Archive for the ‘Events’ Category
I had the great fortune to spend two days last week in the Bloggers Hub at the World Business Forum in Radio City Music Hall. Speakers of the ilk of Jack Welch, Al Gore, Joseph Stiglitz and James Cameron (yes, that James Cameron) held forth on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the coming years. Fascinating, engaging stuff, but the biggest surprise of the week was that the speaker who elicited the most profound reaction from the audience was a) not one of the headline names and b) didn’t really talk about business.
The mystery presenter was Nando Parrado, a successful businessman in his own right, but someone whose life was defined before he even joined the working world: Parrado was one of 16 survivors of a plane crash in the Andes in 1972. Just 22 years old at the time, he survived 72 days in the mountains without access to food or drinking water. His is one of the stories chronicled in the movie Alive.
Throughout his presentation, Parrado stressed that his experiences have left him in a unique position when it comes to facing challenges in life: he knows that no decision he makes will ever be as difficult—or have as much at stake—as the ones he was forced to make to save his own life. He makes the point with considerable clarity on his own website:
“Making decisions became easier because I knew that the worst thing that could happen would be that I would be wrong.”
Far from being a litany of the leadership or survival skills he learned along the way, the message at the core of Parrado’s presentation was much simpler, and infinitely more important. As he put it: “From the crash, I didn’t learn to be a MacGuyver of the Andes; I learned about love.”
He did so, in part, by losing both his mother and his sister in the same crash, and by having to come to terms with the fact that they were on the plane only because he had invited them to accompany him. And, having been lost in the mountains for so long, he also lived through the trauma of going home and finding that he had been given up for dead: his clothes had been given away and his sister had moved into his room.
All of which has left Parrado with a unique grasp of the importance of life, and the things that we should value. While he confessed to enjoying many of the finer things in life—from fine restaurants to expensive cars—he stressed repeatedly that nothing would stand in the way of his relationship with his family and those he loves. And that adds up to a profound, yet simple outlook on life:
“Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”
Parrado finished his presentation by coming back to tackle the theme of love directly, and to impart one of the few specific, actionable pieces of advice any of the speakers had to offer over the two days of the conference:
“Don’t lose your connections, kiss the ones around you . . .because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
If you’re looking for work as a lawyer, or hoping to transition into an alternative career, be sure to check out the resources available through your state and local bar associations. Most bar associations have a career portal on their websites, and many have established committees specifically to deal with the recession’s impact on the profession. For example:
- The American Bar Association has an Economic Recovery Resources web page with a plethora of information, from job search and networking advice and articles on practice management and career transitions, to tips on managing stress and student loan debt.
- The New York State Bar Association Committee on Lawyers in Transition, formed prior to the recession, now focuses on helping attorneys who have been laid off as a result of the economic downturn. Among other resources, the committee has a Lawyers in Transition blog and a series of webcasts on career strategies and development.
- The Los Angeles County Bar Association has a career site devoted to Career Transition Resources, including a Resource Guide for Unemployed Lawyers.
- The New York City Bar Association has a variety of resources for lawyers looking to start their career or to make a transition.
Some upcoming events:
- September 14 and 16, 2010, New York: The NYC Bar’s Center for CLE, the Committee on Career Advancement and Management, and the Committee on Law Student Perspectives are holding a Boot Camp: Basic Training for Lawyers, a two-day program “to provide recent law graduates and current law students with career planning information particularly relevant in today’s economy, as well as practical and substantive insights into the practice of law.” (Note: the program is free to students and alumni of sponsoring law schools).
- September 15, 2010, Massachusetts: The Lawyers in Transition Committee of the Massachusetts Bar Association is sponsoring a program by Stephen Seckler on “Revving Up Your Fall Job Search.“ Seckler is a law firm marketing coach whose services include a new program called SLC Jump Start SM — Making the Transition from Associate Who Does the Work to Partner Who Generates the Work.
–Posted by Vera Djordjevich, Vault’s Law Blog
On June 8th and 9th some of the world’s leading experts on innovation gathered at the Nokia Theater in New York City for the 2010 World Innovation Forum (Twitter hashtag #WIF10).
The list of speakers was impressive, and WIF10 blogger Stu Miniman wrote an excellent post summarizing the speakers and their backgrounds.
I also attended the conference (as a blogger) and wrote about my motivations for attending in an introductory blog post. My hope was to hear some of the latest trends and techniques for innovation at large corporations.
For those of you interested in pursuing a career in innovation, I’ve created the following list of advice, with links to the speakers included. Keep in mind that my definition of innovation is “innovation = idea + implementation”, with a strong emphasis on the implementation piece (how to build and deliver new ideas).
Here is a summary of the career advice presented at the conference:
- Innovation is not limited to engineers. Bringing great ideas to market can best happen when every person in the process becomes a designer. Whether your job is engineering, customer support, testing, or marketing, every stage of the process requires people using strong design skills. This advice was given by one of the top technology designers in the world: Robert Brunner.
- When it comes to finding innovative jobs, the place to go looking is for corporations that are producing green (or sustainable) products and services. Corporations are looking for individuals that can generate (and deliver) energy-saving and environmentally-friendly ideas. Joel Makower highlighted several such corporations in his talk, including Coke, Waste Management, and UPS.
