I’m sitting in the auditorium on the final day of Trojan Horse was a Unicorn (THU) last September in Tróia, Portugal. And I’m thinking, “How did I get here?”
Trojan Horse was a Unicorn certainly was not on the traditional list of tradeshows that workstation vendors generally attend within the Media & Entertainment market. I mean, what kind of name is that, Trojan Horse was a Unicorn?
And yet, here on the final day of THU, I can say without hesitation, being the main sponsor was enormously valuable, for both the Lenovo workstation business, and for me personally.
But again, how did I get here?
A couple years earlier, as we looked to increase our focus on the media and entertainment industry, a customer, friend, visual effects dynamo, and member of the THU tribe, Allen Bolden, introduced us to industry legend and Academy Award winner, Scott Ross. He felt Scott could really help us gain a better understanding of the challenges digital artists face, and how our technology could play a role in solving some of those challenges.
Since that introduction, Scott has served as an invaluable consultant and evangelist. But early on in our relationship he said, “Hey, you should consider sponsoring an event called Trojan Horse was a Unicorn.”
The marketing plan and budget for the year had been finalized, so I respectfully declined…besides, what kind of name is Trojan Horse was a Unicorn?
Fast forward a year later, we’re continuing to work with Scott, and he says, “Hey, you really should consider sponsoring Trojan Horse was a Unicorn.”
Well, over the last year Scott had helped our business tremendously; maybe I will look into this event.
So Scott introduces me to André Luís. I feel almost silly writing his last name, as he’s achieved Brazilian soccer star status among the THU faithful. André and I start the conversation and the negotiation. Talking to André, I quickly learn, this is someone who has a gift for creating and fostering a community. He is incredibly passionate and driven.
As he explains what THU is, its mission, and his vision for the future, I decide to take a chance. The investment is relatively modest, so we decide to be main sponsors and outfit the entire event with Lenovo workstations and monitors.
When I arrive in Portugal, along with the rest of the Tribe, I watch Scott take the stage to address the crowd, many of which have dug deep into their pockets and traveled long distances to be at the event. Scott says, “Are you ready to be transformed?”
The crowd explodes in applause, as if they’ve been let in on a secret that is just now being revealed.
Over the course of the next few days, I’m in awe. As expected, I watch some of the most talented artists using Lenovo workstations in various workshops, demonstrations, and high octane art battles. From a business perspective, I make twice as many valuable contacts as I’ve made at any trade show or industry event.
But there is so much more than that.
Every morning, groups of young, hopeful artists, exhausted from the numerous parties the night before, gather around Knights, or what THU calls successful professional artists. They discuss art, but they also discuss insecurities, difficulties, passions, and the desire to be heard and inspire. Only when watching them from a distance do I truly understand exactly what we, Lenovo, have invested in.
We are investing in those who can touch the soul.
And at that moment, I am transformed.
At the turn of the millennium, A&E Biography put together a documentary listing the 100 most influential people of the last millennium based on interviews with a panel of experts from all different fields of study; from politics, to science, to art.
By my count, 17 of the people on the list are from the arts, including Louis Armstrong, Walt Disney, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, William Shakespeare and Steven Spielberg.
But in the documentary, it isn’t just today’s artists commenting on the impact of these pioneers. Many of today’s great scientists and politicians also discuss the enormous impact these artists have made...in history, as well as serving as inspiration for their own achievements.
Clearly, the other 83 names on that list owe a debt of gratitude to the artists; without them, they may not have been inspired to achieve greatness.
The world needs those who can touch the soul, it needs inspiration; THU is where the “inspirers go to get inspired”.
So, here I am, sitting in the Lenovo auditorium on the last day of THU, remembering how I got here and letting everything I’ve seen and experienced soak in, and I look down at my itinerary to see the title of the final session, “The Beginning of the End.”
André and Scott take the stage and explain that the toll the event takes on André is too great, emotionally, mentally, and financially.
I look around the auditorium; there is genuine shock and sadness. The Tribe shares André’s tears, as it appears this is the end.
I sit there listening, and I’m baffled.
Lenovo has invested in this close-knit community and now it’s over?
I’ve been transformed, and now it’s over?
Over the course of the next few weeks, my befuddlement, and bit of anger, subsides. André regains his energy, and we talk about the future of THU. It becomes clear, THU can’t die.
So why invest heavily in THU? Because those who can touch the soul not only need the tools to bring their passions to life, they also need a place to be inspired.
Lenovo is in a position to provide both.
THU is good for artists,
It’s good for Lenovo’s business,
and it’s good for my soul.