Saturday, May 04, 2013

Wrapping up my trip with a bow

Sunday was my last full day in Sydney.  I spent the morning washing my clothes, packing, and preparing to go home.

Around noon, I had tea at an outdoor cafe in Kiribilli, the neighborhood where Shane and Laura live.  It was a very warm day, so for the first time, I found myself feeling a little too warm.  It was a nice change from so many of the cold days I had during my trip. 

Afterward, I went to another nice part of Sydney to attend an event called an appathon.  I got there a bit early and found a beautiful sandy beach that's very close to where the event was held.  I also spotted a chocolate school.  The school teaches students how to cook with chocolate.  I wish I had found it before my last night!

The 48 Hour Challenge Appathon gathers digital technologists together for a weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) to work on a common cause.  The 50 or so computer programmers and mobile marketers focused on 6 non-profits in Sydney.  Everyone donated their time to help the non-profits come up with new mobile apps.

The Appathon was hosted by a cutting edge mobile app development agency in Sydney called Alive Mobile.  I was impressed with the entire setup.  The executives and employees were all smart, down to earth, and very happy.  The location was amazing - you can see the water from their offices.  And they were incredibly welcoming to me, offering me chocolate (from the school next door) and wine along with great conversation. 

I went to watch the Appathon presentations to learn about what the teams built over the weekend. The apps had various purposes from fund raising to helping the a homeless person find an empty bed in a shelter.  The energy at the event was wonderful. The appathoners were excited to help the non-profits and the non-profits were bursting with appreciation for the free help. 

Here's a link to more information about the 48-hour Appathon.  After attending the presentations, I think this event is one that Memphis should consider.  We have many great non-profits here and a tech community that's rich with talent. But anyway, that's a discussion for another post...

After the presentations, there was an unexpected twist.  I thought there would be networking and then everyone would go home.  Instead, there was networking and then a guest speaker.

The guest speaker is named Sebastian and he has a website called 100 Things.   He started by telling a story about being 27 years old, sailing through life with no real purpose, and suddenly having a close friend die.  It was completely unexpected and it made him question whether or not he was doing what would make himself happy.  If he were to die tomorrow, would he feel like he had lived a full life?

Sebastian is 31 now and since that incident, he has stopped working in a traditional job and has started pursuing things that are on his list of 100 thing to do before he dies.  He told stories about a few of the things he has done to date, including delivering a baby and marrying a stranger in Las Vegas.

As he has gone along, he's been blogging about each experience.  He has developed quite a following online and in turn, has been in the media quite a bit.  He was also approached to write a book and so he did that too.  Now, he's started to raise money for a non-profit called Camp Quality.  At the end of his presentation, he confirmed that he's now happy and could officially look back with no regrets.

After Sebastian's presentation, I immediately went to meet him.  I explained that I've been traveling for almost two months and given that it was the last night of the trip, the timing of the presentation was perfect.  He gave me one piece of advice.  It was to make choices about your job very carefully.  It is often so easy to get pulled into something that leads us down a path that does not provide happiness.

He asked that we stay in touch and I hope that Memphis might find a reason to draw him in.  Barbecue, perhaps?  I'm certain Memphians would find his story to be inspiring. 

Afterward, I headed back to Kirribilli to meet Shane and Laura for dinner.  We went to a little Thai place near their house called Stir Crazy.  We reflected on my entire trip and on the way everything was wrapped up so perfectly on my last day.  And, it only made sense that my last meal of the trip would be Thai food!

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