Review of the Hive Global Leader's Program
An interesting group organized by the former iConnect Founder & CEO
You see the Facebook advertisements with the red ‘H’ in the logo and the picture of Harvard Business School. You follow the link to http://hive.org. No, Harvard Business School did not change its logo, you find out. This is an advertisement for a program describing itself as “a global network of CEOs, leaders, entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators, and philanthropists who are creating a better world and solving humanity’s biggest challenges.” You are curious about the program.
Alternatively, you may have that friend that has been posing all over Facebook about this Hive program that they got back from. After hearing so much of their rambling, you decide to do a Google search, bringing you to the same website.
If you find yourself in either of these situations, you may be wondering if applying to the Hive is worth it. You may have lots of questions about what it entails, how much it costs, or even what the heck Hive is. To make that decision easier for you, I have written up a summary of my experiences and thoughts from the Hive Global Leaders’ Summit #7 from April 15–18, 2016 at the Harvard Business School Innovation Lab.
I applied to Hive in December after talking to a friend about this business idea of mine. He asked if I had thought about applying to Singularity University. Having heard Nikola Danaylov’s critique of Singularity University, I was hesitant. My friend then suggested this “Hive” program as an alternative. I found the website and read more details. I decided it was worth a shot, so I sent in the application with 18 hours left before the deadline. I got a notification a few days later notifying me that I had been accepted.
The default cost of the program was 700. In addition to lowering the price, the acceptance email included a link to a “Crowdfunding Handbook”, as well as contact info for past attendees that had crowdfunded their tuition for this. All of these proved incredibly valuable in being able to raise money for the program.
As the date of the program got closer, the organizers sent out emails asking for short introduction videos and biographies about us. We were also directed to a page with suggested reading materials, such as Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. The experiences I had before Hive had started were already intense, and they made me a lot more excited for what was to come.
On the first day I simply went to the Charles Hotel on Friday at 6:00 PM like the informational email said. I found a big crowd outside, all waiting to be let into the bar area. For the next hour, the hotel bar was filled shoulder-to-shoulder with people introducing themselves to one another. Although he acoustics were less than ideal, it was a truly amazing experience to meet so many people from a diverse array of industries and nations. After this networking event, we went to the Harvard faculty club for dinner.
The first day was quite short, but in this brief time I met many people with inspiring stories. One worked for a humanitarian organization, and as a part of this job had spent a lot of time in war zones. Another was a survivor of both Brain Cancer and Multiple Sclerosis who, after these diagnoses, went on to lead organizations dedicated to helping people living with disabilities and people living with cancer. In addition, I also met a litany of entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals, executives, and non-profit organizers. I was eager to see the rest of the activities planned that weekend.
This was the first full day of the hive program. Everyone met at the Harvard iLab at 9:00 for breakfast, followed by a short yoga session to get everyone energized. The main focus of the day was issues facing the world as a whole. Since many people came looking to get into social entrepreneurship, much of the focus was on the sub-par living conditions faced by billions of people on the planet. The presentation wasn’t as depressing as one might think from that description. There was also a focus on the massive progress made in the last decades worldwide, to motivate us into working to make even more progress on these issues.
What most people would mention when asked about this day was when Tom Chi (of GoogleX fame) led a workshop on rapid prototyping. He described the problem with most meetings, and then went on to detail his process for making sure processes, ideas, and products were developed and improved as fast as possible. A live demo ensued later in the afternoon, with everyone being given just 25 minutes to come up with a basic prototype to solve an issue written on a whiteboard. For the rest of the Hive Program, a circle of people could always be seen around Tom, asking him more questions about rapid prototyping.
After all this, the attendees were given the choice of eight different unconferences to go to. The subjects included Climate change, the internet of things, how women are leading Africa’s economic growth, futurism, existential risk, and the future of the food industry. I had the opportunity to lead an unconference on Synthetic biology, which was an exciting exercise in public speaking for me. Later in the day, other members returned to their hotel rooms and I returned, all of us taking with us care packages we were given to keep ourselves energized during the weekend.
