June 2009 Archive
God forbid I sit still for more than two weeks. I've still got my Africa jet lag, but I'm already planning my time in London July 4-16.
The first week I'm traveling with a group of videographers, bloggers and authors called "The Traveling Geeks." I went on the first Traveling Geeks trip last year, which was also my first trip to Israel. Most people know I usually like to travel alone, but every once in a while experiencing another culture's tech scene with people from slightly different media disciplines can be eye-opening. Plus, they needed someone in charge of pub crawling. (Ahem, London readers, leave your suggestions in the comments...) I'll also get to present an award and do my best Michael Arrington impression at the UK TechCrunchies, or as they're actually dubbed the "Europas." I'll be blogging here and on TechCrunch, as I try not to step on Mike Butcher's capable TechCrunch Europe toes.
If you want to hang with us, get your ticket to the UK Crunchies or come to our Tweet-up. Tweet-up tickets are half-price until Friday, if you say you read about it on SarahLacy.com. (Just kidding, they're half-off for everyone until Friday.) Our full agenda is here in case you want to just STALK us the whole time.
Our statement of ethics is going up on the site soon, and I wanted to bring it up since I've been pretty harsh on Pay-Per-Post. No one on this trip is recieving any payment in exchange for coverage. We do have sponsors paying our travel costs, so we could get a diverse group of attendees without worrying about income or travel budgets. We disclose those sponsors here. Our only obligations are to go to the events we've committed to and write about whatever we find interesting.
I love London and spent a good deal of time there last year, so I padded five extra days onto the trip so I can reconnect with friends and meet new ones. I've always got a list of startups to meet, but this trip, I'm particularly interested in ferreting out some London investors who are doing deals in China, India, Africa and South America. Most of the ones I know do more Western-centric early stage tech venture capital. Would be great to mix some European investing perspective into the book, so please let me know any suggestions.
Also, in case you were about to comment about the un-American-ness of my leaving on INDEPENDENCE DAY to go see the very people we declared independence from in the first place, Mr. Lacy has already beat you to it.
Well, it’s that time again. I’ve been wearing the same dusty jeans for much of the last two weeks, I’m sick of every single item on the room service menu, the mini-bar is crying for mercy, weird insect bites are covering my limbs and I sorely miss US television (THANKS FOR NOTHING NON-INTERNATIONAL HULU!) Also, my head is so packed with stuff I need to find the time to sit and write that I live in a near-constant panic it will all pour out of my ear one night during my sleep.
Yes, it’s time for me to head back to San Francisco for a few weeks, and as I write this I’m 24 hours into the trip home with about six more to go. I smell absolutely horrible, for the record. Mr. Lacy is asleep on my shoulder. I’m on my second glass of wine and watching “Last Chance Harvey” which is one of the more depressing movies I’ve seen on a plane, and yet, reminds me how petty our worries typically are as Americans.
Rwanda has been amazing. It’s my second trip here this year, and it was somehow more challenging and inspiring than the first. And that’s one of the more unoriginal statements I’ve ever uttered. If I had to break it down into percentages, the impact of Rwanda is 75% the people of the country, 10% the gorgeous setting, 10% the impressive job the government has done turning aid into sustainable economic development and 5% watching some of the most successful and powerful people from the West take in that other 95% and be immeasurably affected by it.
In the last two weeks my experiences have vacillated between hanging out with wealthy, powerful or well-known Americans doing work in the country and some of the poorest Rwandans just getting by. And guess what? Everyone would grant that the Rwandans display the most hope and resilience of the two groups. The Americans I know who have spent any time in the tiny, landlocked country are humbled by the Rwandan experience and spirit and can't wait to go back. There’s something magical about the country that brings together people in ways that just wouldn’t happen elsewhere.
Here’s an example: At a dinner party last week in the volcano park where the endangered silverback gorillas roam, we were sitting near Jungle Jack Hanna—my all-time favorite David Letterman guest—and, believe it or not, the decedents of the Von Trapp family who sang several songs from "The Sound of Music"-- one of my favorite movies of all time. But the spotlight belonged to a guy named Frederick, a Rwandan who was left to die when he refused to kill Tutsis back in a time of post-genocide uprisings and scattered violence in 1998. Guerrilla fighters cut off his hands and left him tied to a tree. By a fluke, the ropes were tied so tight, it worked like a tourniquet saving three-quarters of his arms and his life. He now works with orphaned children in Rwanda. He also plays the guitar and paints with no hands. This is the Rwandan spirit: It doesn’t want special favors or handouts. They just want a chance to compete and rebuild their country.
