The true Originals of TED2016

We just finished up a great week at TED 2016 — so many great moments, from Shonda Rhimes re-defining “hum”, to Al Gore’s uplifting talk about climate change (the entire talk was positive), to Tim Urban‘s talk on procrastination, TED lived up to the “brain spa of the mind” moniker it’s been given and proved to be a valuable week of connections (both neural connections and connections to new people).

What is standing out to me as I reflect back on the week is that the true Originals of TED 2016 weren’t the folks on the TED stage, but were the artists who created outside of it during the week.

The TED stage produces incredible wonder and inspiration and provocation, but there is perhaps nothing more rehearsed than the TED stage. This level of rehearsal is of course what leads to so much amazingness, but it can on occasion fall flat.

The standout Original this week to me was the inimitable Amanda Palmer. On Wednesday night, Amanda organized #ninjaTED, a variety show that was perhaps akin to what an old school circus would have been like in the 1920’s.

Amanda, being the incredible visionary she is, thought, “wow, there’s a lot of artists in town for TED, but basically only these 1%-types who are here for TED get to experience that. what if I rent out my own theater and invite these artists and we do something cool?”

And it was beyond cool.

There wasn’t an empty seat in the 1000+ seat house as artists and locals from all around Vancouver came together for Amanda’s experiment. They were rewarded and then some. The night featured the incredible Sarah Kay’s poetry, Bill T. Jones’s dance moves, Usman Riaz, Rhiannon Giddens, David Kwong’s magic, a parody TED talk by Adam Savage, and how about the Canadian National Yo Yo Champion and Canadian National Kite Flying Champion to boot. It was raw, real, authentic, amazing. The night even concluded with an incredible David Bowie tribute with Chris Hadfield. Yeah, just an astronaut on stage singing, no big deal.

Amanda was a brilliant host. She’s an incredible community builder and her community was a badass group to get to spend a night with and be a part of.

Two nights later, another brilliant soul, the aforementioned Sarah Kay, held a poetry reading event at a small bookstore in Vancouver. To a standing room only crowd with people literally standing outside the bookstore and peering in, Sarah captivated us for a solid hour of her work.

I’d only ever really been exposed to Sarah’s talk from a few years back, but never knew the breadth of her work. This diversity ranged from amazing poem drawing parallels about her experience being with students during the terror attack in Jakarta and her experience being a student in New York during 9/11 to an exploration of Apartheid to a touching breakup deep dive.

The best part was that the audience of 50-60 people was mostly teenagers and 20somethings who all spent their Friday evening in a small bookstore to hear poetry. My assumption is that many are artists and aspiring artists themselves, and Sarah brought them all together for an incredible night of reflection and introspection and joy.

TED, of course, was an amazing experience in so many ways. But I’m left thinking this week about Amanda and Sarah and the genuine communities and emotion they instigated.

Hats off to these true incredible Originals. Amanda and Sarah, you rock.


Top 15 Highlights of 2015

A lot happened in the world in 2015…

And a lot happened to me personally.

I think I say this every year (which is actually great, right?) but 2015 is now the new best year of my life.

What a year it was… I wanted to recap the Top 15 Highlights of 2015:

Action Camp

Hard to describe. 65 incredible people. 1 long weekend. Many, many hours of meaningful conversations and the start of new meaningful relationships and new art. Rachel just wrote a great piece about it. Very proud to have such great friends and proud to have a great co-conspirator in Matt Kane. Oh, and this happened.

TEDxCarthage

TEDx experiences are significant for their communities no matter where they take place, but are especially so in Tunisia where so few outlets exist for this kind of critical, authentic dialogue about new ideas. Just seeing the incredible line (and the unwavering enthusiasm) stretching around Palais des Congrès before the event started was moving. So proud to call Houssem and Fatène my good friends. Was also moving to see Musée national du Bardo just weeks after the attack. Speaking there with Nate was just one of many highlights.

TEDxVilnius

TEDxVilnius is organized by what I believe to be the most impressive organizing team of any event in the world. Just interacting with Ruta and her team of passionate, brilliant, tenacious leaders was a huge highlight. Then participating in the experience they designed (complete with an out-of-this-world Carl Sagan intro video) really blew me away. Getting to hang out with Larry Lessig was a close second. And then speaking there with Nate as well was icing on the cake. A shoutout as well to Dave Troy, as I really enjoyed traveling with Dave this year.