While the previous day was focused on the world as a whole, the 3rd day was focused more on the self. The main organizer of Hive, Ryan Allis, spent a part of the morning detailing his life up to the founding of hive, and the lessons he learned along the way about business, health, and what to prioritize in life.
The main activity for the day was the Life planning. This involved carefully thinking about what our main goals in life were, and then breaking this down further into things like 10-year plans, 1-year plans, 90-day plans, visions of futures where our plans were and weren’t acted upon, and simplification of our goals into terms a 10-year-old could understand. This activity was a lot more heavy on introspection than many people initially seemed prepared for or comfortable with. Despite this, the activity was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend.
Day 3 had its own unconferences as well. These included improv, storytelling techniques, finding happiness in life. I ended up going to the vision boarding exercise. I was won over by all the people claiming how valuable this was in defining your future goals. Since this was an exercise, we were just taking images and words out of magazines as opposed to directly searching the internet for things related to our goals. Despite this, I somehow ended up with a vision board made of random magazine snippets, that included an image of Peter Thiel, with the words “Secure that first investor” glued underneath. Who knows what, if anything, will become of this.
The day ended with everyone being treated to a party at the Waterworks Museum. If there was any point in this weekend where I felt like I was running out of energy, it was probably when I was waiting until 11:00 for the buses to go back to the Harvard iLab. Nonetheless, I was still excited for the rest of the program.
This day’s morning activities were easily my favorite. Everyone went outside to the field beside the iLab. Over the next hour, we engaged in games from Camp Grounded (a 3-day summer camp for adults) such as a 160-person rock-paper scissors, a version of tag where it was every man for themselves but you could get back in by giving yourself a compliment, and a contest involving getting tape off of each other’s noses (it’s as weird as it sounds).
If the themes of the previous two days were the world and oneself, respectively, then the last day’s focus was on work. The main activity of the day was completing the Life Maps that we had started the day before. We congregated in small groups and finished our life plans, which were later framed so we could take them home.
This day also brought with it a wide variety of unconferences on topics such as testing your leadership capabilities, creativity, marketing, and creating a healthy company culture.. I went to the unconference on Crowdfunding. In addition to my crowdfunding experience pre-Hive, I’m confident that I will see the benefits of this program whenever I have to raise money for something in the future.
At the end of the day, Hive’s founder gave a presentation on the future of the organization, some future programs that would be offered, and the support network that would be available to all members once the event had ended. This cumulated in a final exercise where all 160 attendees took turns standing up in front of the group and telling everyone what they decided their goal in life was. We all said our goodbyes, exchanged a few gifts, and then disbanded, promising to stay in contact with each other.
Immediately post hive I began seeing benefits. I have been diligently working on the goals I set out for myself, both my personal and professional goals. I have stayed in contact with many of the other members of hive. All of us were eventually added to a gargantuan Facebook group containing everyone who had ever attended Hive. This expanded my networking capabilities even further. I can definitely say that just the networking opportunities alone would have been worth the cost.
Just as a reminder, this is only one person’s experiences and thoughts on the program. Many of the other attendees probably have different stories. Since Hive’s founder, Ryan Allis, will be devoting more time to Hive’s development after he graduates from Harvard business school in a few days, future sessions will probably be very different also.
That being said, I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur, or is still trying to figure out what they want to do in life. The program is geared more toward social entrepreneurship rather than something like a hard tech startup, but even as someone who leaned heavily toward the hard tech side I found this experience incredibly valuable. Even as someone who thought I already had every aspect of my life’s goal previously planned out, I found the life-planning exercise extremely helpful for deciding upon the next steps. The incredible networking opportunities also serve as a great bonus to all of this. Thank you, James Clement, for suggesting this program to me. Thank you to all of the organizers of Hive for putting together this wonderful program.