wanna be nerd crashes at the CampusParty

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawesome. Julia sent me the link to the Campus Party 2011. Not being aware at all what that was. First I thought about a wild party of course. Then I saw pictures of thousands of students lining up for registration (at this moment I was pissed again not to able to speak the language since the homepage was just in Portuguese) – I wrote the organizing team a short email. They had access to thousands of students. Students are more than willing to learn languages!!!! Since I could not hook up with an organization or with a company I changed my strategy to find communities with members that had the wish to communicate globally.

Shortly after that I received a very friendly email from Carolina explaining what Campus Party really was. Realizing that CP was a huge event for geeks and nerds sitting in front of the computer all the time in the need to speak, work and play in English. What could they be interested in? I was at the right time at the right time. That was magic. I was paralyzed. They would crash on anonline tool. English as the common language in the virtual world. I was paralyzed. I needed to take this opportunity to get my busuu.com challenge done.

If I don’t get a company of 500 people why not starting Social Media activities. Don’t forget that www.chllng.me was a virtual experiment. Well from there on things started to roll. I was lucky that Marina canceled our meeting because therefor it was possible for me to get to the CP. While entering the venue I was blown away. I entered a parallel universe. Highly energized young people. Lights, flashes, loudspeakers, notebooks and screens everywhere. Robots that are able to work under water, robot battles, loud music, a 10x10 (metric system) big server in the middle of a huge hall.

Welcome to the world of the constructors of the virtual world.

In that moment it hit me clearly that I had no idea of the virtual world. I felt embarrassed to be the one doing this experiment. What should I explain the guys from the social media week? Did I have wrong assumptions because of my lacking knowledge of this tribe?

You could find all different groups at CampusParty. Software and hardware developers, designers, gamers, social media experts, and many more. Well I was in the right place of making things happening. 500 friends on busuu.com??? Easily. I felt like a kid in the candy store.

That feeling faded away after a short time. How do I reach all those people? I never used twitter, was never in a chat and well I started to write this blog 2 months ago.

I twittered the official venue but was just ignored. Writing the only English twits was not a good sign. Besides that I found out very quickly that was not aware of how to use Twitter properly. Ok going to everybody and explaining what to do was also not an option. But then magic again. I was lucky.

Carolina and Philippe were helpful in introducing me to the coolest multipliers but they could not do much more since I was not having an official. Well luckily I met Pedro and Bea, two very kind and extremely helpful graphic designers. I was so lucky to meet them since my problems of getting to the point of convincing 500 students started with the issue of getting the right device for my European power cable. Well since I used to work in the Hub (thank god for the flexible plastic tins) and on Ilha Grande where I could use the universal plug ins I didn’t get them before.

So back in the Tube. Just a short ride of half an hour. Learning something about different fonts in the European advertisement world. Getting in the store before. Getting back tired of travelling and talking in English. Woooooow how should I manage that? Then magic again.

I learned that there is something like a web celebrity. Ok that was really new to me. But of course also this crowd has some idols and opinion leaders that are the trend settters. People with more than 20.000 Twitter user. Bloggers who rock the scene. And with an online fan community that should be easily to mobilize 500 for my challenge.

Right next two us talked two dudes. Pedro told me that those were bloggers from Juven.. Well never heard but nerds that seemed to be pretty cool. So let’s chat with them.

Since I am gringo and totally missing computing and web skills I must have made a strange impression on them. I didn’t really have the feeling that they took me for real. But the promised me to twit about my challenge. What a great moment. Now I was pretty sure that I can make the challenge happening. But it came even better.

Philippe and Carolina had some minutes for me and explained me about the beginnings and vision of Campus Party. A video with an interview with Philippe will follow.

Carolina was so kind to introduce me to Edney Souza. Having a conversation with him was an epic win! Ed explained me about his career and dream to travel around the world and getting out of the corporate world at the age of 40. He comes from a very troubled neighborhood, went to a public school and runs 3 Companies. WTF. This guy is so down to earth, with a big heart and with an open mind that it was just not real.

We had a blast, shared a bit our visions and I felt like having met an old friend. When we talked I knew that I needed to meet him on my journey. He will be for sure one of the first persons that I will contact after returning from Europe. And guess what he offered right away to twit about my challenge. I was blown away and so convinced ok now the challenge is solved. He asked me for a short video and I figured out that I did not have the charger for my came with me. So my first official YouTube video would be an iPhone version.

