Five Things Organizing Gangplank Brownbags Has Taught Me

Guest post by Dani Cutler.

I don’t need to dwell on what Gangplank is, and what it means to the community. Pretty much everyone reading this knows. If not, here’s a introductory video great to check out.

One way I was able to give back for a time was running the Gangplank Chandler Brownbag presentations each Wednesday at noon. I have been using what Gangplank has to offer for a couple of years prior, between Gangplank Jr. events, podcasting, and using the space for other reasons. When asked to take on the Brownbags, I was fortunately in a place where I could. It was one of the most fun and challenging things to experience. Here are some ways coordinating Brownbags has helped me grow:

1). Networking. You will meet many people this way. Not just the brownbag speakers, but also in those who use the space on a daily basis. It’s a wide variety of people with an endless variety of interests.

2). Learning. When you are coordinating the show, you get to see all the performances. Not only do you get a wide variety of presentations to learn on a business level, I’ve also learned more about local food, the music industry, philosophy, community events, and have even done a little yoga. We’re talking real-world application here.

3). Boldness. I learned really fast that if you need something, it’s better to just yell it out than try and figure out which individual person to talk to. As I was learning how to use the sound system and the projector, I yelled often. Not to mention the practice speaking in front of people once a week. After all, you do have to introduce the speaker, and let people know what is coming up in the future. Side benefit- it’s ok to ask for help.

4). Leadership. Before taking on brownbags, I had been on committees, and have volunteered my time. I was even President of the PTO at my daughter’s school. However, that was a nearly a decade before this, so I was rusty. Coordinating brownbags helped me gain some confidence back and not run away screaming when all eyes were on me looking for guidance. In fact, all this confidence led me to head the organizing committee for TechPhx, a low-cost technology “un-conference” held every November in Tempe.

5). Started my own business. Probably the biggest thing being a part of the Gangplank community has taught me is that if you can’t find it in someone else, create it yourself. I had been looking for employment for several months without any luck. What spending a year consistently being around these amazing people in this space showed me that I have the skills and the experience to branch out on my own. So I did. If that’s not a definition of “Be Dangerous,” I don’t know what is.

Thanks, Gangplank.

~Dani

Gangplank Town Hall

Join us for the annual Gangplank Town Hall. Gangplank founders Derek Neighbors and Jade Meskill will give the State of Gangplank Address, followed by extensive time to answer questions and explore new ideas.

The Gangplank Community is continually experiencing radical change. We are a movement impacting communities around the globe. We need your help to challenge the status quo. We want you to make meaningful change in your community.

Show up. Bring your most dangerous ideas.  Be part of Gangplank’s future.

Gangplank’s Town Hall will be held on Wednesday May 15th at 6pm in Gangplank Headquarters (260 S. Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ 85225). Gangplankers from all communities are invited to participate. This event will be live streamed to include those in other communities. You can access the livestream here: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/1838070/events/2085423

New Website Coming (Real) Soon

For years we have struggled with creating a site that helps people all over the world engage with Gangplank. Having multiple locations, each with a different set of initiatives, numerous events, and so many things happening in the Gangplank movement can be intimidating.

Instead of waiting to be perfect, we are going to Be Dangerous. This month you will see some major changes to our site. We will be launching a new, extremely simple, theme. We can figure out what is and is not working, and quickly iterate to improve the site for everyone.

Visit our github project to get involved and make the Gangplank experience better for everyone. Any and all skillsets are welcome.

Hiring Solved is Really Working

When Shon Burton and Trevor Olson first launched Hiring Solved, who could’ve guessed that in less than six months they’d be accepting a startup scholarship from Tallwave?

Flashback to Gangplank’s Startup Weekend 2011. “I pitched him my idea and he thought it was shit,” as Burton recalls his first encounter with Olson.

Now their recruiting tool is running at full force. So much so, they’ve just accepted their first international client. And it couldn’t have happened without Gangplank. In fact, Burton eloquently writes in previous posts (Something Crazy, HS Launches) about how the culture at GP is the reason for the season of Hiring Solved.

hs homepage edit 1024x670 Hiring Solved is Really Working

“I’ve been searching and longing to find a group of passionate people, people that inspire, create, hack, and love what they do,” wrote Burton.

trevor resume edit Hiring Solved is Really Working
So what makes Burton and Olson unique? They’re really working. It seems simple but it applies to everything. One of the first things they’ll tell you about Hiring Solved is that times have changed. People are writing their resumes everyday, with everything they do. That couldn’t be more true for the founders. Take Olson’s for example. Only a programmer would write theirs in code.

