Technology and Wisdom: Where and How Do They Intersect in Life, Work and Play? (Part 2)

Following up to last week’s post, here’s the second half of what I learned at Wisdom 2.0, a technology and wisdom conference I attended Feb. 14-17 in San Francisco.

One of the “tents” at the Inspiration Village at Wisdom 2.0

One of the “tents” at the
Inspiration Village at Wisdom 2.0

As I mentioned last week, the conference was about exploring the intersection between technology and wisdom, with leaders from Google, Facebook, Linked In and other tech companies with mindfulness leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jon Kabat-Zinn, with a sprinkling of leading scientists in neuroscience.  Heady stuff, for sure!

Here’s the second set of highlights from the conference:

* Ariana Huffington, founder and CEO, Huffington Post – I was expecting a pretty good speech … I was blown away by Arianna.  She was insightful, real, vulnerable and inspiring.  Her talk was about “the third metric” in measuring success beyond money and power.  She talked about her own crash from exhaustion two years after starting HuffPost where she found herself lying in a pool of her own blood under her desk, her daughter’s cocaine overdose and recovery, and how unfortunately it seems pain needs to be the portal through which we enter a path of mindfulness.  She talked about making her bedroom a device-free zone, and letting employees know that when their work for the day is done, they need not be on email.  Simple things but coming from the top, these make the world of difference in a company.

Takeaway: if Arianna Huffington can make her bedroom tech free, why can’t I (still thinking on this question …).

* Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos – talked about the Downtown Project, a new Zappos investment in downtown Las Vegas (where they are located) to encourage collaboration and community through “collisions” by putting small businesses, tech start ups and community spaces into downtown Las Vegas.

Takeaway: Becoming a big company allows you to give back to your community in a big way.  Oh, and they will pick you up at the airport for free, take you on a tour of Zappos and then back to your hotel.  Nicely done marketing!

* Eckhart Tolle, author and spiritual leader – talked about the many ways we use technology to distract ourselves and miss the present moment, the only moment we really have.

Takeaway: This is a very funny and expressive man (his facial expressions and eye movements were hysterical as he was describing the ways we distract ourselves with technology).  Not at all as serious as he seems in his books!

* Dr. Dan Siegel, Mindsight Institute, author, neuroscientist – completely rearranged my thinking about the teenage brain.  Talked about what the latest research is showing about how teenage brains are being remodeled.

Big takeaway: What if instead of looking at the teenage brain as immature and therefore in a holding pattern until it becomes mature, we looked at the teenage brain as valuable and powerful in its state of remodeling (and with much more potential for creative problem-solving than the adult brain)?  Still processing that question ….

* Shefali Tsbury, clinical psychologist and author of The Conscious Parent, talked about how we tend to avoid pain at any cost, especially that of our children, and how pain truly is a portal for growth.  She encouraged us to stand and bear witness to the pain of our children and give them the greatest gift of our presence.  And also to embrace pain as a path to growth.  She was riveting with her stories from her professional and personal life.

Takeaway: Perhaps I can look at pain differently now, especially in my child (a very, very hard thing to do).

* Rachel Macy Stafford, Hands-Free Mama and author, talked about lessons she learned from her youngest child about how to be in the moment and not hurry your kids.  For any parent who had ever asked her child to “Hurry up!”, her work will hit you right in the middle of your soul.  Fantastic observations on her decision to not hurry and the internal turmoil that decision sometimes creates in her.

* Brother David-Steindl-Rast, Benedictine monk, talked about his basic life philosophy: Stop, Look, GO!  So simple but yet so effective in life.

On Monday, the conference had “Intensives” on various topics, such as parenting, aging, women, technology and business.  I chose the Business track and spent the day with Karen May, the VP of Learning at Google and various speakers.

* Brynn Harrington, Head of People Growth at Facebook, spoke about The Intentional Career and how only 30% of American workers are actively engaged in their work, according to Gallup.  She wonders what the world would be like if 70% of people were engaged in their careers?  She asks the following five questions to help herself and others find work that engages them:

  1. Am I doing work I Iove?
  2. Am I learning and mastering skills?
  3. Am I making a positive impact?
  4. Do I enjoy the people I work with?
  5. Are my basic needs being met?

* Todd Pierce, salesforce.com EVP, spoke about social intelligence and his work within SFDC.  When they needed to staff up a service center, he went about it in a whole new way: no JDs, no interviewing, no hiring managers.  He did this because research shows people tend to withdraw from the hiring process because they feel they don’t meet the criteria sufficiently.  So he started with a Happy Hour, and then invited people to come to a all-day workshop to work on problems important to SFDC.  By the next day, job offers went out to those they wanted.  All functions were represented at the all-day event and then discussed each person from a holistic perspective.

The results?

  • 27% reduction in cost to hire
  • 100% recruiter efficiency
  • Reduction in time to hire

(He mentioned that there was a full Deloitte study available on the work.)

He also revolutionized the performance review process.  He wanted to eliminate these five things in the performance review process:

  • An intermediary is involved
  • Feedback is not real-time
  • Feedback tends to be low quality
  • Feedback is not invited
  • The review is coupled to resource allocation (some kind of social consequence)

As a result of changing the review process, they have found that people are much more likely to seek feedback, express appreciation, and gain valuable insights for the review process now.

* Lindsay Van Driel and Anuhaka Caman talked about Awake at Intel, a mindfulness program inspired by Todd’s work at Genentech.  It’s a nine-week series of meditation classes designed around the new CEO’s organizational characteristics.  Results show about a two point upward shift on every marker taken and pre- and post-course workshops.

The conference was full of good information and ideas about how to make ourselves and the organizations and countries in which we live and work more effective.  I’m still working my way through all the ideas it spawned.  Which one spoke to you the most?  Because that is the one for you to follow up on 😉

About Jennifer LeBlanc

As CEO and founder of ThinkResults, Jenn works with CEOs, CMOs and change agents to drive results. For two decades, she has been launching companies and delivering leads and revenue growth for companies of all sizes including Microsoft, Intel, PeopleSoft, SAP, Taleo, Nektar Therapeutics and numerous life sciences and tech startups. To date, her work has delivered $1.5B in new revenue to clients. She is currently writing a book called “Launching for Revenue” about launching companies, products, services and people successfully.

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