Each year ISE employees are allocated 40 hours to use towards growth and development activities. Some use it to attend technical conference, some towards online learning classes, and others to play around with new technology. This year I've used the hours to grow my leadership skills and to become more involved in the community. Last week I attended the TEDx event in Iowa City which had a theme of “Power of Community”. I've never attended a TED Conference, but have watched a few online. I was pretty interested to see what a local, live event would be like, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The structure of the afternoon was ten talks lasting about 10 to 15 minutes each. Eight of the talks were live, and two were from previous events in other locations. Before each talk, the presenter was given a standing ovation to give them our love and energy to power their speech. I like this tradition and would like to find a way to incorporate it at work.
Food Waste and Climate Change
First up was Marc Zornes, founder of Winnow, with an issue that is also a concern of mine - food waste . Each year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted, with most of it diverted to landfills. Not only is this filling up landfills, it also means we need to produce even more food to feed our growing population. This a factor in the increasing rate of climate change.
There are many more options between creation of food and throwing it away that could be utilized. If the food is still viable for human consumption, donate it! Can it be converted to animal feed? If I can't be fed to humans or animals, can it be re-used as fuel or compost? The last place it should end up is the landfill.
Winnow believes food is too valuable to waste. They build technologies to help chefs run their kitchens more efficiently. The companies they work with are making great strides in their waste reduction and where leftover food is diverted, moving towards sustainability.
Benefits of Community Involvement
Lisa Song Sutton, co-founder of several businesses including Sin City Cupcakes, spoke on the importance of community involvement. The more you are involved in the community, the more your business will thrive. People that see you out in the community want to support your company, which boosts your business, which in turn allows you to be more involved in the community.
To determine a cause or non-profit to work with, think about what you like or are good at, or a cause that has affected you personally. Find a business or non-profit that is aligned with your passion and volunteer or provide financial support.
The Importance of Purpose
One of the pre-recorded talks was by Simon Sinek titled "How Great Leaders Inspire Action". I've seen this video previously and would highly recommend giving it a watch.
[Source: Start With Why]
The idea is based around what Simon refers to as "The Golden Circle" - What? How? Why? He used it to explain why some organizations and leaders are able to inspire and other are not. Every company knows what they do and some know how they do it. Very few know why they do what they do - other than making a profit. What's your purpose, cause, or belief? Why should anyone care about what you do or sell?
Simon gives an example of why we will buy anything from Apple - computer, MP3 player, phone, and DVRs. While other computer companies have tried launching similar products and failed. People believe in what Apple does as a company and therefore buy their products, regardless of what that product is. "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it". This also can be applied to employee productivity and retention. If employees believe what the company believes, they work longer and harder for that company.
The last talk, Kent Stock, was riveting to me. Kent was the coach that the movie The Final Season was based on. I'm not about to go out and become a baseball coach, but it was really interesting to learn his life story. Knowing his background, I now want to re-watch the movie!
With each speaker, I was able to take away a morsel of information to use in my life or at work. From "think of your outputs as inputs" and "we have more that connects us than divides us", to "don't go to a zoo to study a lion, go to the prairie". To learn more about each of those phrases, check out the Iowa City TEDx live feed here. The introduction starts at time stamp 19:25.
If there's a TEDx event in your community, I'd highly recommend attending.
Did you attended the Iowa City TEDx event or an event elsewhere? How was your experience? What did you learn? Join the conversation below!