Pengyou Brainstorm Session: A Magical Journey

We had a Project Pengyou Brainstorm in our office last night.  Our Mission:  Think of cool website features and offline events.

Our advisors in attendance included Kaiser Kuo, Stephen Wang, James Flanagan, and Frances Fremont Smith.  Calvin Chin and Vinnie Ng made their presence via Skype.  Alumni leaders from Harvard, MIT, Yale, Boston College were also in attendance – Go Boston! (Sorry Yalies)

The best things about these brainstorms are the people.  Project Pengyou’s team of advisors is a microcosm of the best and brightest of the tech and social entrepreneurship communities here in China – they are a group of passionate, highly-driven people who are trying to create something bigger than themselves.

Since our team is really into gamification (we want to come up with ways to add fun gaming elements to Project Pengyou), we decided to add that dimension to our brainstorm.  Each person had a role.  For example, my friend Kevin Meenan (head of the Boston College alumni club of Beijing)  was our “Scribe” in charge of taking notes on  the whiteboard.  Our advisor Dan O’Brien was “Timekeeper” (who was actually late to the meeting!).  Chief Pengyou Holly was our “Frodo,” leading us through a magical journey of idea creation, and I was her “Samwise,” assisting and taking care of all our team members along the way.

Kaiser was our Gandalf, of course.

We also had a rewards system.  When somebody came up with an idea or suggestion that we liked, we would give them the “twinkle fingers” (aka “jazz hands”).  Since this was not “rock and roll” enough for Kaiser, he opted to use “devil horns” as his sign of approval (as demonstrated in the photo above).  I swear he snuck in a few twinkle fingers though!  At the end of the night, the person with the most twinkles would be awarded the Gandalf Prize – a box of chocolates.

Some cool ideas we came up with:

–          Discussion forums for “Pengyou Projects”

–          A “China Survival Wiki”

–          An event on 11-11-11 or “Day of One”  (although this might conflict with China’s “Singles Day”)

–          “Peng-YOU”  could be a way of contacting people – “penging”  them, instead of pinging.

–          Creating a short video of famous pioneers in US-China relations, including young people (Our inspiration being Apple’s “Think Different” campaign and video).

The competition for who could get the most twinkles got pretty heated!  It was a close race between James (17 twinkles), Stephen (18 twinkles), and Kaiser (21 devil horns).  Our Ultimate Brainstorm Champion, Kaiser was nice enough to share the chocolate-y spoils.