Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Diary of a CRM - a Company Responding to a development Mission

Friday 3/20

Close to midnight, I arrived in NOLA, all set to make a difference in the Big Easy. Everytime I'd told someone I'm volunteering in New Orleans, they assumed I was going to be building houses or something. What a great opportunity through IDEAVillage to contribute my intellectual capital! Four other members of the team arrived with me on the same flight (Nadim Hossain, James Goerke, Joan Lee and Karen Hennessy). Two other members had arrived the day before (Andrew Leigh, Wendy Lee), and three more will get here tomorrow (Kardyhm Kelly, Kingsley Joseph, Pratima Arora). New Orleans get ready for ten professionals to unleash their energy towards helping IDEAVillage revitalize the community!

Saturday 3/21

After a long night's sleep, I was ready to get started! The first event on the agenda was a "Crawfish Broil", Idea Village's way of welcoming all of us to New Orleans. Even though I don't eat seafood, I was pressured into trying crawfish. An Idea Village staff member made sure to show me the expert way of eating crawfish. I must admit, I'm glad I tried it… very juicy and tasty. Along with the crawfish, we were treated to black and raspberry infused vodka and beer from the NOLA brewery (only their second batch!). Although I'm not a beer drinker, I did try it and it was pretty good.

This party also gave us the chance to mingle and meet some members from the other teams that were there from Stanford, Berkeley, Chicago, DePaul, and Kellogg as well as other Idea Village staff and some New Orleans Community leaders. Everyone is starting to get more pumped at what this week would have in store for us.

At night, the group headed to Bourbon Street to check out the highly talented Irvin Mayfield at his new Jazz club. Where else, but New Orleans can you walk to a courtyard of a jass club and listen to a high quality live jazz performance. I kinda like this place. After we had our fill, we walked to Frenchman Street to take in another live performance band in a night club. This town sure does love it's music.

Sunday 3/22

Sunday morning began with a New Orleans Jazz Brunch, hosted by Sally and Alton Doody, friends of Idea Village. Did I mention this was in the Garden District? Needless to say, it was a very nice place with very nice ambiance with more live jazz music. (Starting to get used to this). The brunch was scrumptious and we once again got a chance to mingle amongst the other volunteer students from the MBA programs. I met a student from Stanford (Luke Stewart), who will be working for Cisco, my former employer and where my wife currently works. I'd later find out that Luke's from Baltimore, which is also where my wife's from.

After the brunch, we had a bus tour of New Orleans, including an overview of what happened during Katrina and how it affected the various New Orleans neighborhoods. We learned the importance of the city to our country and why it is so important to help bring New Orleans back and to make sure it's protected from another potential Hurricane like Katrina. This tour helped provide the backdrop and context to the need for help in revitalizing this city.

Later that evening was the Team Building activity at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Each team had to go through challenges, including making our own signature cocktail, making a custom dish, building a tower with straws and marshmallows, as well as pricing, word puzzle, and twister games. It was very fun and entertaining, to say the least. Our team learned that we know diddly squat about prices of New Orleans products, we can fit 10 people in very tight spaces, and we can make a killer meal and cocktail when given the right ingredients. Suffice it to say, the judges didn't agree and we did not win the contest. I vote for a recount!

After the team building, we headed out to CafĂ© Du Monde to get some coffee and beignets. Well, for me I had hot chocolate… and three beignets. Very delicious! Now it was time to get ready for the work we came to do. Come tomorrow, we will get to work!

Monday 3/23

After arriving at Tulane, our work site, we started the day off by hearing from some community leaders and knowledge professionals in the real estate housing industry to give context to our project. Having just received our venture's business plan, this was valuable to get more info in trying to understand the environment we were dealing with. Our team got together to compare notes on our initial thoughts regarding our venture's idea, and any questions we had. Then we met with the team to get clarification on our questions and to determine what we'd work on for them.

The day was concluded by a speech from the Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu. It was great to hear him speak of the opportunity for New Orleans to rebound and become the great city it's capable of being, through entrepreneurship. Although he's a politician, you can still tell he sincerely is committed to New Orleans and doing what it takes to help revitalize the city.

For dinner, our team was treated to a private "home" cooked vegetarian meal by Robbie Vitrano, entrepreneur and co-founder of the Idea Village. During the meal we got a chance to discuss the New Orleans scene with him and other influential New Orleans leaders.

Tuesday 3/24

Armed with our agenda from our entrepreneur (InSite(s), is a company focused on developing a unique demand side methodology to estimate and characterize a demand for housing to encourage the development of a vibrant community in New Orleans), we set out to do the research and analysis necessary to make sure they get off on the right foot. The venture we were paired with is focusing on creating market analysis reports for the Affordable Housing Industry that fills the gap of what's not currently there. The hope is to provide more context in order to encourage more informed development in New Orleans.

After a hard day's work, we headed to Happy Hour and Dinner at Rambla's for tapas. The food was good, and so was the Sangria. The team was bonding together and had a great time, along with the rest of the MBA volunteers. A group of us later headed out to another jazz night club to see another incredible live performance. In the club, there was an artist creating a live drawing of the scene with the jazz artists and the crowd. That was something I'd never seen before, and oh so cool.
Wednesday 3/25

Today, we again met with the venture team to discuss some of our findings thus far and got further clarification and direction to go with our findings. The team is great and is very responsive to our questions and feedback. By the end of the day, we're toward the final stretch of what we're going to recommend and present.

After another hard day of work, we were treated to an NBA game! The New Orleans Hornets vs. the Denver Nuggets. We got to watch the game from the top of the arena from the press row. By the way, is it just me or should the Hornets name by scratched and substituted with "Jazz"? Currently, that name is given to the Utah team, but I seriously doubt they have the type of jazz in New Orleans. Perhaps they can switch names. It would only make sense. But I digress… after the game (most folks left at halftime), I headed back to the room to get some much needed rest. Oh, the Hornets lost by the way. Maybe they would've been better if their name was "Jazz".

Stay tuned for further updates.

Terance Barkus

No comments:

Post a Comment