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The BIF Stage: Where the Future is Made

(See the full article here:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/8-innovative-life-lessons-success-from-bif-2015-phillip-an?trk=pulse_spock-articles)

8 things I leaned from BIF2015

This past week, I had the privilege of attending the Business Innovation Factory’s 2015 Summit. With an incredible lineup of 30 storytellers and 400 “innovation-junkies”, two unforgettable days of storytelling has transformed my heart and mind, and pushed thinking to the edge. I am honored to share eight of the most amazing ones below.

Michael Sanderson – “Possibility is all about physics, probability is all about spirit. “

When Michael Sanderson retired, he simply refused to settle for his doctor’s recommendations. Instead of “taking it easy”, he decided to climb mountains and has been for the past 10 years. In deciding to do so, he tells us how he left the village of “too’s” (too tired, too fat, too busy, too..) because we ultimately find that life is “too short”. But with each mountain he climbs, he illustrates a lesson he learns. On Kilimanjaro, he learns to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings, instead of constantly staring at muddied boots below. In the Himalayas, he learns to get rid of the macho Y chromosome. He stresses the importance of having guides, people who have done the journey before who can warn you of avalanches and blizzards. Ultimately, he states, “there is no meaning of life, it’s what meaning you put in it.”

Joshua Davis – “And then, I found myself a member of the US Lightweight National [Arm Wrestling] team”

Joshua started as a data-entry clerk for Pac Bell who studied economics in college. He ended up placing 17th at the world arm wrestling championships, competing in Sumo Wrestling, and the World Backwards running championship. Joshua, co-founder of Epic Magazine and writer for Wired magazine, chronicles his unusual journey into journalism in a magnificent and absolutely ridiculous story of unrestrained inhibition and headstrong bravery. His most well-known journalistic piece? The inspiring audacity of four Hispanic students in Arizona, without mentors, resources, or a pool, to build an underwater robot that went against the top schools in the nation. With $800 of spare parts, plenty of charisma and optimism, they ended up beating MIT in the finals. Much like that of Josh’s, their story motivates us to take that step into the dark, because you never know what you’re going to find.

Catherine Hoke – “What if you were defined by the worst things you have ever done – we are all ex-something.”

You die twice – the first is your physical one, and the other is the last time your name is spoken. For Catherine, life was too short to waste away – she wanted her life to matter. As a result, she left an extremely successful venture capital career, spent the entirety of her savings, and emptied her 401k account, to start the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP). For many ex-inmates, adjusting to life after prison is nearly impossible –employers do not want employees with criminal records, and housing is equally as difficult to find. To tackle this problem, PEP provided opportunities and training to start businesses. With a 98% employment rate, 60+ startups, recidivism is less than 5%. Graduation program

Simon Majundar — "Go everywhere, eat everything."

Simon Majundar, foodie and Food Network personality, narrates that "Food saved my life because I got more hungry than suicidal." After first experiencing a taste of failure during a lustrous career in London, Simon tells us how good Lebanese cooking literally saved his life. Now, he travels to the corners of the Earth cooking and eating, but most importantly, connecting individuals and hearing incredible stories. Having experienced everything from Kosher BBQ to getting salmon stolen by a bear, he even has his own hashtag, #giveusabediwillcookyoudinner, where he might come and cook you delicious food, if you provide him with a place to stay.

Carlos Moreno — “Our world desperately needs diverse talented young people. We need to show they truly matter.”

Carlos grew up with the lights of Fordham University shining through his window, lighting up dreams of one day stepping foot onto campus as a student. Unfortunately, Carlos tells that, “The majority of my teachers were all well-intentioned, middle-aged, white women straight out of New Jersey. I did not have one adult at my school who I could talk to, who came where I came from, who could understand me.” Years later, Carlos is the founder of Big Picture Learning, an organization that is tackling the same problems he faced. He proposes addressing inequality in society with a radical solution: by creating inequality in schools. “Schools are abusing students by mandating that students learn the exact same thing, at the same time, with the same tests”, Carlos says. “While these are supposed to promote equality, they are providing a completely destructive method of inequality.” By taking a customized, student-centered approach, Big Picture Learning is reimagining the school experience for 50,000 students worldwide.

Marc Goodman – “With Moore’s Law comes Moore’s Outlaw.”

A former cop, Marc tells us how criminals in the 1980’s were using phones and pagers before police officers. Their innovative use of technology has come even father. Current drug cartels have their own parallel encrypted mobile network that extends across Mexico and 31 States.

There is a contemporary paradigm shift in crime – modern day criminals progressed from being able to rob one person to robbing 200 people with the development of escape vehicles, to the latest Target hack, where over 100 million accounts were breached. “Modern society is a house of cards that can come crashing down,” Marc posits, “We can learn from criminals and see how they innovate.” Using everything from crowdsourcing to steal $45 million in 10 hours to Innovative marketing solutions involving gamification and incentivized crimes, criminals are some of the most innovative and creative users of technology. But on the other hand, governments often fail to respond accordingly. Hiring more security guards and police may protect pretty crime, but it cannot protect us from the next cyber apocalypse. Marc’s solution?

“If we can learn from nontraditional innovators, then our future can be very bright.”

Jaime Casap – “Who you are and where you come from is part of your identity and you never should be ashamed of it.”

Jaime Casap, Chief Education Evangelist at Google, was born and raised as a first generation American to a single mother on welfare in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, Jaime understands and appreciates the power of education in changing the destiny of a family in just one generation. “Kids,” he says, “are growing up with low expectations and we need to change that.” This is espeicaly true for minority and low-income students. Who they are and where they come from, are competitive advantage, unique experiences that should stand in applications. Overall, Jaime believes in a culture of iteration and innovation. Instead of asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, we should be asking them “What problem do you want to solve?” Only through, can we use education to disrupt poverty.

James Siegal – “Could you imagine what it is like to have a childhood without play?”

Kids playing is disappearing today. Although kids playing have been found to have both emotional and physical benefits, James proves that kids this generation are playing less than any other. As a result, kids are worse, up to one in three are obese and one in five have mental conditions. As a result, James is the President of KaBoom!, an organization that gathers and coordinates 200 volunteers with no special skills or experience in building a playground in 6 hours. KaBoom! allows kids to draw their ideal playground and incorporates elements of these drawings into final designs. Through this mission, James hopes to tackle the alarming increase of Americans living in concentrated poverty. “Kids know best,” James says, “but cities are designing kids and families right out.” Already, KaBoom! has built more than 2660 playgrounds in low in low income communities across the nation, with more every week.