It might surprise you to learn that though Verb’s headquarters is located in beautiful Newport Beach, a large part of the company operates out of a mid-size town in central Utah. And on Friday, July 24th, our offices will observe the state’s official holiday, Pioneer Day.
The day’s significance comes from way back in 1847, when Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers first settled into the Salt Lake Valley after leaving Nauvoo, Illinois. The holiday has always had a heavy connection with the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, with some members celebrating by hiking through parts of the Mormon Trail, or even getting groups together to reenact the arrival of the pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley, complete with authentic handcarts.
But as a Utah native without any real connection to that church, the 24th of July has always been a day to look back at where I’m at in my life, the family and friends that surround me, the opportunities I’ve been giving here over the years, and celebrate the fact that I get to call this place home. The significance of Pioneer Day is never lost on me, both because of what came before, but lately I’ve been wondering about what we can do to push it forward.
For me, the spirit of the pioneers will always lie in a sense of adventure, a willingness to face risk for a better life—not just for you, but for your community. And I realize those principles weren’t a universal truth for every wagon that set out westward, but I think one of the tricks to history is being able to recognize everything that happened and why, while still finding the valuable lessons and philosophies buried within. And the further you go back, the harder that is to do, but as I look around at the growing tech landscape all around me, I can’t help but be reminded of that idealized pioneer spirit as the holiday approaches once again.
Gone are the days of covered wagons and long, dangerous journeys attempting to find some kind of new world or paradise. But I think that feeling still exists in all of us, the urge to reach out into uncharted territory and find something that allows us to make our mark on the world. But what does that mean in the modern era, when so much of the planet has been explored and populated? When a trip that used to take weeks, has been reduced to hours?
There’s a new term that I’m rather partial to now that exploration relates more to science, technology, and business than any kind of physical journey. The people and companies that head this new kind of exploration are being called “Technology Pioneers,” groups that are involved in the kinds of innovations and new technologies that have a chance to really impact business and society.
For the last 20 years, the World Economic Forum have been hard at work researching and selecting groups that fit this description and offer the chance to give them a platform to engage with leaders from all kinds of different industries so they can be better seen and heard. Throughout the years they’ve selected companies like Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Twitter, Proteus Digital Health, and Spotify. There are companies developing new cancer drugs, improving the way we explore the oceans, and new ways for people with disabilities to interact with computers and technology. Incredible, game-changing ideas, and I can’t wait to see who the new pioneers are in the coming years.
And for our own part, those of us here at Verb are watching the development of several internal projects that have us very excited. The LIVE platform, for its ability to connect people from around the world using its unique interactive video technology, could completely change the game as it enters the business world. But, maybe even more important than that is our recent Verb for Humanity initiative. Because we recognize there’s so much we could be doing to make our society a better place for everyone, we’re creating a platform where we can talk directly to people and cultures we might never have had the chance to interact with, and using those conversations to learn how we as a company can help. We’ve got no shortage of our own ideas, but we’re excited to get involved with even more communities, ensuring we always have the opportunity to learn, grow, and change.
So, while I believe there’s merit in thinking back on the past, and paying some kind of tribute to the pioneers of old for their part in the growth of America, this year I think I’ll be celebrating pioneers of a different kind. The Technology Pioneers. Because their ideas and contributions to society could help advance our culture and humanity itself in ways that those hopeful covered wagon convoys could never even dream of.