So can you imagine a gringo who was avoiding any kind of technical or computing issues. This video is just a bad joke… But the beginning.

Well in the meanwhile it got night and I figured out that I would have to leave soon in order to catch the last subway at midnight. But once I started to mobilize my own network and adjusting my different social media accounts I forgot the time and missed the train. So I needed to stay in a hall full of people still working and gaming. I was not amazed that at 4 am still hundreds of people were around me and actively in front of their screens. Crazy crowd!!

It was great and fun the community was friendly and so helpful. I experienced and observed so much altruism and strangers helping each other in such an unselfish way, that I came across not very often.

It seemed so natural that cables, devises were exchanged, technical support given and common activities started in order to overcome the tiredness. Despite all my prejudice for geeks I became a strong fan of this community and was amazed by the great atmosphere. It was like family with their own way of expressing themselves with quite a bit of anarchism. How should I not feel excited?

I was very effective overnight wrote a blog entry, made a new twitter account, gmail account, uploaded my film material and sorted the material that I produced during my trip. This is anyhow my biggest challenge how I can process my material in order to make it interesting and mind blowing on one side and publish it quick even though I am traveling. A question that comes together with the need of learning how to produce and edit cool and easy movies. I wanna work on my writing style and so on.

After not having slept during the night I needed to get my charger for the video cam that I left at Rita’s place. Tired and exhausted but being in really creative and good mood I decided first to make a green walk and to have a great fresh fruit juice – I love that country for that nutrition. So imagine me in my sleepy and wracked condition getting through SP.

That meant a train ride of 1,5 hours fighting against sleep and finding a comfortable position in very uncomfortable Metro seats. Fortunately it was Saturday the train was not that crowded for god sakes but then happened something else…

So I was sitting (rather placed) there next to a very cute girl (what is not unusual for Brazil), as I said fighting with sleep and being in my own movie as the most gorgeous woman entered that I have ever met in person. Guys and girls I am not exaggerating, no really not. I have never seen such a beauty besides in magazines after a computing surgery. Holy cow!!!!!!!!!

Not only I was blown away, the whole train became very silent (and don’t forget that I am in Brazil) and you really could touch the tension in the wagon. Most of the passengers fixed her with their eyes. But that was not all - she stopped right in front of me and the cutie. Fuck.

So there I was - nearly in some kind of trance. The atmosphere was so tensed that I started to get kinda epileptic ticks. At least I had them inside as amazed as I was. My eyes must have been red like hell. The beauty started to change between hiding her nice curves and adjusting her bra in a challenging and shy manner. I was not sure if she did it on purpose since I tried to look everywhere else. That happened to be kind of tough.

All of a sudden the girl next to me stood up and changed the place. The tension was obviously too much for her. The hot chick sat down next to me and I stopped breathing. The night was long the work was exhausting and the hot hall was for sure not beneficial for my smell. Thinking of Julia I was sure that that was good like that I had no courage to talk to her. It was just not appropriate at all. I would not even have been possible to talk probably.

But don’t think that was all because when she opened her purse and started to put on new make-up I was pretty sure that my epileptic movements were not just inside anymore. Fuck. How could I have released that tension? Why didn’t I start yelling like at the Campus Part hoping that somebody would answer?

As you could imagine after this train ride and the 2 hours return in 35° didn’t help me to raise huge motivation. I was really down and especially as I realized that after the long night of working there were just about 3 more friends at busuu.com. Even though that Ed twittered.. So I think I need to buy you the promised beer upfront.

I was done. All my efforts seemed to be kind of useless. Instead of rushing out and doing some movements – of course I was too tired for that – I kept on doing boring work in a such a low speed that that made me feel even more crap.

Part 2 is following next week.


Hey gringo meet senhora Augusta!!! (Part 3 of 3: Returning and solving the first challenge)

So short before Christmas after exhausting and turbulent times in São Paulo i had the next challenge. On my way to my Christmas party with Julia on Ilha Grande I was lost in the middle of nowhere. And with my still limited Portuguese. That is quite quest. 

