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Gangplank on Arizona Horizon

I appeared on Arizona Horizon on PBS on Wednesday. You can watch the video here.

Hacking The Future of Humanity at TEDxLivermore

On June 8th, 2013 I spoke at TEDxLivermore about Hacking the Future of Humanity. The videos were recently published and now you can watch it for yourself.

From the Youtube Video:

Jade Meskill believes we have a choice: we can continue to condemn our children to a life of mediocrity through our apathy….or we can deliver them a future made of magnificence. Delving into the true hacker ethic, Jade poses the question: “How do you hack the system to leave our kids a magnificent future?”

The core principals of hacking: openness, sharing, decentralization of authority and free access to information, are shared from the perspective of someone who began a hackers’ life before becoming a teen. Jade also shares his core belief that the most important aspect of the hacker mentality is world improvement. According to Jade, the original definition of the word ‘hacker,’ (before it meant invasion of privacy or people taking over your computer), bespoke of people who were insanely curious about the new world of technology, of communication, and of computing power. Hackers were pioneers in a new frontier, building the basis of what fuels our modern, tech-driven world.

Jade Meskill works in the highly dynamic area of culture change, team improvement and organizational transformation. In this talk he discusses how his early education through Montessori school was a perfect match for supporting his penchant for creative exploration. He attributes the Montessori explorative learning style as a basis for his success as a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Gangplank, the best collaborative workspace for creative people and innovative companies in Metro Phoenix. Gangplank is an unusual shared workspace that, instead of charging a fee, demands your energy, your time, and your passion for true co-creation. It is as much a set of values and cultural beliefs as it is a shared work environment, and it is growing, with venues in various cities in the US and Canada.

Learn more about Gangplank at http://whatisgangplank.com/.

TEDxLivermore is organized by people from Livermore California who believe in the power of ideas to change the world. The mutual dependence of education and innovation means schools, industry and the broader community can join together to build an ecosystem where innovation + education can cross-fertilize and thrive.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Lunch – A Crucial Coaching Technique

Make time to go to lunch with the people you are serving.

I’ve learned far more about the organization, the people I’m working with, and the challenges that lie ahead by going to lunch with someone almost every single day I’m on site.

I believe that lunch is one of the least respected and valued times in American culture. It is a critical time of day to step back and release from the focus of our daily work. It is an ideal opportunity to restore sustenance not merely to our bodies, but our minds as well. I’ve forged or solidified many relationships over a simple lunch. The more you can talk, laugh, cry, and share life with those around you, the more human you become, the more influence you will be permitted to have.

Lunch is a powerfully simple tool to leave behind lasting change.

P.S. This is doubly important for those who are in a consultant role. There are many barriers to overcome when you are from the outside, especially with those who do not understand what you are doing here. Lunch is that safe opportunity to share a meal to reveal yourself as the amazing person you are. (without making it inappropriate, formal, or just plain weird, like a dinner with someone unfamiliar can be)

How Not To Have A Fierce Conversation

I have been reading the book Fierce Conversations. It has helped me to have a much more direct approach to difficult conversations, especially the ones that you really want to put off because they are so uncomfortable.

Recently at Integrum we have been undergoing a lot of deep, radical change, more about that in a later post. This has required me to have some very honest conversations with my entire team, much of it unpleasant. I don’t like confrontation; I don’t like to tell people that they need to move on (as in: time to work somewhere else). I’ve had to do that many times in the last few months. Reading this book has completely changed my approach. I don’t have it down to a science yet, and it’s not my first inclination, but I’m working hard to improve myself and my communication style.

Interestingly enough, today I got a letter in the mail: no return address, unfamiliar handwriting on the front. Anthrax jokes ensued. What was inside was almost as dangerous.

Jade
Jade everyone really likes and respects you. No one is denying you have a great business model with Gangplank and Integrum. But lately a day doesn’t go by without hearing something negative you have said about someone else. It seems your ego is getting in the way of your business. It hardly seems that the founder of Gangplank should be bad mouthing people constantly. We know you are smart, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is stupid. The foundation you are seeking to build is exactly the foundation you are destroying.

After the initial shock wore off, I started thinking… Wow, thank you anonymous person (that’s sarcasm by the way, one of my greatest gifts (that’s double sarcasm, Inception sarcasm)). It’s great that you feel that way, but now what? How do I ask questions? How do I get real feedback? Am I really doing this? This kind of Anonymous complaining is not helpful at all. It saddens me that whoever wrote this thought they were being courageous by sending this letter, but in reality, revealed the opposite. Engaging in a direct conversation addressing your issues with someone is one of the bravest things you can ever do.

Derek Neighbors recently wrote a post called You Can’t Handle The Truth, where he talks about dealing with people’s criticism of you. He states you have two choices Ignore the Criticism, or Fix the Problem. The challenge with Anonymous feedback is it’s impossible to know what to do… you can only look inside your own mind. It’s very difficult to be completely honest with yourself. How can you not be influenced by your own perceptions?

No man was ever so much deceived by another as by himself.
– Fulke Greville

So how do I deal with something like this? The honest truth is I don’t let things like this bother me too much. I try every day to be the best person I know how to be. Somedays I am a failure, but the path to being human is about the grace we extend to each other every new day, and challenging each other to rise to new heights. We are losing this skill as a race; too afraid to challenge, too afraid to speak up, too afraid to sign your own name. That’s why I’m publishing this here, radical transparency is scary, I really don’t want everyone to know that someone thinks these kinds of things about me. What will my mother say?

Here’s to pushing myself and to a better tomorrow!

The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner.
– Mark Twain

 

A Brave New World

No, not a dystopian novel about eugenics, this is my re-attempt to commit to a blogging world.

Hello all faithful followers (yes, Mom, I’m talking to you). Today is a new day, a new dawn, a fresh start, what have you. I have decided that I need to make a new commitment to blogging. I need to force myself to practice and dramatically improve my writing and communication skills. I had previously maintained a blog over at http://iamruinous.com, but blogged very infrequently and unprofessionally.

Times have changed. I have been stockpiling a lot of topics over the last couple of years as I have worked in and on my business (Integrum Technologies), helped to create a revolutionary movement (Gangplank), continued to faithfully serve (SanTan Christian Center), and have been experimenting with new technologies and dealing with human and technical challenges.

I am steeling my discipline to blog once per week on any one of the above topics. We’ll see how it goes…

Note: Considering it took me 2 weeks to even get this posted up, I’m not feeling very optimistic :-/