Truth is, I was nervous about camp.
Will people like me at camp?
Will I make friends at camp? Being the new guy at camp is hard. What will people think of me when I get to camp?
All these emotions came rushing back to me like a young kid heading to their first sleepaway camp. Thing is, I’m not a young kid. I’m an adult heading to camp.
Let me explain. I was invited to attend Camp Maverick (billed as “Summer Camp for Entrepreneurs”) by my good friend Brent Weaver. Brent is a member of Maverick 1000 and in our frequent meetups and experience share sessions Brent has been raving about the ideas, energy, and relationships he both gives and receives from his interaction with Maverick.
Maverick is the brainchild of Yanik Silver. Yanik is a well known entrepreneur who builds businesses, is an entrepreneur thought leader, author, adventure traveler, father, husband, etc. His latest venture, Maverick DNA, is a complete entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes Maverick 1000 (a private, invitation-only global network of the top entrepreneurs and industry transformers), Maverick NeXT (which is fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs), Maverick Local (local networking and support for entrepreneurs), as well as several additional components including philanthropy, family events, adventure travel and so much more that I don’t even know about.
Read this blog post I stumbled upon and you’ll get a sense of who Yanik is… http://yaniksilver.com/returnpath/
From his website: His latest venture is Maverick1000, a private, invitation-only global network of the top entrepreneurs and industry transformers. This group periodically assembles for breakthrough retreats, rejuvenating experiences and ‘giving forward’ opportunities (to-date raising over $1MM+) with participating icons such as Sir Richard Branson, Tony Hawk, Chris Blackwell, John Paul DeJoria, Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos.com), Russell Simmons, and Tim Ferriss.
Yanik’s lifetime goal is to connect visionary leaders and game changers to catalyze innovative business models and new ideas for solving 100 of the world’s most impactful issues by the year 2100. Leveraging business as a multiplier for good…co-creating something great.
Most of the time when I read a bio like this and then meet the person behind it, I’m left unimpressed. What I will say about Yanik is that he is a super cool, accessible, thoughtful person and his real life persona exceeded my expectations / pre-conceived notions. He’s a great guy who truly is passionate about business, life, entrepreneurs, and trying to crack the code on how to have it all — and I don’t think he’ll give up until he figures it out. He’s the real deal and if you have the opportunity to attend one of his events I highly recommend it.
Well enough of my man-entrepreneurial crush.
So there I was, sitting on the bus nervously tapping my feet. Most people think of me as a social person. Someone who easily fits into new situations and meets people easily. But I was intimidated. I was a bit scared.
I had read all the bios of the “camp counselors” and some of the attendees. There was no question this was the “A” team. No “B” players were in attendance. It was only about 120 attendees and as soon as we met at the airport I could instantly tell that all the Maverick 1000 members had a deep connection – they all greeted one another like family.
After about a 2 hour bus ride from Laguardia Airport to Connecticut we arrived at what was literally a summer camp. Just what you’re thinking. Small, basic wood cabins, a lake, etc.
We were immediately greeted with a refreshing cocktail while we checked in and were assigned a cabin and bunk mates. Campers were directed to an arts and crafts table covered with assorted beads. Each camper made their own name necklace which was to serve as the name tags for the event. Right away at the table, we were all giggling, displaying our entrepreneurial need for creativity, and making friends.
I spun out of the craft table to have my picture taken with an instant camera and my photo was posted on the “Happy Camper Board”. I love this idea. Whenever someone at camp made an impression, said something that touched you, or did something you noticed you could go over to the table, grab a little card that said things like “You make me a happy camper” or “You’re a hoot” and write a message to that person and drop it in their envelop. I wrote many over the 3.5 day event and I even received some myself!
Immediately I had sensed something about this Maverick Event. Recently, I had been named to the board of my local EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization) board as the learning chair. Learning chair is basically social chair and I’m in charge of putting on large events for our chapter. This new position has made me both very aware and very critical of big events like this. Entrepreneurs are crazy accomplished people. They’ve seen a lot. They are hard to impress.
When I think about what was most impressive about Camp Maverick it’s not the speakers (they were crazy awesome), it wasn’t the camp (which was phenomenal), or the food (which was top notch), it was the details.
If there’s anything you take from this post and apply to your business, personal life, etc. it should be this:
It’s all about the details.
This stood out so much to me on this particular event that I’m thinking about using this — It’s all about the Details — as a rallying cry for my own companies. It’s a differentiator that I appreciate and that is truly felt. A differentiation that creates an emotional connection and elevates this event from many others.
In addition to the examples I’ve already mentioned here’s another. Getting people to mingle and create “collisions” with new people at events like this is tough. During the opening night dinner Team Maverick had everyone switch where they were sitting at least three times. This forced everyone to meet new people and you never knew who you were going to sit down and meet next.
