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Posts tagged ‘teamwork’

OurPangea As A Team

OurPangea is built by people. And transforming an idea into reality is a process, a fun one. What I’ve learned is that it’s a process best done by a team.

two cats teamwork fence gray white

Teams are interesting. Everyone brings their strengths, but also their weaknesses. It’s a matter of figuring out how to motivate everyone towards a single goal and helping each member apply themselves in that direction. Celebrate strengths and help with weaknesses.

Networking around Austin has opened my eyes to the wonderful diversity of people, but what strikes me most is that everyone has something that makes them happy. It’s incredible how diverse these things can be, and it makes me wonder how many people out there share the same interests with me? If only we had OurPangea to help.

While networking around Austin has opened my eyes to the granularity of people, the granularity of people has opened my eyes to the similarities. Austin is a weird place. So weird they probably take that as a compliment… There are so many people here, but at the root of everyone lies the same hopes and fears. It’s kind of wonderful.

At the root of OurPangea, we hope that each user finds a similar experience. That of difference and acceptance. When everyone is working towards the same goal, in this case representing culture we will have to accept the differences along with the similarities, both strengths and weaknesses.

Teams are interesting because of their diversity. United toward a single goal we learn from the strengths of others and hope to improve our weaknesses. It’s an interesting experience where we learn the value of others, but most importantly we learn how to value others.

Introducing ‘People’

colorful crowd celebrate cheer experience

Have you ever heard the expression “people make the experience?” It’s a pretty self-explanatory idiom used to express how in certain cases what and where you are doing something is less important that who you’re doing it with.  It’s a tribute to the mindset that anything can be enjoyed –from waiting in line at the DMV or getting stuck out in a rainstorm—when you’re with the right people.

It’s a sentiment I share and I think it’s one that most people would agree with. For one, it’s something I think everyone can relate to. I think everyone has had an experience that has been improved just by being with a group of fun friends.  On a deeper level, I think it’s the people themselves that create a great community.

To illustrate this, just imagine being a part of a community that sounds really interesting, like ping pong, for example. Now think about how that community of ping pong players would be different if you didn’t get along with the rest of the people or thought they were boring. Ping pong is a ton of fun (at least to me), but with the wrong people it’s just as unexciting and undesirable as a tax auditing community (no offense to the tax auditors out there).

Worse, you might begin to see this ping pong community as nothing more than a responsibility you have to organize events you don’t want to go to and coordinate plans with people you don’t want to see.  You could lose sight of the love you had for ping pong and the reason you joined in the first place.  To create an awesome community the setting needs to be right and there’s no better way to create an awesome environment that to get great people together.

This is one of the reasons high school and college students can take trips abroad and have a fantastic time if they like the people they’re with. It’s why Rick felt so at home during his trip to Spain and why Noah and I have developed a love for Austin.  It’s people.

So over the next few months we want to celebrate and recognize the importance of great people in communities. We’re going to be taking a closer look at what makes individuals importance in the scope of communities and how people are the ones who breathe life into our world.  Stay tuned!!

The Importance Of Teamwork

face possible change feet map hands to sky

As important, and as brilliant, as every single person has the potential to be, nothing can quite change the world like a good team. Two heads are always better than one, of course. The core of OurPangea can be traced to this simple root: teamwork. We’re bringing people together as teams to form communities. Those communities are joining as teams to further their goals.

Think about some of the lauded most teams the world has seen. John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Laurel and Hardy, Siskel and Ebert, Abbot and Costello. Batman and Robin, Simon and Garfunkel, Venus and Serena Williams. These teams don’t even have to be limited to two – vastly different groups such as Rush, the Three Musketeers, and of course the Three Stooges prove that otherwise.

Some of these great teams are entirely fictional. Some create art for us to enjoy, some excel in sports to entertain us. Some create music, others art. Some work together to create new worlds of technology for us to explore. Where would we be today without the revolutionary teamwork of Bill Gates and Paul Allen, creating Microsoft and changing the world? Who could forget the incredible beach volleyball dynasty of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings, who dominated the Olympics and the sport for more than a decade, becoming one of the most dominant, dynamic duos in any sport ever? Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein becoming perhaps the defining element in creating a unique and modern American musical identity? Or Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, as they created one of the most beloved fictional characters of all time, the great Mickey Mouse?

But the most important thing surrounding all of these great teams is that they work best with another person. Every friendship, marriage, relationship, partnership, negotiation to ever exist revolves around two (or more!) parties coming together to use teamwork, always becoming more than the sum of its parts. The synergy and magic of collaboration is what drives these teams forward, feeding off each other and sharing ideas back and forth to find that the world can be a better place when you reach the hand of togetherness to another.

When two people, or two groups, work together with an idea on any level – person to person or culture to culture – the result changes both parties forever, and creates a wholly new idea. Lennon and McCartney’s “A Day in the Life” or “Eleanor Rigby”; or Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s creation of the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and hundreds of beloved characters; or Michael Jordan’s groundbreaking six championships he shared with Scottie Pippen, could never have happened with just one of them. Both members of each tandem contributed in their own unique ways, creating works of music, art, and sports that were not only a mix of each, but also with their own new identity born of collaboration.

Who knows? Maybe someday soon we can add Ari Franklin and Noah Simon to the esteemed list above, for their creation of the potentially world-changing OurPangea (I’d be more than happy to take second billing, of course). It’s been a privilege to work with these two, and watch the creative process explode in action as we all strive our hardest to help collaborate with the world.

The Beautiful Game

pelada silhouette soccer players together

Puedo jugar contigo?

It was just a simple phrase meaning “can I play with you?” in Spanish, then translated into different languages, that allowed American soccer players Luke Boughen and Gwendolyn Oxenham into cultures vastly different than theirs, for one reason: the desire to play soccer.

Boughen and Oxenham (now married to Boughen) traveled the world in filming their movie, “Pelada”, in search of pickup games and the people who play them. The film took them from a prison in Bolivia, to a closed-off secret game with Oxenham and Iranian women dressed in full religious garb, to a tournament of moonshine brewers in the slums of Kenya. The film allowed these two former collegiate soccer players to answer the question of:

What does a well-to-do suburban soccer player, who attended a prestigious American private college, who had a chance to play professionally and was pursuing a law degree, have in common with a moonshine brewer from the slums of Africa?

The love for the game of soccer.

In the critically-acclaimed documentary “Pelada”, Boughen and Oxenham show us that even though the Bolivian prisoners play in a heavily guarded jail, and Israelis and Palestinians play in the dark on opposite sides of a tennis court, the object is still the same: put the ball in the other team’s goal. With the Chinese freestylers, it was the shared idea that the soccer ball, not their former high-paying banking jobs, was the key to happiness.

Puedo jugar contigo? Kan ek met jou speel? Kann ich mit dir spielen? Posso brincar com voce? Though four different languages, the translation is still the same: Can I play with you? Five simple words (in English) that can open an American soccer player into the world of a soccer player a world over, who shares that love for the “beautiful game”.

Everyone has a passion. Why not find someone—who might be 3,000 miles away in a completely different life situation—who shares that same passion?

“Pelada” proved that with five words, and one ball, it was possible to step inside and share radically different cultures. We at OurPangea hope to allow others to create their own “Pelada,” and promote their shared passions through cross-cultural connections.

You have a “beautiful game,” now share it.

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