Wisdom 2.0 Highlights

My husband and business partner Wally and I recently attended the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.  It was inspirational, engaging and motivating.  The conference itself was well done and included speakers who appealed to a broad range of people.  Speakers ranged from Pete Carroll and his sports psychologist, the former CEO of EBay, and CEO’s of Aetna and technology companies to mindfulness thought leaders like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield and Byron Katie to the designer Eileen Fisher and the founder of Indiegogo (fundamentally changed fundraising).  It included practical science and ideas for application for individuals and organizations in education, non-profits, and traditional businesses.

Following are some of my favorite content takeaways from the event followed by personal reflections…

Content TakeAways

Meng, the "Jolly Good Fellow" taught us that Joy is a highly trainable skill. 

  • The bare minimum for achieving healthy benefit from mindfulness is one minute.
  • Physiologically--you breath more slowly and more deeply--heart rate goes down.
  • Psychological--to experience regret you are thinking about the past; your worry is in the future; in the time you are focused on the breath you are in the present--you are free from worry and regret.
  • Kindness is intrinsically rewarding.  He offered the example of a person in his workshop who did the homework of each hour spending 10 seconds wishing joy for someone.  This person who previously hated her job emailed that she had the best day ever at work with 80 seconds of thinking kindly.

Mark Brackett was fun, funny and completely compelling in his discussion of emotional intelligence. He offered a simple 4 quadrant framework measuring energy on the vertical axis and pleasantness on the horizontal. He invited us to become an "emotion scientist".

Emotions matter for

  • Attention, memory and learning
  • Decision-making and judgment
  • Relationship quality--when we display emotions we telegraph
  • Physical and mental health--how we feel influences health
  • Everyday effectiveness--there is a focus on perseverance

He has proven that emotions matter as much or more than cognitive competence in student's ability to learn.

Trudy Goodman and Jack Kornfield.  Exploring the Shadow.

  • "People do things. And so do we."  This was her mindfulness teacher's response to her righteous indignation about the mistreatment she'd felt from her "wasband" (her ex-husband).
  • She talked about "scoreboard" people and our opportunity to respond to them and offered this quote "It never hurts to see the good in another.  They often act the better because of it."  Nelson Mandela
  • There was a discussion about the neuroscience of compassion with a distinction between empathy and compassion.  Empathy is the ability to feel with another which can just make us feel sad.  Compassion adds response or action and physiologically changes the brain.  It includes "how can I respond?" and leads to feeling empowered and refreshed.

John Donahoe, former CEO or EBay suggested that we “Presume Trust” and told his personal story of being compared to a Nazi prison guard in the heat of tough changes.  He used the phrase, ”in the tech crunch you are a hero or you are a zero.”  His message was compelling. 

Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna spoke on a panel with John Kabat-Zinn and Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio.  There were all kinds of juicy gems in this one like…

  • I believe in life BEFORE death
  • Re-define work--Instead of working for "the man" you work to help each other
  • To lead you have to trust; in order to get trust you have to give it
  • You can't be great unless you are vulnerable
  • Leadership comes from followership, not from being anointed
  • We don't need to go further left, we don't need to go further right, we need to go deeper--Pastor Jim Wallace
  • Ashanti had us all crying reading the letter that began his talk and ended it.  He has a non-profit that teaches boys of color how to engage with the education system through understanding emotions and the masks we are conditioned to wear.
  • I LOVED the videos at NatureRX.  These are playful looks at the importance and value of getting outside.
  • And if you like to laugh you need to watch the videos that playfully look at meditation, communication, and other life experiences at www.jasonheadley.com/

Personal reflections…

One of the less relevant personal takeaways was that I LOVED that the women on the stage in my demographic had wrinkles and smiles that looked completely natural and felt authentic and real.  I do believe it to be true that “happy girls are the prettiest!”

I appreciated the connection to spirit and all the ways that the conference confirmed and connected to the Jesuit tradition of the faith practice that I prefer.  The Jesuits have had this wisdom for their entire history.  So much of what was taught aligns with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

I laughed.  I cried.  I laughed until I cried.  I learned.  I got to share it with my best friend and the love of my life.  It was a perfect way to celebrate a milestone anniversary and to learn forward for the next 30 years.