San Francisco is full of adventures. I realized that two simple habits helped me have some great fun right at the start.

If you’re curious

  • what it takes to see Facebook Headquarters,
  • how to attend lectures at Stanford University without paying tuition fees or
  • how to save $500 of a conference ticket you want to attend, keep reading.

Here are the Top 5 highlights from my first week in the US.

#5: Drinks at UC Berkeley with top Hong Kong Startups

Julius at Skydeck Accelerator in UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Accelerator SkyDeck

On Friday evening I took a northbound train to visit the #1 public university in the world UC Berkeley. Every Friday evening Berkeley’s SkyDeck accelerator, which hosts 36 student run startups, gathers local entrepreneurs for evening drinks.

Furthermore, an awesome Lithuanian entrepreneur Danielius has recently joined UC Berkeley as a visiting scholar so I wanted to meet him.

As soon as I came to Berkeley, a young girl with a friendly smile met me with “Hey what do you do?”. She was a co-founder of one of the six Hong Kong based startups visiting Silicon Valley.

These startups won a local Google startup competition.

The prize was a two-weeks fully-paid trip to Silicon Valley to pitch their startups to some of the best Venture Capitalists (VCs) and entrepreneurs in the world.

Lucky enough, I got to meet them just before their 13-hour flight back to HK. Great evening that made me put Berkeley into every Friday’s schedule.

It was also great to meet Danielius. Among many other cool things, he co-founded a highly successful Eastern European management consultancy franchise Civitta.

Last week we went to see the Warriors vs Clippers game together but more about it in my next posts.

#4: Visit to Facebook HQs in Menlo Park

Julius Narkus Visit Facebook HQs with Vilius Visockas

Vilius and me at Facebook HQs, Silicon Valley

On Wednesday I went to Menlo Park. It’s a small town in the heart of the Silicon Valley, famous for hosting Facebook HQs.

Vilius was kind enough to give me an insider’s view into this tech giant. I learnt a ton of new things. Unfortunately, the confidentiality agreement I signed at the entrance does not allow me to elaborate more on that.

You can see a photo tour of Facebook Campus here done by professionals.

As I learnt after visiting Google, Facebook headquarters are way smaller and condensed into one complex of buildings with a large inside backyard. The entrance is closed to the public so you have to know someone working at Facebook to get an insider’s view.

Fun fact. The executives can often be spotted in a glass room in the heart of Campus. Visitors, surprised to spot Facebook executives like Mark Zuckerberg used to take pictures of them.

Now friendly signs on the glass walls say “Don’t take picture of animals”. 🙂

#3: Computer Science Lecture at Stanford University

Stanford University visit by Julius Narkus in Palo Alto

Stanford University, Palo Alto

Before heading to Facebook HQs, I decided to check out Stanford University at Palo Alto, just 20 minutes bike ride away.

Full of excitement, I cycled around the stunning Stanford Campus. Led by professional curiosity I walked around the Law School and even decided to interview one of Stanford students.

Meet Julia who just like her parents and older sister has joined Stanford.

Julius Narkus interviews Julia at Stanford University

Interview with Julia from Palo Alto

When I approached her, Julia was busy choosing which lectures to go to.

“I got admitted into University and have until the end of the year to choose my major”, Julia said.

Until now, she has tried Computer Science, Statistics, Economics and Maths lectures.

Julia also told me there was a Computer Science (CS106A) class later that afternoon. I simply couldn’t miss such an opportunity and few hours later… Here I am.

Julius attends Stanford University Class on Computer Science

Computer Science Class CS106A

Later I found out that the CEO & Founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg gave a guest lecture for the same class in 2012.

#2: Office Warming Party at Segment

Segment makes using company's data easy. Office warming party in san francisco

Segment’s Office Warming Party

My friend and ex-baws Sam from Feedback Loop invited me to his new company’s Segment Office Warming party on Saturday night.

95% of the crowd were Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates.

In order to get into one of these Schools you have to be extra-ordinary. Every year the brightest US school grads compete for a place with students from schools all around the world.

The intellectual capacity in the room was over the roof.

However, everyone was super-friendly. I met people younger than me who sold their companies to LinkedIn or created platforms that were used by over 12 million users around the world.

Some of these people will change the way business is done in the future.

For example, Segment is already fundamentally changing the way companies use their data. And making it easy.

Suffice to say, I felt very privileged to be among people like these.

You think that’s great? Wait till you hear about the Highlight of the week!

#1: Startup Digital Marketing Conference 2014 & the Italian Dinner

I attended the Startup Digital Marketing Conference 2014 where ticket prices ranged from $200-500 for a ticket.

Let me guess what you’re thinking right now: How did I afford that?

My friend Karen introduced me to one of the organizers Stefanie. While exchanging emails to set up a coffee meeting, I got an idea.

Conferences of this size often need help and I’m definitely the right person to do that.

Here’s what I told Stefanie:

P.S. If you feel that a volunteer could be handy for the Startup Marketing Conference, I’d be glad to help.

I also stated my experience at international music, film festivals and tech conferences.

Guess what happened next?

I got a call from one of the organizers, Rica. Next day…

Julius Narkus volunteering at Startup Socials digital marketing for startups conference

Julius with Lauren at Startup Digital Marketing Conference

However, what made this event really special and worth the Highlight of the Week One title was having an Italian dinner afterwards with Keynote speaker Tim Ash and the main organizers of the night Vasil and Rica.

They put hundreds of hours in preparation for this amazing event so celebrating the success of it felt really special.

Julius Narkus dinner with startup socials after successful Startup Digital Marketing conference 2014

Italian dinner after the conference

What have I learnt?

Reflecting on all these highlights I ask myself: what have I learnt?

Well, two things.

First, if you see an opportunity to do something awesome, just ask for it.

I asked Vilius if he could show me around Facebook.

I asked Stefanie if I could volunteer at the Conference.

I asked Julia to answer questions about Stanford.

Second, explain WHY you are asking for it. Showing motivation behind a request can do wonders.

If you don’t explain why, your request can be seen as an ungrateful demand. Let me show you how.

When I told Julia I’m interested in studying at Stanford, she was glad to volunteer her time and happily answered my questions.

When I told Stefanie I have vast experience of volunteering and would love to be part of the conference, she forwarded my message to her boss.

Explaining your motivation can allow the other person feel that he/she is helping to make your dreams come true.

Who wouldn’t want to make someone else’s dreams come true?

How do you ask for what you want?

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