As I write, I am speeding along the French countryside in the TGV. I am following my progress on Google Maps on my cell phone; any of my friends on Google Latitude can see where I am in real-time too.
During this 4-hour train ride I have spent my time napping and reflecting on the lift conference. I was very, very pleased with lift for a few reasons. First of all, from Poken’s perspective, our new conference badge prototype worked very well. There were a few small glitches and there are clearly some usability issues to address before we release a final version but the product was functional and we had three days of testing with great users who provided very insightful feedback. Fortunately, many of the suggestions we received are features/fixes we are already working on.
One of my objectives in taking the position with Poken—and even in coming to IMD in the first place—was to expand my global network. Lift showed me that I was definitely making baby steps in this direction. I bumped into several venture capitalists and business owners I had met at previous conferences. I met in person for the first time several people who had corresponded with me online about Poken. I bumped into two sets of entrepreneurs whom I knew from the IMD Startup Competition/MBA Projects. I had lunch with a Google product manager whom I had interviewed with back in October. And, of course, I pokened with plenty of new contacts.
Amazingly, I found that my Rice network extended to lift as well. One of the staff members had worked in Teach for America in Houston, where she knew Melissa, the legendary Baker president during my term as Lovett president. I was delighted to find such a connection halfway around the big earth/small world!
My wingman from Houston is on a project in Paris so I am heading up to spend the weekend with him. We will, no doubt, rock Paris like le hurricane! But it is hard to talk of le Perfect Storm when the weather is beautiful and not even that cold. Could spring really be in the air? Or am I just being lulled into a false sense of security before more snow? On verra!