On April 25, I stepped off the MV Explorer In Barcelona and began what has turned out to be a much longer journey back “home” than I ever imagined it would be. Without question, that 30-day voyage with Unreasonable@Sea was transformative.
How could it not have been? Separated from everything familiar, sailing along the west coast of Africa, mentoring – and not just a little being mentored by – an amazing group of social entrepreneurs, living a kind of college life that was both strange and familiar, exploring countries and cultures where familiarity was abandoned. And heady, too. Working with brilliant people, greeted as an esteemed visitor in communities just embracing entrepreneurship, dining at the home of the U.S. Consul General in Casablanca and meeting women who wanted to empower the generation of girls following after them, receiving the gift of so many stories from students apprehensive about their return to the “real world” after a Semester at Sea.
Amid all that was the daily life at Unreasonable@Sea, I knew it would not be possible to return to work and become, once again, reasonable. The harder part was figuring out just how to be Unreasonable@Home. And so these last 100 days have been consumed with dissembling the experience aboard the ship, making an accounting of my career and an inventory of my talents, fanning the embers of stagnant passions, and perhaps most importantly, just being with myself.
Being was the oddest part for one driven to be doing. And, yet, I didn’t feel as though I had a choice. Early in the process, I realized that I had lost my voice. I stopped writing. I stopped reading except for the morning newspapers. I scanned my social streams daily, but only rarely posted to them. Email became unimportant, a sort of noise vying for attention that I no longer felt obligated to give.
Reading those words, one might imagine I was wallowing in a depression, which is furthest from the truth. Having returned home having made the decision that I had to reset my career, I found myself very alive and very much overwhelmed by opportunity. Sorting through that opportunity, while pushing aside the natural impulse to just start doing, has been the biggest challenge.
I am super grateful to NestGSV where I have spent the summer at Executive in Residence. It’s given me an anchor of daily work, shaping what I am now certain will become a world-class network of innovation centers, while also giving me space to explore a range of new ideas.
I am excited to begin work in September as a Research Fellow at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. I will splitting my time between Columbia and Silicon Valley, helping to build a bridge between some of the best thinking about the future of journalism and the best practices of innovation and entrepreneurship. I also plan to dive deeply into the topic of media literacy, responsibility and credibility in my yet-to-be-scoped project work.
And I’m honored and excited to have been asked to join the corporate advisory board of the Institute for Shipboard Education, the organization that runs Semester at Sea. It is a great opportunity to give back to an organization that perhaps doesn’t even realize what it’s given to me.
New beginnings come with endings, and so I’ve also spent cycles this summer wrapping up client work at Guidewire Labs, and closing our Studio G co-working space in downtown Redwood City. The final chapter of that 10-year odyssey to foster the innovation of startups and spur global enterprises to embrace it is not yet written. But moving on is surely the right thing to do.
And there is more. Much more that can’t be written about quite yet.
Suffice to say, though, that my voice is back, even if the transformation is not yet quite complete, and I’m looking forward to all that lies ahead.