The Nantucket Project is a 5-day conference that brings together 500 people to enable a discussion of "the boldest and most thought provoking ideas of our time".
Founded by the co-founder/CEO of Nantucket Nectars, Tom Scott, this year's conference was about "understanding understanding".
Needless to say, it delivered on its promise: "We disconnect from the noise and connect with each other. Those who open their minds and hearts are never the same."
I've never been to a conference with a higher concentration of amazing people, solving BIG/meaningful challenges and being all-in to collaborate.
The only complaint I have is that it's over which left me wondering what I can do to continue the momentum, stay connected to the community and do more...
Step 1, I'm writing this post to delineate 15 key ideas that really hit me along with links to the leaders who were involved in the discussions that triggered these ideas.
A bit on the long side but hopefully not too long.
There's no way this post will do the experience and the people justice but I hope anyone that reads it will ask me about it as this is a movement 110% worth joining and as always, I'd LOVE to connect the dots!
1 - The worst thing that ever happened to me turned out to be the best thing.
Paul de Gelder lost two limbs in a shark attack bringing his career as a daredevil Navy Bomb Clearance Diver to an end. Within a couple days of the attack, he flipped the switch and was doing one-arm-pull-ups in his hospital bed applying his military training of "Improvise, Adapt, Overcome". The results are astounding and speak for themselves.
2 - Balance what you think you know with a method to continuously improve your knowledge base.
An American hero who helped locate TWA flight 800 after it crashed into the ocean, David Gallo has been at the forefront of ocean exploration for more than 30 years. Given that only 5% of the ocean has been explored, his thoughts on the scientific method of developing a hypothesis and testing it over and over again as a life philosophy was powerful. Especially in today's connected world and the potential for folks to get comfortable in a "digital cocoon" aka a mirror that reflects what you already know, what you "want" to believe etc...Get out and explore your world...test/learn/iterate, test/learn/iterate, test/learn/iterate.
3 - You know 'Screw it, I'll go first' is a type of leadership.
Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ordained Lutheran pastor (ELCA) and the author of 2 NY Times best sellers: 'Pastrix; The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint' and 'Accidental Saints; Finding God in All the Wrong People'. She's a force of nature, amazing and I can't even put into words how outrageous (awesome kind of 'outrageous') her words were. Love is love and leading through a deep understanding of your community's interests is what it's all about.
4 - Create, share. Create, share. It works because you have good intentions.
Shantell Martin is an artist to the NTH degree. One of my favorite street artists, I'm pretty sure I embarrassed myself with how excited I was to talk with her at TNP but I think she might have thought it was funny...Hey Shantell, the answer to your question about "Are you you?" is a definitive yes! Shantell is GOOD news and her statement above is so true. If "you don't know about Shantell, now you know" as Biggie would say.
5 - The future of capitalism revolves around treating employees like assets that can be maximized not like costs that can be minimized.
Extremely powerful statement reinforced by a talk featuring Jim Sinegal (co-founder of Costco), Tim Armstrong (CEO of OATH) and Roger Martin (Prosperity Institute). Easier said than done but the idea of investing in your people to enable them to create more value as opposed to putting clamps on them to minimize their total cost has been the blueprint for how Jim built Costco. Devil is in the details for sure but a remarkable idea and approach to reimagine the way business is done. Looking forward to seeing his short-film "ProsperUS" soon.
6 - Cities are an empathy engine.
Fascinating talk with Oscar Boyson, who in one sentence explained one of the biggest reasons I LOVE NYC and cities in general...but I haven't ever been able to explain this feeling until he said it. I will most definitely be tuning into "The Future of Cities".
7 - Everyone deserves a second chance, especially those that are genuinely remorseful and have demonstrated a complete commitment to making the world a better place.
