1. This year’s theme is “US Humans” What do you immediately think of when you ponder US Humans?
I think of the human brain’s capacity to fluidly re-define who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’. The smaller we draw those circles, the more mistrust and strife we create. The larger we draw those circles, the bigget the ‘us’, the more cooperative and supportive we are. We seem to have the capacity to be remarkably fluid with these definitions. When resources are tight, it’s easy to create many ways of defining smaller bunches of ‘us’ – ultimately down to a family unit and then to simply yourself. However, when a community or nation faces with an external threat such as a major war, humans can very quickly redefine ‘us’ as the entire nation once again.
2. Who has had the most significant influence on you in your adult life and why?
My wife and children. I think if you wake up every day wanting to make your family proud of you, and you understand what would truly make them proud of you, it can spur you to be your best self. Nothing teaches quite as powerfully as how those close to you look at you.
3. What is it about your work that keeps you going?
It’s unrelated to my talk, but my work of leading a growing global software company. What keeps me going is the idea that we have not reached the full potential of who we can be and what we can achieve. I want to see how far we can go, but each individual in the company and all of us collectively.
4. What is your passion outside your idea worth spreading?
I really enjoy soccer – not just the game but also the drama of sport, the tension of the game and the spectacle of stadiums full of screaming fans. I also love youth sports in general. When done well, it can be such an important learning ground for a young person.
5. Where’s the one place you’ve visited that you’ll never forget and why?
As I write this, I am on my way back from my first trip to Israel, which I will not forget. Not only is there an incredible amount of human history connected to that little location on the map, but the impression of the people there creating a thriving country under very difficult circumstances.
6. List three words that describe you.
Relentless. Committed. Passionate.
7. Are there any books that contributed to who you are? Is so, which one(s)?
It would be really hard to whittle that down to a small list. There have been so many! I have been impacted by Stoic philopshers like Seneca. Also anything I have read about Bhuddist philosophy. I know that may not fit with the three words I used to describe myself, but perhaps it’s the counter-balancing that is what makes it impactful?
8.Why do you want to speak at TEDxBend?
It’s as simple as the TED phrase of ‘ideas worth sharing’. I believe the idea of creating Coming of Age events for children is one that can help children, families and communities and I’d like to share it as widely as possible!