As Maryellis says, “We have become a society that accepts what is instead of questioning what it should be”.
How many questions are you going to ask about the world today? Shed your mental weight, start believing in yourself and start living a life filled with passion and purpose that is on your own terms.
There Is No Spoon
“You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” – Morpheus, The Matrix
Let’s be honest here. What I just wrote about won’t resonate with most. People will cast it aside with excuses of why they can’t do things and chalk it up to “that’s life”. They’ll go on with their day acting like each day before it. And that’s where this Tribe of NextGen-ers and others reading this are different.
You’ve had a choice. You’ve taken the red pill. You’ve become Neo…or Morpheus or Trinity or whoever you want to play in this adventure. Hell, you can be Agent Smith if you like to get down like that. But I digress. You’re already ahead because you’ve realized what most people never will. As the great Steve Jobs said, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again”.
The spoon only exists if you accept the world as it is and fit in that box. But that’s not you. There is something inherently different about you. You can’t explain it, I know. But don’t ever let that fire go. Remember what Rich Keller’s passionate talk was about. Just S.C.O.R.E.
Stand-out, Conquer Obstacles, and Reach Excellence.
Whatever you do, always keep that kid inside with wonder and imagination and curiosity to question the outermost realms of the universe and why this all matters.
Until next year.
So…what was your biggest takeaway from the conference? Leave a comment below and would love to hear what everyone enjoyed the most!