Denver Hutt spoke to a full house of women yesterday morning at The Speak Easy. All of these women, many of them first time attendees, are part of a fantastic local community called Linking Indy Women. Community, as it happens, is Denver’s forte.
This Southern-California native has claimed Indiana for her home. If you ask her why, she’ll tell you, “It’s because your state is awesome!” and because Indianapolis is truly a city in which hungry, driven, and smart twentysomethings can actually make things happen – and are encouraged to do so. She is the Executive Director and instigator of this awesome community of Indianapolis entrepreneurs called The Speak Easy. She is a pillar of the startup and tech community in Indianapolis, and increasingly, all over the country.
I’ve kind of been a lurker in the community of Denver Hutt and have been following her story and exploits in the startup community. She’s been my hero and local lady crush ever since I first heard about her work through some acquaintances who have Speak Easy membership. I finally got to meet her at Steven Shattuck’s Indy SM talk last week. Oddly enough, I felt like I already knew her from following her latest project, 418 Stories, where her masterful storytelling abilities shine through in posts about kicking cancer’s ass, learning experiences, and getting sh*t done.
You know that old adage about never meeting your heroes and being disappointed? Yeah, that didn’t happen. Denver Hutt is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. She put up with all my gushing about the Speak Easy, answered all my questions about membership, and didn’t even make me feel weird about my hero-meeting-induced awkwardness!
I learned more from Denver’s hour long talk + Q & A session about success, living life, and accomplishment than I have in three years of my post-retail career. Here are a few of the gems:
- Don’t wait to act on your dreams or your “someday list.” Make “If not now, when?” your mantra and start turning your dreams into reality now. If you like to create to-do lists or bucket lists, create them based on specific periods of time and places in which you spend a portion of your life – i.e. a Fall list, a Spring list, an IU list, while I’m at X company, before I’m married, while I’m in Indiana.
- “Working in startups was the best thing that could have happened to me.” The startup mentality can be useful in areas of life outside the scope of running or working in a business. When a huge, life-altering obstacle or challenge presents itself, use the startup mentality to overcome it. Do the thing you’re not sure will work, test it, and make decisions about how you’ll change your approach (or not) in the future.
- “In the world of startups, there is no work life, social life, and personal life – it’s just your life.” We could all benefit from accepting this and just be our most authentic selves in all aspects of our lives, no matter what industry/sector we work in. Blend your separate identities and embrace it.
- On connecting with others who share your experiences: Denver noticed she doesn’t always share a world view with many of those who have the same kind of cancer she has, but has been able to connect on a deeper level with others who don’t have cancer, but can understand her challenges through similarly challenging experiences. My takeaway from this is that the best connections we make may not be the obvious ones, look for shared experiences with people who may be totally outside of your circle, interests, and profession.
- Cough drops don’t cure cancer.
If you want to learn more about Denver, Linking Indy Women, or The Speak Easy – here are some happy little links!