By Ryan Greenleaf

Millennials are not self-absorbed,” said Emilie Cameron, chair of the group behind the Emerge Summit.

Young professionals encouraged to love, impact Sacramento

Published: Saturday, Mar. 22, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 1, 2014 - 9:33 am

After a rousing lunchtime address from a young entrepreneur rapidly making his mark by cooking noodles quickly, about 500 Sacramento area young professionals – armed with “love your city” tote bags – fanned out over eight blocks of downtown and midtown Friday afternoon for sessions on how to turn that affection into tangible improvement.

“Millennials are not self-absorbed. This generation is more about collaboration than some of its predecessors,” said Emilie Cameron, 32, who chairs Metro Edge, the young professional group behind Friday’s Emerge Summit.

The event, spearheaded by Metro Edge, an arm of the Sacramento Metro Chamber, brought together several other young professional groups that organized the nine breakout sessions aimed at encouraging participants to become active members of the community. Music Circus served as the starting point, but participants walked as far as the Citizen Hotel near Cesar Chavez Plaza to attend sessions. Cameron, who works for 3fold Communication, said the format helped people further fall in love with Sacramento by seeing it on foot.

Two Sacramento entrepreneurs, video game maker Mark Otero and Chris Johnson, of rapid ramen fame, kicked off the lovefest.

Otero cautioned against attributing success to “getting lucky.” He said people who think that way fail to realize the power they have to make their own success. The Sacramento State graduate heads Capital Games after selling his company, KlickNation, to entertainment giant Electronic Arts.

While still running his successful staffing company, Johnson invented and began selling the Rapid Ramen Cooker, which allows people to cook ramen noodles in the microwave. The product, already on a successful trajectory, picked up even more momentum after he took on millionaire investor Mark Cuban after appearing last year on ABC television’s “Shark Tank.”

He told attendees to ignore doubters, as he did early doubters about his cooker. The product is now sold in several major retailers across the country and a network of college bookstores.

Breakout session topics included becoming change agents, board service, mentorship, entrepreneurship, igniting your network, life in balance, regional branding and local development. While some sessions dripped with boosterism, contributing to the city was the overarching theme.

Peter Kageyama, author of “For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places,” delivered the keynote address. In an interview Kageyama said he’d tell young people that getting involved in their own way is valuable for the community.

“These young people have some great ideas,” he said in an interview. He said he told established professionals he addressed earlier that they should be ready for the next generation to want to do things differently than they had.

He added that change doesn’t have to be arena-scale.

“City making can be starting a community garden,” Kageyama said.

Lindsey Fudge, a young bank executive, had the fever. She said traveling makes her more excited about Sacramento’s potential. She recently got back from Austin, Texas.

Her trip, “just made me realize how K Street could be just like” Austin’s Sixth Street, Fudge said. “There is just so much opportunity in Sacramento.”

Read more articles by Ed Fletcher

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