It was a Friday, 6 p.m. and everyone had left the office but my two colleagues and me.
We had 6 hours until the idea submission was due. It was the first of a three phase contest in which we had to propose an innovative idea in teams of four people. Anyone working at everis Europe (Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain and UK) could apply. Should we give it a try? It looked like we had no chance to make it to be honest. But hey, the final prize was a spot at Imagine’s Silicon Valley Center. A big deal.
When we hit the “submit idea” button I knew I had to fight for it in the upcoming contest phases. I didn’t want to disappoint my manager Elena, who was dreamer Silicon Valley 2012 but worse of all, I didn’t want to disappoint myself.
Fast forward, I am in a seat flying business class to San Francisco. I had done it! I had been selected as everis dreamer 2016 over all its European applicants. Even as I a sat on the plane overlooking the clouds outside I still couldn’t quite believe it.
Final phase: explain in less than 3 minutes why you should be dreamer 2016
I have visited San Francisco a couple of times and I’ve shared with you my favorite spots to take pictures of it’s amazing skyline and even have created an architecture guide of the city.
But this time was different. I was going to spend a month with 11 brilliant people, called The Dreamers, in the world’s best startup ecosystem working on a project I didn’t know yet. Imagine is an innovation center located in the heart of Silicon Valley that identifies problems and suggests world-changing solutions. The participants work on a given disruptive project for one month in teams of 3 people. This work is complemented with lectures and visits to the most innovative companies in the Valley.
And I made the most out of it. I couldn’t be more grateful to everis, Elena who supported me on every step of the way, my colleagues Sergio, Ronald and Pejan who also participated on the initial team phases just so I could have a chance in the final phase which was individual and to all the everis, family, high school and university friends who texted me every day asking if there were any news. Everyone’s excitement it made it all so exciting.
Today I’d like to share my top 10 moments with all of you, thanks for being part of it 🙂
1. Sunset on El Capitan, Yosemite
The natural beauty of Yosemite is so incredible that people gather on a daily basis around El Capitan to enjoy the sunset together. I took this picture at Glacier Point, by the way. The perspective of the view was amazing. It felt as if I had traveled a long way to get there. Ok, you are here, you reached the summit. What are you going to create in the following weeks?
2. Enjoying the 4th of July at Dolores Park
The 4th of July is such a happy day, everyone celebrates the Declaration of Independence 240 years ago and shares their beers, dances together and parties until late. Dolores Park, the main part of San Francisco was full of this vibe, along with a clear scent of Marijuana too (welcome to San Francisco!). And here I was, by myself, capturing the whole scene into my sketch book. Observation was the key factor to perceive why the atmosphere was so special.
3. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge by bike
A broken bike, a body who had not exercised in weeks, maybe even months and a male dominated group eager to make a race. None of this made me give up on biking against the wind, cold and fog. I experienced a magical moment, I guess we all did, while biking half way the Golden Gate. It was a “Hell yeah, we are here” kind of feeling that lasted till the end of the journey. I realized how precious it is to be present and will remember that feeling forever.
4. Sunday Barbeque
During this month we worked like crazy. Our appointment time was 7.07 a.m. every day, even on Sundays. But there were also activities, workshops and company tours. One Sunday we had a barefoot barbeque by the Ocean Avenue beach. We had successfully completed week 1 and we felt satisfied with our work. The best about sundays is enjoying the week’s little victories.
5. Ferry over San Francisco Bay
After biking all through the Golden Gate and reaching sunny Sausalito, where we had a delicious burger for lunch, it suddenly dawned upon us that we would have to bike ALL the way back and we weren’t feeling as fresh as before. But innovation and productivity is all about improving the route. We improvised a new way back. Taking the ferry instead of cycling back was a huge relief. Each adventure requires creativity and improvisation.
6. Celebration after a football match at Stanford
The best part of solving common problems, be it Imagine or the world, is that no matter who wins, we all win. Celebrating together no matter the victory is one of life’s sweetest moments.
7. Visiting the coolest office in the world: AirBnb
We were immensely lucky to visit offices such as Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and so on. However, AirBnb has the coolest offices in the world. Trust me, I am an architect. They had meeting rooms featuring the customer’s apartments, amazing common areas and inspiring work places of different styles. While walking through the offices all I could think of was about was how I wanted to create something as cool as that for Architectour Guide. It’s important to have good role models and always shoot for the stars.
8. Sharing a couple of hours with my everis family
My two everis bosses visited us for a couple of hours on their way to Singularity University. I wish they could have stayed a little longer so they could meet all the teams, see all the co working space and give us feedback on our project but I was happy they visited. Pretty much like a little kid asking her parents to meet all her friends. Surround yourself with the best people and you will always have that feeling.
9. Final Presentation
Hard work always pays off. Definitely, one of the happiest moments of the month.
10. Surfing in Santa Cruz
Imagine congratulated us for our months work by surprising us the last weekend with a day trip to Santa Cruz. The funny thing is that after feeling like we had finally some control over the situation (idea, design, public speaking…) there we were, again like babies, learning to surf from scratch. No matter what is your area of expertise, you’ll always be a beginner in something else. Keep a beginner mentality and never stop learning new things.
+1 Reunion in Barcelona
Good friends are forever, that is what I learned after all this time in Imagine. We might have left the world a bit better and went home being a bit wiser but in the end it is the people that count. Thanks to all of you: staff, colleagues, lecturers and everyone I’ve encountered through this adventure. Thank you for being such an important part of me. Will never forget you 🙂