October 04, 2011
Idea Festival 2011 Recap: From Robots, Art & Science to Education, Politics & Innovation
The Idea Festival is an annual event held in Louisville Kentucky every year. Founded by Kris Kimel, his vision is centered around the following belief: "with innovative ideas we create the future."
I've been meaning to attend for several years and finally made my way down to Louisville this past September for three days of inspiration and electric energy across the areas of science, politics, healthcare, education, music, design, technology and the arts.
Unfortunately, most of us have little opportunity to get out of our daily worlds (and ways of thinking) to learn about, discuss and explore how to integrate diverse and important ideas and innovations. This event's goal is provide a unique “space” for the convergence of great ideas from leading thinkers across the nation and around the globe.
To give you an idea of the diversity of the event, imagine listening to an Army combat veteran Wes Moore talk about his book about a child with the same name who was convicted for felony murder (my write-up here) and Cesar Millan, the world's foremost canine rehabilitation specialist and then Aubrey de Grey about rejuvenation science and aging (my write-up here), and Maz Jobrani on what its like to be a Middle-Eastern American in the 21st century, all within one morning?
Or, hear physicist and author Leonard Mlodinow explore the extraordinary extent to which randomness, chance and probability influence and shape our work and everyday lives? And while your head is full, energetic violinist Lindsey Stirling comes out on stage and has you tapping your foot and smiling ear-to-ear. (write-up on Linsey here).
Inside the Ideas Festival, there were other sub-events, such as the Kentucky Film Educator's Summit, which was free and open to the public. Kentucky's foremost film educators gathered for a unique symposium to discuss the rise of cinema studies and filmmaking programs across academe, their evolutionary future and what it takes for such programs to take root, thrive and remain relevant.
And if science and film isn't your thing, how about a discussion about the science of kissing, which Sheril Kirshenbaum led on the first morning. Azure Antoinette read poetry, Ruby Lerner from Creative Capital brought in a number of genre-bending artists to show off their latest on stage (and at evening receptions), and leading geo-strategist and author Parag Khanna led a discussion around the rapidly shifting political, energy and economic landscape. (my write-up of his talk here).
Installation artist Shih Chieh Huang wowed attendees with his innovative creativity (my write up here).
Patrick Renvoise taught us how neuromarketing can be used to sell more effectively (write-up in depth can be found here), and the Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata took us on a wild journey of jazz, funk, rock and soul and what The Sound of Music sounds like with a layer of a little of all of it on top of each of its classically renowned songs. (my write-up of the experience can be found here).
Aneesh Chopra even showed up from the White House to talk about Obama's latest agenda (my extensive write-up here) as did the local mayor Greg Fischer. We headed to the Churchill Downs for taste after taste from the top chefs in Louisville. (I wrote about it extensively here). My write up of Suketu Bhavsar's talk here.
Other more extensive write-ups include how Elizabeth Scharpf is transforming women's lives in Africa one banana leaf at a time, John Moore on the engaged patient and the future of medicine, Georgia Tech's Rosa Arriaga on the Power of Human Censors, and Cory Kidd with his dieting & weight-loss robot Autom. Gambling addict Tim Donaghy talked about the power of addiction and learning from his mistakes. (and how this can be applied to other aspects of our lives outside addictions).
During my Louisville journey, I discovered local artist and glass blower Stephen Rolfe Powell, whose work is nothing short of awe-inspiring. While I was there, I also did a handful of food reviews, so be sure to check out the Kentucky and food/wine categories on We Blog the World for local restaurant and cafe write-ups.
Brown Hotel French chef Laurent Geroli brought a group of about ten bloggers/writers into his kitchen and prepared a 4 course meal in front of our eyes talking us through each dish (Kentucky bourbon was on the table too of course) - check out the food/wine categories as there's an extensive write-up of our experience including 3 videos (also on our YouTube channel). Below is a shot of all of us at the end of the meal. (they gave us very cool personalized chef jackets as well). My write-up of the Brown Hotel restaurant experience can be found here.
Also, my write-ups of Mayan Cafe and Harvest Restaurants can be found here. Below is the infamous pork entree at Mayan Cafe. (definitely order if you are going:)
Idea Festival Labs showcased a number of topics including the Cultural Landscape in and around Louisville (including Ohio River corridor and Yew Dell to name a few), Reimaging the University, Perfecting Our Entrepreneurial Imagination, and Changing the Way Louisville Eats (and the impact of the change on overall health, environment and economy).
