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Clean and Cool 2015 day 1

reporting all week on the Clean and Cool Mission from San Francisco....

After flying in on Saturday the Mission group spent Sunday orienting themselves and getting inspired for the week ahead. First up we had an entertaining tour of the city with a focus on the history and key moments that created a city and region strong in entrepreneurial spirit. Founded on the gold rush and settlers fleeing the controlling influences of Europe (landowners and royalty imposed taxes in particular), the first Californians were characterised by the desire to be free and to make money. The pioneering spirit manifested itself in an innovative attitude to the challenges of a growing city - it was an ex-pat Brit who invented the distinctive city cable car system. The resilience of San Franciscans came through in their response to the major earthquake at the start of the last century. It destroyed three-quarters of the city but rebuilding began almost immediately and nine years later won the bid to host the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 to celebrate its rebirth. 

Having looked back, we then looked forward in a visit to the Long Now Foundation. Encouraging a long term approach to thinking about the world, the Foundation has set up projects designed to slow down the hyperactivity that characterises modern life to bring out what is really important. They wish to have society think on longer timescales - over the next 10,000 years - and showed us the prototype of a clock designed to be the world's slowest! It will be made to keep working over such a timescale. They also have a project to provide a library for the next 10,000 years and have the base information to restart global society. What books do you think need to be in it? I noted both the Chemical History of a Candle and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy were in - both would be first recommendations from me!

After a free afternoon for the companies to explore (during which I met up with Roger Harrabin of the BBC who joined the Mission party) we all got back together to hear insights from Bay Area media expert Tom Foremski. This took the form of a 'fireside chat' facilitated by the ever energetic Oli Barrett. Tom had great advice for the companies - in particular to tell your story and promote yourself (or who else will?). He also made clear that you need to be able to explain your business at a level 'your Mum would understand' and avoid sector jargon now matter how basic to you. As a business you can gain credibility by blogging and Tweeting about your expert area if you don't want to talk about the company itself. The Mission journalists supported the need to have a good, relatable story and pointed out that much of journalism is parasitic - a story in local press is often picked up by nationals and spreads rapidly. With pitch practice tomorrow, the Mission group went to dinner with a lot to think about...

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