The bus driver misunderstood my target location and after 2 hours of driving he just left me at a restaurant on the highway. Well I got a bit nervous since I was very sure that I had been in the right bus. At the restaurant they could not speak English besides the owner a bit. Finally I could make myself understood and the owner called Julia. There was already a very uncomfortable pattern in the relationship with Julia. It would be the 2nd time that I was saved by her...
Well after 2 buses going on to Angra, one bus driver agreed to take me with him. I arrived too late to catch a boat and so I had to sleep in the harbor. To be honest I was really recovered the next day. 

After that I wished very much to rest and enjoy Christmas and New Years Eve. But what a wish... :)) An unfulfilled wish. I spent a great time with Julia but is was nearly as exhausting as in São Paulo. Since she had to work and experienced difficult costumers she was also pressured. Being in this situation and being together with a woman on a serious base confronted me brutally with my weaknesses and shadows. So you can imagine how challenging the time was. On the one hand I could not do anything for solving my mission - Brazil was on holidays - and on the other hand I had to fight with my bad sides, my ego, my selfishness, my in-consequence. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiicccccccccccccccceeeeeeee. 

It ended with staying in the hospital because Julia was so affected by this stress that she got sick. Well after another week of taking care about her and recovering a bit I returned to São Paulo. The outlook was perfect! There was the meeting with the decision makers of the national Association of toy producers. The perspective of having a job interview at Lumiar, discussing with Pablo possibilities of solving my www.busuu.com language while addressing a Hub need and talks with Rita and Augusto to apply the www.chllng.me mechanism in their communities made me raise my expectations. 

Well to shorten it up. Of course it came the other way round. Pablo was surprisingly on a training workshop for the whole week, the job interview was delayed and I was so exhausted that I could not get started. Even worse than that: I had troubles with my money because through a miscommunication with my Austrian bank institute my debut card was expired by the end of the year. Sweet!!! So I had some money in cash enough either to get through until flying home or going back to Angra to meet with Julia who got money from my bank. The signs were already there…

The meeting with the association was in order to solve my first big challenge and initiate a social project with street kids. This meeting was the first concrete proof of our hypothesis of the power of the virtual world. Vitor who is a board member of the association introduced me to the president and the managing director of the association. The funny thing was that I met Vitor the first time in the meeting. He just knew my linkedIn account and Daniel who connected the two of us. However I have never met Daniel in person yet since a former school friend linked me via email with him. So the whole process showed what we believed in. How strong the social web can be.

Vitor and his colleagues met me with a great amount of trust and willing to help. I was amazed. The irony of this happening was that Vitor realized in the meeting that my appearing was part of the chllng.me game and I presented myself as a game designer. (Hw would he have reacted if I would have used the term player?)

The meeting went really great. The president was happy and convinced of the Mobile School project (www.mobileschool.org) and agreed on bringing the project to Brazil. 

Yes!!!!! Strike. There we goooooooo. About the learning and more about this project later on. It was strange because despite of enjoying the first success I couldn’t get of my exhausted …

On the next morning I made a terrible discovery in the grocery store. My money was gone. Instead of my money I found a big whole in my shorts. I freaked out. Lost completely my balance. What the fuck. I was there in SP without any money and no cards. I was upset and unsure to ask people I got to know some days ago and who I didn’t know very well. What would they think? Would they trust me? Didn’t I use to much of their support by staying at their place?

Damned I was really shocked. Besides that it was so unlikely that I made such a big hole on the way to the grocery store. When I took of my pants with all the money the day before there was no hole since I got some money out of the pocket and gave the rest back. So being freaked out and aware of the uncertainty of those events I asked my hosts if they could imagine that their maid would be in a difficult situation that she would take advantage of my chaotic and irresponsible style.

Could you imagine my situation having met such great and nice people who fully trust their maid and didn’t know me well. I was upset having raised my question in my frustration. What if this happening would destroy our relationship and we would lose the trust in each other? It really made me nervous.

At lunch I told my story to Karen who I saw just one time at my last visit to SP for a drink. She offered me right away the opportunity to lend the money from her. Without having any security and knowledge of who I was. Really amazing. Thanks Karen for your help and trust.