ARZU founder Connie Duckworth also discussed her journey from Wall Street to the dirt roads of Afghanistan.
Below is a video clip of an interview I did with founder Kris Kimel on the last day. Listen to the inspiration behind Idea Festival in his words. As for me? I couldn't stop thinking, creating and being inspired for four days and the sheer volume of my blog posts is one indicator of the extent of that inspiration. Meet Idea Festival's founder:
October 03, 2011
Wanna Shed a Few Extra Pounds? Meet Autom, the Dieting Robot & Weight-Loss Coach!
I met Cory Kidd in Kentucky recently at the annual Idea Festival, who flew south from New England to show off Autom, a robot designed to help people with their diets. It is up to the user to enter in the details of their diet, such has their fitness level and then Autom uses its databank to interact with the user, engage in conversation and give you feedback.
Along with keeping a record of what you have been eating throughout the day, Autom inspires you to look good and remain in shape. She comes complete with an artificial female voice for commands and has a touchscreen belly for all kinds of input. Describes one site: "it is harmless, and like a human it won't rebuke you for eating one extra dessert but would surely keep account of the same." The selling price being estimated is around $600 or $500.
Think of it as a weight-loss coach, but a robotic one, one who knows how much you've been exercising, and a whole lot about your diet. With a touch of your finger, she knows if you're in a good mood or not as well. Below is a video I shot of Cory explaining how she works:
September 28, 2011
Installation Artist Shih Chieh Huang Transforms You With Luminosity Exhibit
I met installation artist Shih Chieh Huang in Louisville on the steps of the Kentucky Performing Arts Center earlier this month, who transforms spaces with everyday objects. In this case, they were setting up an almost sheer white hollow tube that floated in and around the steps of the center.
His most recent project “EX-I-09″ currently on show at the Beall Center for Art + Technology focuses on exploring the unusual evolutionary adaptations undertaken by creatures that reside in inhospitable conditions.
Huang creates analogous ecosystems made from common, everyday objects. He says, "I source my wholly synthetic materials from the mundane objects that comprise our modern existence: household appliances, zip ties, water tubes, lights, computer parts, motorized toys and the like. The objects are dissected and disassembled as needed and reconstructed into experimental primitive organisms that reside on the fringes of evolutionary transformation: computer cooling fans are repurposed for locomotion. Tupperware serves as a skeletal framework; guitar tuner rewired to detect sound; and automatic night lights become a sensory input.”
If that's not using creativity in a transformative way, I don't know what is...no surprise that artwithoutwalls embraced his work, a non-profit, non-collecting art organization that presents ambitious, unconventional projects in a wide range of media and locations with the goal of bringing "new art" to "new audiences."
Thanks to an intro by artwithoutwalls Director Alice Gray Stites and a fabulous woman I've known for awhile, Ruby Lerner, President of Creative Capital, I not only learned about his work, but was fortunate to attend an opening of his latest at Land of Tomorrow Gallery in Louisville Kentucky. All of this was done in and around the annual Idea Festival, where Huang also presented on stage with other Creative Capital artists.
Co-organized by LOT and Artwithoutwalls, in collaboration with the University of Kentucky's Department of Art, Luminosity (name of the exhibit) features Huang's signature choreographed, kinetic works, as well as videos documenting his practice and sources, particularly his study of bioluminescent organisms.
The space is dark as you walk in, but his brightly lit objects filled with a brilliant spectrum of colors fade in and out in concert with the buzz of electronics. Imagine a purple and pink tinted ocean that you're swimming through with an array of objects buzzing about you (in this case, hanging from the ceiling), that change colors and make noises, all made from everyday objects found in convenience stores and controlled by electronic circuitry which Huang assembles.
His work hasn't gone unnoticed around the globe. Huang's work has exhibited at museums and galleries worldwide, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei; the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai; the University of California-San Diego Price Center; the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid and Burgos, Spain; and the New Museum and Queens Museum in New York.
Below is a video so you can get a better idea of the experience the artist wants you to have.
September 16, 2011
DEMOfall 2011: From Online Death & Fashion Augmented Reality to Music Robots & Reid Hoffman
DEMOfall kicked off this week simultaneously with a bunch of other industry events in Silicon Valley. A host of 80 companies presented on-stage and held court in the pavillion at the Santa Clara Hyatt.
