Hackademic Camp 2013
Jared Kleinert 14 January 2013
So right now I am at UnCollege’s Hackademic Camp in San Francisco. I settled in after a welcoming party with 14 other “Hackademics”, young hustlers committed to learning and success. (See the list of attendees here http://www.uncollege.org/blog/2013/01/05/meet-our-january-hackademics/).
Our first day of talks and learning was centered around hacking our own education. The first speaker of the day was established author and blogger Michael Ellsberg, who mentored the group via Skype. He spoke about creating an ecosystem of young entrepreneurs so we can support each other in our endeavors. As we continue to start younger and strive farther faster, it is important to stick with our network to embrace risk and uncertainty. Michael also talked having “grit” as being his #1 entrepreneurial quality.
Next up was Bay McLaughlin, an ex Apple employee and Thiel Fellowship mentor who spoke about finding and retaining awesome mentors. He spoke about his system of mentorship: how to learn what you need guidance in, how to find these people, making the match, getting buy-in, and performance. The takeaway lesson was honesty and transparency with your current situation. Olaf Mathe from Art Hack Day joined us later to talk about the value of the impractical and beautiful before we finished the day with Improv and a group trip to Golden Gate bridge.
Day 2 was just as impactful. In the morning, we were visited by Lisa Betts-LaCroix, an UnCollege parent and organizer of over 300 home schooling families in the Bay Area around self-education and self-directed learning. She covered the normally undisturbed portion of learning that is meta-learning skills. Things like time management, self-reflection, self-evaluation, community building, and many other influential topics were the subject of discussion in an action packed two hour session. After lunch at the local market, Tiffany Mikell came to talk to us about the greatest gift we can give to the world by breaking down our mission into one verb. Mine was: to synergize (which got quite the laughs throughout the weekend as the word was used frequently by mentors and was the basis for the name of my company Synergist). After a couple hot seats, Alex Peake, an entrepreneur I met at the Under 20 Summit in NYC, talked about hacking the future and taught us preliminary code through his game Code Hero. Later, we headed out for another night on the town at a home-made ice cream shop and Union Square.
Day 3 began with Michael Staton, a VC in the ed-tech space who spoke about unbundling education and how the offers and appeals of college are currently being “unbundled” by the creation of new tech companies that solve some of the individual offerings (this included Grockit and their new product Learni.st, which is something I worked on during my internship over the summer with the company). It was insightful hearing his stance as a VC and his experiences in being an entepreneur previously in the ed-tech space. Below is his unbundling model.
Dale spoke after that about his visions for UnCollege and the reason why he is doing what he is doing compared with the personal metrics he uses to determine success and happiness. After an enthusiastic building of support for UnCollege by most of the Hackademics, we relaxed our spirits (only slighlty) and welcomed neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt, who spoke to us about the science behind learning. It was amazing to hear why we learn the way we do and how to optimize our efforts in order to retain and learn the most information in any given setting. Music industry man Nick Terzo, who spoke about hacking the music industry and his transition from that to the growing startup community in Austin, Texas. It turned out to be a perfect match for fellow Hackademic Katarina Minich, who was also from Texas and was an aspiring singer/entrepreneur
At night we all had one last hoorah before departing the next day. After revisiting the Union Square area, we took a traditional cable car to Ghiradelli Square and shared some ice cream. Afterwards, we went into a Kareoke Bar, where we all sang, “Don’t Stop Believing” followed by solos from Katarina and Josh (who I got on stage and helped out while he was rapping Drake). Out of nowhere appeared a stretch limo for $5 a person, and we ended our night in style heading back to the house!
Overall, it was an incredible experience. Learned quite a bit and met a ton of great people who I know will lead the way in the future! In a few days we became life-long Hackademics.