I was in the basement of a wine bar at SXSW when my friends Chris Saad and Tomas Puig asked if I was going to YxYY. I am sure my reaction was like anyone else’s who first heard of what sounded like a mockery of the popular conference: “what’s that?”. I was told that 5 women brought people together in the desert once a year to celebrate the power of YES.
My mother’s first word was not mamma or pappa, it was “no.” So, I was raised to believe that “no” was the most powerful word on the planet. I do not have to do anything that I do not want to do. But I developed the curious personality to continually say yes, and that’s what built my career and happiness.
Most, if not all, attendees at Yes by Yes Yes have the curiosity to try, test, and tell. In the spirit of being a “yes” girl, I booked my YxYY ticket right then and there via mobile.
Months went by and I didn’t think much about it again. I never researched it, but thought it would be something in between a “circle jerk” for entrepreneurs to brag about themselves and the hipster version of GOP’s cigar bars and golf course deals.
I drove to Ace Hotel in Palm Springs on Saturday morning and it began: the circle jerks were improv classes, the cigar bar was a microphone in Rvip karaoke, the golf course was the pool with floating strangers on food shaped rafts and drones flying overhead.
— StartupKid (@ElvinaBeck) June 13, 2015
400 inclusive yaysers held unofficial meetings around topics like champaign socialism and the 5 P’s of investing (in case you missed it, it’s planning, partnering, positioning, profiting and patience) in board shorts. Small groups within a tribe questioned geo-politics, product management, and the definition of branding. They represented different industries – mostly tech, and cities ranging from San Francisco, to Los Angeles, New York and Canada.
For the sake of “leaning in” and saying yes to participation, I co-hosted a talk with Nikolas Badminton of Freelancer.com on the future of working and living. His site is in 242 countries and my pods are in the ever sprawled growing city of LA, but at 2pm on Sunday we went in a circle and asked what “currency” means? Is it barter, cash, or debt? We decided it is just value. I represented bartering, Brock Pierce represented bitcoin, and Nikolas represented cash exchanged on his platform.
In the middle of the night, or early morning I sat up with Elizabeth Wells, who owns a restaurant in SF called Southpaw BBQ, and we tried to hack the disposable to-go box that is a landfill contender. What if, I asked, people brought their own tupperware as they bring mugs to Starbucks or bags to a grocery store? Surely, if restaurants charged a 10 cent boxing fee, then people would travel with their own containers – and then we can get into stackable cutlery (the way foldable ballet slippers made it into every girl’s purses in a night club). She told me that unlike the bag and the mug, there is no way to insure home tupperware is bacteria free, in which case the restaurant gets in trouble (mugs holds high temperature liquid that kills bacteria). Darn it! Let me know if any of you can hack this further. And no, the restaurant cannot take the tupperware back to disinfect b/c in that case it is faster to grab from a pile of to-go boxes.
On our last night, YxYY hosted a night of storytelling by 8 people. The stories were funny, sad, gross but all in the spirit of saying yes. Big surprise to us all, but mostly Tara Hunt – her boyfriend Carlos talked about his introverted Gowalla-stalking ways to woo his girlfriend and then got down on 1 knee with a ring.
I drove home thinking that wasn’t a vacation, and it wasn’t a conference. It was microcosm of an ongoing commune experiment. And I was glad to be a part of it.