Well at least having that solved I could not really focus on what my challenges and of course it came worse. Marina from Lumiar needed to cancel our meeting. Oh great the last days seemed to be a complete fail. I was not sure anymore if I should miss my flight in order to have 2 more weeks to accomplish my remaining 2 challenges. Everything seemed to fall apart. My insecurity was laming me. I was so focused on went wrong that I really was close before to blow off everything and fly home as planned before coming to Brazil. I came to Brazil for 2 reasons to prototype a real life game which was more or less successful and to change myself. I was so fed up with knowing what could be possible and what could be done and being able to execute it. I never wanted to grow up accused very often other people of being so engstirning and old fashion. I was very inconsequent and lost so very often my focus (Remark: it was of course an awesome idea of having three major challenges in 6 weeks).

I want to use my talents and get the real value back for my efforts and ideas. Whereas I am still not sure if I need to think ideas to an end or concentrate on my magic of initiating action and projects.


Hey gringo meet senhora Augusta!!! (Part 2 of 3: Collaboration and personal learning)

Stuck in the Brazilian reality it was an interesting time of learning and first reflection.What actions led to which results?

I experienced from the beginning on that we often use to talk much about possibilities and talked a lot about what could be possible and what could be great. Long conversations and many announcements and only a few actions and even less results. Since I left promised support was often missing and agreed actions not taken. Collaboration started to fade away and often personal problems got an excuse for not being reliable.

What does this mean for building up trust in the future? In which situation can we still enjoy a balance and make the best out of missing our own expectations? Where is it better to take over ownership and make the steps by our own.

We are working more and more on a virtual base and collaborate on a global playground on without seeing (knowing?) each other. Of course I have to ask myself this question why I am affected by this way. Sure there was no money involved and I hope to raise some opportunities for my playmates. On the other side I was missing sometimes that people take over ownership and get the chance of creating value together also in financial terms.

This could of course just work if the present situation allows someone to invest time in an external project if the basic needs are covered. But again why not collaborating on raising money for short term projects. Shared efforts with shared networks. If we take care about our friends and their network there will be a huge benefit for each of the involved parties.

My guess is that pride and missing trust in us that we know how to deal with unknown situations prevents better collaboration. Still everybody to tries overcome personal issues by themselves instead of relying on the strengths and support of others. By a playful approach we could overcome those issues and move on in a more productive way.

While preparing the trip I forgot to play. I was too proud of my 'achievements'! Before leaving Sao Paulo I forgot to play another time. I got the result that I asked for...

What is your experience with mobilizing your network for projects?


Hey gringo meet senhora Augusta!!! (Part 1 of 3: Arrival and desillusionation)

After arriving in Rio, surviving my orientation period and having a very special meeting in the paradise i headed further to São Paulo for having the first meetings with officials and contacts from social networks. My welcome was amazing I got friendly and aaaaaaaaaaawesome support from the Hub crowd (Thanks guys you are really amazing!) and got started quickly. Internet connection was set up right away

The hub network around Ivan, Pablo, Rita, Natale, Alexandre and Paula turned out to be the greatest environment for having professional working conditions. Knowing that we are acting in similar local ecosystems helped a lot. Trust was immediately built up and common playgrounds explored. But also first business contacts were approached and meetings scheduled. I was in a real work flow.
Then smack!! The first one.

I came there highly motivated and ready to take over my challenges. Well soon I got a very disillusioning feedback from all sides. It was freaking cold. (I reduced my luggage and left my warm stuff in Rio) and companies were kind empty. Great playground but nobody to play with!

The time between Christmas, New Year and carnival (summer time and holidays) seems to be standing still in Brazil. Decision makers and employees were taking time off and spending with their families and kids.

Smack, smack: my direct contact to Ricardo Semler had disappeared before meeting me and then I learned that Ricardo was in Japan. Hell yeah.

Holidays and celebrations are the most common words I used to come across. Really the time slowed down and celebrations lasted for days. I could not help even check out the nightlife (for sure not a pity in SP) and had my most promising meetings at night.

Then smack the 2nd: people who promised me their support did not show up or did not deliver. Why do we have to create expectations if we are not putting any efforts in realizing them?? This question is mainly for me personally... (But if you know an answer...)

Well great prerequisites for our challenges! Similar experience before Christmas? Some things might not change. Stay tuned.