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DENT 2016: From Eradicating Malaria & Disruptive Ideas to Virtual Reality

March 30, 2016 by  

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Putting a dent in the future — isn’t that a compelling idea? And, what’s even more compelling is that it means such different things to different people and why the eclectic DENT Conference in Sun Valley Idaho, is so unique. From technologists, entrepreneurs and scientists, to artists, astronauts and Olympic Gold medalists, people gather around to hear radical new ideas, learn from the best of the best and share their best practices, all under the roof of the Sun Valley Inn, a stone’s throw from Baldy Mountain and incredible skiing, even in the Spring. The brain child of Seattle-based Steve Broback and Jason Preston, DENT is now in its fourth year and my third year of attending, DENT’s format is a mix of educational, interactive and thought provoking, with un-conference break-out sessions, fireside chats and general talks. Since the backbone of the conference stems from the technology community, it seemed fitting that American futurist and author Amy Webb would speak. As the Founder of the Future Today Institute and an Adjunct Professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, she dabbles in a lot of projects. She asks us wryly: “What happens

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Artistic Gems in Detroit’s Corktown Neighborhood

February 18, 2016 by  

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A foreclosed building might either be viewed as a fiscal setback or future opportunity. In Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, a once vacant 30,000-square-foot warehouse has been turned into a cooperative workspace focusing on locally-driven economic growth. It’s called Ponyride. Founded by Detroit restaurateur Phillip Cooley and overseen by a board of entrepreneurs and urban developers, Ponyride provides studios and co-working spaces at inexpensive rents to small business owners (it also has an artist residency program) that give back to the area through products and opportunities. Ponyride’s tenants are as diverse in expertise and skill sets as their goods and services are: designers, blacksmiths, roasters, musicians. During a visit to Detroit, I took a tour of Ponyride and got to see the various studios and workshops and catch their tenants at work. Here, I’ll spotlight some of the occupants that particularly touched me. Ponyride Smith Shop produces decorative and functional works of metal and iron. Photo via Smith Shop’s Facebook page

1. Smith Shop

Full on metal work that’s both ornamental and functional is being assembled here. Materials such as steel, brass and coper are used to create jewelry, belt buckles and household…

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TEDxBerkeley 2016 Helps the World Find X Thru 16 Riveting Talks

February 15, 2016 by  

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I’ve been fortunate to be involved in TEDxBerkeley for six years now, a non-profit independently organized TEDx event which takes place at Zellerbach Hall every February. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience and there have been close to 15,000 of them worldwide since the initiative began. Each year, TEDTalks video and live speakers spark deep discussion and connection to a pack-filled auditorium of over 2,000 attendees. Sixteen innovative and thought provoking speakers who are trying to change the global conversation about important issues such as healthcare, gender equality, education and privacy to technology, medicine, life balance, water safety and the search for extraterrestrial life brought tears and laughter to attendees over eight hours, all of which was live streamed from their website on February 6. In between heady and emotional talks, over 50 performers hit the Zellerbach stage, ranging from Bollywood and an inspiring cello group to piano, guitar and violin tapping tunes and gospel music. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Naveen Jain, who I’ve known for years from our mutual involvement in Singularity University, talked about the difference we can make in the world if we embrace more of an abundant mindset…

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Teeth On-The-Go & Encouraging Smiles Initiative Out Of Louisville

October 15, 2015 by  

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I discovered a fabulous initiative while I was in Kentucky this past September for Idea Festival called Making Smiles Happen, which is all about improving health through better oral care. Photo credit: www.bestevents.us New in 2015, the Delta Dental of Kentucky charitable initiative Making Smiles Happen supports non-profits. They’re providing financial support in the form of a charitable donation to a variety of non-profit partners focused on ensuring children and adults in Kentucky have access to oral care and oral health education.• Their goal is to fund programs that can overall help Kentuckians live healthier lives, which I love given the state of our healthcare system. •They also apparently accept applications for organizations that are of great service to the communities in which Delta Dental serves and since its inception, they have already awarded grants to more than 60 organizations statewide.  I love this idea — it would be great to see other states step up to the plate and take on similar programs around the country. Bravo! Photo credit: Delta Dental KY At this year’s Idea Festival, their team set up a massive larger than life-sized green horse at the Kentucky Center and asked people to write…

