I arrived in Las Vegas this past Thursday night and was excited to step outside of the airport and feel the warm air. It was 55 degrees. I stood outside, leaning on my luggage, remembering how good it felt to have the warm sun on my face again. I made my way to the taxi line knowing that I didn’t have a specific destination. I knew I wanted to stay downtown, close to everything that Tony Hsieh was developing.
I found a room at the El Cortez, the second oldest hotel in Las Vegas. It is located smack dab in the middle of the downtown Las Vegas Project. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, has committed $350 million dollars to redeveloping that area. He and a group of passionate people are committed to helping transform Downtown Las Vegas into the most community-focused large city in the world. They are doing that by inspiring and empowering people to follow their passions to create a vibrant, connected urban core. (www.downtownproject.com)
I knew my impulse purchase of a plane ticket just a day before I left Iowa was the right decision the moment I got out of the cab and walked into Container Park. I mean, look at this place:
That’s a 40 foot long Preying Mantis standing at the entrance shooting fire into the sky. A drum circle was banging out different beats and children and adults were taking turns on the drums and dancing the night I arrived. Inside of Container Park were 40+ repurposed shipping containers turned into small businesses. Boutiques, restaurants, toy stores, art galleries, and more could be found inside, all supported by Tony’s investment of helping people with a passion and a vision start their own business. This same area became the starting and finishing line for the 5K that I ran Saturday morning. (Las Vegas Strip Poker 5K) Runners dressed in layers for the run, only to strip them away down to their shorts and t-shirt to benefit the homeless population. The run was organized by an organization called the Downtown Runners, a business with the mission of creating a running community in downtown….funded by Tony Hsieh.
Next to the Container Park was an area called the Learning Village. This is where I spent each night. Catalyst Week started on Thursday and ran through Sunday. This is an event hosted by CatalystCreativ, an organization that focuses on creating unique and meaningful experiences for their community, asking speakers to present on their passions and efforts to change the world. (very much like a TED talk) Every night I left the Learning Village feeling more inspired, gaining just a little more clarity around Resources Unite and where we wanted to take our vision.
An announcement was made after the last speaker Thursday night that a group run would take place on Friday morning at 7am and led by one of the upcoming speakers. Awesome! I knew I was in trouble the moment I met everyone in the lobby for the run the next morning. There was about 10 of us, half of which were already doing sprints up and down the street to warm up. It turned out the woman leading the run is a ulramarathoner, as was 5 other members of the group. At one point in the run, I was running next to Rich Roll. Think you’re hard-core? Google this guy. In 2009, he was considered one of the 25 fittest men on the planet. He humbly shared during the run that he has run an event that consists of 5 Iron Mans in 5 days. He spoke that night and inspired the hell out of me. He’s got an incredible story. Definitely check it out.
In between touring co-working spaces, start-up businesses, listening to amazing people talk about their passions, and meeting countless others, I found myself madly scribbling notes on anything I could get a hold of. I was rereading Tony’s book “Delivering Happiness,” so tempted to scribble in there as well, but it was a loaner. By the time I got home Sunday I had a bag full of napkins, note paper from the hotel room, and a copy of the Sky Mall magazine from the airplane….all of which had something scribbled on it that connected back to Resources Unite’s mission of connecting a community. Like this game changer:
At Resources Unite we’ve been talking for years about the transformative power of connection and how if a community created meaningful relationships with one another and were fully engaged, amazing things would be realized. I saw it happening on the largest of stages in Las Vegas. You want to know what’s most important that is happening in that diagram? It’s reinforcing our belief. Our belief that everyone was to get involved; everyone wants to change the world. They just need to be asked or supported. The next thing you know, one person is helping another, and another person is helping another, and so on and so on. Organizations are becoming stronger, people are feeling engaged, and a community is strengthening. All though connection.
Looking back at the weekend, I also learned a few important lessons:
There are incredibly passionate, inspiring people all over the world, not just in our backyard. Take the time to meet them. In doing so, you may have some of their passion rub off on you.
Surround yourself with positive people. Everyone I talked to over the weekend was so welcoming and genuinely interested in what everyone had to say. I felt comfortable and safe enough to be vulnerable and share my dreams and passions without fearing being judged. I thought about the people who have taken their shots at me over the years. (we’ve all been there) I realized I was giving those individuals too much energy; too much attention. Surround yourself with positive people and together, you can create something amazing.
Follow your passion. Every single speaker talked at one point about making the leap. They knew instinctively what they should be doing, what they cared most about, what fueled their passion, and finally leapt. Most didn’t have a concrete plan and didn’t know what would be next, but EVERY SINGLE one of them followed their passion and are now incredibly successful, and most importantly, sincerely happy.