I was lucky enough to be invited to this event in Frankfurt this week. With 10 talks over 4 3 hours it was a lot to take in. I made a lot of notes and have written up my take-away from the enjoyable and thought provoking afternoon, starting with a few of my favorite quotes.
“It is not that we don’t have the time to do what we want. We don’t have the want to do what we have time for.” – Nolen Gertz
“Trust is the salt in our social supper” – Anne Bökler-Raettig
“Leaders no longer trust in power to lead but lead using the power of trust.” – Stephan Rathgeber
Simon Anholt spoke about Global Vote where they choose 1 election to cover per month and ask the world to vote on the outcome. They do not want to effect politics and so publish the results after the local results announced.
The point here is that there is a butterfly effect that can happen form each of these elections. Any politician elected to run their country has the potential to effect all other people on the planet. They have a local and global mandate now more than ever before, a duty to work for the good of all the people of the world.
There is a worry that there is a movement of looking inwards and backwards in politics at the moment, trying to help the people of a nation return to a ‘happier time’. The worry is that this is not progressive and the outlook should be outwards and forwards to embrace and explore the opportunities the future can bring.
Nolen Gertz gave a talk on technology and nihilism. His opening remarks focused on the current technology development paradigm of leisure as liberation, asking the question, does more leisure time make us more human? How engaged are we with our lives if technology is doing all the leisure work for us? The example he kept coming back to was ‘Netflix and chill’ which he believes is encouraging apathy to major issues affecting society (refugees, climate issues) and joked if this continues this would lead to ‘Netflix and freeze to death’.
This apathy is being amplified in social media where people share negative fake news stories without checking the source or even reading the article. To quote Nietzsche this depletes the “physiological capacity for life” and so in effect “makes the sick sicker”.
It was a thought provoking talk, encouraging the audience out of apathy and into action, with a few choice quotes:
“Responsibility is not something you do, it is something you are.”
“You need to become who you are.”
“It is not that we don’t have the time to do what we want. We don’t have the want to do what we have time for.”
Anne Bökler-Raettig talked about the setup for trust and a warning that in some cases prior information (reputation) can be so powerful you are blind to behavior that you would normally deem un-trustworthy. Trust is built through forgiveness and reciprocation. Great trust is earned through rounds of forgiveness, offering and receiving trust.
“Trust is the salt in our social supper”
Greg Gage gave an amazing demonstration of neuroscience for the masses. Slightly off the topic of trust he managed to demonstrate the presence of brain signals that command limbs by turning them into sound and then extended the trial by hooking up one audience member’s brain signals to another’s member’s arm. We also listened to the electrical signals of a cockroach leg. Hugely entertaining and I’d want my kids teachers to have access to Backyard Brain kits. Fun fact #1 if you pull a cockroach’s leg off it will grow back in 43 days. Fun fact #2 Greg still had a box of cockroaches in the bar long after the event had ended.
Daniel Koehler of GIRDS.org talked about the role trust plays in the radicalisation and deradicalisation of extremists. The main take from this talk was that we all have to play a part in demonstrating that integration and diversity creates stronger more resilient communities.
Wijnand Nuijts delivered a talk on the behavior patterns of high performing boards from his experience in and around the Dutch Central Bank. There is no secret culture to deliver peak performance, each culture will have positive and negative attributes. Management needs to make sufficiently clear what they expect when they make change. However, board members need to take heed of a few learning around a core finding that they tend not to challenge proposals enough. The reasons for this are varied:
- They are delivered incomplete information
- Profit is the dominant aim
- Risk is not considered enough
- Dominant management team
- Laissez faire leadership styles
- Distorted co-operation
- Strain for consensus
Daniel’s closing point on trust was that ‘trust = truth in relationships’. People need to know they will not be punished when things go wrong.
Stephan Rathgeber is a high achieving marketer who shared his attitude to leadership. His colleagues described his leadership style as ‘naked leadership’ meaning there was little or no filter between his emotions and desires and that was communicated to the team which has delivered a trusting working environment. He noted 3 attributes to trust; caring, ability and integrity. He encourages a bi-weekly “fuck-up hour” where his teams are encouraged to share mistakes and learning.
The meaning of work has changed from merely working for money to working for passion and purpose. He closed with a lovely quote:
“Leaders no longer trust in power to lead but lead using the power of trust.”