Unlike most conferences, the BIF Summit has no theme beyond presenting remarkable stories of transformation.
Why? The BIF organizers know that the participants themselves will discover patterns, aha’s, and insights that make sense for them.
I work for BIF, but like everybody else at the Summit, I have to — and always do — discover my own insights each time. In this series I’ll share my top insights from BIF2016, including BIF2016 storyteller videos. You can explore the entire set of BIF2016 videos here.
Insight: Honor your own journey.
Transformation itself — the focus of the BIF Summit — is a journey. We ask our speakers to tell stories about transformation, since the forward motion of stories is the best way to describe a transformative journey.
That said, some BIF2016 speakers told stories of transformation that directly resulted from understanding and honoring their own journeys. And some told stories of successful transformation that only in retrospect could be seen as a result of their own life journeys.
Drawing Through Change
Liza Donnelly has spent more than 30 years drawing cartoons with pen and ink for the New Yorker and other publications. Despite her love of the “feel of pen to paper,” Donnelly has also recently begun using an iPad for “live cartooning” at such events as the Oscars, the Democratic National Convention, and on a regular basis for CBS This Morning. She posts the digital cartoons immediately on social networks.
Donnelly relies on her longtime experience as a print cartoonist to meet the demands of this new way of working, with its new tools, speed, and instant feedback from her audience. Live cartooning has in turn changed her approach to the political- and feminist-themed cartoons she has drawn for decades. “Drawing on the Internet more and more, I feel the need to speak out more forcefully,” she says. “Not just slice of life issues, but violence against women across the world.”
‘Going To School Every Day Of Your Life’
Penny Baldwin, head of brand and reputation for Intel, started her career in the post-“Mad Men”, pre-Internet advertising business. Rather than being crushed by the waves of digital-driven disruption that swept through advertising during that time, she developed an expertise at surfing those waves.
She combined her years of experience with a willingness to take a deep dive into changing seas. “You cover your eyes and jump” into new challenges, she told the BIF2016 audience, “working your butt off, going to school every day of your life, asking a million questions, and learning what you need to learn.”
Using Your Journey To Change The World
Ross Szabo, a lifelong mental health advocate, urges people to care for their minds and emotions as they would their bodies. Szabo began, and continues, his advocacy role by talking about his own mental health journey. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 16, he first struggled to try to hide his symptoms, then learned to face them.
Now he works to convince people that, despite the ongoing stigma, talking about their own mental health is actually good for their mental health. Bringing others on your journey “isn’t just about handling adversity,” he says, “but about knowing yourself enough to know what you need in the moment.”
Using Your Heritage As A Springboard To Create Your Own Journey
Roberto Rivera shares the story of his own journey from a dope dealer to a “hope dealer” as part of his work with the Good Life Organization (GLO), a social enterprise that catches young people who slip through the cracks of our educational and social systems.
Rivera’s approach lies in helping at-risk youth place their own journeys into the context of their heritage in hip-hop, “the most innovative cultural movement of this age….This is their history, and it’s important that they know it and claim it, and build off that foundation,” Rivera says. “If our kids today can recapture that narrative, realize their link in the chain of tradition, it’s not so far-fetched that they might have the idea for the new Facebook.”
Other stories in this series: