An Entrepreneur Goes to Camp
Lisa Chau is a Ted-Ed lesson creator who has been published over 100 times in Forbes, US News & World Report as well as Huffington Post on TABLES: Technology – Academia – Business – Leadership – Entrepreneurship – Strategy. She was a featured guest on National Public Radio’s Baltimore Midday Talk with Dan Roderick, speaking on millennials and digital strategy. A few years ago, she organized and hosted the “How to Build a Strong Start-Up” conference at Columbia University.
We spoke with Lisa about her experience at this boot camp for entrepreneurs:
What brought you Club Getaway this month?
I was thrilled to be invited to participate in Survive and Thrive’s inaugural boot camp for mission-driven entrepreneurs. My interest in startups kicked into high gear when I worked at the Tuck School of Business at my alma mater, Dartmouth College. There, I met alumnus, Alejandro Crawford, who helps build bottom-up innovation and forge risk-aware strategy. We’ve worked together on many projects since the meeting, including co-teaching an MBA entrepreneurship class at The Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College.
More recently, I spent almost two years with Potentis Capital, whose mission is to build socially responsible businesses, as well as generate jobs and economic growth on local and national levels. I worked with portfolio company Watertree Health’s President Shane Power and his team to exceed the organization’s 2016 social responsibility goals by saving cardholders $120 million on prescription costs and donating $1.3 million to nonprofit Make-A-Wish®. Additionally, we raised enough money to fund over 2 million meals for 15 regional food bank partners.
Mission-driven entrepreneurship is integral to what I do, so a boot camp designed just for entrepreneurs is a natural match for me.
What did you find most valuable about your experience?
Although I always advise people to diversify their networks, I enjoyed meeting like-minded entrepreneurs in an extremely supportive environment. The endless hours and unique journey of startup life can be very isolating. It was comforting to be surrounded by others who understand the many challenges of growing a business. We just relate easily.
The Survive and Thrive boot camp offered me a community which I will work to maintain beyond our time at Camp Getaway – In friendship and in business. I’ve already exchanged correspondence with Recurrent Capital Founder and President Ethan Einwohner, whose unbridled enthusiasm led our “Stay Green” team to victory during the branding workshop led by Laney Silverman.
I have a long list of other founders I will email, including Quantum Media Group’s Ari Zoldan, Club Getaway’s David Schreiber, Cewebity’s Jameson Bennett, Fearless Talent’s Francesca Burack, and Motivating the Masses’ Susie Carder. WishPoints’ Grace Lee and I are currently discussing ways we can support one another.
Were you surprised by anything?
I attend a lot of networking events, hackathons and business talks. More than 80% of the time, I never have a problem getting a seat near the front of the room. People usually cluster in the center of the room. When I sauntered into the Boat House for Jesse Itzler’s keynote, the audience had taken up all the seats in the front third of the room. Guests were committed to learning as much as possible over the course of the weekend. The anticipation was palpable even before Jesse took the stage. I loved it. There’s something energizing about being surrounded by sheer ambition. We were ready for a great talk and Jesse delivered – He has an amazing presence, singular journey and sense of humor. He is definitely a different brownie!
The next morning, I was surprised I didn’t fall while walking on one wire between trees in the aerial park! I was sleep-deprived, cold and had a painful pinched nerve in my shoulder. But I had to push through – As Jesse insisted: We need to push past our limits. When you think you’re at your limit, you’re only 40% done. You can do more. Reach into your reserve tank… “It’s where the gold is.”
While I waited for my turn on the cables, my brain reminded me of the entrepreneur motto: Be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
(At the same time, I was trying to avoid the other motto: Fail fast, fail often.)
How was this conference different from what you’ve experienced before?
When I signed up for the boot camp, I expected lots of panels in the traditional sit and talk format, but surrounded by trees. This was different in that we bonded and learned by engaging in team activities in the air, on land and in the water.
People didn’t just proclaim leadership, they owned it.
During the teamwork and leadership mastermind session, @EnergeticPhD Cynthia McKee and Managing Director at Voyager HQ John Matson volunteered to brave the cold waters of Leonard Pond, not once but twice, to collect balloons. Meanwhile, I stayed dry on land and flexed my mental acuity to solve a riddle before our rival team could beat us.
The scaling and globalization mastermind session was superbly led by mentor Desiree Reid. She observed how participants interacted with one another and provided detailed, insightful feedback on each individual activity rather than simply throwing out generic comments. Then, she connected the activities to relevant overarching business concepts. She was wonderful. With over 20 years of experience launching and growing brands, including work with beauty and health giants such as Revlon, Avon, and Estée Lauder, Desiree has been featured in Essence and Allure magazines as a notable business leader.
What’s next for you?
I just began writing a business book. I will also offer related consultancy services with the mission of empowering executives in the design of their careers to cultivate meaningful connections & opportunities across their lifetimes.
I’d love to find a complementary business development role based in Manhattan that would also broaden my work with startups internationally. I’ve been to Amsterdam twice and the region is particularly interesting because of its rapidly growing entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Lisa Update: June 2018
After speaking at Microsoft in February and leading mentor sessions at South by Southwest in March, Lisa was invited to join Lampix, where intelligent tabletop augmented reality is powered on blockchain with PIX tokens. She manages community and PR within the marketing department headed by Sirius Satellite veteran Gordon Meyer.
As of April, Lisa officially became an advisor for fellow Dartmouth alumna Joan Ai’s startup Prepared Child, which is a social impact vehicle part of the NYU Steinhardt Edtech Incubator as well as the Dartmouth Founders Project and Pledge 1%.