Inclusivity: Notes and quotes from a killer conference

Last week I was at the 99U Conference in New York City, which is about making ideas happen. We all know that conferences often fail to bring it, which then brings out the cynic in me or worse, a serious case of the existential angsts. So while optimistic, I wondered what would be delivered. Would I feel amongst my people? Would I come away feeling clear about what steps I wanted to take next? Would I have a good time?

I got a sense of things to come the first morning, during a workshop at Grind. Once we got into small groups to do a speed branding session, two of us did a double take. Turns out Andaleeb and I had worked together before, at UCLA. Maybe I was amongst my people…

Embodying inclusiveness

Brene Brown, who is a researcher on vulnerability, was the first 99U speaker. So right away, there’s a sense that we’re in it together, because we’re reflecting on a feeling everyone knows, especially creative people who are putting their work out there. Often what you put out is critiqued, sometimes brutally. The take away?

“If you create, you will get your ass kicked.” – Brene Brown, researcher at University of Houston.

Therefore, she went on to say, if you’re not also creating (and are only a critic) I’m not interested in your feedback. Here, here!

Photo of making a collage

Making mood boards in a workshop. Turns out we had collaborated at UCLA years before!

This idea came up quite a bit over the two days, and was echoed by Sebastian Thrun, oh he of Google Glass and MOOC fame, among other feats. When asked how he deals with detractors he said that he’ll go out for a drink with them. But not a second.

How is this inclusive? By communicating that we’re in this together. We have shared feelings. We can relate.

A critic often doesn’t allow themselves to feel vulnerable. If you’re feeling closed off, if you’re consistently taking ideas or people down without putting your own out there, then this isn’t the place for you. It may seen paradoxical, but it’s quite intuitive.

Finally, it should be said that good design is inclusive by nature.

“Is it design or engineering? That’s such a 2004 conversation.” – Hosain Rahman, Founder and CEO of Jawbone.

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More lessons from 99U coming right up…

I took the tulips photo. It was so perfectly spring in NYC.

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