Life Update: March Whirlwhind + The Summit Series Aspen

April 15, 2009 · Print This Article

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I’m in the Chicago O’Hare hotel tonight. I’m so very excited to have 3-4 hours to read and write. I leave in the morning for Aspen to attend The Summit Series, an event that is bringing together 120 of the top entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs in the country. I can already tell from the attendee list I just received that it will be a worthwhile three days on both the business and social justice side.

The last four weeks have been non-stop. It’s been passion-filled entrepreneuring and social entrepreneuring. Love it.

At the beginning of March I had the opportunity to speak at Yale University at the StartingBloc Greater NY Institute. I spoke on “A Vision for Our World in 50 Years.”

In mid-March I spoke at the Montgomery Tech Conference in Santa Monica to present iContact and meet with investors and saw Tim Draper of DFJ do an excellent rendition of The Riskmaster. I spoke at Southeast Venture Conference in Atlanta the next day to present an update on iContact to investors.

On March 6 I had the chance to visit The White House in D.C. to attend a Summit of Young Entrepreneurs and heard Macon Phillips, Yosi Sargant, David Washington, Michael Strautmanis, Jason Furman, Martha Coven, Greg Nelson, and Heather Zichal of the Obama Administration present on what they were working on to make an impact in the areas of the economy, budget, healthcare, energy, the environment, and transparency.

March 20, I hosted Entrepreneur & Social Entrepreneur Meetup #27 at my house in Chapel Hill where Nate Seaman of Bike and Build (he’s biking across the USA this summer to build and raise funds for low-income housing), Gene Nichol of the UNC Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, Dan Moore from Triangle Gives Back, and Michael Kelso from the startup Briteroots presented for 7 minutes each.

The peace activist inside of me was stimulated on March 26 when Betty Bigombe spoke at UNC’s FedEx Global Center on what she learned negotiating peace in Uganda between the Museveni Government in the South and the LRA in the North.

At the end of the month I attended StartingBloc’s NYC Institute at NYU Wagner and Columbia Business School. I heard presentations by the passionate Robert Egger of DC Central Kitchen, Ami Dar of, and environmental activist Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx.

Finally on March 30th, I was inspired to build schools in developing countries as a way toward lasting peace and security when Greg Mortenson of Three Cups of Tea fame spoke at UNC. He has built dozens of schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Here are two memorable quotes from Mortensen’s talk:

“Fighting terrorism is based on fear. Promoting peace is based on hope” – Greg Mortensen
“The solution to terrorism is education, not bombs.” – Greg Mortensen

Other notable events in March were the Nourish International (side note: if you’re in Raleigh, Nourish is hosting a fundraiser on April 17 called Brew Local, Act Global at Mosaic Wine Lounge from 6pm to 8pm) and Leadership Triangle Board Meetings, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization Forum, and an EO Raleigh Recruiting Event and Jess Lipson and Brooks Bell’s house. EO Raleigh is working to bring together the largest group of successful entrepreneurs in the Triangle.

On the personal side of life, I fit in visit to the wonderful NC Museum of Art in Raleigh, three ultimate frisbee sessions at UNC’s Carmichael Fields, and celebrated with my mom for her 57th birthday.

In the book world, right now I’m reading An Assault on Reason by Al Gore, Three Cups of Tea by Mortesen, and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish.

At iContact, we’re up to 162 full-time employees, 159 of which are based in our Durham office. We hired six new team members last month and are continuing to hire in customer service, sales, and development. We passed the $2M in monthly sales milestone for the first time in March. Because we hit this stretch goal, I’ll be dressing up like Tina Turner (with wig, shaved legs, mini-skirt and all) on April 17th. I was able to extract a few commitments from other members of our Director team…

  • Chuck Hester will sing the UCLA fight song at the April company lunch, wearing a UCLA jersey
  • Ken O’Berry will dress up as Steve Perry, complete with tuxedo tails, and sing Don’t Stop, Believin’ at the April Company Lunch
  • Sarah Stealey will take a $25 gift card, go to Wal-Mart, buy an entire outfit (shoes included) and wear the outfit to work (and yes, the trip to Wal-Mart will be videotaped)
  • Cindy Hays, David Rasch & Brandon Milford will dye half their hair iContact Green and the other half iContact Blue
  • Eric Sternkopf will come to work on day in April dressed as his favorite artist, The Prodigy.
  • Tim Oakley will come to work on a day in April dressed as Michael Jackson.
  • Robert Plumley will auction off the right to put a cream pie in his face at the April company lunch to the highest bidder and donate the proceeds to The Shriners’ Hospital in Greenville
  • Kevin Fitzgerald, Aaron Houghton, Ralph Kasuba, and David Roth will rewrite the lyrics and perform a song parody video of “We are the World” – renamed “We are not SPAM” and put it on YouTube

Whew. What a month!


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