A weekend in Fargo

I finally made it to Greg Tehven‘s playground. (Thus also crossing off all 48 of the contiguous United States. You’re next, Hawaii and Alaska…) Forbes calls Fargo, “America’s Most Undervalued Tech Hub.” What else is there to say? This is a city on the rise, in just about every way imaginable. And basically all this is thanks to Greg’s leadership. I got to see TEDxFargo, got to participate in a regional workshop with community leaders from around the midwest, got to see the Prairie Den, got to see and learn more about Emerging Prairie. So much good stuff.

Dismaland

In a year that saw me somehow end up in Orlando on four distinct occasions (including multiple trips to Disney World each time), the real highlight of all of that was actually across the pond in Weston-super-Mare (about three hours from London). This was where I got a chance to walk around inside Banksy‘s head for a few hours at what is probably the best-designed experience I’ve ever been a part of. So incredibly provocative and well done. A gut punching reality check for western society.

The debut of the IRF, TEDxJNJ

The Idea Responsibility Framework launched on May 5-6, 2015 may yet play a bigger role in the rest of my life than anything else that appears in this post. While TEDxJNJ was another transformational experience in and of itself (thanks to the work of so many great leaders), perhaps the thing I’m most excited about and proud of is this new ten-step tool for taking action. So, so, so, so much more to come in this realm in 2016.

Australia and the Great Barrier Reef

I (only) added seven new countries to my map this year, including Egypt, Singapore, Iceland, Malaysia, Tunisia, and Costa Rica. But Australia had to be the highlight from a tourism perspective. Was really glad to visit my friend Jon who’s living out there and we got a chance to explore (and cause some trouble in) Sydney, Melbourne, and Cairns, complete with scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. This did lead to my first-ever lost iPhone (lost to the water…) but it was a ton of fun.

The Pyramids of Giza

Visiting Cairo and the Pyramids with Cory was definitely the other tourism highlight. Though it was in January, I still have this nagging obsession with Imhotep, the original designer and founder of the concept of Pyramids. What a genius this dude was, and he never even got to see his work — just someone passionate about a long term vision and he made it happen.

Filming and Launching my Udemy Course

Eric Campbell is one of the most inspiring people I met in 2015. This guy has taught over 26,000 students across six online courses. And he helps people expand their comfort zones with #ComfortZoneChallenges. And… he’s 21 years old. Impressive. Eric inspired me to share my talk development content that I’ve assembled and he also filmed it all for me. Proud to say that I’m now a teacher getting paid to teach something I love online: Presentation Skills Secrets.

The Ig Nobel Prize

One of the most unexpectedly delicious experiences of the year. Was at Harvard with my friend Rodney and got to see these genius experience designers in action. In addition to being a ton of fun, it was very educational. Some of the highlights: Miss Sweetie Poo (an adorable 8-year-old girl who tells the speakers, “Please stop. I’m bored.” when they go over time),  24/7 talks (a concept explained in 24 seconds, then in 7 words), and of course the awards themselves.

Pennsylvania Roadtrip

After TEDxJNJ in May, I got to go on a delightful roadtrip with Fatène all through the coolest parts of Pennsylvania, including Centralia (where we just happened to run into the world’s leading expert on Centralia who was doing a photoshoot), Pottsville, State College, Altoona (including a stop at Barack Obama’s favorite Altoona hot dog joint, Texas Hot Dogs), and Pittsburgh (where we got to experience Bayardstown and Fatène was on the news). After Action Camp, Daniel and I did a mini-trip getting to check out Williamsport for the Little League World Series and the Lackawanna County Coal Mine. #CentralPennsylvaniaFTW

The Global Summit, naming a new Curator

The story of TEDxJNJ is a great one: how this whole community came to be is really special. One of the best moments along the journey so far came at our Global Summit this year. For one, it was because we welcomed ~80 leaders from 25+ countries who are the most passionate, badass people at our company. These leaders are amazing and I’m so inspired by the work they do to take the organization on their backs and get people excited about working differently. The three days we spent together were three of the best days of the year absolutely. It also marked the official naming of TEDxJNJ’s new Curator, Christa Heydt. Something I’m just very personally excited about and proud of as Christa will do a wonderful job leading this vibrant community moving forward.

