2020 Symposium Wrap-up

David Romanelli

8th Annual Summit Symposium Wrap-up

Held on Leap Day, Saturday, February 29 at our new Casa Real location, our 8th Annual Summit Symposium enjoyed the largest attendance in its history. Thank you to the 365 of you who attended. For those who were not able to join us, here’s what you missed:

Optimism was the thread that wound its way throughout the day. Nathan Bennett set the tone with his welcome message which encouraged our attendees to remain steadfast in the wake of the market downturn amid the onset of coronavirus concerns.

Behind the Curtain of Venture Capital

Our first speaker, Scott Kupor, managing partner at investing powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz and author of the Wall Street Journal Bestseller, The Secrets of Sandhill Road, Venture Capital and How to Get It, joined Nathan on stage for an intimate interview designed to paint a picture of the often murky VC world.  

Kupor spoke about the unique characteristics that entrepreneurs have that make them great creators and visionaries. He admitted that a successful company in the making can be hard to detect in its infancy, which is why Andreessen Horowitz (also known as a16z) missed the initial investment round of Facebook (Don’t worry, they scored on the second round!). Kupor lamented that the success of a16z is partially due to its acceptance that the path to innovation is riddled with adversity and to the fact that their investors have learned not to assume they know more than the business creators and leaders themselves.

When asked about the future of a16z, Kupor said one of the initiatives in the pipeline that he is most proud of is the work they are actively pursuing to increase gender and ethnic diversity in the companies in which they invest.

A Helping Hand

Up next, our Summit Financial Foundation presentation focused on honoring the Wheelchair Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides mobility to people of all ages who have disabilities. Over its 20 years in operation, the Wheelchair Foundation has coordinated the delivery of more than one million wheelchairs to those in need in over 150 countries around the world.

The Bumpy Road to Election 2020

Our penultimate speaker, political expert Christina Bellantoni, took to the stage to give us a glimpse of American politics on the cusp of the 2020 election. Bellantoni, who currently serves as a professor at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism regaled us with stories from the campaign trails past and present. While working for newspapers, blogs and as the political producer for a national television show she touched down in 26 states and Europe with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008 and recently took a group of students to Iowa and Nevada for the presidential caucuses.

She did warn that the election will get ugly, that’s a given. But she also stated that she remains optimistic about our political future. She believes “there’s going to be a breaking point where it just can’t get any more polarized – then the pendulum will swing back.” She also assured us that there are still many politicians in Washington dedicated to making our nation great. She acknowledged the role of media in the degradation of credible, unbiased information. She encouraged attendees to combat that decline by sending letters to editors of the offending broadcasts and publications and supporting those media outlets that are attempting to publish reliable, unbiased news stories.

Come On, Get Happy

Our final speaker of the day, author and wellness innovator David Romanelli, was the breath of fresh air we all needed after talking politics. His presentation, Happy is the New Healthy, centered around the importance of feeling joy. By practicing resilience, keeping our sense of humor, and tapping into our own joie de vivre we can lead richer, more rewarding lives.

To give us perspective, Romanelli told us stories of the elderly subjects in his book Lessons from the Oldest and Wisest: Inspiration, Wisdom and Humor for All Generations, one of which involved a 111-year-old woman who was married five times. Her secret sauce for her longevity? Sex, vodka and spicy food! Needless to say, laughter permeated the room for the length of his presentation.   

He also told of a world-renowned violinist who was placed in a subway station as part of a social experiment. Researchers wanted to know if any of the travelers and passersby would stop to listen to the musician. Out of hundreds of people, only a few took a moment to appreciate what they were hearing. Romanelli encouraged us to slow down, open our eyes, take in our surroundings and give ourselves over to new experiences. And above all, he said, be grateful, focus on what makes us happy and enjoy life! You never know what’s around the corner.

That’s a wrap on this wrap-up! We always look forward to spending time with you. Our sincerest thanks to all who took time out of their busy schedules to spend the day with us. We hope you were entertained, inspired, and learned something new.

Please join us next year on Saturday, February 27th at Casa Real for our 9th annual Summit Symposium. Until then, we wish you all the best!

View photos of the Symposium here.

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