They also did one-on-one fireside-like chats with a host of industry illuminaries, including LinkedIn and Greylock's Reid Hoffman (left) and Intuit's Chairman of the Board Bill Campbell (interviewed by Brad Stone from Bloomberg's BusinessWeek).
Brad Stone asked Bill what he learned from Steve Jobs. The very first thing Bill came back with, without hestitation was product....having a great product.
He spoke with a sentimental voice as he talked about Steve Jobs and his legacy he has left the industry with so far, obviously referring to his recent step-down. Bill also talked about the importance of product management and having a great team in place. "The real role of the product manager is getting the product design right," he says. "Simplicity is key. Keep the UI simple...." He paused. "That's what I learned from Steve Jobs."
Cloud was covered on more than one occasion, starting with a panel discussion on how mid and large-sized companies are adapting to the cloud. Matt Marshall interviewed Cisco's VP Sheila Jordan and John Petrone, CTO and Senior VP of Autobytel.
Below is Geoffrey Moore, Managing Director, TCG Advisors/Venture Partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures.
Another cloud technology discussion happened with Accel Partner's Chuck Ganapathi, Jive Software's David Gutelius, Microsoft's Dan'l Lewin and The Founder's Institute's Adeo Ressi. Enterprise technology sages Larry Augustin from SugarSRM, Tom Gillis from Cisco and Paul Santinelli from North Bridge Venture Partners were interviewed by IDG Enterprise Senior VP John Gallant.
"When you go enterprise, go BIG if you're doing a start-up," says Tom Gillis. "Think of virtualization of the data center and video, which are going to be big and disruptive." While there was an emphasis on encouraging start-up founders to focus, Larry Augustin added a potential danger in getting too focused.
"Don't let focus focus focus restrict you and narrow you into small company mentality and thinking," says Larry. All agreed that while consumer start-ups have to think about the social and user experience and getting user adoption, focusing on the customer is what is most key for enterprise companies.
Think of it as an enterprise platform which automates the discovery of expert coworkers based on expertise, experience, connections and responsiveness. Whodini delivers the right person, right away. It's a cool concept and received a positive response from the audience and panelists.
Also high on the list was Fluxx from Fluxxlabs, who someone said of its capabitilies: I like the information processing part of it, but it really needs to include my inbox."
OLogic, Inc. brought their new robot onto the DEMOfall stage. (there always seems to be at least one robot at DEMO each year). A.M.P. is what they call him, an Automated Music Personality, which they call the world's first two-wheeled, self-balancing smartphone accessory. (wow, that's a mouthful, no? Call it a robot which delivers great music - it's a helluva lot simpler).
The other cool thing is that this self balancing “robotic” music player can be operated using a Smartphone (only android for now). The price point they say is about $400 or potentially less. (reasonable for a product in this category).
MashOn, Inc. announced Dabble which they refer to as the "Cure for the common shop." CRIKEY, this is their explanation of Dabble.
"Dabble is an HTML5 patent-pending embeddable web application that provides a comprehensive product personalization and customization platform and “on-demand” manufacturing solution for shop owners operating on the leading eCommerce platforms. Dabble’s Cart Adaptor technology, Fulfillment Adaptor, Product Customization Tool, and Self-Service Administration Dashboard work together to provide “The Cure for the Common Shop.” WHOAHH Nelly. Are you kidding? Simplify baby, didn't you hear Bill Campbell's message?
