Golden Ticket to Forbes

Forbes1It wasn’t until starting business school at Villanova when my reading list went from nothing to something.  I subscribed to multiple magazines, namely, Forbes, Fortune, and Inc.  Motivated by many stories, I too, wanted to make a difference with one of my own creations.  My dream met reality when I received an invitation from the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit.

Making the cut at 29, in my second year of B-School, and with the successful launch of two of my ventures, Platinum Dream Events and Motivates My Day, this was my golden ticket to inspire and be inspired while connecting with others on the same path.

Day 1 welcomed us with a heart-pumping sound, light and food-filled music festival bringing together two of Billboard’s top headliners, Afrojack and Wiz Khalifa, while raising awareness to end global poverty through its host, Global Citizen Nights.

The event was a unique icebreaker where I found myself meeting and mingling with other millennial in the VIP section at one moment and fist-pumping and dancing with them minutes later.  Little did I know that these small moments of joy would lead to opportunities and one of the most invigorating experiences of my life.

Day 2 kicked off with a bang at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and attendees from around the world flooded into the city of brotherly love quickly transforming Philadelphia into the city of millennials.

The summit began with a keynote from Peter Thiel (founder of PayPal / first investor for Facebook) who reminded me to not push back anything to tomorrow that could be done today as “every moment in the history of business only happens once.”

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Photo credit: Forbes

His speech was followed by Monica Lewinsky’s first public address since the Clinton saga.  I did not know how this would fit in since all I heard about her were negative things, but by the end of her speech I and many others had tears in our eyes and were simply moved.  From being silent about the issue for many years, she developed the courage to talk about her story and connect it to recent stories about cyber bullying and online harassment reminding us that at any time we, too, could be a victim.

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Photo credit: Forbes

The afternoon was filled with more one-on-one interview style presentations with speakers such as Sean Rad (CEO & cofounder of Tinder) and panel discussions featuring some of the top under 30 game-changers.

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Photo credit: Forbes

The evening continued with dinners around the city with entrepreneurs in different fields where I was fortunate to talk music & entertainment with Sam Tarantino (CEO & cofounder of Grooveshark), Derrick Fung (VP at SFX Entertainment) and others in the industry.  Apart from good conversation, food and drinks, we talked about business and entrepreneur life and I found a great deal of practical advice from their experiences with their ventures.  The night culminated with a private party where I got to meet and talk to Mayor Michael Nutter about charitable ventures I have launched.

Day 3 started with an awe-inspiring talk from Palmer Luckey, 21-year-old billionaire and founder of virtual reality headset company, Oculus Rift.  I reflected on what I was doing in high school and kept scratching my head when I heard that at 19 he had fully developed this device, was able to raise 2.4 million dollars through KickStarter and later sell his company to Facebook for 2 billion dollars.

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Photo credit: Forbes

His interview was followed by a TED-style talk from Sara Blakely, the youngest self-made female billionaire and founder of SPANX.  With her humble beginnings selling fax machines, she shed light on how a simple problem she was facing finding undergarments to wear with different clothing turned into a multi-billion dollar idea.

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Photo credit: Forbes

The keynote of the summit was a humbling speech by 17-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, who spoke from her heart continuing her fight for girls’ education and peace.  Through the news, I have heard a lot about Malala but had no idea how passionate and humble of a woman she was.

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Photo credit: Forbes

The day ended with a celebration and food festival where we were able to connect with more summit attendees and the Forbes staff.

It started with a simple email notification letting me know of my golden ticket to the Forbes summit and ended with a valuable experience which no price tag can relate.  The lessons I have learned, the motivation and encouragement I have received, and the friendships and mentors I have connected with is only a starting point to where I can take myself and my ventures next.