If it wasn’t for Gangplank, Olson and Burton might not have met. As they say in Hiring Solved’s tagline, it’s “The Fastest Way to Find Talent”…. after Gangplank that is.

Executive Director- An Introduction

Hey, I’m Trish, Gangplank’s Executive Director.

 Executive Director  An Introduction

Many of you know that Gangplank’s first employee, Katie Hurst headed off on new adventures in October. At that time, I was given the opportunity to challenge myself as the Executive Director for Gangplank. Many of us have already shared meals, ideas, questions, stories, and challenges. However, with a community that now extends globally, I know there are many more community members I have yet to meet. Hopefully this introduction provides a little background.

I am passionately curious. I love meeting people, exploring, and challenging myself. I started college as a parks and recreation major with an emphasis in experiential education. I had the opportunity to practice as an experiential educator while exploring team dynamics and promoting pro social behavior on NAU’s Challenge Course. It turned out team dynamics and social psychology fascinated me more than recreation. I still try to bring an element of play to everything I do, but I found myself taking social psych classes and graduated with a major in psychology.

Upon graduation, I spent several years in career and academic advising. I love seeing people pursue their passions and find meaningful employment. However, I still hoped to do something related to team building or community building. I was also starting to take an interest in under resourced communities.  Two years ago I left academic advising to pursue these interests.  I obtained a certificate in community development and spent my time visiting under resourced communities. It was a year full of learning and exploring the unique challenges and assets of communities around the country.

After returning to Chandler, my hometown, I came across Gangplank’s website. It completely baffled me, but piqued my interest enough that I stopped in for a brownbag several days later. I still vividly recall that day. With little idea of what I was walking into, I showed up for an open forum brown bag on the topic of “Getting involved in Gangplank”. The good thing about an open forum is engagement was expected and thus I had the chance to make a few immediate connections. The uncomfortable part was that I found myself diving into a brainstorming session on the topic of Gangplank initiatives within my first hour at Gangplank. In the spirit of giving before you get, I went ahead and offered to volunteer my skills in event planning. Katie however contacted me several days later and asked me to join the GP staff as a marketing and events intern (in this instance intern was purely a code word for unpaid staff member). I never would have imagined that this scenario of diving in during uncomfortable situations would come to characterize my time with Gangplank. It often feels like my role with Gangplank changes daily.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with intelligent and capable individuals as I continue to take on this challenge. 
A few fun facts:

  • I have a nerdy love for AZ human and natural history. I actually collect books that relate to AZ.
  • I was a white water rafting guide in the Grand Canyon for several summers.
  • I love water fights.
  • I am the mama of a 7 year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever. He has his mama’s naturally curly brown hair and love for water.
  • I can juggle 3 objects fairly easily. I haven’t tried in a while, but probably could pull off 4.
  • I didn’t own a smart phone for my first 8 months around Gangplank. Clearly I love social experiments. ;)

I would love the chance to meet you you as well. If we haven’t met yet, please introduce yourself if you see me around or feel free to shoot me a message.

A Journey’s End

katie green 200x300 A Journeys EndGuest post by Katie Hurst

The past two years have been an incredible period of growth for both Gangplank as an organization, and myself. When Derek asked if I was interested in coming on board in the summer of 2010, I never expected the job to change my life. Gangplank has challenged me in ways I never imagined and for that I am very grateful.

But everything good thing must eventually come to an end.

Next month, my husband and I will be moving to Portland and I will be leaving my full-time role with Gangplank. I say full-time role because I will never leave Gangplank entirely, just as it will never leave me. Gangplank is a philosophy – a set of values I’ve so fully embraced it would be impossible for me not to carry them into the next step of my journey. I plan to continue volunteering from a far, proving Gangplankers can be a part of the community no matter where they go. Who knows? Sometime in the near future you may be able to visit me at Gangplank Portland!

The best part of my “retirement”? I get to pass along this amazing leadership opportunity  to Assistant Director and former Gangplank Event/Marketing intern Trish Gillam. Trish has been my right hand for awhile now and has a passion for community development that will greatly benefit Gangplank. She is the perfect individual to be leading our organization into the next phase of growth.