Then, there was one of my favorite apps which of course threw me (and everyone around me) when they first walked on stage. I-Memorial.com has a place where you can leave your legacy after you die on i-Tomb.net. Imagine a place where you can set up your messages, videos, photos for people to see after you die. He walks on stage and says to the DEMO audience, "we are here to transform death." Half the room laughs, while some are likely uncomfortable. Is this for real we're all thinking. Yup, and after I listened to their pitch in detail, I began to think, "what a great idea." From the traditional grave to the virtual tomb, they are allowing every person to build their own immortality: the resting place of the deceased. i-Tomb is a collection of videos, text and photos of the deceased, in other words, life after life. You can leave virtual flowers, a candle for someone or share your feelings about your son or daughter on video that they can listen to after you pass away. You can also leave your "death wishes" in a particular section on the site such as how you want to die, flowers and music you want at your funeral and so on. They are launching in 14 languages and targeting people aged 40 years and older. The other demo I liked is Schedulicity, which is an online appointment scheduling app, aimed at helping small businesses save hours a day and increase profitability by eliminating the hassles of scheduling with pen and paper. By offering online service scheduling 24 hours a day through multiple digital channels, businesses are able to easily and effectively attract new business, increase the frequency with which their current clients book appointments, decrease cancellations and concentrate on providing the best possible service during their business hours. They have also integrated with Facebook, so small businesses can receive bookings through their Facebook page using Schedulicity’s scheduling widget. trueRSVP did an alpha pitch, demonstrating how frustrating the RSVP process is today by using a woman in a wedding address whose husband-to-be didn't show up at the altar. It is the first RSVP system that’s flake-proof. By providing five RSVP options and multi-faceted algorithm factors in attendees’ reliability, event planners can now get a more accurate estimate of how many people will actually show up. Create virtual outlooks, mix-and-matching items from different brands and collections from all over the world. Try it on and share this experience with your friends and stylists to get advice. Below, see an example with Topshop. Below is a video of the panel on consumer technology sages: SofTech's Jeff Clavier, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Ellen Pao and Aileen Lee, Menlo Ventures' Shervin Pishevar and Nextdoor.com's Nirav Tolia. Below is a group shot of the DEMOfall "demo god" winners on stage on the last day. Here's a link to the DEMO flickr set so you can go on a visual journey of this year's fall event. Photo credits: Stephen Brashear
September 16, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Mobile & Wireless, On Search, On Social CRM, On Technology, Social Media, Videos, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink
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AND, since I'm a bit of a fashionista, here's a call out to Fitting Reality. Female Russian CEO - Inga Nakhmanson, did a great job explaining the simplicity of the service on stage. Using VIPodium, which is based on Augmented Reality technology, you can virtually try on clothes either at home or in the store.
Other things about the event and their company "gives." Demo offers full scholarships to 20 companies who are "bootstrapping it" and have raised $500,000 in funding or less. Within the 20, there are several specific charters that are supported by the following sponsors:
September 10, 2011
Imagine a place where you can set up your messages, videos, photos for people to see after you die. He walks on stage and says to the DEMO audience, "we are here to transform death." Half the room laughs, while some are likely uncomfortable. Is this for real we're all thinking. Yup, and after I listened to their pitch in detail, I began to think, "what a great idea."
From the traditional grave to the virtual tomb, they are allowing every person to build their own immortality: the resting place of the deceased. i-Tomb is a collection of videos, text and photos of the deceased, in other words, life after life.
You can leave virtual flowers, a candle for someone or share your feelings about your son or daughter on video that they can listen to after you pass away. You can also leave your "death wishes" in a particular section on the site such as how you want to die, flowers and music you want at your funeral and so on. They are launching in 14 languages and targeting people aged 40 years and older.
The other demo I liked is Schedulicity, which is an online appointment scheduling app, aimed at helping small businesses save hours a day and increase profitability by eliminating the hassles of scheduling with pen and paper.
By offering online service scheduling 24 hours a day through multiple digital channels, businesses are able to easily and effectively attract new business, increase the frequency with which their current clients book appointments, decrease cancellations and concentrate on providing the best possible service during their business hours.
They have also integrated with Facebook, so small businesses can receive bookings through their Facebook page using Schedulicity’s scheduling widget.
trueRSVP did an alpha pitch, demonstrating how frustrating the RSVP process is today by using a woman in a wedding address whose husband-to-be didn't show up at the altar. It is the first RSVP system that’s flake-proof. By providing five RSVP options and multi-faceted algorithm factors in attendees’ reliability, event planners can now get a more accurate estimate of how many people will actually show up.
Create virtual outlooks, mix-and-matching items from different brands and collections from all over the world. Try it on and share this experience with your friends and stylists to get advice. Below, see an example with Topshop.
Below is a video of the panel on consumer technology sages: SofTech's Jeff Clavier, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Ellen Pao and Aileen Lee, Menlo Ventures' Shervin Pishevar and Nextdoor.com's Nirav Tolia.
Below is a group shot of the DEMOfall "demo god" winners on stage on the last day.
Here's a link to the DEMO flickr set so you can go on a visual journey of this year's fall event.