I was literally lost on day 1 of TNP (no surprise to anyone that knows me) trying to find the venue and I serendipitously met Chris Schumacher along the way. Chris served 17 years after killing another man over a drug related dispute tied to his drug dealing and has been out of San Quentin for 4 months. He's been sober since the day he went inside (yes, there's access to everything in there that there is out here) and his roster of achievements while inside is incredible - ran the San Quentin Marathon twice, participated in The Last Mile (a program that teaches inmates computer programming to give them better job prospects post release and reduce recidivism rates), started doing projects for tech companies from behind prison walls and became a valedictorian to name a few. His talk was super powerful and the notion of second chances is something I think we all need to be reminded of from time to time...Oh, and he grew up in Southern California, his brother played football for THE USC and later in the NFL so we're going to watch THE USC beat up on Cal Berkley together this weekend in SF in case anyone else is in town for "The Weekender"?
8 - Upbringing vs Education vs Life Experiences vs Embracing Diverse POVs vs Developing An Independent POV While Respecting Others POV vs Taking Action vs Developing Your Overarching Northstar/Purpose
While everyone was impressive, Adam Foss REALLY stood out on so many levels. The way he helped the audience understand that "we all have our gangs" but the circumstances one grows up in and those gangs that people choose can have massive implications on their respective trajectories. As a "Visible Man" (more on that in a little bit), dollar bet my man LITERALLY changes the world. All due respect to everyone else, Adam CRUSHED it! To get a feel, watch his Ted talk.
9 - Start with 'what can we gain by coming together'?
Under President Paul Kagame's leadership, Rwanda has progressed towards its vision for socio-economic development, peace and reconciliation. In July 2016, the African Union appointed President Kagame to lead the reforms process aimed at transforming the African Union into an efficient, productive and financially independent institution. It was fascinating to hear him breakdown the path forward when helping bring a divided population together.
10 - You can't spend all your time at the summit so you might as well enjoy the process, otherwise, what's the point?
Karma Sherpa teaches the world about the local Sherpa culture to "experience a meaningful life through new perspectives" and his straightforward message was foundational to so many speaker's life philosophies, fueling their amazing accomplishments. Tells you something about embracing the process if you want to do big, meaningful things...#TomBradyRule
11 - Practice extreme ownership, owning all aspects of where you are and where you're going.
In sports terms, Neil Phillips is EXACTLY the kind of coach players REALLY want to play for and as the founder and CEO of Visible Men Academy, there's no doubt his "players" feel the exact same way! His vision for his organization and his complete commitment to extreme ownership is tapping directly into the same vein that fuels Paul de Gelder..."Improvise, Adapt, Overcome". I don't think that's a coincidence...
12 - Start a movement and effect change via commerce.
Gregg Renfrew launched Beauty Counter, the California based brand drives a national movement for improved transparency and accountability in the beauty industry, including advocacy to update federal regulations that have stood largely unchanged since 1938. The company's mission is "to get safer products into the hands of everyone." Good on you Gregg Renfrew!
13 - Are we missing out on music's ability to be a powerful tool vs simply entertaining?
I think the answer to Kevin Eubank's question in general is yes, right? Art of course is subjective but when I think about the artists (musical or otherwise), the ones that I really dig have deep meaning that inspires their work and their message. Have you ever met someone who DOESN'T like music?
14 - Raising good, productive citizens...what's more important than that?
There was an awesome story told about a butcher who was laid off as the GM of a Boston based grocery store before joining Costco. After joining Costco, he was treated not as an expense but an asset (aka #5 above) and the rest is history. He spoke about what he's able to do as a husband, father and member of society, drawing the linkage between the Costco way and its impact well beyond the numbers...
15 - The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.
Jennifer Garner is the real deal. Hearing her bring it on behalf of "Save The Children" and the work she's been putting in for the last 10 years was passion and purpose on full display. Along with Jennifer, Mark Shriver helped crystallize what so many of us take for granted. Whether its your childhood, adulthood, family or your La Familia, the statement above is what it's ALL ABOUT.
As TNP says, "We'll always make our bet on that crazy kind of passion"...and I think we should too!
E: Alec.email@example.com; T/IG: @Alec_Coughlin