Monday, October 15, 2007

Leadership Mastery - Day 1

So I've decided to attend the Leadership Mastery program run by the power within. One it was just an excuse to get away for the weekend and hang out in "one of the most relaxing places on the face of planet Earth".

The first night was spent in a pure networking mode where basically all of the delegates were put together into a room to mingle. Just the meeting of the minds alone last night was worth the entire trip.


The MC

James Cunningham was the MC - and has a definitely intoxicating stage personality. His stage presence alone grabbed everyone's attention and brought us back into the fold. Although he used many of the jokes from his GM appearance, it's his delivery that truly makes them stand out.


The Speakers

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm spoke mainly about ideas within his book
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Wisdom without understanding
A disconnect between how and why.
and what stood out the most to me: the fragility of the wisdom in Blink.

What was interesting was his discussions on a triangle taste test instead of the traditional Pepsi vs. Coke test.

Give a person two unmarked glasses, one containing Pepsi and the other containing Coke, they'll have an 80% change of being able to tell which is which. (Personally I keep choosing Coke on purpose to infuriate those Pepsi guys). But if you introduce a third glass, containing either Coke or Pepsi, they odds that they'll be able to identify the odd drink is reduced to 33%, or pure chance.

How the intuitions of experts reach the level that they are is the very definition of the term "expert". The gut reactions that leaders have that end up becoming wise decisions in the long run come from the countless hours of experience under their belts. Malcolm then goes on to mention that younger folks just haven't on average had enough life experience to be able to make these types of decisions yet - but I'd have to disagree if you truly live, breathe, and immerse yourself in the topic that is your mastery. That being said, someone 100% in tune with their area of expertise - a 20 year old, although immature at life in general could be more versed in a subject more-so than someone 20 years in an industry. How else would you explain the child prodigies that are able to captivate and inspire the rest of the world to strive and reach farther every time?

Which in turn brings me to the next speaker:

Roland Fryer

Roland contrary to Malcolm's postulate on age, managed to receive tenure at Harvard under 30 years of age. What makes Roland stand out in my mind is his work on another one of my favourite books: Freakonomics

The discussion that carried well on into the lunch hour was Roland's methods on incentivising children on how to do better in school as a whole. His talks went from explaining how to ensure that kids came to school on time by spending on $300 per classroom by investing in an Xbox. The story continues to develop as he explains that kids were lining up at 6:45 am to get in early so they could play, and subsequently weren't late for class. Another method was to pay a child $2 per book read - followed by passing a comprehensive test.

Although he's been downtrodden by others in the educational community for his methods, I've got to say that I'm a personal believer because as a child my parents did not give me an allowance. Instead they rewarded me for getting good grades - and not just ANY grade, but only getting paid for "A's". As this was my major source of income for the summer time, naturally I tended to bring home as many A's as possible, unfortunately not doing so well in the subjects of French and Calculus. Funny enough I earned the award for top marks in the business class and look where I am today... Now my parents work with me, and I'm the one giving the incentive of money for performance.

After a well put together lunch with some tasty BC Salmon our minds were put to the test with Dr. Laura D'Andrea Tyson and her talk on economics.

She went on to tell the tale of the falling US Dollar against the world currencies (which by the way is a good thing and bad thing for my Forex investors at iPoint ) and discussed the balance of world trade overpowering world production among further interesting facts. Even more engaging were the questions asked at the end with a very entertaining remark on Clinton vs. Clinton.

My only feedback is that for the day - her talk came right after lunch, and although the content was amazing, the delivery method was not as story filled, or lively as the other speakers, and as such a few people were caught nodding off. Perhaps switching positions with Darcy Rezac .

On the art of the N.E.T.W.O.R.K. Darcy sits near the perfect definition of what Malcolm Gladwell defines as a connector. Part of the equation of what it takes to cause a Tipping Point - although I'm having a hard time picturing Darcy on horseback with the message that the "British are coming". His book The Frog and Prince, or the newly updated Work the Pond! are labelled as the connector's handbook.

Darcy went to give us great examples on the small world phenomenon, as well as tidbits of the science behind networking and the 6 degrees of separation. He even goes as far as showing the formula behind your networking capability as a balance between your current network, your ability to network, and your leadership skills. With an unforgettable exit on the stage with a sing-a-long that had more than the number of expected people joining in, I'll be sure to never leave my business cards at home - ever. Actually Darcy, if you ever end up reading this, you're the reason why I wanted to attend more Board of Trade events.

The day closed with last, but definitely not least Arianna Huffington who with her biting wit, and delicious but tasteful sarcasm told us her story along with all of her political commentary on how the world cannot be simply divided into two categories whether they are left and right, up and down, or wrong and right. My favourite joke from her speech was her comment on MSNBC being downgraded into a series of news reports of blonds reporting on other missing blonds. I'd look forward to hearing her speak again at a future event. Another part that stood out for me was her topic on "Joy Triggers" - identifying and using the simple things in life that make it all worthwhile. Be it a song with personal meaning to you, or just getting a smile from your special someone.

On that note - I'm exhausted just reminiscing about day 1's completion. Now it's time to forward this blog along to many interesting people I met at the conference and see how well I can put my new knowledge of blinking, bribing, economizing, networking and happiness to the test.


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