The first of two days at the Business Innovation Factory 4 has come to a close, and the conversation was nothing short of a whirlwind of inspiring provocations. From Saul Kaplan's energizing welcome to Jacqueline Novogratz' social entrepreneurship stories from the field, the common theme seemed to be coming together to enable change and make life better through business and design. Here are a few key sound bytes from throughout the day, followed by some other glad-I-didn't-miss-them highlights. And stay tuned for the Day 2 recap tomorrow!
"There's nothing more important than being a catalyst." -- Saul Kaplan
"It's not what you make, it's how you make people feel." -- Marc Ecko
"Our charity is the most flexible capital we have to leverage more capital and create change." -- Jacqueline Novogratz
"Am I elderly?!" -- Richard Saul Wurman, 73, in response to Bruce Nussbaum slyly referring to him as an "old fart."
"I want to leave a beautiful, safe, sustainable world to my children." --Lewis Gordon Pugh
More highlights (though this list could go on for days!):
Saul Kaplan opened the morning session with a call to action, declaring: "Innovators, you are the answer to our current economic problem. You are the offensive line." He also called for constant experimentation and R&D in all sectors of business, reminding us that there is always a better way to do things, and we must never stop inventing.
Marc Ecko, one part bad boy one part savvy brand-maker and force to be reckoned with, told the story of his rhino logo, which dates back to his childhood playtime in which his father's wooden rhino figurines faced off against his best friend's Star Wars action figures. He expanded the Star Wars connection to mention his own George Lucas figure, and recent partnership with Lucas to license and sell Star Wars clothing (he announced this while removing a Storm Trooper-themed hoodie from a shopping bag). Lastly, he spoke of the poetry and power of objects, and his educational Sweat Equity Enterprise nonprofit.
The day continued with a sneak peak of Alexander Tsiarias' visually stunning TheVisualMD website, a 3-dimensional tour of the cardiovascular system and internal human body that combines art, technology, and poetic storytelling skills.
A conversation with Acumen Fund founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz was the first of many casual dialogs with Bruce Nussbaum, Contributing Editor of Business Week and newly-appointed leader at the New School/Parsons. The two discussed new models for philanthropy, rooted in social enterprises and smart, human capital-based investments. Bruce wondered if perhaps "social business" was immune to the current economic crisis? Jacqueline told personal stories of the Acumen Fund's current projects (35 million dollars invested in 35 enterprises worldwide, creating 24,000 jobs and counting). The last two words of their conversation were "real hope," with an emphasis on REAL.
Richard Saul Wurman, TED creator, information design veteran and conference "grandfather," spoke to Bruce about his new project, 19.20.21, an interactive experience through which to understand cities comparatively and graphically. "I can't understand the cities of the world. If you want to compare Shanghai to Sao Paolo, there's no way to do that. Maybe you don't want to do that, but I want to. I don't want to change them, necessarily, I just want to understand," he said.
The day closed out with provocations and stories of personal innovation from Joseph Coughlin, director of AgeLab at MIT, Deb Roy, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, and Lewis Gordon Pugh, environmentalist, explorer, swimmer, and self-proclaimed "human polar bear. Pugh is something of a modern superhero: his tales of polar swimming adventures and environmental activism embody the kind of individual action within a collective imperative that has the potential to change the world. If he can swim a kilometer in the North Pole's 29 degree waters as a worldwide call to action to fight global warming, we can all do our parts, too.
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