U.S. — The Tycoon’s Experience

“It is said that ‘Experience is the best teacher’. However, this experience doesn’t necessarily have to be undergone personally, but can be learnt through others as well.”

That is what I personally felt during my first time in the United States of America, more specifically, Phoenix, Arizona and Washington, District of Columbia, made possible by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and their exceptional program Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI).

On this exchange program, I had the opportunity to represent Kosovo and our venture Sogody.

Before I share my experience, I want to note to all my fellow entrepreneurs from developing countries that operate on fragile and disadvantaged markets, the ability to survive and persist is what makes us great!

I grew up reading The Tycoons – How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy, and naturally it was an exciting moment for me to be able to experience it first hand. After 3 long flights, 24 hours of travel and a marathon of Season 1 of the Netflix’s thrilling banger “Stranger Things”, I finally landed on Phoenix, Arizona.

Phoenix, AZ

The city of Phoenix gave us the opportunity to network with its accomplished people, who could in one way or another help us with my venture Sogody, in order to continue our journey of growth. There are several highlights from my stay in Phoenix, but the ones that are most worthy would be the individual meetings with tech executives, who under their belt of experience had gone under so many challenges and opportunity seizing moments, to leading from 1 up to 1000’s professionals, to competing with some of the most brutally competitive markets in the world.

One of the most intriguing moments during a conversation with the General Manager of Lyft for Southwest & Hawaii, Ms. Drena Kusari Berisha, was when she taught me about the concept of ‘head trash‘ – something that kind of comes pre-installed with the culture of where we come from, Kosovo, and the ways to overcome it. What is head trash? It is the negative thoughts, feelings, or emotions you have and the assumptions you make about them. They are your beliefs about things, and not always the truth.

The drive behind her story and the similarities I could relate to, inspired me to continue with my persistence.

The reason Phoenix and Arizona have managed to attract such talent and leading unicorns like Carvana, is the hard-work that the people of the state of many cactuses do behind the scenes. The level of strategic approach, incentive driven and entrepreneurial storytelling was promising and welcoming of everyone. Did you know that the workforce in Arizona was compromised of nearly 70% of people migrating from other parts of the U.S. or the world? If you have an ethical and technical value to offer to the city, they will open the doors for you, and to me. This defines the American Entrepreneurial Spirit —

— and, I had the chance to share my own entrepreneurial spirit by sharing the story of Sogody. Sogody is an experience & optimization development company based in London & Prishtina, built to offer intelligent technology solutions, deliver modern experiences and build meaningful connections through our work. We believe that our best storytelling is the determination to embrace technology changes which make us mentally global and ready for our partners. This digital obsession of ours represent a journey that inspired us to come up with a brand name that is as extraordinary as the quality of work we offer: Sogody — So divine.

But, what made this journey a bit more special, is the fact that I made new friends who share the same path as I do, mentors who shared a lot of insights with me and strangers who fortuitously had a story which I could relate to. To all my newly made connections, it was a pleasure!

Washington, D.C.

After leaving Phoenix in a good and sunny taste, we continued the entrepreneurial trip with 68 more peers in Washington D.C. for 3 intensive but definitely enlightening days. My peers were from all around Europe and Eurasia, thus, it was intriguing to see their ideas, what they had achieved by the point of our meeting and what their future challenges would be. One of those peers who was from Armenia shared my name, Lorik. Different cultures and languages, a similar name. This just solidifies my view on this world, where we all have one race and nation called “Human”, and quoting my favorite stand-up comedian, Bill Hicks, we could get all the money we make as entrepreneurs and…

“…spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

Moreover, the joint organization at the Busboys and Poets, the meeting with VC’s and Investors, and the last closing ceremony which featured the U.S. Secretary of State were all properly organized and efficiently taught a young fellow from Kosovo that the tops of the world were not that far away for grabs. The rest of this blog contains more than a thousand words…

…and you can save your next cover photo here.

Thank you for reading.

Lorik Mullaademi, 12/19/2018.