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Samir Goel

  • Transfernation, LinkedIn, Co-Founder, BLP Associate
  • New York
  • Non-Profit Organization Management

About Me

I'm passionate about bringing people together around global social change. I love helping others find their perfect opportunities and finding ways for the public and private sectors to collaborate. Co-Founder of Transfernation, a 501(c)3 non-profit which leverages technology to ensure that extra food from events goes toward supporting communities in need. Today we have rescued over 10000 pounds of food and work with a variety of events and organizations throughout NYC. Business Leadership Program Associate @ LinkedIn and proud support of LinkedIn for Good. Public Speaker | Consultant | Contributor.

My blog posts

The Productive Vacation: Lessons Learned from Startup Island Founder Josh Gershon

"I just need a break."How often to do you hear that statement? We seem to hear it, especially when the weekend is just around the corner or a holiday season is approaching. We may even hear the need for a vacation right at the beginning of the new year when we have assigned ourselves too many goals, and you can already feel the burnout coming on. There’s just something about these times of year that can just push people to the limits -- or over their limit.Now when most people hear words "break" or "vacation" they instinctively think of staying in bed and watching Netflix, or lying on the beach at an all-inclusive resort, or for the more adventurous (or financially endowed) backpacking through Europe. In other words a complete shutdown from work and in most cases mental exercise entirely.But is that total shutdown really what you need to recover? Instead, you might just need to take breaks your day-to-day routines, focus on something more meaningful for yourself, or even just learn something completely new.Personally, I find myself reinvigorated by an entirely new opportunity, adventure, or learning experience, in much the same way as though I've just returned from that year-long vacation I owe myself. In fact, I finally realized that I hate the idea of a total mental shutdown. I truly enjoy being productive and constantly challenging myself (one of the blessings of pursuing a path of fulfillment). I just know I need to be able to reinvent myself or shift my focus every-so-often. Similarly, I’d imagine that many people are looking for something a pure vacation can’t always deliver. Josh Gershon the co-founder of Startup Island certainly knows a thing or two about that longing. Josh founded Startup Island in 2015 as a classic example of the entrepreneur scratching their own itch.Josh describes his own career inflection point: "I thought about signing up for a three-month General Assembly course. That seemed like a decent option, but I wasn’t totally sold on learning graphic design as my “big move.” At the same time, I was seriously thinking about taking some time to just travel and see what happened. It’s always been my dream to pack a bag, book a one-way ticket, and let life take me on a journey. When thinking about these two options, it suddenly dawned on me that I could possibly combine them."In reality that need for a break isn’t necessarily just fatigue or burnout. In reality, a break isn’t enough to remove your tiredness. It’s just temporary. It’s a solution you’ll need to repeat over and over and eventually that might not be enough.Josh hit the nail on the head when discussing going on a journey or just traveling and seeing what happens, in other words, an adventure. But a vacation is often just an adventure that fades. The real magic is in discovering an adventure that lasts. It’s in making everyday part of a greater adventure. Josh saw that same need and it’s part of what sparked his decision to create Startup Island: “…Finally one night in bed, the light bulb went off. Rather than take a program that had only some of the components I was looking for, I would set out to create one that had everything I was looking for. A travel experience meets a professional development experience, which thus creates a very valuable LIFE experience. One where you get to meet new people, connect on a deeper level, perhaps gain some spiritual enlightenment – and this, this would give me the inspiration and the tangible skills necessary to figure out what I wanted to do next, and how to do it.”In Josh’s own words Startup Island is "a community, built to connect young entrepreneurs all over the world, through shared travel experience.”The vacations that truly revitalize you are the one’s that fundamentally change your perspective or approach. It’s the reason Tim Ferriss’s Startup Vacation was so strongly received. It wasn’t a total release of all work, but rather a reframe of his priorities and focus. Among his key priorities at the start of the year is planning his vacations, otherwise "work will take all the time." While Ferriss will be the first to admit he needs to completely detach from his usual grind on these breaks, his vacations are also giant experiments. They are highly focused on specific projects, learning, or skills but simultaneously manage to cut away all the noise of everyday life. Usually, he comes away with a lifelong skill or new passion that creates a far richer and longer lasting experience. Startup Island -- the perfect “productive vacation.” Startup Island captures this same ethos on their group trips which bring together unique groups of people, to develop new relationships, build new skills, and alter their perspective. The idea is not a one-week or one-month change in behavior, but it is more like an adrenaline shot to jumpstart a much longer lasting shift in lifestyle and process. This jumpstart is just the beginning for the founders of Startup Island, but some of the early outcomes Josh discusses are a big step forward:"For instance a CPA who was on our trip, helping a first-time founder get his numbers in order before going out to pitch investors. He recently went on to raise his desired amount, by the way.”In