I’m shocked at how fortunate I am…. I have a great family, an amazing place to live, a wife who loves me (almost as much as her cat) and a wonderful job. Over the course of my career I’ve had the opportunity to sit in the suites at Arrowhead, hang out in the pits at the NASCAR track, enjoy the view from the Crown Seats at Kauffman Stadium and even enjoy one of 9 sold out Garth Brooks shows at the Sprint Center.
Tonight it was all topped by having the opportunity to grab a highly sought after ticket to the TEDx Kansas City Event at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center (a CRAZY AWESOME venue…but I don’t have time to get into that right now). How sought after? There were about 1,300 seats available for this event and over 30K requests for tickets…..on the first day they were available.
All that hype was definitely for good reason. There were a total of 8 speakers and many of them made an impression on me tonight:
- Samuel Arbesman discussed the “Half-Life of Facts” noting multiple examples of how quickly facts change…things we once took as truth (i.e. the world is flat) are disproven over time (it’s round) and eventually refined (well…it’s not actually round, it’s an oblate spheroid). The message….we need to be flexible with what we “know” to be a fact today because things are going to change and we should embrace that (red wine is still healthy for you right?)
- KC’s own John Jantsch talked about making work worth it. In his interactions with entrepreneurs, he finds about 50% are completely fulfilled, the other half feeling like they’re still not satisfied. The big difference? Whether or not they are a part of something bigger and making a difference in the world. He animated the point through the company Jancoa, a janitorial service that is more of a launching platform for the dreams of the people they employ (because they found out that people don’t dream of janitorial labor).
- John Gerzema gave a summary of his global study on leadership where he characterized leadership traits into feminine and masculine categories. From there he asked a similar sample which traits were more desirable and concluded that the feminine traits are the “Operating System” for 21st century leaders. His SlideShare on “The Athena Doctrine” is worth a look and it sounds like a book is in the works.
- Janine Shepherd gave a chilling recap of a tragic accident that left her paralyzed as she was training for the Olympics. She was headed to represent her country when she was literally run over by a utility truck that hit her on her bicycle. This accident was an opportunity to start over and found a new passion for flying, going from eager student wearing a body cast to flight instructor in 18 months.
But for me…the final speaker of the evening, Max Strom really struck a chord. Max spent time talking about the tech explosion that we live in, yet overall happiness has been on an inverse trajectory. He identified that 90% of human communication relies on non-verbal cues (facial expression, emotion, etc…), yet we communicate more and more with technologies that only allow us to utilize the other 10% (the words). I talked about this in a former post about the shift from synchronous to asynchronous communication and identified some of the same challenges we face.
The whole thing really hit home for me as he pleaded with the audience to be sensitive to the kind of technologies we adopt. Are you simply adopting technologies to consume more content or are you bringing technology into your life that gives you more time back to do the things that matter? As I looked at my life, I have some questions about that…. My XBOX, the iPad, our DVR….. Technology isn’t inherently bad, but it does have the ability to consume our lives (how much TV did you watch tonight?)
Before closing, he brought 3 imperatives up that I think are worth sharing:
- Self awareness – define happiness in your life, what really makes you get up in the morning
- Think about your lifespan and the time you spend with technology – demand your technology give you more free time, not eat up more of it
- Learn and practice a regime that heals & empowers you – meditation, working out, bike rides…..and he was all about breathing exercises to help reduce stress
It was refreshing to spend 3 hours of my Tuesday night listening to these incredibly intelligent people and feverishly jot down notes for my own use. I know these short descriptions don’t do the seminar justice so PLEASE click on some of the links in my post here and spend some time with anything that may interest you or shoot me a line in the comments below!
P.S. It’s also worth noting that TEDxKC had booked some PHENOMENAL performances by some very talented musicians. There was Earth Harp (a crazy string instrument that filled the music hall), Dave Eggar (a WICKED cellist that could play it with a bow, stand up or just pick it like a guitar), and Amber Rubarth (a soulful singer with a bit of a twang to her stellar voice), all amazing in their own realm.