Looking for Inspiration in the Sandbox

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Looking for Inspiration in the Sandbox

You have to be at least 35 years of age to be the President of the United States of America. So far, the youngest US president at inauguration was Teddy Roosevelt at 42, and the median age (according to Wikipedia) is 54. Imagine if a 24 year old took office. Is that as terrifying a prospect as we might think?

I spent an afternoon last week reading through the Sandbox Playbook. Sandbox is a community of ambitious and creative young entrepreneurs and thinkers under the age of thirty with the idea to foster innovation and inspiration amongst their own peer group. Sandbox hosts events in various city ‘hubs’ where members can work on building relationships with their peers and with more senior leaders in their fields. It’s a closed community and to join you really have to prove that you are extraordinary.

The Playbook, released in conjunction with Bloomberg Businessweek, is like a physical manifestation of the organization’s ethos. It is a record of the Sandbox Global Summit that took place in January 2012, where some 200 Sandbox members came to Lisbon, Portugal to connect with each other and come up with ideas to change the world. After each workshop, participants wrote their thoughts and ideas and findings all over the walls. The Playbook is made up of these pieces of graffiti, these 8” by 8” thoughts to live by.

The book is essentially a motivational-quote-a-page type deal, but is real world applicable for entrepreneurs and creative people rather than just being for the coffee table. There is stuff in here that you can genuinely use to make your life more useful. I went in feeling both skeptical and knowing that I am ridiculously susceptible to this kind of motivational stuff. And I wasn’t disappointed – the book is both inspirational and aspirational, and I came out the other end desperate to fast forward to future me who has used all these ideas and is subsequently the optimum version of myself.

I would love to see someone write a more in depth look at these small pieces of inspiration, to extrapolate them out and make them into real world lessons and insights. As ideas they are great, but sometimes it is harder to apply free floating ideas to real life. I want to hear more from these people – I want to get involved myself. And so I think the book has achieved its aim both as a motivational tool and as a PR vehicle.

Reading through the Sandbox application process I found myself frantically searching through my past achievements to find something worthy of Sandbox. Did I found a successful company when I was 23? No, I was still figuring out that traditional advertising was not the career for me. Did I write a thoughtful manifesto about social change that went viral when I was 26? Nope, I was busily trying to drink a pint in every single pub in London. I’ve got three years left to do something remarkable so I can jump in to the Sandbox and get inspired by these incredible people and maybe add my own ideas to the Playbook.

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