This weekend has been amazing. A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine about some interests that I am passionate about and my goal to take on some project-based work to further explore those passions in preparation for either starting a business/get involved in another community organization. She mentioned a project that she was working on that I should hear about and that she would need help with because she had prior plans to be out of town during the critical week before the event.
After hearing further details about the project, I was immediately excited about it. About 2 years ago, an impressive young visionary, Nick Arnett called me from Ft. Wayne, Indiana to ask me to be a part of his Chattanooga meetings with his 12 Cities tour. While the week he visited was jam-packed, I have to say that meeting with him was so refreshing and I was excited to hear more about his project. He also met with several other community leaders & connectors who shared about our great city. After the visit, I followed him on Facebook and was impressed with some of the cool things he was doing. My friend Tiffanie, who was also involved in his Chattanooga meetings/calls kept in touch with him more frequently and when the opportunity came for his most recent organization to pick a place to hold their first retreat, they chose Chattanooga.
Nick's current organization is called the Thiel Foundation. The sometimes controversial organization has world-wide notoriety because it attracts young visionaries under 20 and encourages them to strike while the iron is hot--sometimes disrupting the traditional education trajectory. In fact, many of the Thiel Fellows have dropped out of school. But they're not just crashing on their parents' couch and handing out resumes to flip burgers; they are starting companies, finding cures, and empowering other teenagers to do the same.
This weekend, I spent my time meeting these incredible young innovators and showing off our beautiful city and the companies we are proud to headquarter in addition to introducing some of our young talent. Tomorrow we will host a panel with some of Chattanooga's business and community leaders as well as young professionals and visionary students. The focus will be on how Chattanooga can cultivate the same type of opportunities for our students in order to be a catalyst for young talent. Monday evening, we will host an event with speakers sharing inspirational TED-type stories that are sure to ignite a passion in our community to be world changers--beginning here and now.
I am thrilled to have served a part in hosting this group. Just hearing their stories has moved me to look beyond the excuses & obstacles and to start now--while encouraging the young ones around me to think big and act on it!
You are never too young to have a life that has purpose & meaning. Think big and make it happen!