innovate

Why I forced my staff to attend Startup Weekend instead of watching the Super Bowl

February 2, 2014
February 2, 2014

DATELINE: 9:32 PM, Education Startup Weekend, New York City

I insisted my staff trade their Super Bowl for a Startup Weekend. I’m pretty sure the only reason they agreed to go is because I’m the boss.

I’ll find out later if they want to kill me, but for now I can report from the thick of things that:

Melissa is working on a project called Vid Code, which is designed to ignite girls’ interest in coding through the artistic expression of video processing. By harnessing young girls’ avid involvement in mobile applications, Vid Code gives them an opportunity to write code.

Al and Orlando are working on Bloop!—a website that aggregates news sources targeted to children. As kids select what stories to read, Bloop! makes intelligent choices on what to feed them next so as to level-up their knowledge and skills.

Steve is working with a team to build Simplifaid, a product to help current and prospective college students manage their college expenses and financial aid packages. Look for their campaign soon on IndieGoGo.

David and I are working on StaffUp Weekend—a mash-up of Startup Weekend and my approach to hiring that I described in a recent column for Quartz, How to hire good people instead of nice people. It makes sense that we do this because, before I settled on David as my assistant, I took him and my three other best candidates to a SU Weekend to see how they worked together under pressure.

My advice is to go beyond thinking of Startup Weekend as a place to launch a project but also a great place to troll for employees and jobs.

And, come to think of it, this is like the ultimate corporate off-site. I’m not renting $600 rooms at a fancy resort and I haven’t paid $20,000 to have a motivational speaker tell us we should be more entrepreneurial.

Instead, we are being more entrepreneurial for only $100 a head (and that price includes seven meals).

Beat that, Tony Robbins.

Visit Brooke’s website, brookeallen.com, for more on how finding work and doing it might be more fun. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com

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