It’s getting very "real" very fast. This week I gave a 90 minute presentation to Madrid City Council, had a meeting with a potential media partner, and found out something about Spain that may work against me.
The weekend is finally here and I'm happy to say that the previous week was so full that it flew by. My main focus was to prepare for a presentation that I gave to Madrid City Council on Thursday. I was told I would have as much time as I needed to explain my project which was not expected, yet pleasantly comforting.
I'm not sure why it is but no matter what I try, I will find myself working on a presentation until the very last minute before actually presenting it. I was given plenty of notice this time around and I didn't even procrastinate (honestly!). Despite that, I still found myself the morning of struggling with my tie while cursing my Dropbox account to hurry up and sync the powerpoint file to my laptop - about 30 minutes before the appointment.
Presenting to City Council
On time? check. Eye contact during handshakes? check. Fumbling my way through common Spanish greetings out of respect? check. Now, unfold the laptop, figure out how to select the correct input on the projector, and show 'em what you've got!
The extra time on the powerpoint presentation paid off. I think it helped show that I take care with how things are presented and how they communicate. Hopefully on some level, that makes them feel that if I took this much care with the presentation, my software must be outstanding. I am a firm believer that all the little pieces add up and what is left in them is a gut reaction. That gut reaction is most likely going to be the biggest influencer to their future professional decisions.
In between topics of my presentation, my interpreter would summarize everything I said in Spanish to the members of the meeting who were not as comfortable with English. Conversations would take place, and I would be left studying their faces as they talk with one another. They shared ideas, they got excited, and got loud! Then suddenly they would all stop silent, turn towards me in perfect unison, and that apparently was my queue to continue the presentation! It took me a few times to catch on.
Two Very Welcome Special Guest
I didn't know this beforehand, but two gentlemen from the a leading newspaper in Las Tablas, La Brújula del Norte, came to the presentation. Madrid Smart Lab reached out to them hopeful that they can somehow be involved in the CivicLift Community Adoption Campaign. By the end of the presentation, they were willing to not just put an ad in their paper saying that CivicLift was coming soon to Las Tablas, but they showed interest in being our long-term partner.
Finding this partner, or as we call it, the "Local Curator", is crucial for us for the Las Tablas deployment because obviously, we aren't from here and aren't staying here. CivicLift needs to work on it's own through the help of selected Local Curators who have been shown how to use our software. It seems these gentlemen may be an early option for us.
"In Spain, you have something going against you", said my mentor.
He continued, "Your project does not surprise me that it does well in the United States. It's so patriotic. Supporting small businesses, shop local, etc. This idea is not something we have in Spain."
Whoa. Here I am again discovering an assumption that I didn't know I had. I figured that the "Shop Local" movement was global. Well, not that I ever sat and thought that it's global, but the thought never occurred to me that it might not be.
How much of a factor will that be? Will the platform grow in another direction if the mentality is different? Will it grow at all? Is there enough traction in Las Tablas for CivicLift to catch? Is it even true? These next few weeks I'm going to keep that quote in mind while moving forward and keep my eyes and thoughts open to how I can assure that isn't going to be a negative factor.
A Weekend of Refueling
I experienced plenty of zigzags this past week, but most of which were positive and promising. The jolt of encouragement feels really good. I must say that being in this foreign country, unable to speak the native language, unable to gauge people's reactions to whom I speak with about the project, and the fact that I am where I have zero connections or contacts has prevented some of my usual confidence. It's surprising how much you know about people simply by living near them. In many ways you have an instant connection that paves the way for ice-breakers and small talk. I didn't know I had that at home until I found out I don't have it here. I'm shaking it off and pressing forward - and even I am looking forward to reading next weeks post!
A special thank you to Madrid City Council for taking the time for my presentation, to Madrid Smart Lab for connecting me with that opportunity, and to Brujula del Norte, the newspaper covering Las Tablas.