The Global Leaders Dialogue

I was asked to help design a three-day session for Johnson & Johnson’s CEO, Executive Committee, Management Committee, and top 140 executives to talk about the future of our 130-year old company. In addition to implementing actionstorming and action planning, we had three amazing speakers (Magda Schoeneich, Melissa Surdez, and George Harry) who are three of the bravest, most tenacious badasses I know. Was so proud to be part of that experience with them, and also so proud to work for Johnson & Johnson.

The Red Carpet Premiere of our Documentary

A brilliant team formerly known as Skout Media followed yours truly and our team for the better part of eight months in late-2014 through mid-2015, and their hard work debuted at a beautiful premiere evening in midtown Manhattan this summer. A wonderful evening and a brilliant production!

Learning, Learning, Learning

I think I end every day thinking how dumb I was the day before, and that’s great because I work every day to learn, learn, learn. This year was filled with a lot of different formal learning opportunities: Stanford, Disney Institute, C2MTL, Aspen Ideas Festival, Business Innovation Factory, National Speakers Association, Summit at Sea, Learning 2015. What a lineup. It was also filled with tons of more informal learning through experiences online, through the experiences above, and through time with many of you. I love being a lifelong learner, and this year was a year well spent continuing to be challenged.

 

Honorable mentions…

Fish in the Dark (once with Larry David, once with Jason Alexander), my time spent with Randy in Lincoln, Costa Rica, Sleep No More, the Mayo Clinic, Accountability Days…

What a year!

***

A big thank you to all the incredible people in my life who made 2015 such a great year. Glad to be kicking back for a few days, then digging right back in for 2016. I already have plenty of ideas for the things I want to make happen so that they can make next year’s Top 16 Highlights of 2016 list.


Meaningful thank you gifts

This time of year, a lot of people are focused on the best way to say thanks and the best way to give gifts to the important people in their lives and the people who have made a big impact for them over the course of the year.

Too often, this results in the exchange of gift cards…

A meaningful thank you means it’s something you put a lot of time and attention and care into it, and the transfer of positive energy to the recipient should be palpable, so end the gift card madness!

There are a lot of people in my life who I need to thank and need to do an even way better job thanking, but I wanted to share and recap a few meaningful thank you gifts I gave out this year, and then summarize a few “lessons” from them:

Thanking Joe Manfredonia

Joe is a pretty special dude. This year, he was a big part of our efforts in leading different adventures all over the world. Given that he crushed it in creating these adventures (including creating a super-secret underground adventure that is deserving of its own blog post), I had to think of an appropriate way to thank him for that, and thought why not create an adventure for him?

I heard in May that Joe would be going to Reykjavik for a vacation in August (and unfortunately missing Action Camp…) so then I devised my plan…

I had actually never been to Reykjavik, but was thinking about heading there for Saga Fest anyway, so the plan was hatched and I headed to Iceland.

The first stop in Iceland? Of course a stop for their iconic hot dogs. The second stop? The Sun Voyager sculpture. And this was where the plan started to take shape.

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I bought a package of those Penn State pretzels that you can only get in Europe, crafted a little “riddle” to go with it, and buried it here at the Sun Voyager.

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(These are the rocks right outside the sculpture.)

Then I planted the next clue behind the “black wheel of time” inside this building. (This was the Airbnb I was staying at, and I knew based on the set-up that the code wasn’t going to change.)

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The back of the coaster in the card led them to a bar that is actually one of the nicest cocktail bars in the world, where they would be greeted by Axel, one of the finest cocktail bartenders in the world.

So, I planted all of this in May, then went on with my life.

Come August, when I gave Joe a framed picture at our xL graduation ceremony, I told him to open up the back. Inside the back was a riddle with clues to the Sun Voyager statue upon his arrival in Reykjavik.

Needless to say, I think Joe had a pretty fun time with it, and in a roundabout way ended up getting to those final cocktails.

Thanking Matt Kane and Surge Skoryk

Matt and Surge are two colleagues and friends who I always learn so much from and can’t say enough about. This year, they designed something (that has since evolved into Action Surge) that I think is likely to play a huge impact in all three of our lives (and many others) in the coming years.