On the second switch I found myself sitting next to Cameron Herold and another dude who was very passionate about what he didn’t like. Cameron is a coach to top entrepreneurs and CEOs and was basically the headliner of the speakers at camp. People pay some serious bucks to work with him directly or have him speak to their groups. And here I was having dinner with him.
I highly recommend his book, Double Double, and if you get the chance to hear him speak or spend time with him – do it.
The passionate dude turned out to be Tucker Max – yep, that Tucker Max — who has gone all entrepreneur and is now CEO at Book in a Box (check it out). They help you write a book in 12 hours. Pretty cool! You never know who you’ll meet or sit across from at Camp Maverick.
The next three days we got down to business. And lots of fun. I don’t know if Yanik and Team Maverick ever use this quote, but it’s one of my favorites and sums up what I believe their philosophy to be when it comes to Maverick events:
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play….”
It was an action packed three days and to chronicle it all would turn into a short novel. The video above really recaps the event well. However, here are some of the takeaways from speakers I attended and activities that stood out to me:
Shelby from Ember Dragon and Content Divas spoke about how to understand Google search (in simple terms!) and that search is all about INTENTION. She showed many examples of how the future of search is heading in this direction and if you’re not thinking about Google in this way you’re going to be left behind soon. Big takeaway: if you understand this you can use your content to work for you in ways that will pin point the buyers you want, lower your overall Google search budget, and lower your cost to acquire a customer.
Cameron Herold was the keynote the first day. Two things that were gold:
On the second day Cameron spoke about the wild emotional roller-coaster that all entrepreneurs ride. He walked us through the different emotional stages we all could recognize and relate to. This was super powerful and the takeaway was gold.
As entrepreneurs we hit all the emotional stages which include highs and lows. But, the important thing to realize is what stage you’re experiencing and that it’s just a stage. Like all things you’ll get through it. Don’t fight it, just ride it out. His book goes into more detail and of course if you can get him in person he’s very passionate about this topic.
Apparently, one staple of Maverick events are costume parties. We were alerted prior to camp that we need to bring a Spirit Animal and a Hippie Happy Hour costume.
It takes me a little courage to get dressed up but when I do it’s on! Back to the idea of forced collisions and interaction — there’s something about costume parties that really lets the guard down and amps up the fun.
On the third night after dinner we made our way down to the lake where there were two large DJ booths. One light up in blue and the other in green. Upon entering the area we were each handed a pair of wireless headphones. The switch on the side would let you tune into whatever DJ you wanted. It was hilariously awesome. Everyone was grooving out to the tunes of their choice at the volume of their choice. Then if you removed your headphones it was completely silent. Watching people boogying to no apparent music was entertaining and you could talk all you wanted without the music overpowering you.
I’ll be R&D’ing this one!
Maverick alerted campers prior to camp that there would be a talent show, aka the Green Gong Show. I was curious as to what we’d be seeing. I could not have been more impressed. Acts ranged from singing a Bjork song, some clever original songs, spoken word poetry, comedy, and an Eminem cover. There were others, but those are the ones that I remember most.
Mornings through lunch were typically reserved for learning. After lunch was for play. Games included inflatable bubble soccer where players wear a giant bubble (see video). There was also a traditional camp color war with several challenges. I’m sad to report I lost my leg of flip-cup that would have given our team the win. Yellow did come in second place. Slip n’ Slide kick-ball was another out of the box game that had players and spectators laughing hysterically.
Campers were encouraged to unplug and turn in their phones for the day. I’ll admit while I wanted to do it the entire camp, I just couldn’t bring myself to leave my phone. However, on the last day, I checked in my phone and received a “Me No Phoney” button in exchange. After my hands stopped trembling it was an amazing feeling to be without a phone in my pocket. I had several false grabs thinking my phone was vibrating only to realize I didn’t have it. Leaving the distractions of an electronic device behind, I found myself focusing on the present and connecting with environment around me. I think we could all take a lesson from this and leave our phones behind more often.
There were some perks to going “Me No Phoney” and I was rewarded with some silly string. Another thing I learned — silly string is really only fun for the person spraying it. No one likes to get hit with silly string (*ahem* Brent Weaver) which also makes it really fun for the person spraying it!
Yanik Silver led a breakout on the topic of journaling. Yanik is a prolific journaler and his personal journal is a wild combination of thought, creative exercise, original artwork, lists, business notes, ideas for the future, and who knows what else. Yanik was quite brave and even passed around his journal with the request no one read too closely! Super cool.
I’ve long gone in and out of journaling and you may remember a post I did on sketchnoting. While Yanik’s session was only an hour I got so much from that I can’t begin to detail it all here.
One of the very cool takeaways was that even though your journal is serious don’t take it too seriously. Let your kids do some art in the middle — you never know what serendipitously might come up or match down the road.