Photo credits: Stephen Brashear
September 16, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Mobile & Wireless, On Search, On Social CRM, On Technology, Social Media, Videos, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Fostering Media Connections for Foster Children Globally
The Foster care system globally is getting a helping hand from Ryan Blankshire who talks about her project here with colleague Eytan Altman. Ryan's goal is to give the Foster Care system and issues, much more coverage than they currently have.
September 07, 2011
SOCAP 2011 Co-Founder Kevin Jones Zooms in on Razer Scooter
Co-Founder of SOCAP, Kevin Jones who tries out a Razor (mine!) for the first time, kicks off the annual event.
August 22, 2011
The Music Doesn't STOP in Budapest!
I feel as if I'm about ten, have just come back from music camp and my life is full of endless possibilities. It's as if I fell upon a candy fountain oozing with different vibes and rhythms from around the world, and they're firing out rainbows of melodies, each one asking me to be part of its creation.
This isn't a mash-up and I'm not even online. All day, I wandered the streets of Budapest getting fed, not with food, but with song. The soul is so full after a day of song that it forgets about food, even with plenty of it around.
With Vienna only a couple of hours away, I felt as if I could have been within its walls, the music permeatration was so intense. Yet, it's not Vienna, but -- some would say -- its less cultured cousin, Budapest, split by the Danube River so that Budapest doesn't even call its city its own entirely - one side gets Buda and the other gets Pest.
My first and only memory of the place was in the mid-eighties and music was first and foremost in my mind, even in an era when East Europe was mostly gray and full of restrictions. I was very young and had not yet been exposed to composition -- REAL composition that is, despite the fact that both art and music teachers had tried. We were in some traditional old world restaurant eating goose & duck and drinking Cabernet before I knew you could have orgasms on the stuff. Around us swam violin players who played throughout the entire meal, one which lasted six hours long and ended with a $25 bill including several deep, luscious reds.
I remembered the violin because both players were so damn good. Every form of expression, whether it be on the keyboard, or on a blank white canvas, happens for me at a visceral level. Back then however, I wouldn't have known a great violin player from a good one and yet, I was stopped in my tracks.
The musicians forced me to stop eating and pay attention. They forced me to understand composition. They forced me to cry at their nearly perfect musical offering. They forced me to hear their texture, whether I was in the mood or ready to understand it or not.
Exceptional talent forces great things on you when you're ready to listen, which I almost always have been, other shortcomings aside.
Exceptional talent stops you in your tracks and then somehow, you're fundamentally changed because you listened and because you heard what they had to say.
Budapest spoke to me all day, starting with folk music at the top of the hill in some enclave within Buda Castle. It was "okay" (better than average), most definitely 'local' but more than anything else, the musicians were committed. God, I love that word. (it's probably because I live on the west coast of America now where I feel as if I'm swimming among the least committed people I've ever settled down with and that's after spending time "settling" in 11 countries).
After the "okay but very committed" folk music performance, I fell upon traditional music which included the top Hungarian dancers from around the world, each one doing a chosen number within a three hour period. All of them were, yes...you got it, committed.
Each in their native custume attire, they flew out on stage ready to perform, none of them fearful or worried about people shooting them with a still or video camera, none of them caring where their "performance -- their committed performance" would show up.
In the states, where the Internet and social media reign, its amazing how much performers care about the potential publicity a 2 minute clip would lose in revenue despite how much publicity and connection it would generate. Then there's their publicists, agents, handlers and middle men.
The Hungarian performers said "bring it on," as their committed selves showed up and played 200% in front of the camera and when the light was no longer green. I get that Hungarian culture doesn't embrace entrepreneurship and so you could argue that their lack of loving green paper has kept them behind socially and economically.
Having an entrepeneur spirit myself, there's no question when I saw a tent loaded with interesting pottery created by the Secondary Technical-Vocational School of Folk Arts and Secondary Academic Grammar School, that I was annoyed that the art was not for sale when every other tent was collecting money for their 'creations.' Let them sell I, I thought. "Teach them entrepreneurship. Profits from their pottery could go towards a future dream," I said to the late thirty-something very blue-eyed woman who struggled with my response. (Below, their beautiful masterpieces)
I knew she understood some of what I said but also knew that my plea was one that would be noted but not transferred into something actionable in the next 60 days, and so I made my pitch, told her the work was stunning and moved on.
From folk to traditional to guitar (one called the ZITHER, which had me mezmorized in the same way that the Indonesian gamelan does does), to world music and Mbaye Ndiaye & the Afro Magic Band, which has its roots from Senegal but did a nice job blending African, reggae, jazz and global fusion together.
