|Estimated Reading Time: 🕘 2 minutes|
As the founder of an organization focused on empowering entrepreneurs, I’m fortunate to travel at length and meet with founders from all walks of life, to hear their stories and provide connections and resources when I can.
I recently spent a few weeks meeting with startups and innovators in Southeast Asia. I attended meetups and university talks, had one-on-one coffees and dove deep in some of the world’s most bustling emerging economies. I was excited to witness first-hand Asia’s thriving startup culture and a growing movement around innovative thought and unique ideas playing out on the digital stage.
Throughout my travels, I occasionally perceived a deep admiration for the American startup scene. This was evident in the population at large and within the entrepreneurial community in particular. When a taxi driver would ask where I’m from, they’d light up when I said America and peter along in painfully broken English with a story about their wife’s nephew living in California and working at Facebook.
I struggled to put my finger on the why behind this enthusiasm. Thinking maybe it was because of sheer economics, that people are just attracted to perceived prosperity or because we as country export culture more than anything — Hollywood movies and honky-tonk songs.
It was on the long flight back to Philadelphia to see my dear friend, herself born of refugee parents in a land a million miles from home, that it all came together for me. It’s not about money or blockbusters. It’s about chutzpah. It’s about the freedom to step out of line, to take action, to dare to dream, to speak up, to wish for a tomorrow that’s brighter than today and actually do something about it.
As the American dream has struggled to survive in our own boarded up main streets and foreclosed backyards, it remains alive and well in the hustle of street hawkers and co-working spaces in Southeast Asia. That hustle made me grateful to be a part of an institution that retains such promise. “On the boats and on the planes, they’re coming to America. Freedom’s light burning warm…”
I’m passing through Chicago, Indianapolis, Tampa, Boston and New York over the next couple weeks. I look forward to connecting!
Creative Commons Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebehnken/6283055804/