“I would like to spend the whole of my life traveling, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend at home” William Hazlitt
It seems like only days, not weeks ago that I was standing in Trafalgar Square, preparing for a Whistlestop Tour around the world. My mission; to promote Speednetwork the Globe in advance of the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Week, taking place this November 17th-23rd all over the world, in over seventy five countries!
From a farewell lunch in London, I flew three and a half thousand miles to Toronto, where I stood beneath the mighty CN Tower before the first of twelve Speednetworking Events across six continents. The timeframe I’d been set to complete this global challenge; just twenty two days!
In San Francisco, the terrific YouNoodle hosted Whistlestop Two, where a fun crowd experienced the buzz of meeting people they had never met before, for just three minutes. At the end of each three minutes, a whistle blows, and you have to move on to the next person! The only three rules are that you must meet someone you’ve never met before, you can talk about whatever you want to talk about, and when the whistle blows you MUST change partners!
From California I confronted the sights and sounds of Mexico City head-on with a gathering in South America’s tallest building. I even dusted off my schoolboy Spanish, with extremely mixed results…
Santiago, Chile’s Capital was my South American stop and although, technically, no Speednetworking took place, I did enjoy speed-meeting some fantastic local entrepreneurs from social network Bligoo, and meeting with the fine folks at the University of Santiago.
Australian Matt Jones, from Social Alchemy is exactly the sort of person you want meeting you at the airport. He’s fun, friendly and the has the kind of energy that makes you forget your eighteen hour journey in an instant. Breakfast by Bondi Beach and an afternoon with the view to end all views (over Sydney Harbour), prepared me for the following day’s Speednetworking, one of my highlights of the trip.
In Singapore, I was reminded that no matter where in the world you are, there is nothing, absolutely nothing which beats dinner with old friends. My late night catch up was just what I needed to refuel before meeting a great and focused crowd at Singapore’s University, the morning after the Australian event!
Rivalling Matt Jones for ‘host with the very most’ is Malaysia’s one and only Dash. Warisan Global’s CEO is the man to know in Kuala Lumpur and beyond, and within an hour of arriving, I was being interviewed by a business radio station before being whisked off to dinner. The next day’s KL event had the most incredible energy, with what seemed like a hundred camera-phones flashing and thousands of business cards flying!
As it turned out, the buzz of Kuala Lumpur was a suitable preparation for the energy of Hong Kong, where the excellent Houghton Wan showcased the city magnificently, before hosting a memorable event.
A twin-propeller plane flew me into Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, on the eve of a packed day of meetings with the British Council, the British High Commission and the Department for Women’s Affairs. The final meeting over, it was off to Gaborone’s University to prepare for the evening’s Speednetworking, ably co-hosted by AIESEC.
If entrepreneurship is the new rock and roll, then you will find it hard to find a better Rock Star than Rich Mulholland. Living between Cape Town and Johannesburg, his company, Missing Link was a Speednetworker’s dream come true for a refuel and catch up on landing in South Africa. Rich even whisked me through the streets of Jo’Burg on route to the cracking location of Wits University for Whistlestop number ten! A speedy ride to the airport gave me the chance to have a good conversation with host Nepeti Nicanor, a research fellow at the Wits Centre for Entrepreneurship.
If you were designing your own trip along these lines, you might at this point be tempted to schedule a day off, or at least one without an event. But that wouldn’t be in the true spirit of Speednetworking! And so, having landed from Johannesburg at six in the morning, it was off for a ten o’clock flight (from a different airport, of course!) to Dublin. My terrific host, Brian Martin was ready and waiting, and he was extremely accommodating of the fact that, the day before, I had agreed to write a twelve hundred word feature for a British national newspaper! And so, after a short retreat to a laptop, I jumped into a Trinity College Speednetworking session. The Dublin event gave me the chance to catch up with the person who, behind the scenes had been organising this whole trip; an unsung hero, the one and only Marilise Saghbini – a total star!
Thursday 9th October saw the twelfth and final Whistlestop, back in my home city of London. The team at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) were ushering in the new year of their entrepreneurial society and we were joined by friendly Global Entrepreneurship Week colleagues (including mastermind Scott Cain, with whom I first plotted the trip) – a fitting end to the tour, and, I hope, a great beginning to the coming unleashing of activity…
Try as it might, my Whistlestop Tour hasn’t done anything other than strengthen my love of Speednetworking. As a way to get people meeting each other, fast, it’s simple, it’s cheap and it works. Literally hundreds of people came up to me at events saying how much they had enjoyed it. And, to be honest, how much they had been dreading it at first!
During Speednetwork the Globe, thousands of events will take place during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Will you host one? Could you host one? Will you attend one? Could you spread the word about one?
The single biggest question I’ve been pondering over the last month has been this;
“How can you make Speednetwork the Globe events truly GLOBAL?”
Is it the people you invite? The conversations which take place? The technology you use to connect event with event?
What do YOU think?!
On my travels, I’ve met hundreds of people, and loved keeping in touch with existing friends and colleagues along the way. Hopefully you’ve had time to catch up on the trip once or twice and if it’s brought Global Entrepreneurship Week or Speednetwork the Globe onto your already busy radar, then, in a tiny way, I’ve done my job.
So, this is a Speednetworker signing off for now, and in the spirit of Global Entrepreneurship Week, unleashing Speednetworking to you, and hoping you’ll pass it on, or better still, get involved! I know that the team would love to hear from you so please drop them a line here. Whatever you’re doing or planning for The Week and beyond, good luck! Thank you for tuning in, and whatever you do, please, keep in touch!