September 22, 2016 I gave one of the biggest speeches of my life to that point. It’s about community, pride, and people. Here it is verbatim.
Tonight we are here to celebrate.
Celebrate an amazing community.
To do that, I need your help.
Find a neighbor, someone sitting next to you. Raise your hand, and on the count of 3, I want you to give that person a high five.
This is your Road Buddy for our journey tonight.
Do you know what Road Buddies do? Road buddies give high fives when something cool happens.
I have spent the past 542 trying to build cool stuff. I am seriously hoping to see some high fives tonight.
Channel the folks at that Vikings/Packers game on that last interception on Sunday.
Tonight is not just a celebration, but the culmination of a year and a half journey.
A journey that started on March 27, 2015.
I attended Tech Cities. They brought in LinkedIN to put numbers to our talent shortage and compare us to other markets. It was fascinating.
2 weeks later at Minnebar there was this interesting conversation about the brand of Minnesota. Someone said something that really resonated with me. They said we are building great stuff, but we are not telling our story.
Those two ideas collided in my head that night and I woke up the next morning with this idea of doing a documentary to tell our story.
At the same time I happened to be in the Minnesota High Tech Associations Ace Leadership program. In the program they require you to work on a project. I thought well I have this idea, what if I could get a group together. So pitched is to the class and pulled together a team.
We went into a conference room to Whiteboard ideas. One hour later, Chip Pearson from JAMF software was there to speak to our cohort about his journey. I walked up to Chip and introduced myself and said I have this crazy ass idea to do a film on MN tech. Instead of looking at me like I completey insane, he said yah man, that sounds great lets do lunch.
From there I had lots of lunches, and lots of coffees. In about 90 days I met with over a hundred people and everyone got behind it. This provided a tremendous amount of validation. We also got some great ideas. One of which was to stand up a kickstarter campaign to get more people behind it.
So we set out to put together a trailer and stand up a kickstarter campaign. In 40 days we interviewed, edited, finished the trailer and stood up a Kickstarter campaign just in time for Startup week last year.
We dove headfirst into Startup week, telling our story and ran a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Then we had Sponsors come on board. Target came on board and several others followed.
We then set out on a journey to interview 20 people. For those in the audience that know me, 20 – turned into 60. Because that’s how I roll.
So we set out on a journey interview 60 people.
On this intense journey of filming we learned Amazing stories, made new friends, and got a ton of support behind the project.
Once we were done filming we had to figure out editing. Eric Jenson, the videographer and I sat down to talk strategy over dinner at the St. Paul grill. At that meeting we decided because of budget constraints and the fact that it was my vision that I had to be the one to drive out the story.
That night I set off on a part of the journey that I affectionately refer to as the Valley of Death. See editing can be hell. Anyone putting together a Facebook post after a trip knows that picking the best shots is difficult. We had over 1800 minutes of interview footage alone that needed to get down to 45 minutes. Almost 60 people.
I could listen to Chip Pearson talk about how today’s Minnesota culture is a reflection of our agrarian roots, for hours. But sadly, we only ended up with about 30 seconds of that Chip.
Now editing is hell, but it was totally worth it. We uncovered amazing stories. From our incredible history to the momentum of today, to the communities and companies building this ecosystem, people were excited about what we have.
When people ask me what the surprise was or what the story is ultimately about it became very clear to me right away. This story is about people.
The people in this community are different. People drive this community because they believe in it. They got behind this project because they are kind, supportive, and passionate.
Tonight I’ve asked up 3 community leaders and early backers of the project to talk about how people make up our communities, how those communities make up the business environment, and how that economy effects everyone of us.
Thank you Chip, thank you Jamie, thank you Scott. This project is the result of literally hundreds of people. While I can’t thank them all, I do need to thank a few.
- JAMF Software
- Minnesota High Tech Association
- Click Talent
- Minnesota Cup
- Make it. MSP
- SPS Commerce
- Minnesota Headhunter
- Tech Cities
- Bedore Business Group
- Gray Plant Mooty
- Dessa and Doomtree
- Casey Allen
- Chip Pearson
- Mary Lou Wichlacz (Wick-lash)
- Melissa Kjolsing
- Eric Jenson
- The folks at my Office, SWAT Solutions
And most important, My wife, Valarie, who for some reason continues to put up with my crazy ass ideas and who has watched a kernal of an idea grow into a four hundred pound bag of popcorn and roll right over me.
So three final things.
Why did I start this?
What is the Vision?
And where do you come in?
So why did I go on this journey?
Simple: Because I believe in it.
I’m inspired by this community every day. By many of the people in this room. I believe that we can continue to grow this thing. And I believe one of the keys to getting there is by making people aware of what’s going on here.
The vision I have is simple.
I call it Scaling Inspiration. Taking the inspiration I get from others and scaling it to a much bigger audience. Chip speaking inspires me. The generosity of others inspires me. With a film available to all we can scale that inspiration across a much larger audience.
This is where you come in.
My journey is an example.
First I got involved, then I appreciated the community, then I became an evangelist for the community.
The 3 words I want everyone here to remember tonight are
Participate in events like startup week
Celebrate By Learning more about our story
Advocate by sharing our story
Tomorrow the website will be live with the full film.
You each have a set of 5 Cards in the bags on your chairs.
Share the website, share our story.
Tell the world about your company and say oh by the way, check out our community.
Tonight I want to challenge everyone in this room to get vocal, show your Minnesota Pride, help us scale inspiration and grow this community.
Participate, celebrate, and advocate.
and don’t forget your hi fives.