Another big takeaway was that your thoughts are valuable — don’t skimp on your journal. Yanik is very particular and likes a specific fine leather cover with specific artist quality paper. I too think that’s pretty awesome but after hearing his thoughts I went on a search for a really good journal at a good price. I discovered a brand called Leuchtturm1917 for about $20 on Amazon or your local fine stationery store. Paper quality is good, there’s a pocket in the back for business cards and stuff, I really like the blank table of contents and pre-numbered pages, and they include spine labels for when you’re done and want to label your journal on the bookshelf. The only shortcoming I’ve found so far is the elastic band that goes around the book seems to get stretched out. So it’s almost the perfect journal.
Here are a couple of journaling prompts from Yanik to get you writing:
Note from Yanik after publishing this post: “BTW – the journal piece you wrote ’11 year-old self’ instead of 111-year old self. I like 11-year old self too. I’m going to use that. ;)”
Other cool journal ideas:
Yanik also gave a general session talk titled: Evolved Enterprise: Rediscovering the Path to Your Greatest Work and Falling Back in Love with Your Business…Over and Over Again.
The main theme of this talk is that business has to be more than just making money. That the best businesses make money AND give back to their community or the world. Yanik truly lives this as his Maverick 1000 retreats are built around a 3x model: One day of learning, One day of adventure, and One day of giving back.
From Yanik’s website he describes the Evolved Enterprise:
The Evolved Enterprise™ is a way to go from simply a transactional business to a transformational one and even a transcending business.
It’s about creating a venture that authentically comes straight from your true essence, wrapped around a meaningful Cause (your WHY or impact) and then develops the Community, Culture and Creation itself.
Yanik has written a book on the topic to be released soon. I have a pre-release copy that I plan on reading and will review in a separate post.
Jason Hanson, an ex-CIA officer turned kidnapping expert, put on an awesome interactive session teaching us how to escape from duct tape, zip ties, and rope in the unfortunate event we should find ourselves kidnapped! The session was full of laughs and next time you see me at a party ask me to show you how I can escape. It makes me feel cool.
Cameron Herold shared that his grandfather used to tell him that “R&D” stood for Rip-Off and Duplicate. I’ve heard this before so it wasn’t new, but it did remind me that the best entrepreneurs look at what’s working and find ways to duplicate it for their own benefit.
The best compliment I can give to Yanik and his team is that at almost every activity I was thinking to myself, what a great idea. I have to do this when I get home. I need to bring this to my business, to my entrepreneurial group, to my family parties, etc.
So if at one of my next events you see a silent disco, a talent show, or Me No Phoney check in stations you know where I got the idea!
Andy Nulman is an accomplished entrepreneur who gave a very authentic talk about the power of surprise. He said a lot of great things but looking at my notes these were the gems:
“Just say “yes”! If you say no, nothing is going to happen.” Think about that one. Simple but profound. Who want’s nothing to happen? Not me.
“Every niche on the internet is massive”
”When people don’t believe (in you or your idea), Believe!”
The concept of the “idea genie” — The idea will come to you. Don’t go searching for the idea. Open yourself to possibility and the idea will appear via the idea genie.
Hearing a fellow camper say: “Before I joined Maverick I thought about raising the bar, raising the ceiling. Now, as a Maverick, there is no ceiling!” I couldn’t agree more. What an inspiring way to view the world. I think most of us all had that view when we were younger but as we go through life and bump into some of the realities we start to box ourselves back in. Put perceived limitations on what we think we can and can’t do.
Coming out of Camp Maverick, I felt inspired, motivated, empowered, and most of all, I felt that there is no ceiling. My time at Camp Maverick reminded me that true explorers have no maps. You can read a post I wrote on that topic here.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
All in all, the whole experience was like drinking from a fire hose. However, I’m happy to report that the take-aways and retention were plentiful.
Looking back at that first day on the bus I can’t believe I was so nervous. Like many of the best things that have happened to me in life – when I get out of my comfort zone and try news things with new people amazing connections and experiences abound. My fellow campers and I are bound by this experience. Even if we really didn’t talk much and someone reaches out to me for a favor with the intro of “We were at Camp Maverick together….”, I’m there to help. Camp Maverick is an instant qualifier. I know what you’re about. I know you’re a kindred spirit. That we think alike. And that you’re going to get me excited and interested in whatever you’re doing. To all my fellow campers out there – thank you for sharing and being a part of my camp experience. I’m a better person and entrepreneur thanks to you.
I’ve already put down my deposit to attend next year’s Camp Maverick event. If you’re interested in attending next year you can learn more HERE. In case you’re wondering I am not affiliated with Maverick — I’m not a member and I don’t get anything for recommending them. This is not an affiliate link — it’s just the word of a newly converted fan trying to spread a little of what Maverick’s call the “green pill”.
If you’re going to Camp Maverick 2016 or have any questions drop me a message and we can chat about it. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer in a timely manner.
You can always send us a message via our contact form or email me directly at: mgutman at wildstory dot com Thanks for reading!