I'm Mad as Hell and I'm Not Going to Take it Anymore

With a nod to Paddy Chayefsky, of late, I've noticed a large number of people I know burning up with this desire to "do something good." Some of them are between jobs. Some of them are out of work. Some of them have just been at the same darned thing for too darned long. It almost feels like a groundswell movement. People want to do something that truly makes a difference. 

This week I spent two days at the World's Greatest Problem Solver's Conference in Boulder, Colorado. It was put on by the Van Heyst Group, a juggernaut of dialogue and debate whom I've worked with all over the world for the past 20 years years. This event was different for me. For the first time, I was a participant, not a worker bee. I got to drink at the receptions (okay, maybe I've snuck a wee dram while working, in the past), meet cool people, and sit in and listen to discussions on some of the largest ideas keeping us awake at night. What's on people minds?

Preventing terrorism by enlightening the mothers of extremists. Plopping censors down every water well in America to understand drought. Confronting violent crime like an epidemic (think Ebola) to apply science to reducing inner city murder rates. Treating crop data like a renewable resource to empower farmers. Harnessing wind to create untold power and create new jobs. Placing the safety of children in the hands of the community through the use of technology to keep our kids safe. 

I could go on and on. What linked this extraordinary group of people was passion to the Nth degree. Their views were out there: disruptive, controversial, futuristic, and unique. From entrepreneur to filmmaker, Ph.D. to impact investor, they all brought one shared desire:  to advance a cause that was not about themselves. 

The meeting was small, the presentations simple and powerpoint-gentle. It was not about showmanship, but heartfelt words and bold ideas. Conferences can be boring. This one was not. We sang. We hugged. We dined and drank. We listened. We pitched in. We worried about our collective condition and linked arms to make a 21st century difference.

I have been paid to write "takeaway reports" for a dozen years. I was off duty this week. The takeaway was the feeling in the room and the snow in the air. Early winter put no one off. The blaze of ideas sent us all home thinking, "Yes, maybe I can make a difference." My takeaway? Maybe we can.