Reflections and Future Thinking on my Recent trip to the USA – Land of Contrasts Part 2

I have just returned from two weeks in the USA where I attended The Business Innovation Factory Summit No 9 , the Maker Faire in New York and the Mashable Social Good Summit.

In my last post I reflected on the initial stages of that trip and reconnecting with people from my trip last year. Here I am going to talk about amazing new connections I made and the rest of my trip:

Connecting with Some New Great People at BIF9

There were several amazing presentations at the Business Innovation Summit.:

Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) from Choose2Matter did an amazing presentation that left many people in tears of joy on the work that she is doing with young people to make a difference and convince them they can. The video is not up yet but you can see one that she did at TED Des Moines in 2011 on the website. It was truly inspirational. Since them we have tried to get Angela out for the Nexus Global Youth Summit in Sydney where I am participating this month but we could not get the dates to match up which was a great shame but looking for next year.

Easton LaChapelle who is 17 presented on how he had made a prosthetic arm for amputees way cheaper and lighter than what is available and most of the parts were 3D printed so anyone can do them. I was sitting next to Dava Newman, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT and her team were just amazed and they set out to try and hire him. I spoke to Easton later in the day and was asking about what he might do next. He said that he wanted to keep making things and he did not like it when he worked at NASA because it was too much like a desk job. A 17 year old blithely talking about how he used to work at NASA – amazing!!!

Below is Easton at the reception at the Providence Hotel after the first day at BIF9. I look old in the picture and Easton makes me feel old! The photo is one of many taken at BIF9 by Stephanie Alvarez Ewens you can see her great work by going to her gallery or by looking at the BIF9 page and looking at the photos she took there.


Whitney Johnson (@johnsonwhitney) told a very honest and vulnerable story of her life and how she had got to where she is now. Of all the things that resonated with me at BIF one thing that Whitney said has stayed with me ever since and I have thought about it every day : “did you really show up?” as opposed to just showing up. It is a question I will take forward with me (see notes in Part 3 of of this three part blog series).

Evan Ratliff (@ev_rat) gave a really interesting presentation around storytelling and journalism and how he tried to disappear and allow people to try and find him as part of a story for Wired magazine. What really interested me was his involvement in Creativist: Storytelling without limits. This is an application that allows you to create multimedia stories and has allowed him to tell his story in a far more extensive and creative way than Wired could do. This is a great example of stuff that is in the hands of individuals or small organisations that could not have been done a decade ago without a huge organisation or lots of money behind you.  I am going to have a look at it for a couple of eBooks we are looking at publishing in a different way.

These are just a few of my highlights and my apologies to people I have left out. You can see lots more of the comments and articles that people have written since the conference by going to the BIF9 Media page.

The number, breadth and passion of these articles and blog posts and the interactions that you can see by searching for the hashtag #BIF9 on Twitter give you some idea of the excitement and enthusiasm and connections generated by the BIF summits. How many conferences have you gone to that have generated this sort of reaction from participants afterwards? I know a number of conference organisers who would kills for this sort of reaction. More importantly people are getting together and doing stuff together as a consequence of connecting at BIF. That is where the real value that is generated and the long term Machiavellian aim of Saul Kaplan, the leader of the team at BIF.

As an example @sandymaxey was not at BIF9 but was hooked in online via the steaming and via Twitter. We connected up and have already started a conversation on how we work together on efforts in regional communities in Australia and the USA over the next year. That is part of the ongoing legacy that BIF creates.

I intended for this to be a two part post but it has become bigger than that so I will leave the rest to a third post which will be around:

The Maker Faire and my day with Lynda Koster

My Disappointment at the Mashable Social Good Summit

My plans for the year

As a teaser for the third line in part 3 below is the graphic representation of some of that focus that @jesch30 did for me which is now up on the wall in my home office and driving me forwards

jess picture snapshot on office wall


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