A quest to create a vibrant tech startup scene in a traditional, conservative, hard-core rust belt town.
(Originally posted on January 31, 2014)
— By Blake Glenn
World English Dictionary
to turn on or as if on a pivot
1610s, from Fr., from O.Fr. pivot “hinge, pivot” (12c.), of uncertain origin. The verb is 1841, from the noun. Figurative sense of “central point” is recorded from 1813.
Back in the 9th grade I played running back for my Junior High School football team. There were no middle schools back in those days … at least not in my city. I’d not played running back before. But I was very fast. Fast as a rocket. And strong too. But since I was a virgin at the running back position, I hadn’t yet mastered some of the required basic “running back” mechanics.
For instance, switching the ball from one arm to the other depending on the position of the opposing player(s) was a fundamental tenant of the running back. Another was sticking out your arm to ward off a would-be tackler. This is also referred to as the ole “stiff-arm”. And a third was to keep your legs moving after the initial impact of getting hit. You’ll pick up an extra yard or two for sure.
Anyway, despite being a novice I was still pretty good. You might say I was the Jim Brown of my time. Oh sorry. Maybe that’s too old school. After all, he did retire from pro football in the late 1960’s to become a movie action hero. Ok let’s say I was, uhm, the Adrian Peterson of Junior High football.
One moment in particular comes to mind. We were playing our hated cross-town rivals in the first game of the season. We’d won the league the year before by beating them. And all of the expert analysts and reporters at the Junior High Sports Network (JSPN) knew it would be one of us that would win the league again.
On this particular play I was handed the ball, intending to go through the right side of the line. But their defense had stacked up that side of the field. So seeing defenders everywhere, I quickly spun around, i.e. “pivoted”, and ran to the other side. This took our adversary completely by surprise. And my blinding road runner-like speed (beep beep) took me into a wide open field.
There was just green grass and blue sky between me and the goal line. Uh, that is until I saw one of their defensive backs making a beeline for me. I knew he had the angle. And a collision was inevitable. But as a power runner I lived for collisions. I loved to run over SOB’s that dared to have the audacity to position themselves between me and the magical holy grail that is the goal line.
As he closed the distance, I looked deep into his eyes … and he into mine. What I saw invigorated me immensely. When I stared deep into the eyes of my opponent I saw fear. Not just a little fear. A whole 18-wheel truck load of it. His eyes were wide as the moon and he seemed to be shaking a bit. I’m not sure exactly what he saw when he locked eyes with me. But I imagine he saw a mean, ornery, growling, snorting, wild-eyed predator, running full speed, with glowing red eyes … smoke coming from my flaring nostrils.
I think in that moment I had “crazy eyes”. You’ve seen those. You know … Charles Manson, Donald Trump, or maybe an ex- girlfriend or boyfriend that just realized you’re a complete jerk. As the collision unfolded … in slow motion … like the movies, I lowered my head and shoulder, bracing for impact.
KABOOM! BABAM! Our collision made a loud thunderous noise that reverberated out at least 100 miles from the epicenter, shattering car and store windows all around. To this day the aftershocks still shake the earth a little on occasion.
My opponent went low, diving in desperation for my lower body, reaching up, flinging his hands, and catching my feet as he hit the ground. I stumbled for a few yards, trying to stay on my feet. But I eventually went down with a thud. There was no touchdown. But at least I’d made a huge gain with my running. I must have gained 30 or 40 yards. Or … at least I WOULD HAVE if I’d actually held onto the ball.
Remember the basics of switching the ball to the opposite hand and doing a stiff-arm?
Well I didn’t. And I lost the ball. It was recovered by the other team. And we subsequently lost the game and the league title. The ghost of that moment has haunted my nightmares for more than 30 years. Guess I wasn’t so much Jim Brown after all huh.
I tell you this story to say that, for a number of reasons, we had to “pivot” on Civic Hackathon 2014. It will not be held on February 22nd after all. We were hit with a low level of interest from programmers among other things. We stumbled, dropped the ball, and went down with a soft thud!
But all isn’t lost. Instead of the hackathon, we’ll pull together a tech mini-summit. We’ll gather up a small cadre of area tech group leaders to pow wow on the tech scene in the Dayton, OH region. It will be small. It will be informal. But it will be for sure. I’ve counted 17 or 18 groups with about 1,700 total members … all focused on some aspect of technology.
These are Meetup groups, LinkedIn groups … etc. Since many people belong to multiple groups, the actual number of individuals is lower. But it’s still significant.
So we’ll come together, pitch our tech groups, discuss the area tech scene, and tour Dayton’s Tech Town. I think this may be a first event of its kind. Now I don’t see a pivot coming for this event. But then ya never know.
You’ve always got to be prepared with a good stiff-arm … right?
Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?).
If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com
P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.
Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas. Build your connections.
Join us on this adventure. And help us to create a great story!