Within the hour, I was up on stage dancing with their lead drummer (solo btw) and shortly thereafter dancing with Gabor stage right, a blue-eyed Russian, who while may have been adorable, had so much alcohol on his breath that I had to politely decline after our first attempt at a cha cha to a slow-ish African jazz number.
The performers went out of their way to bring the children on stage and coach them on not just how to dance, but how to move by feeling their way to the rhythm simply by listening. It was fascinating and I loved every minute of it.
I was sorry to see Mbaye Ndiaye pack up...their energy and spirit only made me crave more of it. And so, I meandered over to another area of the massive hill which houses the castle only to discover more folk dancing and guitar, soon to be followed by traditional Gypsy (also spelled Gipsy) music which carried on for another 3 hours.
While it may be hard to dance on uneven cobblestone ground that is well over 500 years old, it was even harder not to try. I ran into a Scientologist who looked like Joseph (yes, Jesus' Joseph) who was selling corn on the cob while simultaneously trying to convert me in VERY broken English, all while tapping his foot to the Gypsy band.
I had already gleefully become ten again and full before I left the castle, when I suddenly fell upon more live music. I was on a search for one of the old world bars, bistros, cafes or restaurants recommended by my host, friends and a bunch of online pals who sent me great suggestions via Twitter and Facebook.
I had crossed the chain bridge, hung a right looking for the decadent chocolate stand on the street (she must only set up on Friday and Saturday nights I quietly cursed), knowing that I had been thinking about that dark chocolate pistachio and cranberry creation for half the day. I asked for directions from a local cafe to two different locations and was told it was a 25 minute walk.
The backpack was heavy with camera lenses and a fabulous set of hand-painted coasters I picked up with a local artist along the way, yet I was in it for the haul, so re-adjusted my bag and foot bandaids (necessary for any Europe trip where you're wearing sandals and plan to do a lot of walking) and began my journey towards my Hungarian bistro on the other side of town.
And then I heard it. Clapping. Voices. Cello. Violin. The violin...ahhh, it purred. This was no ordinary violinist, something I could tell from four blocks away. I was told to scout down Lakatos and hear him play if he was in town for a performance but little did I know that I'd get a surprise I hadn't anticipated: Zoltan Maga accompanied by the Vac Symphony Orchestra, playing outside the Szent Istvan Bazilika, a church named for Saint Stephen I, the first King of Hungary.
Imagine the scene: a gorgeous, ancient white-stoned church named after a Hungarian King on a warm summer night.
The moon was out, glistening over hundreds of people sitting outside, sprawled on chairs and the ground while an orchestra of cellos, violins, tubas, saxophones and clarinets played. Zoltan Maga's passion was addictive as his talent for the violin led the way, together with the conductor and nothing -- I mean nothing -- could have distracted you from the two hours of musical joy.
What I failed to remember is the influence of Austrian music greats at the time when Hungary used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Because of that, people appreciate classical music and embrace it. The country combines composers (Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn) coming from Austria/Germany with strong Hungarian folk and gypsy blends.
AND, Hungary has its own greats, the most famous being Liszt, followed by Bartok, two of the all-time greats. Kodaly is probably next followed by Kurtag and Ligeti, who are two of the most prominent classical composers from the last 60 years -- both Hungarian.
To top it off, they have an amazing number of top-rank conductors: Ormandy, Szell, Dorati, Solti, Reiner, Kertesz, and Fischer. And then there's their pianists: Kocsis, Schiff, Fricsay.
Crikey, it's no wonder I felt like ten, that the world has endless possibilities and that incredible talent was following me around the city all day -- and night.
Thanks Budapest for the incredible memories and the musical talent, all of which was infused with so much passion and commitment that it made me dream of practicing piano again and the idea of searching for a saxophone teacher as soon I got home.
Below, Zoltan Krulik and the Makam Band!
June 30, 2011
Xerox's Ursula Burns and Forrester's George Colony on Innovation & Leadership
For those who are unfamiliar with the name Ursula Burns, she's a woman with a fascinating story. She started as a mechanical engineering intern in 1980 with Xerox Corporation and nearly 30 years later after leading several business teams, and acting as senior VP and President, is now Xerox's Chairman and CEO.
