I attended Summit Series last week and through the weekend. I chose attending Summit Series over a 40th birthday party in Vegas and a special release party at Joseph Phelps in Napa Valley. I was torn with what to do as I love Vegas (especially day drinking poolside Vegas), Napa (especially free Insignia Napa) and love all my friends whom attended each of those events. I decided on Summit Series (Elliott elegantly pushed me over the line) because I wanted the perspective that can happen only at an event like Summit. In my belief, some things can only happen in person. You can connect deeply on a particular world issue involving helpless children only by looking each other in the eyes at 3 am (well, it doesn’t have to happen at 3 am, I suppose) – Sean Carasso from Falling Whistles and I made that connection. The amazing thing about Summit Series is the perspective that can be gained by spending time with people in a variety of fields with different viewpoints, priorities and goals, and seeing things through their eyes. To me, this cannot happen online, in print or on the phone. There are some things that cannot be replaced by eye to eye contact and even a hug from a dude – yup, a hug from a dude, at 3 am.
Perspective helps open our eyes and magnify a viewpoint – this is true in life and in business. The only other place that I have experienced the diversity that I found here, is at TED. I’m sure it happens elsewhere, but I haven’t experienced it (sidenote, I need to get to Burning Man). Elliot, Jeff, Brett and Jeremy brought together an amazing group of people. They brought together incredible speakers, content and diverse attendees. This diversity brings different ideas, viewpoints and a different perspective. You can bet that the people in the Transamerica building looking at the sun shining on the Bay Bridge have a different perspective than those looking at the approaching fog bank (photo taken on my way to Summit – click to enlarge).
Most of the people I spoke with at Summit have more ambitious goals than being at the top of their profession. John Legend is passionate about education, Chris Sacca is passionate about clean water and a cure for cancer, Ted Leonsis want people to find balance, Kristin Bell wants to save kids through Invisible Children, Russell Simmons wants us to find internal peace and passion, Scott Harrison wants to deliver clean water to 1 billion people – the list goes on – and it was awesome.
It’s easy for us to get caught up in our day to day. Don’t get me wrong – our day to day is really important. Even in our day to day, perspective is incredibly important. I recently interviewed Kostas Mallios for my book. Kostas is GM at Microsoft – one of the key people involved in most acquisitions (he reports to Ray Ozzie) and wrote the acquisition process for Microsoft. I asked him whether his love of travel and photography has an impact on how he sees companies and buying opportunities, to which he replied “creativity provides a perspective that benefits the way I think about a deal. I see things from a unique viewpoint that I might not otherwise observe, without the creative view”. Perspective is the perfect connector between art and business. It’s what is required to solve today’s massive problems – a terrible US education system, a troubled environment, 1 Billion people without clean water, kids being killed in needless wars. Let’s face it – if you were born in most parts of the United States of America then you were born with advantage. I think it’s critical that we take care of our day to day but we also need to consider helping others, whether in the US or elsewhere, if even in a very small way. Think about life from the viewpoint of the person trying to figure out how to get food or water for their kids today – right now, while you are reading these words.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of TED and have had the good fortune of attending 6 times. From my perspective, this Summit Series was as valuable and amazing as most TED conferences that I’ve been to – which is saying something really incredible since it’s only 3 years old. Elliott and the boys (average age of 25 or so) should be proud. And yes, I’m bummed that I missed those other events but I absolutely made the right decision – no regrets. If you like the ideas in this post, please help them spread by sharing it (tweet, like, link) – we need more people thinking about life from YOUR perspective. Thanks for reading – I appreciate your time.