Saying thank you and recognizing an accomplishment that significant is quite difficult. So I had to think back about what do Matt and Surge really like? What do they really appreciate?

Well, I know that they both really like the song Footloose. (I mean, who doesn’t?)  So the idea was born to get the rest of our team to do a surprise choreographed dance to Footloose for them at our graduation ceremony film screening in New York in August.

Here’s how it went:

The primary folks dancing on stage are our coworkers, followed by Surge’s girlfriend Arielle and Matt’s wife Nicole, then followed by that crazy stilt walker at the end. Who was that guy? Well, at our TEDxJNJ event in Bethlehem earlier that year, we had the Unity Community African Dance & Drum Ensemble join us, and one of the best parts of an astounding performance was when this stilt walker jumped on stage:

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So… that’s how that was born, and the result was pretty incredible. Matt (someone who is very intentional about his thank yous and who is very intentional about everything he does) told me, “I’ve never been thanked like that before.” That was probably the best thank you I got this year from anyone. Great stuff.

Thanking George Harry

Every once in awhile, you meet a leader who blows you away. O. Richard Bundy is one of these leaders. He’s so incredibly humble, incredibly committed, and works tirelessly to develop those around him. George Harry is also one of these leaders. I met George briefly back in 2013 and his stories blew me away. Here’s somebody who’s taken big risks to help other people out, even though all the odds/structures/systems around him don’t support it. He’s truly a model leader that I feel so many of us should aspire to be like.

I got the chance this year to help lead a three-day conversation for the CEO, Management Committee, and top 170 executives at Johnson & Johnson to come together to talk about our future.

Part of the design for that session included bringing in three speakers who could challenge the group on some of the behaviors that need to change that we’ve allowed to become norms. All three speakers were spectacular. Magda Schoeneich and Melissa Surdez are two other heroes of mine who also brought the house down.

George’s talk started with a story about two experienced professionals on his team who were talking about their role in our company and likening themselves to the lions outside the New York Public Library:

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Photo Credit: Bella Online

These two professionals thought of themselves as proud lions watching over new talent as “emerging leaders” came in and out of their teams, and helping those leaders to develop and learn and grow so that they could continue to progress in their careers.

George challenged us all not to forget about these proud, committed lions who are all around us in our organizations but are easy to ignore and neglect and forget about because we’re so focused on “high flyers” as they pass through.

George talked about example after example of people who he’s helped to develop and people who have succeeded thanks to his leadership and thanks to him not forgetting about them or allowing for them to be lost in the shuffle.

As I was working with George on his talk before the meeting, I looked at my dresser and saw the beautiful carved wooden lion that I had been given by a friend during my time working in Nairobi. I’ve always loved lions, and really liked this carving, but I thought this was something that I absolutely have to give to George.

So, the night before George would be speaking, we had his rehearsal, and after George had retired back to his room to watch some college basketball, I knocked on his door and asked to come in to chat for a minute. I shared with George how much his leadership has meant to me and how much I respect his incredible efforts, and then I presented him with the lion.

At first he refused to take it because he knew it was something important to me, but I convinced him that he was more important and that it would mean more to me to know he had it.

George actually just sent me this photo of the lion on his desk:

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And now he’s challenging me to get a replacement for myself else he’s going to force me to take it back. Thankfully David Maina is on the case during his visit to Nairobi, and I’ll have a new one in my hands in short order as well.

***

The common thread across all of these is that I took a few minutes to really think about what would be meaningful to these individuals to share thanks with them, and then I just did it.

The other common thread? I actually had a ton of fun doing these. So given that, these were not just a gift to the recipient, but in many ways I feel like they were also a gift to me and a gift to our relationships because we now have these meaningful stories/experiences/gifts to discuss.

It’s never too late to say thank you to someone who has done something very meaningful for you. Holidays or not, think about how you’re thanking people, and think about taking a few more minutes to put more intention and emotion and purpose behind it.

…And by the way, the “gift” parts of these are actually meaningless compared to just saying a meaningful Thank You to someone. So at the very least, think about pulling people aside, looking them in the eye, and saying a meaningful Thank You and specifically why you’re thankful for that person. That’s something you can go do right now.

