NUS had a lot of potentially life changing experiences. Nineo was a big one.. RealAcad was potentially massive as well.
Now, it is EXTREMELY hard to give background about RealAcad. That’s RealAcad’s biggest marketing problem. Simply put, it is a lifechanging experience.. As I like to say, RealAcad gets a group of smart youngsters (between 18 and 30 years of age), puts them in a room in Stanford or Harvard or Singapore, and at the end of a week, they form a company.
Entrepreneurship is just the excuse.. What really happens is that we’re in a fun pressure cooker situation where most importantly, we face ourselves – see ourselves as we are, whether we like it or not. And that, in itself, is a life changing experience. I’ve been fortunate to have attended a bunch of RealAcad’s and while there are too many experiences to recount – the top 3 are –
1)THAT game at Harvard: We were at a lovely ancient looking building (like all the other colonial like buildings at Harvard) and above our team room, we had a nice auditorium – as in the bottom picture.
Now, it was during one of our energizers that this idea came up for a game that involved passing a balloon (with a small weight – to make it tougher) using our heads across a hall way which was about 20 metres long and then put it up to the next floor. Somebody remarked that it was ‘impossible’. That’s how a lot of crazy things at RealAcad have happened.. Somebody says ‘impossible’ and then everyone else decides that it has got to be otherwise..
And we began our journey. The first challenge was getting good at heading this balloon as it often fell half way. In a hour’s time, we were pretty good. By this time, there were suggestions we should probably make it back and get back to work. These were duly ignored though and we ploughed on. Soon, we had the contraption you see in the picture.. And boy, did we try hard.
After 4 crazy hours that left us drenched in sweat (that was amazing given it was a rather cold rainy day in Boston), we got it across. A big part was thanks to Daniel, who was only 6 feet 7 inches tall.. And boy, we felt like we’d won the world cup..(Middle picture)
Learning: It’s amazing how much we learn from incidents like this. It seemed unrelated to the camp and entrepreneurship in itself but after these 4 hours, our team truly believed that there was nothing beyond us. Sleepless nights, crazy amounts of work were a small matter after all..
2)THAT camp at Stanford: Again, I can’t thank my stars enough that I had the time and the opportunity in university to attend multiple RealAcad camps. No camp however, was as eventful as the camp at Stanford. I had blogged about it here. It is very hard to describe it accurately as you had to be there to experience it.. :)
Simply put, it was the craziest 1 week I have spent in my life. The reason I still have very positive memories of that camp was because that was the first time I was exposed to individuals from 14 different countries(team in the top picture), who were all incredibly accomplished and yet.. I felt they were extremely encouraging and supportive of a young kid like me(all of 18 years and 4 months). Also, it was very heartening going into a pressure cooker situation and ‘surviving’..
At the end of our camp, we are gifted a t shirt from RealAcad that simply says ‘I Survived!’. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say – ‘Wow.. What sort of a camp is that?’. But, trust me when I say, every RealAcader would vouch for the fact that those 2 shirts best describe the emotions at the end of a RealAcad. Somehow, at the end of a RealAcad, our minds are stretched and post that, whenever I’ve been through a tough situation where I’ve had to work many nights in a row, I always go back to my experience at Stanford and say -‘If I survived that, this should be piece of cake’.. Haha
Learning: ‘A mind once stretched never comes back to original dimensions’ – Oglivy
THAT camp at Stanford saw to that alright..
3)Friends: RealAcad’s vision is to train every global leader by making the best become much better. The term ‘best’ is very hard to define.. I always see it as a group of people who really want to make a difference in this world. So, you see all kinds at RealAcad – entrepreneurs who have been so since they could remember, multi millionaire businessmen who have great desire to learn, consultants from top tier firms who are looking for a new challenge, kids like me who are just looking to absorb as much as possible from all the above.. Haha.
After that RealAcad week, the best thing that happens is the friendships. Suddenly, you have friends in atleast 7 or 8 new countries (13 in the Stanford case) and some of these friends know you better in 1 week than many would know you in a lifetime. More so, these friends are those that are aligned, supportive and believe in their dreams – just like you do. It’s a wonderful combination.
Till date, my camp mates bring me immense joy. As always, there are a few that I have gotten really close to over the years – some who are way way ahead of me in terms of years and experience, yet keep an eye out and care.
Learning: Leadership is simply caring more than the next person. At RealAcad, I’ve experienced this.. Care, lots of it!
RealAcad means a lot to me. It’s thanks to RealAcad that I have Monday emails to send to many a friend as a way of keeping in touch. Just by these emails, RealAcad helps me stay inspired every week and reminds me that life is about love, learning, growth and laughter..
I feel alive at RealAcad.. And I can’t wait for my next one – first as a ‘working adult’ – hopefully soon! :)
12 days to go..