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StartingBloc NOLA 2015

Last month I had the opportunity to attend a conference and professional development program in New Orleans called StartingBloc, which is aimed at bringing together change makers from all over the world and giving them the knowledge and peers they will need to make an impact. Many of the members here supported me in this journey, and to you all I say THANK YOU! It was an experience that will stay with me throughout my carrier, and the knowledge and insight that I’ve gained will influence me for the rest of my life.

While I was in New Orleans, I was thinking constantly about what I wanted to write about in this blog. There were so many things I learned about, and all of them are interesting, applicable to the Hub and my work, and everything resonated with me. This is a problem that I often face, that I connect with things, get ideas, and get excited to execute them; 100 times a day.

There is not enough time in the week, and not enough words in this blog, for me to say everything so I will touch briefly on the two concepts that resonated with me the most.

The first was Polarity Mapping. This is the idea that both people and organizations have sets of opposing values, such as creativity vs. productivity, or structure vs. spontaneity. The danger in polarities is that we (both people and organizations) tend to cling to one poll or another because of our fears about the negative repercussions of the opposite poll. And oftentimes, we fail to see the benefits of the other end of the spectrum. An example of this would be a highly organized person who sees a spontaneous person as simply flakey or unreliable. We were able to work with this tool in order to identify and mitigate imbalances both in our lives and in our organizations.

The other tool that really resonated with me was Rapid Prototyping and Human Centered Design. We worked with an organization called Rework to brainstorm solutions to real problems faced by local New Orleans businesses. By quickly coming up with solutions and creating rough prototypes, we were able to user test solutions in minutes rather than months. I had the opportunity to work with OnBoard, a educational travel experience, to help them create actionable solutions to attract more students, and we collectively gave them two solutions that they will incorporate into their strategy.

Finally, some of the most profound experiences I had were with the people I met. I was surrounded by people from New York, Africa, Canada, New Orleans, South America, and the Middle East all working to make their communities better. I also met people with all different skill sets and experience, working to achieve the same goals. With so many diverse people in the room, one might think that the barriers between people would be difficult to overcome, but in fact the opposite was true. We all felt a sense of purpose and camaraderie that was unbelievable for a group of total strangers. I also feel that I have to stress to you all how amazing each of these individuals were. I was blown away by the amount of passion, intelligence, and creativity that surrounded me every day, and I feel both honored and humbled to be counted among the StartingBloc New Orleans alumni.

It is still hard to describe the experience in all of it’s unique, challenging, and inspirational complexity. I will be working for some time to figure out just how to integrate this experience into my life and my work here at Impact Hub, but I do know that the insight I gained will continue to influence me in many ways. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that StartingBloc was a wonderful experience that I would recommend to anyone who has ever thought to themselves, “I want to change the world.”

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