My first time at Summit was in LA 2018. I was not in a great place. I had just fired an employee who, while lovely, was underperforming. What I didn’t realize was that the firing would set off my team in a cataclysmic way. Most of them had been with me for years, and the truth was we had all outgrown each other and everyone was ready for a major change. But at the time of Summit LA18, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I was questioning everything: my leadership skills, my ability to build a team, even my gift of connection. I vividly remember walking into the check-in area surrounded by people vibrating and excited and thinking, “I don’t belong here.”
I walked directly into my first session, “The Magic of Human Connection” with Jessica Encell. Within 10 minutes I was in a cathartic tearful embrace with a total stranger. This workshop, designed to help us tap into the wonder that is all around us, was playful, profound and transformative. I walked out feeling lighter and freer than I’d felt in months. I knew I had found my tribe.
By the end of my first Summit I had spoken with CEOs, changemakers, politicians and performers, and was a total convert. So when I was invited back this year, I was ready. With reusable water bottle in hand I set out to evolve once again.
This time, I was beyond lucky to be invited as media. Day 1 started with hugs (because Summiters don’t do handshakes) and a heartfelt welcome from the founders whose message was clear: this is a community of changemakers, of activists, and of lovers and fighters for what’s right in the world. Summit lifers will tell you that the event is part Burning Man, part TED Talk and all about making deep, meaningful connections. As someone who networks my ass off for a living, it felt refreshing to just be making friends and being drawn energetically to people and experiences throughout the weekend.
After the founder’s media lunch, I launched right into Kindred, a feel-good social meditation that touted the ability to teach me how to easily access states of peace and joy and train my brain to regulate emotions and access them purposefully. Cut to me being led, eyes closed, running around a room filled with 100 people giggling like a kid and loving every minute of it. Not only did I meet my Summit bestie Ventura, but I had a blast tapping into my inner child, remembering that life doesn’t have to be so serious, that it’s ok to dance like no one is watching... even when they are.
From Cacao ceremonies to puppy play, from acro yoga to Sadhguru, from fundraising to failure, this year proved just as magical and engaging as I had hoped. One of my favorite sessions was on the future of retail hosted by the incomparable Walter Frye, VP global brand engagement at American Express. Walter hosted a fireside chat with Katie Hunt, co-founder of Showfields, and Zak Normandin, founder of cult brand Dirty Lemon, and the panel discussed the value of data and immersive experiential. Walter commented, “We are studying the future of retail because we want to help inspire our card members to innovate how they come to market and how they attract customers. Experiential and data are necessarily at the heart of how brands attract and build loyalty with their customers.”
Of course, all things good must come to an end, and so did my time at Summit. I ended on a literal high with a women-only sound bath that left my tank on full and ready to once again face the inevitable challenges of being an entrepreneur in what we will generously call a challenging socio-political climate. I have to believe if experiences and communities like this exist that there is hope for us yet.