Takeaways from a room filled with legends.
Until last weekend, I had never been to the Hamptons. Even though I’m from Boca Raton, I’m now pretty much a Jersey Shore guy who, as they say, pumps fists not gas. But through the power of the internet and thoughtfulness of a friend, Heather and I found ourselves in Southampton attending Uncharted 2023, a founders’ summit hosted by serial entrepreneur and billionaire Michael Loeb. Because it’s not every day you get to make wildly interesting connections, listen to CEOs and athletes like Shaquille O’Neal and Rob Gronkowski share their lessons, and soak in lunch on the grounds of a breathtaking beachfront mansion, we packed our linen wares and just said yes.
Now, we are no strangers to working a room. But as we suspected, this wasn’t just any room. The tent was packed with A-list celebrities and business titans, top entrepreneurs and industry-changing leaders. Most attendees came in motivated to meet each other and learn what projects other people were working on, and this started on the shuttle from the parking lot and didn’t stop. Heather and I glanced at each other, engaged in smalltalk with adjacent circles, and understood the assignment: make the most of it all.
In the hours we spent at Uncharted, we accomplished what we set out to do. We made new friends, business contacts, and most importantly, learned from some of the best investors and business leaders in the world. The next day, Heather asked me what I took from the event, and I thought I’d share with you, too.
Find Your Why
The biggest lesson came from the biggest person in the room. It’s impossible not to love Shaq. His smarts seem to only be rivaled by his humor. During a fireside chat, CNBC legend Tyler Mathison did a fantastic job keeping up with Shaq’s jabs and was able to dive into how he views life, business, investing, and of course, basketball. But out of all the questions, one stood out above the rest. He asked: “What is your reason for getting up everyday? What is your why?”
For Shaq, it’s his mother. He wanted to honor all that she had done for him as a kid and to make her proud. It’s both a heartwarming and common answer–moms are the best. However, it also caused me to think about my own why.
To be honest, I’m not sure what it is right now. Ten years ago, I would have told you it was to “make it” in New York City, but right now, I can’t confidently land on just one thing. I keep coming back to my family, but that feels like a cop out. Instead of allowing myself to spiral, I’m choosing to view this as a call to action. I’ve got to land on my why, because it’ll play a Shaq-sized role in how I grow my business over the next many years.
Build Your Referent Power
My favorite class in business school was “Power in Politics,” taught by Professor R. Kabaliswaran. It’s all about understanding what power is, where sources of power lie, and what your own political mindscape looks like. One of the strongest forms of power is referent power, or a leader's ability to inspire and influence others. It generally doesn’t matter what your position or pedigree is if you can command the hearts and minds of others.
During the event, hearing Gordy Gronkowski (Rob’s father) discuss turning his five sons into five pro athletes was beyond inspirational. He gave them the tools but made sure to showcase how their own passion led the way. The conversation made me examine my own actions as a father and the influence I have with my children.
It also reminded me of the reason I was in the room in the first place: my own referent power. I was invited because of my own influence online. It’s easy to trivialize or underestimate the value of a platform, but you start it for a reason, and should use it for good reasons.
Know That AI And Blockchain Technology Is Here To Stay
I’ve written about AI and blockchain technology many times, and those who follow me online know I am bullish on both technologies. I will tell you this: no one is dismissing it anymore. And the level at which these topics are being discussed is so far beyond beyond the buzzwords and oohing and ahhing of something new. Entire game boards are being reconfigured.
One Google executive spent her entire time on stage explaining how she is focusing on adopting AI in an ethical manner to ensure the technology benefits society. On another panel, billionaire crypto investor and CEO of Galaxy Digital, Mike Novogratz, weighed in on the recent developments regarding traditional finance’s massive leap into the digital asset arena. He made it clear that traditional financial institutions have no choice but to now participate, pointing to spot bitcoin ETF filings and the launch of a non-custodial crypto exchange by some of Wall Street’s biggest names.
Nearly everyone in attendance was on a mission to do something big. One person I spoke with was working on bringing AI to your online shopping experience and another was trying to completely disintermediate health insurance using big data and predictive analytics. No one I met that day was working on something small. I found great comfort in the discomfort of the big growth these founders are seeking. Breakthroughs require breaking things, and I doubt I will level up without making a bit of a mess in the process.
The name of the event said it all. Uncharted. No great explorer ventured into the unknown with the hopes of finding something small. Columbus, Dias, and Magellan all took great risks to discover new worlds! They set out to explore the unexplored with the expectation of finding the unimaginable. I’m just so grateful to learn from the journeys of others who might inspire mine.
Opal C1 Professional Webcam - The marketing team at Opal was kind enough to send me their brand new DSLR quality webcam to try. Truthfully, this is the most powerful webcam I’ve used, and I am not sure there’s anything like it on the market today. The image quality is top-notch, even though most video conferencing software can’t take full advantage of the C1’s massive lens and high resolutions. The physical device itself is as sleek as it gets, and it feels as good at is looks. It’s not cheap, but if you’re serious about having the best possible video from a webcam, the C1 is the one.
The Bear: Season 2 - One of my favorite shows from last year is back! I am just a couple episodes away from finishing season 2 of The Bear on Hulu and I can confidently tell you it’s even better than the first. Jeremy Allen White (Shameless) leads an outstanding cast of familiar faces on a journey to open his own Michelin-caliber restaurant in the heart of Chicago. If you’re a foodie like me, or just love to watch great TV, you have to dive into this show.
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