On behalf of all those who participated in the organizing committee for TEDxCalgary's 2010 event, Humanity 3.0: Leadership the World Needs Now, we would like to extend our thanks to everyone who participated, volunteered, and supported the event. We're pleased to be able to offer some highlights from the day, and encourage you to watch the videos of our event speakers (see below).
Through howling wind, snow, and sleet...
Where else can we start but with the weather? To get to the event, our committed participants had to battle a Spring blizzard and gusting winds of up to 80km/h that knocked out power to tens of thousands of local homes, and left behind 15-25 cm of snow. Fortunately, many of those who couldn't attend in person were able to fall back on viewing the event webstream, which performed regardless of weather and allowed some 1,500 others to join us for some or all of the day.
Sadly, the weather forced one of our much-anticipated speakers, Alexi Panos, to turn around and head back home to New York City after encountering delays in the Chicago airport hub the previous day. We look forward to being able to have Alexi participate in a live session by web conferencing at some point in the near future, as her message of committed, innovative leadership and the importance of maintaining clean drinking water is a very important one.
Our morning program opened with Dr. Nick Nissley, a self-described "possibilitarian". Our goal was to kick off the day with a message of hope, vision, and commitment around the leadership journey, and Nick's personal story was a powerful one. He was followed by Dr. Tom Keenan, whose talk highlighted that advances in brain science and technologies like functional MRI (fMRI) imaging have important limitations and consequences if not used properly, which is almost a certainty in the face of typical human behaviour. We wrapped up our first block of speakers with a TEDTalk by Daniel Pink, focusing on the science behind our motivation and the important viewpoint that our inner sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose needs to be a key priority as leaders. The morning discussion break was a great opportunity for participants to exchange ideas and interact with one another. We also included an "ideas kitchen" where a smaller group of participants could focus on our sub-theme of youth and elders as leadership assets. As intended, the group identified a number of next steps which we hope can be built into future events.
Following the break, we resumed the morning program with Michael Drew's dynamic presentation on the opportunities and challenges of "quantum media", and the ways in which leaders of all sorts have to think about engaging with people in this type of communications environment. He was followed by community activist Grant Neufeld, whose talk focused on the commitment and perseverence necessary to make progress on big societal issues. Speaker Greg Hunter then took us on a short journey through the ways we perceive — and often misunderstand — the forces of history that surround us, which is a telling lesson for leaders in many different environments.
Changing the pace, poet and spoken word artist Sheri-D Wilson shared her insights on "falling forward" in a passionate, engaged life. Our final speaker of the morning was Ken Low, a continuing influence for the Leadership Calgary program that helped to inform parts of our journey as an event team, with his important message that leadership is a life-long journey toward ever-deeper understanding. He rightly cautioned us that many of humanity's challenges are not amenable to quick fixes, and that we have to strive continuously to cultivate the many tools of wisdom and judgment needed for building a community of true adaptive leaders.
Helping to feed the hungry bodies attached to increasingly stuffed minds, our lunch break featured a meal supplied by event partner Brown Bagging for Calgary's Kids. They are an amazing story, supplying some 1,800 nutritious lunches each day to school-aged children across the city, with each day's meals made up by corporate and community volunteers starting early each morning. Throughout lunch (as well as other breaks), participants also were able to view the evolving work of art being painted in our event lobby by local artist James Wyper, who created an original piece for the event.
Our afternoon program was kicked off by Jay Baydala, founder of UEnd.org, with a strong personal message about how he came to focus on the task of helping to end extreme poverty, while also trying to bring about a new form of humanity at the same time. He was followed by Gena Rotstein, founder of Dexterity Consulting, on her vision for "Philanthropy 3.0". As one of Canada's first philanthropic brokerages, Gena's mix of entrepreneurship and spirited leadership is part of helping to adapt philanthropy for the modern age. Mixing his unique personal insights and data visualizations drawn from GIS mapping, community builder Naheed Nenshi provided us with challenging perspectives on how a modern city like Calgary can start to develop unintentional barriers for various populations if urban planning doesn't follow a clear vision for the city's evolution as an inclusive community. Wrapping up our first afternoon block, local singer and songwriter Amy Thiessen gave voice to her interpretation of our event theme through a selection of her songs.
Our final speaker block was led by Mariette Sluyter's thought-provoking foray into how artists and storytellers can help to redefine how we look at ourselves as humans, including how we have to be careful to challenge our propensity to tell ourselves stories that aren't always really true.
Following with a powerful personal story of hope and leadership in the face of extreme adversity and conflict was James Nguen, one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan". Where we might not have expected such an optimistic outlook to prevail given his life experiences, James showed us the power of human resilience.
Highlighting further the possibilities of leadership and the way we can cross very fundamental boundaries was our next speaker, Donna Kennedy Glans. Founder of Bridges Social Development, she gave us the story of her work with some young leaders from the struggling and very much "at risk" country of Yemen. Wrapping up our roster of speakers was Dr. Stuart Hutchison of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute. Beyond his ongoing clinical and research work, Dr. Hutchison provided insights from his time as an amateur climber, during which he participated in challenging expeditions to many of the world's highest peaks.
In closing, a sincere thanks from the TEDxCalgary organizing committee to our sponsors and partners and all of those who attended in person and by webstream (some 1,500 in total from across Canada, North America, and the globe).
Special thanks to TEDxCalgary volunteer Gordon McDowell for his recording, editing, and posting of the videos.