Last week 3p’s resident brand builder, Duke Stump, previously of Nike and Seventh Generation, attended TED for the first time. Below are his top ten reflections:
1. DATA IS MY NEW FRIEND – For years I rebelled against statistics. Perhaps it was because I got a D+ in Stats 101 at college or the fact that I saw data as something that neutered intuition. Regardless, after seeing Sean Gourley’s presentation on The Mathematics of War, I am a new convert for data and statistics. I now see a new world of abundance where intuition and statistics converge and inform each other. Powerful.
2. INSPIRATION VERSUS DESPERATION – As one TEDster said over lunch, “We don’t have time to be pessimistic.” I personally am an eternal optimist obsessed with what could be and thus I found the verve that permeated the conference to be both magnetic and nutritious. Negative visioning is seldom sustainable, so why not focus on possibility?
3. WHAT WOULD BUCKY DO – As someone who holds Buckminster Fuller as a borderline deity, I kept thinking over and over how cool it would have been to see him on stage. His teachings and principles have never been more relevant than they are today. TED and Bucky would have gone together like sweet ocean swells and empty classrooms. So how about adding D.W Jacobs’s play R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe to TED 2010 Long Beach?
4. FRUSTRATION IS A FUNCTION OF EXPECTATION – The aura leading up to the event is surreal. You begin to feel as if folks will be walking on water. TED has certainly mastered the art of creating your own buzz. That said I had to reconcile my expectations with reality. In other words, TED was fantastic, but the hype leading up to the event created a false sense of brilliance at every step and that is simply not realistic nor fair.
I admit it. I love to live life in a way that there is no middle ground. It’s about going to the edge to see what’s on the other side. Along the way, you either thrive or fall flat on your face. I’ve done both, and surprisingly, they both provide a spiritual gift in a way that suggests the only wrong answer is to play it safe. What I’ve come to realize, is that there is an abundance of possibility that remains untapped. We live in a place of desperation (usually caused by negative visioning) versus inspiration. We also tend to keep the bar low so that we can ensure our success. That said, I do not anticipate every brand understanding how there could be opportunity in today’s marketplace, but the authentic and relevant ones who speak about courage, vision and leadership will get it. They understand that right now is a WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY. Why? It’s simple…the hard time is the right time.
I’ll tell you a little secret. The core thing that makes NIKE such a resonant and relevant entity to so many evangelists is that the brand has a dynamic cultural ethos. They’re brilliant at adapting and evolving. In fact, during my almost sixteen years at NIKE, we often would joke that the only constant is change. Life at the Swoosh is never static. And when times get tough, NIKE rallies like no other. Why? Because they have an amazing antenna for the emerging future and so when things become turbulent, they don’t see trouble, they see OPPORTUNITY.