Day 2 - On The Train with Mentors Eric Kessler and Mike Zuckerman

We left the Emeryville station just after 9 am and headed east towards Denver.  After some breakfast and checking out the train we had presentations from some of the mentors who boarded with us in San Francisco. 

Eric Kessler of Arabella Advisors

Eric spoke to us about his experiences traveling through Russia, working for the Clinton administration, and now in running his consulting firm Arabella Advisors which advises philanthropists on how to best invest their dollars in non-profts.


Some highlights from Eric’s presentation:

  • for any project – define outcomes and measure
  • understand the difference between outputs and outcomes – especially for non-profits
  • learn how to be mentored (which made me think of this blog post Mentor/Investor Whiplash which I read before the trip)
  • lead from the front and from behind

It was great to hear Eric talk about the book, The Lean Startup, and applying “lean” principals to philanthropy.  If you are interested in entrepreneurship or growing a nonprofit – I highly recommend the book.

Mike Zuckerman

Mike Zuckerman is one of the minds behind [free space] in San Francisco.  He joined us mike-on-trainon the train and during our stop in Denver.

I’m really glad Mike joined us for the trip – he has been a part of some incredible projects, including [free space] that focus on building communities – including the National Day of Civic Hacking which occurred earlier this summer.

Mike talked about the some of the folks who have influenced him – Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia and Ray Oldenburg who authored the book about the third place.

Mike talked about the importance of leading with culture to engage others in a cause.  He also discussed some examples of civic hacking, one example that he used and that we have participated in Pittsburgh is (Park)ing Day – an annual event where citizens and businesses convert parking spaces into parks.

Mike also talked about the importance of having spaces where people can come together to share ideas, innovate and be creative.

Mike’s talk made me think of some spaces and organizations that are working on bringing people together in creative ways in Pittsburgh:

  • WaffleShop - the WaffleShop is no longer open but there are tons of video on the site and this was a great example of a community space in Pittsburgh
  • Conflict Kitchen
  • City of Play
  • Free Ride

Another organization that Mike mentioned that I think might be of interest to some Pittsburghers is Architecture for Humanity.

About Architecture for Humanity in A Minute:30 from Architecture for Humanity on Vimeo.

You can read more about Mike’s presentation on the Millennial Trains blog here.

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