High-Fiving at Thinc Iowa / by Elton Rivas

Thinc Iowa

This past week I had the opportunity to travel to a place I had never been before, Des Moines, Iowa to attend the Thinc Iowa 2012 conference put on by my new friends at Silicon Prairie News. My trek to Des Moines began with a few goals and ended with more positive surprises. The bottom line is that if you've never been to Thinc Iowa, you should definitely check it out next year.

The lineup of speakers was solid and you can read all the recaps from Silicon Prairie News directly by clicking here.

My intent in writing this post is not to recap the event in detail, but rather to share some of the refreshing highlights of my trek to the middle of our nation. As I've been doing the majority of my work lately in the JAX community with ventures like CoWork Jax and One Spark, it was nice to hit the ground running in a new city where I intentionally went with little to no expectations. Upon landing, the hotel staff was great, the first folks I met at the conference were open and welcoming and the feeling of being in the midwest (positive stereotype) was emerging.

Antonio Neves, the founder of THINQACTION, emceed and kicked off the event Thinc Iowa 2012 with an energy that set the tone for a productive, positive and boundary pushing two days. Then it began... the breaks between speaker sessions where we all piled in to a little "relationship building" room (networking not allowed) and started interacting with one another. After a few minutes, I noticed that the normal "What do you do?" question started to take a turn to "What are you currently working on?" or something similar. The best though, was when I had the first person walk up to me and say "Hi, I'm (name), hope you are having a good time so far at Thinc Iowa - what can I help you accomplish?" Those simple words, encapsulated the amazing power of an entrepreneurial/startup ecosystem that Brad Feld would talk about the next day (see brief video below). It was a genuine ask of "How can I help you?" Refreshing. Pointed. Powerful.

I gave my new friend a high-five on the spot (Antonio would've been proud) and have mulled over the simple power of those words since. In essence, we as humans need to do that just a little more each day - offer help to someone else. Sure, that may feel a bit deep, but in reality it doesn't have to be so serious. Heck, if we just asked those types of questions, followed through and high-fived along the way, I know that I'd be smiling even more each day.

So, with that, here are a few more things that I enjoyed about the trip and that I hope we continue to put in to practice here, at CoWork Jax and while working on One Spark 2013.

  • The "down-home" atmosphere allowed for real, open dialogue and discussion about people, humanity and feelings. It was refreshing and inviting.
  • The attitude at Thinc Iowa of "how can i help you..." is all based on trust and connectivity, two critical factors for success in anything.
  • It's absolutely critical to maintain a positive, productive energy around anything that you'd like to accomplish. See last bullet point.
  • We need to High Five more. Period.

I'll leave you with this, Brad Feld's new Sketchbook on Startupville - startup ecosystems. From his new book "Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City," (which I definitely recommend that you check out)...

A strong startup community has four essential pieces:

  1. Entrepreneur-led;
  2. Long-term view: 20+ years;
  3. An inclusive philosophy;
  4. Substantive, engaging activities and events.

Enjoy the video and thanks for reading.

 This post originally appeared on the CoWork Jax blog at http://www.coworkjax.com/high-fiving-at-thinc-iowa/