Thank you to you, my friends and network for a great 2015! Merry Christmas!


Accountability Days Recap

Success.

Well, we did it. Four full days of Accountability Days last week with my friend Matt Prindible.

What did we accomplish? Quite a bit…

  • Some metrics and strategy work for Makeshift and ideas for its evolution
  • The establishment of http://www.prindible.com and https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattprindible
  • Matt’s new résumé and a Google Doc with over 100 job applications to apply for
  • A skeleton blog post for Matt to publish (SOON, MATT!)
  • The establishment of http://www.actionsurge.com
  • Two consulting proposals sent out to potential clients for Action Surge
  • The makings of a five-year strategy for our Creative Engagement team at J&J
  • The outline and plans for a 2016 edition of Try Reality
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (have to hold yourself accountable to have some fun, too…)

What did we learn?

  • The concept works. Having someone to hold you accountable to accomplish what you’re setting out to do is way better than blocking a day for yourself and not respecting the time.
  • Having the right space is critical. We worked out of TechShop Pittsburgh, a makerspace that has some rooms with big whiteboards that were super valuable for this collaborative work.
  • A lot about each other’s worlds. I learned a lot about Makeshift that I’m now thinking about and applying to my work, and I’m sure Matt would say the same. It’s great to get that fresh perspective.

In 2016, I think I’m going to try to pick 4-5 people in my life who I want to have Accountability Days with, 1.) For the original intent of Accountability Days (to get stuff done), but 2.) Because it’s also a great chance to collaborate with a great person you might not get to collaborate with otherwise and gain that person’s perspective. I bet we all have people in our lives like that whose perspectives could be really valuable on something, right?

So when are your 2016 Accountability Days going to be?


So intentional, you can’t even make mistakes

One of my guiding principles in life is being intentional where others are often unintentional.

This is one of the core principles of experience design. Not enough people are truly thoughtful and intentional about everything they do, so if you are, it really makes you stand out. Want to surprise and delight someone? Think of all the ways you might be able to do that. Want to create a feeling of euphoria? Think of all the ways you might be able to do that. Want to create a sense of gravity? Think of all the ways you might be able to do that. Intention intention intention.

One of the benefits of doing this and becoming known for it, is that you honestly CAN’T even make mistakes anymore.

My colleague Matt and I organized something this summer called Action Camp, a three-day experience for some really amazing people to come together, have some fun, learn from each other, and bring ideas into action. It’s worthy of a whole series of posts, but basically it was a really meaningful time for people to come together and take action. We put a lot of intention into the design of the experience, from who was there to how the bunks were sorted out to the music played to the surprise fireworks and Chinese lanterns on the final night.

In the spirit of being intentional about wanting to continue to lead a sense of community among our campers, we put together holiday gifts for them in the form of Christmas ornaments and our own spin on “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.”

We were proud to have made some really nice custom wooden ornaments (thanks to the inimitable Ted Miller) and sat back excitedly to see some posts hit our Facebook group about people receiving their surprises in the mail.

So naturally I was disappointed when I saw the first two posts pop up in the Facebook group:

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Damn, I thought. Our reputations are ruined! How could we have allowed this to happen? We’re so stupid that we didn’t make sure to avoid this.

Then I read the text accompanying the photos… people actually thought we had done this on purpose to encourage them to take action to glue them back together and further encourage them to take more action on their ideas.

Brilliant.

It reminded me of a couple years ago at one of our TEDx events when the fire alarm went off and we brought everyone outside and we’re throwing cupcakes around and singing songs and making drinks. Multiple people came up to us and couldn’t believe, “How did you ACTUALLY get the fire trucks to come? That was AMAZING!”

Crazy.

People actually believed that we had “faked” the fire alarm to intentionally create this outdoor experience.

But it just goes to show, if you constantly live with intention and lead with intention and design with intention, you really can’t even make mistakes anymore. People treat all your outcomes and deliverables with that respect.

I think one of the best compliments someone can give you is to tell you that you’re thoughtful. Let’s all commit to being incredibly thoughtful and intentional about all of our decisions.

What’s the next thing on your plate? How can you be even 10x more intentional about how you deliver it?


Accountability Days

On Tuesday through Friday of this week, I am going to try an experiment: Accountability Days.

