The Generation Y Mind: Summit Series Lessons

Summit Series was a seriously impressive event. White House appointees co-mingle with A-list celebrities and starry-eyed young entrepreneurs, all in the pursuit of solving perennial social and economic issues. Since my first day, I’ve seen some lesson-worthy actions characteristic of Generation Y:

Embrace Anarchy

I have never seen an auctioneer change the item during the bidding process, let alone the price. But, the fact that this particular strategy raised 25 times more money for Invisible Children than anticipated, it might be something to consider. During an auction dinner, the initial bids for a personal tour of the Invisible Children works in Africa were palpably disappointing. So, Chris Sacca jumped on the microphone and proposed that the armature auctioneer and Summit Series founder, Elliot Bisnow, barter with the top two bidders: increase their bid and both could go. Seeing the positive response from the crowd, Bisnow decided to open the option up to everyone, unleashing a rush of roughly 25 people to the stage. Chris, not content with the current price, refused to go on the tour himself, unless everyone on stage up their contribution by an addition $1,000 - a proposition which was unanimously accepted. The entire process raised roughly $200,000 for charity, instead of only $7,500. Smiles and laughs were ubiquitous throughout the entire exchange, adding a bit of entertainment and camaraderie to a traditionally competitive activity.


Caring for Others

In an era where philanthropy is seen as a smart marketing strategy, one could write off the Summit Series’ emphasis on charity as a mere financial calculation. But, when I saw conference attendees engage, inspire, and help panhandlers outside of a chic DC night club, I saw evidence that their charitable predilections extended from something more genuine.  I witnessed one very successful entrepreneur bring a panhandler to tears of joy, as they spoke of the trials of a difficult childhood and the prospects of a brighter future. Behind me, a highly influential grass-roots figure in the Obama campaign (and later, a Whitehouse director) engaged in a deep conversation with another panhandler.  I have lived in DC for 18 months, and in big cities for nearly a decade, and I've never seen anything like that. Nice to know it came from the next generation of economic leaders.

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