The 2013 Net Impact Conference: Change Starts Here
Photography by Brian Tabisaura
Last weekend, 2,500 people traveled from as near as San Jose and as far as South Africa to join us at the 2013 Net Impact Conference. Driven by the belief that each of us has the capability to spark change – in ourselves, in the workplace, in the world – we came together for three inspired days of exploration, innovation, and experimentation.
Change requires stepping up and sometimes standing out. Keynoter Denise Morrison, one of only 21 women to lead a Fortune 500 company (Campbell Soup Company), reminded us that “you can lead the change or be a victim of change.” Caryl Stern (U.S. Fund for UNICEF) shared her vision for a world with zero preventable childhood deaths and encouraged us that we each have something to offer the world’s children.
This power of each one of us was clear to me as I looked into the audience and saw so many committed individuals looking back. My conversation with Premal Shah (Kiva), Nancy Lublin (DoSomething.org), and Brent Schulkin (The Spring, Carrotmob) wasn’t just a blast (who needs coffee when Brent is beat-boxing live on stage?!). It was deeply inspiring to see how they are tapping into the power of networks to forge new connections and empower people to use those connections for expansive impact.
Change requires the push and pull of different perspectives. On Saturday morning, Michael Brune (Sierra Club) and Ken Cohen (Exxon Mobil) engaged in a dynamic debate about the future of energy, expertly moderated by our own board member, Marc Gunther. The energy in the room (and online) was palpable. The audience sat on the edge of its seat as these two public figures challenged each other to be accountable – to the public, to the markets, to future generations, to the audience, and each other.
Change requires you to trust yourself, to nurture that Big Idea that lives inside you. This was the common theme among our closing keynoters, Kirsten Tobey (Revolution Foods), Chip Conley (Joie de Vivre Hotels, Airbnb), and Blake Mycoskie (TOMS). Each of these entrepreneurs were driven by a personal vision – that children’s learning is fed by healthy food, that business has an obligation to employees’ happiness, that all children should have access to shoes. By trusting that vision, each of them has translated an idea into real impact.
Finally, change starts with action. How exciting it was to see thousands of incredibly smart and driven people roll up their sleeves in workshops, around a table, in the hallways.
Our network is strong and committed. Together, we are making a net impact, transforming lives and organizations. Across the world, through more than 300 chapters, our network is changing the world within and beyond business.
While change starts with just one idea, one risk, one person, change is amplified through the strength and support of a community.
Together, let’s continue what we started to make a net impact.
CEO of Net Impact