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Airline Fees in Excess of $31 BILLION Make Customers Feel Like Helpless Cattle

June 2, 2015 by  

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While I’m not a 100,000 mile gal, I spend a lot of time on planes throughout the course of a year.  When it comes to flying these days, I think we can all agree — it’s a far cry from fun. Barely tolerable is what comes to mind. Photo credit: Outsidethebeltway.com. The saddening reality is that airlines worldwide brought in $31.5 billion in non-ticket revenue in 2013 – including passenger fees – which is MORE than 11 times their non-ticket revenue six years prior, adjusted for inflation according to CNN Money. Unfortunately, there’s little that we can do about it. There’s no plea here and our voices go unnoticed….otherwise, the price increases wouldn’t continue to soar year after year, not to mention new fees being added for incredulous things. Photo credit: Dave Granlund.com. Customer feedback no longer matters since it’s become an industry that treats people more like helpless cattle in tow than worthful customers they care about “serving.” Truth be told, I haven’t had a memorable and rewarding experience flying coach in about 8 or 9 years and it’s getting worse. The smile comes on the video screen…

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Diving Deep into the Future at an Arc Fusion Jeffersonian Dinner

April 30, 2015 by  

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Ever heard of a Jeffersonian Dinner? I’ve been invited to one or two over the last few years, one of which was being held in Washington DC, where it was birthed in the 1800′s by none other than Thomas Jefferson himself. Because of those invitations, I had some vague idea of what they were, but never actually participated in one until the Arc Fusion folks hosted one recently in San Francisco. Thomas Jefferson Photo credit: www.smithsonianmag.com   Rewind the clock to 1819 and visualize yourself at a long and decadently adorned table with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, his elegant Virginia home. Around the table, you’re seated with a group of people steeped deep in culture, philosophy, education, history, politics, art, literature, science and theology. The idea behind a Jeffersonian Dinner is to bring people together from different disciplines, creating a new cause-centered community around a topic of importance or significance you might want to discuss for whatever reason. This can be done to tap into new resources, raise funds for a non profit or important issue, or simply to expand the group’s thinking about a variety of topics. It’s important that it be somewhat intimate so…

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DENT 2015, Where Passion, Innovation & Authentic Disruption Meet

March 26, 2015 by  

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I rarely fly Southwest Airlines, not because I’m not a fan, but largely because they don’t fly direct to most of the locations I travel to regularly. There are a couple of exceptions every year of course, Austin, Las Vegas and LA being on that list and more recently, Boise. I love Idaho, a state I never expected to travel to never mind fall in love with. Truth be told, when a friend asked me to join him on a stint through the west for a few weeks roughly 15 years ago, I chose 3 states for that exploration, ones I figured would be vast but plain and boring. I couldn’t have been more wrong about all three. To say that Idaho, Montana and Wyoming did not disappoint is an understatement. The breathtaking Idaho Sawtooth Mountain range is a sight to be seen, one which I’d argue is a transformative experience if you have an opportunity to hike or picnic on her soil. Years later, I ended up in Idaho to see friends and then not again until last year when industry pals dragged me to a new-on-the-scene technology event in beautiful Sun Valley called DENT.

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Joburg’s Maboneng, An Urban and Cultural Overhaul

March 22, 2015 by  

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“Be careful” – the two words always uttered when you tell someone who has never been there before that you are going to Jo’Burg. Yet there is more light than dark in this city than many know… A grey, overcast sky hung above as we drove cautiously through the central business district of Johannesburg, South Africa. From dark, derelict buildings people emerged with sunken faces, crowding around flame-licked rubbish cans for scraps or warmth before retreating back out of sight. Johannesburg’s central business district has for years been home not to giant gleaming skyscrapers housing growth-inducing businesses, but to abandoned buildings filled with impoverished former township-dwellers. The residents sought refuge here after international anti-apartheid sanctions crippled Johannesburg’s economy in the 1980’s. It is still a shocking sight to behold. However, in one area of town these once-forgotten areas are enjoying a sense of revival, thanks to the Maboneng precinct project. maboneng johannesburg A success story of urban regeneration, Maboneng, meaning ‘Place of Light’, is a privately developed urban neighbourhood on the east side of Johannesburg’s CBD and home to a thriving community of creative factory spaces, trendy loft apartments, restaurants and more. On my trip to the capital last year, I visited a…

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