Seattle Seahawks legend, NASA astronaut, ‘Love is Blind’ star share wisdom at the GeekWire Awards
Bobby Wagner, the Seattle Seahawks linebacker and venture partner at Seattle-area venture capital firm Fuse, speaks on stage at the GeekWire Awards on Thursday. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Teamwork. Culture. Empowerment.
Those were prevailing themes at the 2023 GeekWire Awards Thursday evening in Seattle, where we celebrated the Pacific Northwest tech community and heard from a bevy of speakers who shared their wisdom on stage.
NASA astronaut Kayla Barron is pictured inside the U.S. Quest airlock suited up and preparing for a six-hour and 54-minute spacewalk to set up the International Space Station for its next roll-out solar array. (NASA Photo)
Ambitious startups often invite people to hop on their metaphorical rocketships, pitching the opportunity to join a company on its rapid ascent.
Kayla Barron’s job might actually send her to the moon.
The NASA astronaut who grew up in Washington state spent nearly 180 days in space as part of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission that launched in November 2021. Named to the astronaut corps in 2017, Barron was one of two Washington state women selected in 2020 to be part of the “Artemis Team,” NASA’s moon mission program.
Barron appeared at the GeekWire Awards through a pre-recorded video, providing advice and inspiration to the entrepreneurs and researchers at the event.
“I’ve learned that when you send people to live, work, and accomplish a mission in a place where human beings really aren’t meant to be — whether that’s the depths of the ocean or vacuum of space — teamwork is essential,” said Barron, who began her career as a U.S. Navy submarine warfare officer. “The same is true on the frontiers of technology that you’re pioneering. Tackling these problems is a team sport, and I hope that your time together allows you to forge new connections, and facilitates fruitful innovation.”
Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Bobby Wagner knows what success looks like.
The All-Pro linebacker was part of the Seattle Seahawks team that brought the Emerald City its first Super Bowl in 2014. After leaving to play a season with the Los Angeles Rams, he recently signed a one-year deal to reunite with the Seahawks.
Appearing on stage at the GeekWire Awards, Wagner said he was excited to be back in Seattle. He’s also plugged into the local tech community as a venture partner with Seattle-area VC firm Fuse.
“Never overlook the power of good people and culture,” Wagner said, adding that both can take a business way further than any technology. “Invest in good people.”
Kwame Appiah starred on the hit Netflix show “Love is Blind,” where he met and married his wife, Chelsea. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Kwame Appiah did his fair share of deal-making as a cast member on the hit Netflix show “Love is Blind,” which hosted its most recent season in Seattle.
Appiah met a match, meeting and marrying his wife Chelsea Griffin Appiah. He appeared on stage at the GeekWire Awards just prior to the announcement for the “Deal of the Year” category winner, which recognizes acquisitions, IPOs and financing rounds.
“The most important thing for sealing a deal: make sure you feel good about your relationship and how it makes you feel when you’re in it,” he said. “If we can come to the table, shake hands, and transition that relationship of friendship right into business, then you know things are going in the right direction.”
Appiah, a former business development leader at Washington state tech companies ZoomInfo and Common Room, was asked about his biggest learning from being on “Love is Blind.”
“If you can go out and confidently speak your mind and do it with your whole heart, I think you’ll end up a winner,” he said.