Recently I did something I had never done before: I got on a cruise. But not just any cruise. This was a three-day sail into Bahamian waters hosted by the Summit Series, the latest twist on the new-idea/innovation festival.
I was invited to give a plenary talk about awakening the environmental movement, at an event where 1,000 mostly young, high-functioning -- and suspiciously good-looking -- entrepreneurs, philanthropists, artists, social activists and scientists mingled.
I admit I was skeptical when first approached. Thayer Walker, the Chief Reconnaissance Officer (yup, that's his title) from Summit Series, described the upcoming Summit@Sea, trying to impress upon me what a sail that featured both Richard Branson and shark-tagging might feel like. He was keen to introduce a theme of caring for the planet into Summit@Sea and he seemed sincere. Still, I dawdled until eventually, frustrated by my denseness he blurted, "Dude, it's like TED... on steroids!"
Now two weeks later, having attended, reveled and finally recovered enough to write without the sounds of Swedish House Mafia thumping through me in waves, I can attest that Thayer's description was in some ways an understatement.
Simply put, Summit@Sea was about as interesting, useful, and heartfelt as some of the best events I have ever attended. It was also the most fun -- by a boat length.
My job is to be an informed evangelist for the modern global conservation movement and I'm thankful to be invited to incredible events, each with its own style and purpose. Summit borrowed from the best of these and added inspiration, tribalism, and fun to the mix.
Put it this way: If I could go to only one event next year, I'm pretty sure Summit would be on top. Here are five reasons why:
- Connectors galore: Big ideas events are usually billed as places to meet people and share... well, ideas. The problem? Big names show up and are mobbed; you get a few words in and you're done. Plus I hate when people have cross-eyed conversations while scanning for a more important face to "connect" with. At Summit, sure, there were some famous names; but there were also a ton of young hotshots working directly for the famous names. Would you rather spend a minute talking to Richard Branson while a dozen others wait, or have a 30-minute chat with a person who runs Virgin Unite (his foundation)? In my role, I'll take the latter.
Folks made it to Summit because they saw a problem and didn't walk by; they tackled the challenge, probably failing many times along the way, but never giving up, and rarely with the expectation of immediate reward.
Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. Teddy Roosevelt said that, and it's a good motto to live by. I bet as a young guy he would have been the first on-board.
Next year, if you catch their eye, you may get a call from a twenty-something-year -old, with a title of "Samurai" or something equally strange, representing Summit Series. Words like "dude", "killer" and "awesome" will be thrown about, and you might be tempted to ignore what will sound at first like a pie-in-the-sky idea.
You will want to see what possibilities the future holds. Trust me, it's epic!