“YLAI Begins Today!” by Luis Martin del Campo YLAI Fellow from Mexico

Maegen form the YLAI Team at Meridian recieved Luis at the airport

Luis Martin Del Campo YLAI Fellow From Mexico

Luis Martin del Campo is the Founder of Sphora in Mexico, and he is one of the 248 fellows participating in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program, which brings entrepreneurs and civil society leaders to the United States for a five-week program.

This U.S. Department of State-sponsored program empowers these young entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and to effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities

The phone´s alarm rings. 6 am. Put on the shoes, YLAI begins today!

Got that morning workout done.

Shower. Dress. Double-check the bag. It´s under 25 kg. YESSS.

Inhale that breakfast. Stow some munchies for the road. Kiss momma goodbye.

Get to the airport. Bags are checked. Smile at the lady manning the counter. The boarding pass is printed.

Luis Martin Del Campo YLAI Fellow From Mexico

Sit down at the coffee shop.

Luis Martin Del Campo YLAI Fellow From Mexico


It begins…

Can´t sleep on the plane. You´re in your seat next to the snoring lady. Typing furiously, getting your ideas down, managing the project, sending last-minute emails. Clarifying for yourself your goals for the next 5 weeks. Setting intentions.

Luis Martin Del Campo YLAI Fellow From Mexico

Vision —> Action

You land in Dallas Ft. Worth all smiles and good vibes. Meet the cheerful people with the colorful shirts waiting outside the baggage claim. What will their first words be?

They´re awesome.

Get to the hotel. It´s exploding with activity. The chatter of twenty dozen humans bursting with energy.

Swag bag is loaded. Cricket phone; per-diem card; bag tags.

Try to head up to the room and make sense of it all and organize. Can´t. Stay chatting with the fellows already there, get intercepted by new arrivals. A whirlwind of voices and bodies.

Finally, you drop off your stuff. Catch a breath. Let it sink in.

You´re here…

YLAI, Dallas welcoming


You´re off again.

 Don´t want to miss a second. Don´t want to leave any stone unturned or any potential conversation in silence.

New faces. The struggle to remember names, projects, ideas. So many cards already.

Mental notes: “Talk to him later about collaboration”. “Talk to her for future projects”. “Merge ideas.” “New business partners.”

10 minutes in and you´re already evolving.

The shuttle is here! State Fair time! Meet Texas!

Luis Martin Del Campo YLAI Fellow From Mexico

Arcades, deep fried Oreos, and plushie toys; Intense neon colors and sounds! Parade! Drumline!

Hours fly. You´re on the last shuttle back to the hotel, laughing and trading stories with people from lands you´ve only heard of.

It´s late. Keep talking to cool people; meet more at the lobby restaurant. It´s later. Finally, listen to reason and go to your room. Meet the roommate. Chat some more. Unpack. Pass out with a smile on your face.

Now, you´re here.


Dizzy? So was I. So were we all. And that´s just the first day.

This is what happens when you meet 247 of your new best friends.

Being an entrepreneur is a lonely road often. Especially a young entrepreneur. Especially in Latin America and The Caribbean. We´re used to fending for ourselves. Used to fighting the good fight. Used to friends not understanding what or why you do something. Used to doors closing in our faces, to random strokes of luck, to commitment, to falling and getting up one more time.

Why are you not taking that secure job, or following the beaten path? Why does what you do matter?

You get tired of explaining and accept that´s how it is. And rejoice when you meet someone who also decided to upend their life and become an entrepreneur because they had an idea that could not remain not expressed.

Well, here you are, surrounded by people who get it. Here you are, being given the opportunity of a lifetime, to drink from a firehose of ideas, experience, energy. The chance to turbocharge your thoughts and projects and, if you´re open, to explore how you can join forces with others and become a greater force for good.

Though the energy felt here is not for the faint of heart, it feels great.

Luis Martin del Campo, YLAI Fellow from Mexico
Luis Martin del Campo, YLAI Fellow from Mexico at the Dallas Opening

Now, the first four days gave us the chance to already begin practicing the art of empathy, compassion, collaboration. A petri dish of the global community in 248 characters. The level of instant trust you experience here is something to be immortalized. Here are 248 people invested in making a better world. Each in his or her own little corner of the planet. Mutual respect comes with the territory. I can only imagine what would happen if these 248 had a shared vision to organize around. This is a topic I´ll touch on a future post. For now, just knowing these people are out there gives one a glimmer of hope for our civilization.

But, back to the topic at hand. That feeling of sprinting through life charged with energy lasted well until after our first days in our host cities.

As we settle down into our briefly-lived quasi-routines to carve out the most we can from our time here, things start to happen. Thanks to the amazing work our City Hub hosts have done, almost all of us are placed in organizations that are a dream come true to learn from and collaborate with.

And with that, doors open to make a meaningful impact in the world; for your ideas to become real. You meet people in established businesses, startups, corporations, governments, who listen to you and thanks to the added weight of the YLAI Program, more readily open up with a mind to pitch in. We are here to plant the seeds for a better tomorrow.

Luis Martin del Campo, YLAI Fellow from Mexico
Luis Martin del Campo, YLAI Fellow from Mexico at sharing in with his fellow Fellows

Everyone´s path here is his own. While some are percolating their soon-to-be-launched ideas and shaping them into much better models with the guidance of their hosts, others are busy learning by doing, working on their host´s projects, and surely many like me are also finding instantly actionable business opportunities.

There´s way too much to tell on these short pages, stories for many a late night with friends or long dinner conversations. But there is no doubt these days are the kind that holds the promise of flipping your world forever for the better. The kind that leaves a permanent mark on the face of your life. It´s up to you to make that happen, though.
Carpe diem. Get things done!

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