Oct 09, 2009

If You Want to Get It Done, Do It Now

Maria Giudice's picture
Maria Giudice
CEO & Founder

I just returned from A Better World 09, a student-conceived, student-run conference created in collaboration with the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University students. A Better World represents a new ideology for activists, architects, business leaders, designers, economists, engineers, and government officials. The design committee writes, "As much as this conference represents a global shift, it represents a grass roots movement. Just like you, the students behind A Better World by Design want to change the world." The administration of both schools had nothing to do with this conference. Student volunteers plan every aspect of this conference over the course of 8 months. They invite speakers from around the world to "inspire you to bring the spirit of globally conscious creativity into your own lives." In my 20+ year career, I've spoken at and attended many many conferences, but I have to say, I have truly come home inspired by the ability of these students to take such bold a initiative to attend school, handle coursework, AND plan a 3-day conference inviting speakers from around the world. I was honored to be asked to participate on the panel: "The Integration of Business and Design."

The basic theme of the conference really comes down to Jaime Lerner's mandate to the audience:

"If you want to get it done, do it now." The conference was packed with trailblazers and self-starters, designers, artists, engineers, architects, researchers, technologists, teachers, and many students who have done things that create positive change around the world. The impressive speaker list included Jan Chipchase, William Drenttel, Kigge Hvid, John Maeda, Emily Pilloton, and Nathan Shedroff. My favorite speaker was Jaime Lerner, an architect and urban planner who became mayor of Curitiba, a city in southern Brazil. During his years as mayor, he redesigned and transformed the city to help its citizens live a more sustainable and healthier life.

A couple of things blew my mind:

  • Student volunteers pulled off a killer conference
  • RISD and Brown worked together in collaboration
  • How connected the students and audience members were to global issues and have taken action to make an impact
  • The students were mentoring the audience and each other
  • How positive people felt about the future in such a screwed-up world

I came away feeling that those students were mentoring me rather than the other way around. I am inspired by their ability to "Be the change." The bar has been raised; we need to lead by example and find a way to help others in need—one person CAN really make a difference in this world.

I highly recommend this conference to anyone who needs a "shot in the arm" to identify their passion, get motivated and use that passion to contribute to create positive change in this inter-connected world.