Monday, 25 July 2016

CECS and the City Episode 3: Acronyms and Lists

By day 3, we’d figured out the secret to being a good presenter at a conference…acronyms! Speakers were throwing them at us from all directions, especially on the final day as our focus turned to social innovation, entrepreneurship (a word I have never in my life spelt correctly) and leadership.

We learnt that start-ups get money from FFFs (friends, family and fools), the new craze is SALt (sustainable alternative lighting), lots of attendees were YGLs (young global leaders), and that POWER (P, W, R = power with results, minus approval from Others and seeking External validation) is the leadership mantra we’ve all been looking for. Oh, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) became STEAM (add in the arts), and then STEAM became STREAM (add in reading and writing). My notebook felt like a glossary by the end.
Those who were slightly less adventurous stuck to numbered lists to get their points across. However, it became apparent that only lists of three things were acceptable. Four is too much for an audience to remember, and two is barely enough to keep them interested, so like goldie locks, we found that the middle is just right. 

My favourite list of three from the conference was from Dr Teresa Kennedy who spoke about mindfulness. If you’ve read my post about engineering and empathy ( then you’ll know that I’m a big fan of mindfulness. Although on second thoughts, I didn’t present that idea in an acronym, so you probably don’t remember what I wrote! Damn. Oh well, luckily Teresa made us a list of three so now we can’t forget! Here it is:

Steps to Mindfulness
  • Be present
  • Have a beginner’s mind
  • Pause and reflect

It seems so simple yet we’re all pretty bad at these three little things. So often we are focusing on the future or the past, and that’s why we need to be reminded to be present, to enjoy whatever is happening right now, and observe what’s there around us.

Having a beginner’s mind is so important. It’s worryingly hard to find someone who has that open mindset, is willing to entertain different ideas, admits they don’t know things, and is genuinely excited about what’s happening. No one ever stops being a beginner, and the moment you think you have, all of the doors close in on you.  

Finally, without pausing and reflecting, everything you do has a little less meaning. When potential employers get you in for a job interview, they don’t just want you to say you were President of something, or did this big group project, or got these amazing (or not so amazing) grades. They’re looking for you to reflect on these experiences. Tell them what you learnt about yourself, what you would do differently next time, why you chose to do it, what’s next for you or how it has influenced the way you look at things. These are the sorts of questions you should ask over and over again when looking at your life or your work. Take the time out to ask yourself “why?”

Before I go, I couldn’t give you a rundown of day 3 without mentioning Yobie. He is someone that doesn’t need a last name. If you say “Yobie” in New York, people will know who you’re talking about. He is one of those College drop outs turned mega billionaire entrepreneurs (still can’t spell this word). He was involved in the early days of lotus and that made him a lot of money at a young age. Since then he’s been jumping into bed with some of the most ambitious and talented innovators going around. He had some pretty crazy things to say, so I wanted to give you little snippets of the things that made my jaw drop.  Oh and to demonstrate my presentation proficiency, I’ve put them in a list of three for you.
  • He owns a gene fabricating machine. He keeps it in his basement. I’m not entirely sure what it’s purpose is, other than to be a cool thing to brag about.
  • He purchased bandwidth that can cover the whole world. Which means he can control drones anywhere. Think about that.
  • To help prevent illegal poaching of rhinos for their horns in Africa, Yobie and his mate flooded the market with 3D printed rhino horns so they’d lose their value. I love this idea. Economics, right!? 

He also reckons he will soon be able to predict the stock market in real time. There wasn’t room in my list of three for that fourth fact, but I also couldn’t come up with an acronym with four letters that meant something! Oh well, I should probably give up on my ambition to speak at conferences one day.  

You can read about some of the advice Yobie gave us for entrepreneurs in the next post. 


Related Articles

Meet The Author