Fifty-Four Hours

Small get togethers with close friends and family are experiences that last a lifetime. These are the exact moments that define our lives.

This was the opening pitch I gave during demo night for Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2015.

Though, those small get togethers with the people you cherish most are moments that define our lives, it’s also the moments where complete strangers come together to do one thing; build.

It was an experience that I will forever cherish.

One that I will tap into when I am looking for that extra juice. Or one that I’ll relive when I’m looking for that extra confidence to step outside of what feels comfortable.

Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids is a fifty-four hour sprint where entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, community members, investors, developers, designers, artists come together to share ideas on how to change the world.

Ideas get shared and that’s the extent of it, others get shared and built upon, while other ideas meet co-founders and companies form.

As our brilliant facilitator, Max, pointed out on the first pitch night, it’s not about the ideas you have and if they are any good or not, it’s about the experience and the knowledge you’ll gain from the weekend.

He couldn’t have been more spot on. It wasn’t about your idea, it was about an idea. It was about friends and strangers coming together to build something that started from an idea on a post-it note.

Within fifty-four hours, I learned more than I thought was possible. Here are few, they only scratch the surface.

I learned to put my comfortable self in uncomfortable situations.

Though I seek ways to do this everyday, through my writing, nothing is more uncomfortable than pitching an idea in front of 100 strangers.

It’s combating the sudden inner critic that’s screaming at you that your idea isn’t worth sharing and that nobody will relate to it or understand it.

In fact, just days leading up to the initial pitch night, that critic was becoming louder and louder. I couldn’t silence it. I went from having a pitch idea ready to putting it to the side telling myself I was just going to observe.

With the help of others nudging me to let go, I let go.

I stood up on stage, shared my idea, and sat down. I had no expectations. I went into the evening with an open mind and to do only one thing, stand up in front of people I didn’t know and pitch.

The moment my sixty seconds was up, a sense of accomplishment was had.

We tend to talk ourselves into fear. But the moment we decide to act, to push through the very walls that’s been preventing us from acting, a whole new world opens up. And it did.

I learned that ideas are meant to be shared.

There’s something about the atmosphere at this weekend that opens up the idea vault.

Not that they weren’t always there, because they are, but the sharing environment of startup weekend is something that gets left out of our communities and companies.

So the ideas we have, because of the perceived fear we have for sharing them to others, get stored away; untold.

I learned that it was about the greater good; community.

What always draws me to the atmosphere of doers, builders and those wanting to change the world with their art, is the community that’s beside them.

Whether they are investors, designers, developers, owners; they’re people just like you and me. They’re people wanting to pursue a deeper meaning in their life. To make a dent in the universe that serves the greater good.

The community this environment embodies is a beautiful thing.

At the meta level, coming together and forming a team with colleagues, friends and strangers, we had one goal in mind, build a product.

As opinions differentiated on direction and focus at different points throughout the fifty-four hours, we always came back full circle to the common goal that was threaded between us all.

I learned to invite other people in.

We tend to hold our ideas, art and beliefs tightly, especially with those who matter most in our lives fearing how they might perceive us differently.

As I’ve been traveling this journey of intentional self growth, this is something I work on every single day; inviting people into my art.

I experienced this during the fifty-four hours. Not only did I invite a crowd of 100 strangers into an idea I had, but there were friends and colleagues. But most importantly, my family.

My wife asked if she could attend, as I entered the room of a growing crowd, I saw her sitting next to my parents. It’s a profound and freeing feeling when you decide to let go of the story you tell yourself about what others might think of you while performing your art, and instead, invite them.

Your peripheral widens, and the the burning flame inside of you becomes stronger.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to grow an idea. So invite them in. Tweet this

Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, I highly recommend you attend a Startup Weekend event in your area.

For me, it wasn’t so much about pitching an idea and starting a company. It was about getting uncomfortable and, selfishly, surrendering to what the fifty-four hours entails and becoming a better version of myself because of it.

I tip my hat to Max Farrell, the facilitator of the weekend, and to the event organizers, David Tominsky, Sarah Binder, and Joshua McNary, and also to my teammates.

Thank you.

Photo Credit: Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids

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About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.