Here’s the wackiest part of that aforementioned dinner: We didn’t know any of these people before it began. We just happened to be at the same hotel, and Hanna invited us to join the group when we exchanged pleasantries at the bar. Somehow, that’s just what happens in Rwanda.
Below are some pictures of my trip and check out my TechCrunch posts about it here. (Working on another one as we speak, jet lag permitting.) I’m saving the bulk for my book though, sorry!
People keep telling me to "travel safe." For the record this is the only time I've been TERRIFIED FOR MY LIFE during my whirlwind of travel for my new book on global entrepreneurs. I'm going to let this video speak for itself. Mostly.
First, know a few things:
1. This was not staged, and clearly Geoff can read the future.
2. See how fast he left? The pictures don't show it, but that's how fast he came in. I happened to be reviewing the first part of this video on the FlipCam, and I heard Geoff yell, "HE'S BACK!" and looked up to a big snout a few meters away and closing on me. I froze, looking around for the staff to do something. But he had waited for the ENTIRE wait staff to go downstairs. Wiley.
3. In ten years of being together, Geoff says he has NEVER heard me scream as loud as I did this morning. I really thought I was about to get rabies or lose an arm.
4. Afterwards, my driver came up and said, "Come and look at who's on the roof eating a croissant!" Yeah, that'd be mine.
5. Our cat, Mr. Vinnie, is on a diet. Our other cat, Boo, is not. So whenever he gets a chance Vinnie charges in the room where we keep her food and eats as much of it, as fast as he can, terrifying Boo in the process. I used to tell her to toughen up. Now I know how she feels. Sorry, Boo.
6. He sat on the roof and ate all of the pastries he stole, then came down and his kids ran up. He didn't even save them any! They were like "Hey Dad, where's the food?" He's not even a good dad!
7. Regardless of this video, I *highly* recommend the Akagera Game Lodge in Rwanda. The staff was amazing, and the scenery was beautiful.
Last year on my 15-city book tour, we were lucky enough to get to know Drew Olanoff in Seattle. He's a larger-than-life Web personality whose addiction to hats and tatoos is only eclipsed by one of taking care of anyone and everyone he meets. He helped turn one of the most *yawn* events on the tour into a fun discussion about the Web, followed by a late night at a local diner. (Ahem, the photos. Drew is sporting the bad electric blue drink we had, after Olivia, Danille Morrill and I indulged in individual "champagne" bottles, below.) Later that trip, he convinced Olivia and I to go parasailing, despite his own fear of heights.
Even if I'd never hung out with him since, I would know from those two instances that Drew Olanoff will absolutely beat his cancer. He's one of the most positive, resourceful, enthusiastic and fearless people I've ever met.
True to form, he's turning his diagnosis into something positive. He created a site called "Blame Drew's Cancer," and he's asking people to use Twitter to blame his cancer on anything and everything, by hash-tagging it #blamedrewscancer. He's hoping some large companies will step up and donate $1 for every Tweet, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society or Make a Wish Foundation. Given the electric branding potential of Twitter, this seems like a no-brainer for someone's charity budget.
This is a guest post by my husband Geoff Ellis. Add him on Facebook at your own risk! ;)
Maybe it's just me, but I am tired of people assuming I will add them on Facebook just because they press the "add as a friend" button.
Maybe it's because I am old and expect people to have some etiquette.
Maybe I don't understand that the online world doesn't need to have the same rules as the real world.
Imagine someone ringing your doorbell, you go to answer it, open the door, and that person comes into your house without saying a word to you. They sit down, look around, go through your stuff and still never interact with you. This is what happens on Facebook ALL THE TIME. If you are going to friend someone, send a note along with your request. If I don't know you and you want to be my friend, tell me who you are and why you want to be my friend. My Facebook is way more "my space" than MySpace was for me. It holds a lot more personal stuff and if I don't know you, why would I bring you into my house?
The same goes for old friends. I have recently received requests from people I haven't seen in 10+ years. They sent no note, and I accepted them back into my life. Once I did so, I sent a note back with the "how's it going, what are you up to?" spiel. Guess what? Out of 6 people, I heard back from one of them. That was 6 months ago and still no word from the other 5. It's just plain rude. What are they doing with my friendship? Letting it rot as is was before? Hanging out on my Facebook pages silently and enjoying my stuff without ever letting me know?
I talked to a 24 year old who says she never thought about sending an introduction note to people she doesn't know. Is it an age difference? Or is it just me? There have to be other people out there who are annoyed by this sidestep of the social contract. If you lack decorum, please don't try to be my online friend. I will leave you in the forever limbo of the more than 2 dozen friend requests that I have not accepted.
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