Sure, she is the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company and also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company (another remarkable story), but "who" she is and her very direct personality, candor and warmth as a CEO is what makes her so special, not this historical fact alone.
In many ways, she is not the "traditional CEO stereotype" or personality if there is such a thing. What comes through in watching her on-stage, from afar, from her profiles in the media and from meeting her in person, is her authenticity, her passion, her human way of approaching complex problems and her acute insights into what to do when things go south.
In a fireside chat with Forrester's CEO George Colony at the Churchill Club in Palo Alto this week, she was spot on when she spoke of leadership and what it takes to be successful. "When you screw up, fix problems and fix them fast," she said. "You have to be fearless, make decisions and understand the difference between urgent and important." And, oh yeah, she adds, "you have to be nice."
When George responded with, "what about Ellison and Jobs?" two renowned leaders in the world of technology who are not known as "playing by the nice" rules (the very two examples I was thinking when she made the statement), she said "I don't care." Go Ursula! Among other examples, she brought up her attitude about honor and respect and how her kids would only address George as Mr. Colony not George.
Ursula says that she spends about 50% of her time making sure people are "tuned" correctly. A consistent message from the best leaders is hiring well and inspiring those hires to execute strategically and consistently. Having a motivated and aligned team around you is key.
That brings us to innovation, where you can't avoid but bringing up Apple. Says George of Jobs, "Jobs is once every 100 years. He's an Edison. It's not just about the fact that Apple knows how to innovate, but more importantly, how to streamline and simplify - taking the obvious and making it simple."
George spoke of Forrester's innovation network. In the value chain, there are different roles...you could look at Forrester as a broker, Apple as a transformer. Both are instrumental and key in the process. If the transformer happens to be outside the organization, then so be it and P&G has demonstrated that through in their own products and design efforts. The Innovation Network says we must 'expand the network.'
Ursula agrees with the outsourcing model and that to try and be and do everything internally is very limiting. She says, "there's more value on going outside the network for things you don't do really well. The value chain of research has fundamentally changed. Partner or parish is the reality in the research world today."
Access is what it's about and you can get better ideas and people by partnering. She has a lot of respect for failing she noted, but added that she meant for her research team, not her engineers.
George shared his thoughts on cloud computing: "If you think it's all about the cloud, you're wrong citing the App-Internet is where things are heading. He has teams dedicated to this area, where they're looking at the future of how powerful devices will work more seamlessly with powerful apps and what this will mean for productivity and innovation across multiple industries.
On future predictions, Ursula adds, "the big transformation in the future is not access. We have access to whatever we want and a lot of it." Her fear is that we have so much access yet may not necessarily understand or know what we're looking for. The real miracle will be in how we interface with all that data, a problem many of Silicon Valley's developers are trying to solve in some way or another.
I see an emphasis on interface & manipulation of data again and again with the kinds of things that start-ups who pitch me on a regular basis are working on. Sadly, I also see a lot of start-ups working on services that focus more on access and data rather than solving the curation problem. (see Steven Rosenbaum's new book Curation Nation).
Below is a four part video that covers George and Ursula's Churchill fireside chat, one which felt remarkably like an informal living room discussion. The authenticity and insights to probe deeper into real world problems, not just business ones, also came out as they discussed education and the energy crisis.
June 24, 2011
Social Media Cop in Toronto Fights Graffiti by Embracing It & Its CreatorsToronto cop Scott Mills has made huge strides in not just cutting down violence but helping youth in the greater Toronto area. He wears several hats, one of which is Graffiti BMX Cop on Twitter where he has nearly 2,800 followers including some of the graffiti artists he has helped.
Scott takes a positive approach to graffiti in Toronto and works with kids. He is also a social media advisor to IT Committee and over @CSIWorld. Here are some webdocs that were created to tell his story, which includes a series of photos, text and video. Listen to the video below of an interview we did with him on-site at The 140 Conference New York.
Here's the Webdoc on Scott's story, which includes links, audio, video, photos and more.
Below is a Webdoc one of the graffiti artists Kedre Browne aka Bubzart created.
Disclosure: I provide some consulting to Webdoc.
June 24, 2011 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Conference Highlights, Events, On People & Life, On Technology, Social Media, Videos, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Ex-Prisoners Talk About Power of Voice & Social Media: #140ConfBelow, ex-prisoners talk to the 140Conf audience about how they use social media and the impact it has had on their lives and the community they have built around them since they left prison.