my mind, no single experience is as powerful as habit-formed evolution over time. However, Startup Island is an exceptional launching pad that facilitates changing your day-to-day experience. I had the pleasure of connecting with Josh back in his Cater2.Me days and when he shared his latest ventures, I was thrilled to have the chance to chat about his work more in-depth. Check out our full excerpt below where we chat about his journey of ups and downs with Startup Island, skills development, the lionization of entrepreneurs and much more. SG: What inspired you to launch Startup Island?JG: From a young age, I guess I was pretty entrepreneurially minded. I used to shovel snow and rake leaves for neighbors, set up car washes & lemonade stands on my block, burn CD’s for people in school, etc. The process of taking action to earn money was exciting. If I was told to do something, even if money was a reward, I wouldn’t follow through. If I came up with the idea to do it myself, I was always incredibly enthusiastic about it.I went to college at Indiana University where I began working for an online food-ordering platform called Btownmenus.com. The founder of the company and a fellow student, Michael Rolland, became a good friend and early mentor. He was an example that entrepreneurship is the best way to create the lifestyle you want, rather than taking the conventional path and hoping it provides the life you want.Post-college I wasn’t inclined to pursue a "typical career" path and headed off to launch my own business. A year and a half later I extracted myself from the situation, needless to say, "it didn’t work out quite as planned.' I wound up in NY where I got my first sales job selling copy machines. Best sales training I could have ever asked for - classic Boiler Room, Glengarry Glen Ross-type stuff. But I certainly did not want to wear a suit every day, get in my car and drive all over Long Island, scoping out which Dr’s offices copy machines were outdated. After bouncing around a bit for that year I ended up moving to a small beach town outside of Savannah, Georgia, where I managed a surf shop and pioneered their social media campaign. I worked 80 hours a week, from 8am-11pm most days, but absolutely loved being on my own.Having made this decision because I wanted too, and not because I felt like I had to, brought me peace of mind. I was paying only $500 a month, living across the street from the beach, where I had a patio with a grill and a hammock, and though I was always working – in my spare time I would lay out there listening to music, reading, writing and having deep phone conversations about business and life, with people from back home that I missed.The first startup job that I landed was in NY at Cater2Me, a food-tech company that provides meal services for offices. Started by two first-time founders out of Wharton, and with a team of awesome and excited individuals around them, I knew this was the next step in my career.Over the next 18 months, I witnessed the growth of the company from just around 40 employees in 6 cities, to over 100 in 14 different cities. This experience was invaluable for my own growth and really highlighted the fact that startup life puts you on the fast track to professional development.Okay, so here’s how it all ties back to Startup Island.About a year and a half in, I was getting a little restless, and thought about potentially switching out of sales and into something creative, like graphic design. I had no formal training but always played around on Photoshop and enjoyed it. I thought about signing up for a three-month General Assembly course, which would take me from amateur to slightly better than that and may have been able to get me an entry level job with a different startup, once I completed the program.That seemed like a decent option, but I wasn’t totally sold on learning graphic design as my “big move.” At the same time, I was seriously thinking about taking some time to just travel and see what happens. It’s always been my dream to pack a bag, book a one-way ticket, and let life take me on a journey. When thinking about these two options, it suddenly dawned on me that I could possibly combine them. General Assembly, for example, had campuses all over the world. I could have gone and taken a graphic design course in Melbourne or Sydney, let alone same old New York City.I looked into it some more ideas and continued to weigh out my options, when finally one night in bed, the light bulb went off. Rather than take a program that had only some of the components I was looking for, I would set out to create one that had everything I was looking for.A travel experience meets a professional development experience. When that happens, you have created a very valuable LIFE experience. One where you get to meet new people, connect on a deeper level, perhaps gain some spiritual enlightenment – and this, this would give me the inspiration and the tangible skills necessary to figure out what I wanted to do next, and how to do it. This was what I needed so much, and this is where my inspiration for Startup Island came from.
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Top 10 Lessons Learned from 2016s Hottest New Conference: AfroTech

People go to conferences every day. I go to at least 15 per year. Mostly they’re the same. Everyone has an agenda. No one really cares about meeting new people and building meaningful relationships. By the end you’re unsure if it was worth the effort and time. Sound Familiar?
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The Future of Giving is Instantaneous

When was the last time you saw a bake sale or lemonade stand? Chances are it has been a while. Over the past 10 years the practice has largely disappeared. I’m sure you’ll see the occasional 7 year old squeezing fruit, but even at a young age, the concept of a lemonade stand doesn’t represent what it once did: the fastest way to raise money for a good cause. These days, your stand is even expected to accept Bitcoin.
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