How to create a Sandbox Global Summit
Carefully select over 4 years, a group of 650 under-30 year-olds from around the world and cultivate relationships between the membership through regular dinners based in cities all over the world, and daily online interactions. Idea exchange, contact and company introductions, couch surfing, topical debates, and international friendships all result.
These 650 people have never congregated before, so encourage and cultivate these regional dinners and virtual interactions so that they grow healthily, and watch as the links between individuals become stronger.
Then BAM!!!!! bring together 200 Sandboxers and other young, and Sandbox-type guests in the one place! Encourage them all to give 72 hours out of their busy schedules to spend time with each other during well-organised activities in amazing venues… and you get the Sandbox Global Summit.
The people are just amazing. In my day-to-day life, I don't tell most people that I intend to start a company after I graduate from university because they look at me like I should attend a Careers 101 Course. I usually tell people that I intend to travel for a year after university to appease them.
Not this lot of people though. They don't even bat an eyelid. Everyone there wants to change the world. The conversations there tend to be more along the lines of, Person A: "One of the things I'm working on is…" Person B: Parallel idea/ know of a similar organisation/ running an organisation going through the same challenges/ know of relevant contacts/ other relevant experiences or expertise, etc. And the conversation turns into a huge snowball of amazing ideas and possible action steps!
The best thing though, was that everyone there was just so approachable and down-to-earth, belying their incredible achievements. It was very refreshing and inspiring to meet so many young people who are so comfortable in their skin.
The main venue MUDE resides in a beautiful mall in Portugal.
As soon as you step out of the front doors of MUDE and look to the left, you see the sun smiling on a glistering wide river framed in a grand archway on the top and sides, and a colonial cobblestones walkway. Just gorgeous.
Inside the venue were beautifully, custom-designed and hand-crafted cardboard furniture and decor. Yes, cardboard! It was edgy, young and looked amazing, which helped set the tone of the event - funky, fresh, innovative, arty, a place for creators and high quality.
As well as that, we had dinner in some places of great character - a museum, a circus, a hall where traditional Portugese music was played and even a reconverted pharmacy!
All participants were encouraged to curate their own sessions. This led to 72 sessions over 5 time slots and a lot of devastation on the part of the participants. How do you choose between sessions like "An Autopsy of Failure", "Cold Reading, Fortune Telling, and Social Engineering - How you are manipulated every day and how you can use it for your own goals", "Virtual World Vs Concrete World, How can we make change happen?" and "How can we predict the future using public information on the internet?", which were all on at the same time (as well as another 10 similarly interesting sessions)?
We were encouraged to make the sessions collaborative discussions, which meant that we could create amazing new friendships and conversations that could be continued way after the sessions were over. This bottom-up approach really maximised the expertise of all the participants and fostered amazing conversations.
When we were welcomed at the airport at the start of the summit, we were handed a letter written by Nico Luchsinger, the CEO of Sandbox, which emphasised that Sandbox wasn't just a network, it was a family.
Having met 200 Sandboxers who were welcoming, encouraging, and shared the same DNA strand of wanting to change the world and doing something about it, I'm glad I've finally met the family in person.
What I got out of it
New collaborations and friends! I will definitely be Skyping with John from Dublin about making Melbourne into an entrepreneurial hub. I will definitely be in touch with Kat from Teach for America for them to speak at our Robogals SINE (Seminars Inducting New Executive committees) in California at the end of February. I will definitely be in touch with Tomas from Prague to find out how the company he's working with, a nanotechnology company that does innovative work in bandage technology, is going. I will definitely be in touch with Robin from Switzerland about starting up a Robogals chapter in Zurich. I will definitely swap notes with Evan from New York about the book he's writing to teach kids business skills and entrepreneurship. I will definitely be in touch with Gwen from Singapore to form strong links throughout the Asia Pacific. And I will definitely be following up with Philip from San Francisco to stay at his house for a week in February. :)
The result of putting like-minded people in the same place and seeing what happens, can sometimes result in magic. The Sandbox Global Summit is one of those places where magic was created.
The inaugural Sandbox Global Summit was held in Lisboa, Portugal on 20-22 January 2012. 200 Sandboxers and guests from all over the world attended.
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I'm the founder of Robogals, and the Young Australian of the Year for 2012. Currently working on a hardware startup, giving speeches around the country and finishing up my degrees in Mechatronics Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Melbourne.
I tweet @maritacheng and I'm on Facebook.
This is a blog of ideas and words.
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