I will greatly miss all my Gangplank friends and our partners across Arizona. Yet, I know I’m leaving Gangplank in great hands – those of our local Directors, Initiative leaders, program volunteers, Anchors and drop-ins. You will all help make Gangplank great and spread our manifesto throughout the world. It’s truly been an honor.

Check out my brownbag talk on the lessons I’ve learned through my time at Gangplank and how they can help you.

Gangplank 2012 Survey Results

We are very fortunate to have a great deal of talent within the Gangplank community who are so willing to contribute their talents to help us grow.

When Susan Baier of Audience Audit suggested Gangplank consider doing a segmentation survey, I leaped at the chance. While our monthly Open Forums garner some good discussion, it was often from a small group and not measurable. So we turned to our community expert and gave her our blessing. Continue reading

‘Walk the Plank’ Unconference Recap

Though Gangplank has hosted many a conference over the years, we’ve never planned an event totally focused on our philosophy. As part of our first Director’s Conference, we wanted to expose our volunteer staff to the community that has supported Gangplank Chandler for so many years, as well as allow the community an open forum to share their ideas based on the values of our manifesto – doing over saying, boldness over assurance and people over personalities.

 Walk the Plank Unconference RecapAttendees ranged from council members, nonprofit directors, ASU staff, students, parents, entrepreneurs and corporate leadership. The discussions were intense and honest – sometimes leading to disagreements – but always in the spirit of sharing and learning.

Our Directors certainly took a lot away from the experience and we hope many other take the discussions back to their work and communities.

A recap of the sessions that sent in notes can be found on the Gangplank Wiki.

A big thank you to the City of Chandler for hosting our event at the beautiful City Hall.

Startup Academy for High School Students

Startup Academy is an immersive entrepreneurship experience open to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors from any Arizona high school. Students will propose ideas to real world problems, form teams to work on them, and work under the guidance of mentors and faculty from ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) to turn their solutions into businesses.

CTI is working with a great set of partners on the Conscious Capitalism Startup Academy, including MAC 6, Gangplank, and Retreat at Tontozona, which will host the camp from June 21 – 24, 2012 (free bus transportation is provided from CTI).

Eligibility and Cost

  • The camp is open to any Arizona high school sophomore, junior or senior.
  • To apply, please complete the application below.
  • The camp costs $180, but tuition waivers are available based on need. (The fee covers camp costs for the weekend, but if the fee is a barrier to applying, please see the application for the waiver request option.)

Apply by June 8, 2012 for this great summer opportunity!

Business ideas submitted as part of application
At the start of the camp, the attending students and mentors will evaluate all the ideas presented and vote on the ones they want to work on. Please complete the application to tell us about your plan to start changing the world this summer!

 

Pop-up Gangplank at Cronkite

Cronkite 300x93 Pop up Gangplank at CronkiteGangplankhas partnered with Arizona State University to provide a popup workspace on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus for the summer.

The workspace, located in room 256 of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will be available from June 4th-August 17th, Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm. The space is open to everyone and will include weekly programs available to the public as well.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton applauded the partnership as a prime example of creating a culture of urban entrepreneurship.

“This is exactly what our city needs at exactly the right time,” Stanton said. “Phoenix is rising out of this recession, but in order to break that boom-and-bust cycle of the past, we need innovative ideas generated by incubators and startups to drive Arizona’s economy toward future success. Phoenix needs to lead with a diverse and sustainable economy that gets them off the ground.”

Stanton has pushed for fostering public/private partnerships between universities, community colleges, the business community and nonprofit organizations to provide new incubator space for startup companies, where they can access office space, technology and amenities to foster their success.

Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School and university vice provost, said that collaborations such as this create a great sense of community.

cronkite 300x221 Pop up Gangplank at Cronkite

Photo by Ehrlich Architects

“The services Gangplank provides to the Valley are innovative in style and method,” Callahan said. “Their presence in Downtown Phoenix will enable those resources to reach new audiences that range from local businesses to students.”

Gangplank will host an open house on Friday, June 8th, from noon-2:00pm to showcase the popup space and discuss plans for summer workshops. Information will be provided to visitors on how the space can be used.

If you are interested in getting involved with the space, let us know!