A message from Nick Smoot, founder, Innovation Collective
First I want to say how honored I am to share our crazy experiment, Innovation Collective, with all of you at Transform!
A few years ago I was sitting in a room as Bill Gates, Tony Blair, and Michael Milken were discussing the massive shifts in our global economy. A comment was made from the stage that I recall clear as day… “if it isn’t good for all of us, it isn’t good for any of us.” This was a moment along with many other concerned comments they made that created a surreal experience I will never forget. It opened my eyes to the compassion that the kings of capitalism have for the masses and yet there is still a major disconnect between the strategies to fix it and the realties of life.
A few months before this conference I observed closely the Occupy Movement. A collective scream for help by many who felt left behind in this brave new economy. Mostly their actions were and are driven by fear. Fear of losing houses, not affording food for families, and not seeing where in the world they can give the best of themselves. As in any collective cry for help, the message gets scrambled and media can shift the focus.
What I did learn without a doubt is that something isn’t working. The machine isn’t as great as we had hoped and we all want to point the finger at someone else. The path to the American Dream has never been a down hill waltz on a paved road, but the idea that working hard will get you to the top of “American Dream Mountain” isn’t as sure footed of a plan as it was in the mid 1900’s. The path has shifted and few have found it.
So, is the answer universal basic income? Is the answer free retraining programs? Is the answer for people to work harder? For everyone to become a coder?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but what I do know is that most humans want to give their highest and best self to the world around them. Most humans want to live in a way that satiates their desire for adventure and significance. Most humans want to be a better version of themselves. Most humans want to see ideas they have become realities.
Yet, we are seeing skyrocketing rates of loneliness, hopelessness and depression. A quick look at the opioid epidemic or the wild success of video games packed with adventure and you can see the failure of the masses to find the joy of truly living.
Where do we go from here?
We must begin to be friends again. We must get to know each other again, encourage each other, set goals with each other, and hold each other accountable to our plans. We must have a place to share our dreams. A place to learn from each other. A place to laugh together and play together. A place to create the future together. We can no longer sit at home with feelings of lost hope or numbness as we watch another episode or continue to scroll aimlessly.
In our 5 years of experimenting in communities, we have uncovered a truth I believed and now know to be true. Everyone has something to give. Everyone has magic inside of them. It may look different than yours, but our world needs everyone creatively giving of their magic. That is why we have been developing communities around the country where the members care for each other, listen to each other, learn together, dream together, build together. This isn’t an accelerator and sometimes it isn’t even a physical building. Once a town reconnects, chooses an industry to obsess over and to solve big problems in, it becomes logical that the giants of an industry need to know the crazy creators from a town where everyone is working together on solving problems for their industry from their garages. This is the American Dream Factory, this is Innovation Collective.
I hopefully will see you at Transform as I share the story and strategy of how we have been hyper focused on rebuilding community and repairing capitalism. Here is a little secret… our model works in any town of any size. Our model works when a few people choose to lead. Our model has helped the poor become millionaires. Our model has revolutionized product lines for fortune 100 companies. Our model has major corporations looking to unlikely people in unlikely places for the future of their industries. Come explore the new way of connecting, learning, holding each other accountable, and chasing our dreams while at the same time turning every city into a connected community that acts as the research and development lab for full industries.
Come see the Innovation Collective.