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The “Cleantech Los Angeles Global Showcase” starts up early on November 4th. More than 70 speakers from 20+ countries talked global groping with 400 guests.

Some thought it was the height of conceit or stupidity (take your pick) to think that a 6-person nonprofit housed in a converted bus repair garage should put on a conference focused on the globalization of the cleantech business.  Moreover, professional conference planners cried,  “You’re ____ crazy!” to start planning this conference only three months out, rather than the one year planning period that’s normally taken.  Our thinking was simple: we’re addressing global problems, it’s a global business, hence we need to start thinking about it in a global fashion.  And, by the way, no one else was stepping to the plate, so why not?  How hard could it be?

Well, the answer to the last question is its really, really can’t-sleep-at-night, this was my dumbest idea yet hard.  More than once we thought it would be a disaster.  Two weeks out and we only had 25 registered guests!  And the cost of putting on a conference at the JW Marriott/LA Live facility was easily 5X more expensive than anything else we had done.  Which, of course, requires generating 5X more sponsorship dollars than we’ve ever generated.  We achieved a lot of these not so good “firsts” along with a few very good firsts.  For example, we..

  • We went from 25 to 400 attendees in less than two weeks.
  • Had more than 70 speakers from more than 20 countries over two days.  The Mayor,  DOE Under Secretary, California Air Resources Board Chairman, the past President of the Int’l Brotherhood of Longshoreman, the Governor’s senior adviser on the Environment, three of the most prominent VCs in Southern California, 20+ leading entrepreneurs, the City’s Director of Import/Exporting, among many more.
  • We raised more money from more sponsors than at any previous time
  • We have been contacted directly by Germany, Mexico, Hong Kong, China and Israel to create formal MOUs.  I’m flying to Berlin to review how they do incubators and to provide them with some best practices.

Not bad for six guys in a garage.

Five of those six guys got on a plane early the day after the Showcase for our first annual LACI South of the Border Strategic Retreat.  Said retreat was held at “Corona Adobe” and “Little Big Sur”, both in Puerto Vallarta of course.  First reports indicate no brain cells lost due to alcohol poisoning  (though all the tests aren’t back yet), intense strategic discussions took place in between snorkeling, drinking, eating, and repairing my motorcycle, one jelly fish sting was incurred during an underwater expedition, and we found out that several of the team had pretty good pitching arms.  All in all, we did a lot of work on vision, mission, strategy, business model, revenue-generation programs…

 

JW Marriott is a pretty happening place as its part of the Staples Center/Nokia Theatre/LA Live complex.  I’ve never needed a drink more than the night the Showcase ended.  Unless it was the night before the Showcase:)

LA’s new Mayor, Eric Garcetti, gave his first green economy speech at the Showcase and it was stellar.  You don’t get to be Mayor of a large city without being able to woo a crowd.

Around the world in one day.  We held presentations on the cleantech markets of 20+ countries from China to Chile.  This is the German market presentation.

Around the world in one day.  We held presentations on the cleantech markets of 20+ countries from China to Chile. This is the German market presentation.

All aboard for Mexico. Ian Harris, Neal Anderson and I on the way to LAX.

Strategic Retreat begins discussing our vision,  appropriately on the observation deck of Corona Adobe.  Left from semi circle: Ian Gardner, Erik Steeb, Ian Harris, and Neal Anderson. The crew was overheard quickly reaching agreement, “Walti doesn’t know shit about cleantech, but he knows how to throw a strategic retreat…”

Culture is important for any organization’s health. Here, Ian #1 and Neal stand outside one of the art galleries we cruised.

An effective organizational vision needs to take into account many different views.  The Strategic Retreat advances to LBS to get another such perspective.

LBS, our palapa in the jungle south of PV, was still standing after almost a year of non-use.  Of course, during that year we put new support beams under the floor, repaired the railings, rebuilt the outside bedroom, repaired the refrigerator, and fastened the toilet to the floor again. This is a picture of the entrance.  Front decks are on the other side.

Green, very green. The path to the “big beach” is luscious after a summer of rain.  Hose across the path is our life line water supply to the mountain spring miles away.  We had a lot of water interruption problems during our two days at LBS.

Deep, deep thinking…

then

Team snorkel.  I can hear Karen now, “I told you we’d need 10 dozen sets of snorkeling equipment!”

What better way to use left-over limes than a pitching contest off the front deck.  The middle tattoo had the best arm.  The left tattoo had the best form.  Neal was just happy to be in the game.

What better way to use left-over limes than a pitching contest off the front deck. The middle tattoo had the best arm. The left tattoo had the best form. Neal was just happy to be in the game.

Team problem solving is a tried and true method for building a tight-knit team. Here we all help Erik repair Broken Arrow's front brakes.

Team problem solving is a tried and true method for building a tight-knit team. Here we all help Erik repair Broken Arrow’s front brakes.  Erik also helped me diagnose why Now Voyager wasn’t starting.  “Have you tried adding gas?”  Perceptive, very perceptive: )

 

Last night and a very bad and weird last dinner.

Last night and a very bad and weird last dinner.  Here, Ian G gives me the “Are you kidding?  You want to eat here?”  look.  It was bad, really bad made all the worse with a waiter that kept giggling whenever we ordered something… “I’ll have the white fish please.”  “Hee hee, wow!” said our waiter.

We found the time to go to our sixth Horizons Unlimited adventure bikers meeting right before the Showcase

KR and I found the time to go to our sixth Horizons Unlimited adventure bikers meeting right before the Showcase.  As usual, we had a great, if a bit different, time.

A candidate for our next vehicle.  Enough room for KR and a couple of dogs ...

A candidate for our next vehicle. Enough room for KR,  a couple of dogs, and a kitchen sink …

Typical presentation.  Sadly, we all nod our head in agreement...

Typical presentation. Sadly, we all nod our head in agreement.  Ya! we’re all smiling…

KR is looking to the future.  Tell me please, what do you see?

KR is looking to the future. Tell me please, what do you see?

Well, that’s it for now.  KR and I are planning our next trip – to Central America this holiday season.  We’ll keep you informed.  Here’s the link to the Corona Adobe web site.

4 replies
  1. Sindhu & Greg says:

    Amazing results in so little time. I guess if you don’t know it can’t be done in 3 months, then you go ahead and do it. Kudos!

  2. Ron says:

    Two great spots for your first Cleantech South-of-the-Border strategic retreat. Good thing you are close friends with the owner/proprietress.
    Only sorry I wasn’t there when the team was investigating how to get Now Voyager started. I could have come up with “Have you thought of adding gas.” Of course, I would have had no other ideas/suggestions if that one hadn’t proved my utility. Still, I view it as a missed opportunity.

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