The second annual Platform.Org conference was this past weekend. The first Summit was held at the MIT Media Lab, but this year’s Summit brought their message of an inclusive innovation economy to Morehouse College. The Summit was 2 and a half days of inspiration, motivation, and community. Over 30 speakers came to share their experiences and visions for the future. The Platform Summit was an amazing event and here are 33 top nuggets of wisdom from the event.
Day 1: “Don’t ever let anyone put limitations on what you can achieve.” – Ralph de la Vega
Being an entrepreneur is one of the rewarding and challenging career decisions you can make. Entrepreneurship means working long hours alongside pushing through numerous pivots, failures, and closed doors. Morehouse president Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. opened the Summit and leading the first session of the conference, a conversation with Ralph de la Vega.
Ralph de la Vega has been the President and CEO of AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions since 2008 and he kicked off the Summit with a focus on innovation and perseverance. It was an extremely moving conversation filled with his personal experiences and words of wisdom that characterized the entire Summit.
1. “We must prepare ourselves for a future that currently does not exist.” – Ralph de la Vega
The first speakers’ session was titled MC Means Move the Crowd and featured 4 exceptional speakers (Lucinda Martinez, SVP Multicultural Marketing of HBO; Topper Carew, filmmaker and Urban Design Director at MIT’s Innovation Center Initiative; Adaora Udoji, founder and CEO of Outloud; and Keith Clinkscales, CEO of Revolt) offering their perspectives on how we as a community can harvest the strength and power of community creation to bring change. Lucinda Martinez was the first speaker in the panel and ushered in the conversation by posing the questions: “What is our true voice? What will we create?”
2. “In multicultural communities, we don’t Lean In; we Lean Back.” – Lucinda Martinez
3. “We have to celebrate those things that empower us.” – Topper Carew
4. “People are moved when they hear real people sharing their real truth.” – Adaora Udoji
5. “To fight the power, you’ve got to have the power of communication.” – Keith Clinkscales
6. “Inspiration leads to innovation .” – Keith Clinkscales
Entrepreneurial Alchemists was the second panel with 5 experts discussing entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial landscape. Innovation is the key to successful entrepreneurship and it was great to what Ty Ahmad-Taylor (Vice President of SmartTV at Samsung), Kesha Cash (the only African American woman with a venture capital fund, Impact America), Felix Ortiz (CEO of Virdis), Heather Hiles (the CEO of Pathbrite), and Paula Madison (CEO and Chairman of Madison Media Management).
7. “It is not the idea that wins, but operational excellence which allows you to succeed.” – Ty Ahmad-Taylor
8. “Don’t be afraid to take the nontraditional path.” – Kesha Cash
9. “In order for us to have true ownership in this economy, we’re going to have to do some getting over ourselves while at the same time not forgetting ourselves.” – Kesha Cash
10. “Learn to teach; teach to learn.” – Felix Ortiz
11. “Have two incomes and live on one.” – Paula Madison
12. “Genius is equally distibuted in society across zip code and neighborhood.” – Mitch Kapor
Day 2: “If you can see it already, it’s not innovation. Dream bigger.” – Rodney Sampson
Day Two opened with The Urgent Opportunity: an examination of how the world is changing with technology and the importance of being part of that disruption. These speakers all focused on the importance of people and communities coming together. The speakers were Pamela Thomas-Graham (Chief Marketing and Talent Officer at Credit Suisse), Van Jones (founder of YesWeCode), Carmen Rojas (Founding Executive Director of The Future of Work Action Center), Mike Blake (the former Associate Director of Public Engagement at the White House), Deldelp Medina (founder of Avion Ventures), and Ben Jealous (partner at Kapor Capital and former CEO of NAACP).
13. “You owe it to yourself to be as smart with your finances as you are with your health.” – Pamela Thomas-Graham
14. “Let’s stop wasting genius in our community.” – Van Jones
15. “Working together we can rebuild an ecosystem for economic justice.” – Carmen Rojas
16. “We need to go from being the exception to being comfortable being exceptional.” – Mike Blake
17. “We have to go back to the tradition of bringing all of us to the table to solve the problems of our community.” – Ben Jealous
18. “We got what we fought for but we lost what we had…If you’re going to fight for something, you better understand what it takes to win.” – Ben Jealous
Leading the Revolution was the second speaker panel of the day. This panel was an examination of successful leadership and what it actually means to be a leader. Communities have to come together for lasting change to take place and that means community members have to be strong leaders. The speakers in Leading the Revolution included Shellye Archambeau, CEO of Metricstream; Paul Judge, Chief Research Officer of Barracuda Networks; Francesca Escoto, founder and CEO of Startups for Social Impact & Innovation Lab; Tiffany Norwood, founder and CEO of Tribetan; and Rodney Sampson, founder and CEO of Opportunity Hub.
19. “Women are better communicators, more active listeners, and are more democratic and inclusive in leadership.” – Shellye Archambeau
20. “Leadership wasn’t a badge I put on. It was an action that I took.” – Paul Judge
21. “You have to be bold and have the audacity to create and define your own rules.” – Paul Judge
22. “Innovation fuels revolution.” – Francesca Escoto
23. “We need to set new standards and we need to define the game that we’re going to play.” – Francesca Escoto
24. “To start and lead a revolution, follow 3 steps: (1) master your mind, (2) attract a tribe, (3) extreme faith.” – Tiffany Norwood
25. “The only thing that separates the beginning and the end is faith. It’s not confidence, it’s faith.” – Tiffany Norwood
26. “A mind without barriers creates ideas without limitations.” – Rodney Sampson
Day 3: “Those who fight for a cause must lead it.” – Rev. Jesse Jackson
Multicultural Futurists was the final panel of the Summit. It was an amazing last set of speakers to round out an amazing conference. These final speakers included Alex Rivera (filmmaker), Janelle Monae (singer/songwriter), David Ortiz (game designer), and Tananarive Due (author and filmmaker) who used their perspectives from within the entertainment industry to offer discussion on the roles both fiction and perception have in shaping our futures.
27. “Make the normal strange.” – Alex Rivera
28. “Fiction is not an escape from reality, but the first battle for reality.” – Alex Rivera
29. “Embrace the things that make you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable.” – Janelle Monae
30. “The first generation uses their bodies to make money; the second generation uses their minds to make money; the third generation uses their money.” – David Ortiz
31. “Perception starts when you’re young and we battle that with fiction.” – David Ortiz
32. “There is a future where we can imagine ourselves thriving.” – Tananarive Due
33. “All that you touch, you change. All that you change, changes you. The only lasting truth is change.” – Tananarive Due
The Platform Summit was an amazing experience and I am elated that they chose to host their second conference in Atlanta at Morehouse. It shows how Atlanta is seen as a hub of innovation–and a hub of innovation for marginalized groups within the national innovation ecosystem. Every speaker brought their own perspective, but there was the shared message of bringing together your community to make lasting changes that benefit everyone. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers. We need to harness that passion for challenging the status quo and going beyond the norm to come together, improving our communities and making them places where people can thrive.
The Author: Kristine Santos. Entrepreneur. Anthropologist. Writer. Runs social media and blogging for Atlanta-based startup PEAR’d, a virtual collaboration ecosystem for entrepreneurs. A vegetarian who’s learning how to sew and wants to know all about your startup. Let’s talk on Twitter@PEARdUP
[Photo Credit: Flo McAfee]