- Ursula Burns of Xerox related that employees who know how to “dream with customers” are highly valued. The best source of ideas is often birthed through conversations with customers about their needs.
- The most valued employees of the current decade will be artisans, and the most successful companies of the current decade will be the businesses that allow their employees the freedom to innovate. Seth Godin encouraged employees to take risks in their job by morphing their work habits to be more artistic: give gifts, do work that matters, and make a difference.
- One of the more critical innovation skills for an employee is the ability to be a change agent. Chip Heath described the psychology of change and presented some steps for introducing change into an organization.
- One of the final pieces of advice for an employee was given by Andreas Weigend. Andreas claimed that the most successful businesses will be those companies that know how to leverage communities of people (and the data that they create). It is critical for employees to involve themselves in social media and social media data mining.
Health care and education were also discussed as critical areas needing continued innovation focus (excellent career opportunities). For more information on these areas, refer to Michael Howe’s discussion of the rise of MinuteClinic, and Wendy Kopp’s presentation on Teach for America.
Read more tech career advice from Steve his Vault blog: Innovate with Influence
Extra Insight: Check out Vault’s coverage from the World Innovation Forum
What themes do you expect to emerge when you gather a bunch of leading businesspeople and experts on innovation and organizational change, and have them present their thoughts in a two-day conference in New York City?
Bonus point if you guessed innovation as a theme, but only because I haven’t yet revealed the name of the conference: The World Innovation Forum. As such, presenters were long on how cultures of innovation can be fostered and nurtured within companies, and very specific in underlining the point that companies that fail to innovate today will fail to thrive in coming years.
Up until the second day of the conference, most of the talk around innovation concerned the how of the subject. If the why was mentioned at all, it was usually couched in terms of general benefit: it’s good for your company’s bottom line; it’s good for your career; it’ll help you keep up with—or stay ahead of—your competitors.
Towards the middle of the second and final day, however, the tone shifted markedly, with three consecutive speakers laying out one of the biggest challenges requiring innovation today, and making it strikingly clear what was at stake. The challenge: sustainability and corporate responsibility. Tackling it were green expert Joel Makower, Seventh Generation founder and CEO Jeffrey Hollender, and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns.
The middle speaker of the three, it was Makower who really summed up the position we’re at in terms of the progression the green concept has made in the corporate world. Companies are at the stage where green practices are creating value for them, he said, having passed through two prior phases: the phase of “first do no harm,” where companies simply sought to not cause problems; and the phase of “doing well by doing good,” where corporate responsibility was seen as something nice to attain, but more of a luxury than a means of generating revenue.
Despite speaking before Makower, Ursula Burns proved his key point by demonstrating that Xerox is creating value from green. Her definition of innovating towards a sustainable future is to “take something that’s needed […] and innovate it to use less than in the past.” While that may seem like a strange message from the leader of a company that essentially thrives on consumables—and particularly on usage of paper—Burns stressed that companies cannot afford to ignore what the marketplace is demanding. Accordingly, the company has developed a paper that erases itself so it can be reused, and has invested heavily in solid ink technology, which Xerox’s website claims produces 90 percent less waste than a typical color laser product.
Jeffrey Hollender’s presentation also centered on the idea of reducing waste—a concept that is at the heart of his company and his recent book, The Responsibility Revolution. Expressing his frustration at not being able to reduce Seventh Generation’s footprint more than he has—while better than many, he said the company “is not what I would call good”—he came back to the idea that culture sets the tone for what companies can achieve. Pointing to the recent travails of Goldman Sachs and BP, he suggested that those companies’ problems are at heart to do with culture: “sustainability and green is about company culture,” he said, with a crucial component of that culture being a willingness by executives to listen to their employees and consumers—something that he felt was likely lacking in the cultures at Goldman and BP.
All told, while each of the three speakers covered slightly different ground, the common message in what they had to say suggests that the future of business could be one in which the most successful companies are the ones that manage to create products that fulfil the needs of a changing, more eco-conscious marketplace.
Or, as Hollender suggested “we won’t have businesses that begin to meet the challenges of the society that we live in” until sustainability and CSR is embedded at the heart of corporate strategy, and drives all of the decision making.
As I write, we’re two minutes away from the start of day two of the World Innovation forum here at New York’s Nokia Theater. We’ll be live-blogging and tweeting throughout the day, so stay tuned here, on @Vaultcareers and @Vaultpinkslip. You can also follow all the tweets from the event by checking out the #WIF10 hashtag.
The full line-up for the day is as follows. Click the links to read more about each of the presenters and their subject matter.
9 – 10:30am SETH GODIN & MARKETING INNOVATION
11am – 11:30am BRIAN SHAWN COHEN & NEXT WAVE OF TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION
11:30am – 12:30pm WENDY KOPP & REALIZING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL
2 – 2:45pm URSULA BURNS & A CONVERSATION WITH THE CEO OF XEROX
2:45 – 3:30pm JOEL MAKOWER & STRATEGIES FOR THE GREEN ECONOMY
3:30 – 4pm JEFFREY HOLLENDER & BUILDING A BETTER WORLD
4:30 – 5:30pm ROBERT BRUNNER & INNOVATION & DESIGN