While I have several degrees and certificates, I don’t think my education is adequate enough for the dynamic world we live in. I believe in proactive life-long learning, particularly in today’s day and age when the way in which we understand our world is in a constant state of flux as technology improves exponentially. To this end, I am an avid reader of several newsletters, blogs, publications and books. I use social media to stretch my understanding of what is happening by following and connecting with a diverse set of interests and industries. And lastly I attend as many varied conferences and cultural events as I can fit in my schedule.
The latest conference I attended / watched was the recent virtual ExO World Summit which was a two day summit on how to thrive in the 21st century hosted by Salim Ismail. It was filled with exponential thinkers, musicians, entrepreneurs, brain experts, and business strategists. The Summit was expertise-inclusive and racially and spiritually diverse, and showcased the observation Salim made about the changes we are seeing with the “rise of the internet [in more and more parts of the world], the maker movement, burning man, the open source movement … moving [us] towards a more participatory nurturing and linking environment.”
It was an excellent virtual event and I took away lots of ideas that I am reflecting on and determining how to process and incorporate into my life. Here are some of my personal “take-aways-to-think-about” that I am simmering on:
- Abundance vs Scarcity: I was very familiar with the mindset of abundance, which is a positive trust based mindset where the world is seen through the lens of abundant opportunities that can be created. In sharp contrast with the mindset of scarcity, which is a negative fear based mindset that sees the world through limited resources that are to be competed for. However, Salim offered a new perspective (quote below) with which to understand scarcity through abundance, which I found very inspiring because it gives a trust based avenue to tackle the scarcity mindset that sets so many people and organizations back.
“Scarcity equals abundance minus trust”
- Zoom in Zoom Out: John Hagel spoke of the ‘Zoom in Zoom out’ approach which is a strategic approach where you ask questions (see image below) across time horizons to determine what plans to make today. I liked how he made this approach really relevant to today’s actions by explaining that we need to list and prioritize all the initiatives we could do in the next 6–12 months and then only pick two to three (he insisted no more!). These initiatives should be selected by how much they will accelerate movement toward a longer-term goal instead of a short term goal. I think this tool is particularly valuable on a personal level when it comes to our health as there are many actions we can take today to help improve our health and human performance level 10–20 years from now. Ultimately, it boils down to knowing the direction an individual, project or organization is heading towards, without a clear vision it is hard to know what to ‘zoom out’ about.
- Organizational Metabolism: Salim shared a valuable quote from Jack Welch that I believe is a useful one to drive the point home about the need for constant innovation and self-disruption to maintain relevance and to be able to stay on par with times.
“The minute the metabolism of the outside world exceeds the metabolism your company…you’re dead!”
- Super Villains of Technology: Brain Coach Jim Kwick characterized four digital problems that are impacting brain performance which he called ‘Super Villains of Technology”. If the first step to solving a problem is labeling it, this is a great way to start:
- Digital Deluge: a state where we are overwhelmed with an overload of information that we need to process which creates anxiety, increases blood pressure and reduces leisure time.
- Digital Distraction: the outcome of having too many notifications driving us to distraction, making it hard for us to focus and concentrate.
- Digital Dementia: the result of outsourcing memory to technology, depreciating the capacity of our memory to remember simple things like phone numbers, addresses and birth dates. Memory is like a muscle that needs to be worked out or it weakens.
- Digital Deduction: the loss of analytical ability. The mental laziness from over reliance on technology for critical thinking, problem solving and decision making.
These are all very relevant and important cognitive challenges we need to be aware of and learn to overcome.
Kwick believes there is no limit to human imagination and human determination. He explained that he sees it as three intersecting circles as the pillars in hacking the brain to achieve our goals. → [See his 10 keys to unlocking brain health]
As someone who recognizes converging technologies are the game changing advantage across industries, and that we live in a connected world where pandemics, the climate, our supply chains and our soil are all part of one large ecosystem; I know I need to learn more about various industries to tie the dots together and see the bigger picture. Not just to help my clients, but to be able to understand our world. Kwick’s session was the final convincing I needed that it was time to start investing in learning about how I learn, and how I take in information.
- Mental Flow — Priming for Mental Performance: Steven Kotler spoke about his Flow Genome Project looking to expand the understanding of flow and improve mental performance. He defines flow as
“An optimal state of consciousness, a state where you feel your best and perform your best. More specifically, the term refers to those moments of rapt attention and total absorption, when you get so focused on the task at hand that everything else disappears. Action and awareness merge. Your sense of self vanishes. Your sense of time distorts (either, typically, speeds up; or, occasionally, slows down). And throughout, all aspects of performance, both mental and physical, go through the roof.”
Kotler shared some figures on the advantage of being in flow. He said that when people are in high flow, their productivity can increase by +500%, learning and memory by +240% and creativity and innovation by +400%. Over the past few years I have been learning about how best to get my mind primed for moments when I need to write, be creative, connect a lot of dots and take in dense amounts of information. I have found certain personal triggers that worked to induce flow for particular types of dot connecting and creative thinking. I was happy to see that some of the individual triggers I turn to are on his Flow Triggers High Performance Tool Kit list. (see image — above left) He also shared his perspective on the Three Levels of Well-Being:
- Happiness: Mostly determined by nature/nurture
- Enjoyment: A high flow lifestyle
- Meaning: A high flow lifestyle + purpose
I never thought of enjoyment and well-being having a relation to flow until he framed it in his talk. It stands to reason that if there are moments we look forward to enjoying, and enjoyment is a product of flow, then we could prime our mind to be more conducive to flow prior to a moment we aim to enjoy.
While I have read some of Kotler’s books and listened to his talks before, this session pieced together what I needed to hear to convince me the time to start my methodical flow journey is near.
There were so many other great talks and conversations to fit in one post! I was happy to hear that a sticker with electronics mammogram alternative is being developed and that there is a one stop stop that you can click your way through to getting advice and starting a company. I am still simmering on many of the ideas I heard in this event. I hope the ideas shared are of interest and that it encourages you to think about the world from new perspectives.
Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos (@Lkcyber) is a Strategy and Innovation Advisor who loves to experiment and push the bounds of the possible. She helps her clients posture themselves to make the most of new technologies in the context of changing and emerging trends. She is doing technology related strategy work at the U.S. Special Operations Command on emerging technologies and the future operating environment. She addressed the United Nations member states at the CCW GGE meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) and keynotes at technology and national security conferences. She speaks and writes on disruptive technology convergence, innovation, tech ethics, and national security. In efforts to raise awareness on AI and ethics she makes reflectional art #ArtAboutAI, and made a game about emerging technology and ethics called Sapien2.0 .