(c) 2012 Kathryn Pharr

As part of my work’s entrepreneurship program, we brought the top 16 participants of 2011-2012 for a two week tour of the U.S. entrepreneurship ecosystem.  I was really excited to be able to join them for the New York City and Boston portion. My flight got in early, and so finally I managed to go up the Empire State Building since it was two blocks from the hotel. Even though it was early November, it had just snowed. The view was breathtaking with snow coating the top of every building, but the windchill on the 86th floor was intense. That didn’t stop me from staying up long enough to locate several landmarks: Washington Square Arch, Flatiron building, Chrysler building, Bryant Park and the New York public library, and Erie Lackawanna Clock Tower of the Hoboken terminal. It was also the first time I’d had a chance to go into the Public Library, which I didn’t realize has exhibits like a museum. I was intrigued by their exhibit on lunch: from the creation of the meal to the power lunch to food trucks. It was a little depressing to realize that an oyster in 1901 was $2.05 cheaper than it is today.

DSC_1880True to my trips to NYC, the boots I brought broke before the first day ended. I met up with Samantha, and we decided on some black ones from Aerosoles that were so comfortable I walked over twenty blocks directly from the store.

Our trip naturally involved meetings around town, but the entrepreneurs were determined to see New York for themselves. After their transcontinental red-eye and several meetings, they insisted we take them to Time Square. I really enjoyed witnessing their excitement as we walked past Broadway billboards and other ads illuminating the Great White Way.
DSC_1524After finishing work back at the hotel, I researched details of Broadway shows for some of the participants. When others wanted a less expensive option, I suggested ice skating in Bryant Park then the Empire Building at night. It was fun to do some tour guide suggestions based on previous trips to New York. I enjoyed following part of the group to hear a live band in the basement of a brick building; we had a great time dancing. Could anything be more Greenwich Village?

Boston is an amazing hub for innovation and entrepreneurship with MIT and Harvard across the Charles River in Cambridge. We visited both schools as well as Mass Challenge and Cambridge Innovation Center. I enjoyed seeing the different approaches to promoting innovation at each location.

DSCN9132The night I arrived I met Erik, a friend of a friend, who showed me Cambridge, mainly the Friendly Toast, an incredible place if you like breakfast all day. I especially enjoyed perusing the Hitchtail menu, cocktails with names from famous Hitchcock films. Of course, I had to squeeze in a short visit to Public Garden, the site of Make Way for Ducklings. I was excited to ride the T, the underground system of Boston, and thrilled to stay at Hotel Commonwealth, where my only complaint was that I didn’t spend enough time in my hotel.


(c) 2012 Kathryn Pharr

What I hadn’t expected was to end up being a guide in Boston, which I’d never been to before. During our one free afternoon, I found myself leading a group of our entrepreneurs from around the world along the Freedom Trail. All those Ann Rinaldi books and those years of American history paid off as I gave an impromptu tour describing Paul Revere’s midnight ride and the Boston Massacre with minimal reference to the pamphlet in my hand. (I did a victory dance in my head.) We paused for the Veterans’ Day Parade (to which some entrepreneurs were confused because we didn’t have police separating the parade from those watching). We also stopped in Quincy Square to watch the Red Trouser Show that did amazing acrobatics. We ate New England Clam Chowder and split a piece of Boston Cream Pie at the Salty Dog, a hidden treasure near the Cheers bar. The downstairs looked like the inside of a ship! While it was unseasonably warm (66*F) for November, I loved Boston. One of these days I’m going back as a tourist for the full trip.

Before I knew it, our group was back in D.C., and we were at the White House celebration for entrepreneurship our team had been working on for months. Madeline Albright came, and our panel of entrepreneurs were dynamic and impressive.

I really loved getting to know these bright science and technology entrepreneurs from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. They are creative and never seem to tire of seeing and learning new things. They are fabulous role models for young people around the world!