Unfortunately, when it comes to doing “work” too many of us let meetings and email control our schedule. I’ve shared one idea to try to combat the email problem, but what about the meeting problem?

We all know that most meetings are horrible. Seth has a lot of good posts on meetings.

And while I’m trying a few different strategies for eliminating meetings from my life, I thought, why not try an experiment where I could actually “give in” to the meeting problem and come out ahead?

We know that when we have a meeting on our calendar, that meeting is holding us accountable because we know we need to prepare x for it or we risk the shame/humiliation/credibility hit associated with not being prepared.

Unfortunately, when we block time just for ourselves, there is no shame/humiliation/credibility when we don’t actually do the work we hoped to do during that time. Instead, we let that time easily get sucked up to do other things.

Enter: Accountability Days.

This week, I have four consecutive days blocked in full-day meetings with a friend of mine. These are going to be our “Accountability Days”.

On Tuesday: We’ll both focus 100% all-day on his projects. I am at his full disposal to help him out, and we’ll get (I’m hypothesizing) at least two full days of work done by being fully dedicated in the flow banging stuff out.

On Wednesday: We’ll both focus 100% all-day on my projects. He is at my full disposal to help me out.

On Thursday: We go back to being focused on him.

On Friday: We go back to being focused on me.

Now… I could have “easily” just blocked off these four days to work by myself, and in theory I would stand to get a lot done in these four days. But past experience tells me I’ll end up giving in to other demands, other phone calls, other emails, other work. Because we feel a bit of a sense of guilt getting our stuff done.

So, I’m excited to try out this experiment. I think that 1.) I’ll end up getting a ton done over the course of the two days focused on my projects, and 2.) I’ll learn a lot and very much enjoy helping out my friend with his projects.

Let’s see what happens. An update to follow at the end of the week.


Two things I learned seeing a doctor for the first time in 4 years

I really want to have “that doctor” like people have in movies who they’ve known for their whole life and the doctor really knows everything about the patient and is constantly looking out for you. I still do hope to have that at some point, but with the mess our healthcare system is, I think it’ll still be a bit until I get there.

Even as someone who is fortunate enough to have health insurance, it’s tedious to find and set up time with doctors, and so I haven’t seen a primary care physician in 4+ years.

I’ve always had pretty good health habits, but since I moved back to the US from Switzerland about two years ago, I haven’t done the best job taking care of myself… running less frequently… and thus I’ve put on 15 pounds above my ideal weight.

That and the fact I haven’t seen a doctor in a long time have been lingering in the back of my head (especially as friends of mine fight cancer). So when a friend sent me info about the Mayo Clinic Executive Health Program where you go for a day and they do “all the things” to get you tested and get you on your way in one day, this sounded perfect to me so I signed up for the program and just finished.

Glad I did it: EKG (wires on your chest thing), treadmill test (more wires on your chest while running, and they shave and sandpaper(!) you for it), radiology chest x-ray, blood test, urine test, general check-up (turn your head and cough), and they even threw in a flu shot. All done and my results all explained to me in about seven hours. Cool.

As I’m leaving the Clinic this afternoon, I took a quick pause in the lobby to write out a couple big things I’m thinking about as I’m leaving the experience:

1.) There’s still a lot of work to do to help people take better control of their healthcare data.

I’m someone who’s very data-driven in most all aspects of my life. I know data is very important. And thus, I figure my healthcare should be no different.

But my healthcare data is a mess.

  • I have my immunization history on that crappy yellow card you’re supposed to keep in your passport. How many people actually even do this? Thankfully I carry this so I could tell the doctor that I’m up to date on inoculations, tetanus, etc. But how many people actually know this?
  • I have my Apple Watch nonsense data (from when I wear it and the battery doesn’t die) and data from my Jawbone UP Band (from the last two I’ve had anyway before they died) but is that even really data?
  • I have my 23andMe data that gives me some genetic information. (Thankfully I did this before that part got shut down.) But the doctor (a top doctor at the Mayo Clinic) basically said there’s not much they can do with that. It’s something that’s still a bit “far off”. Why the hell is it far off? Walk me through it and help me understand!
  • I have no idea where any other x-rays or records are that have been put together by various pediatricians or random physicians I’ve seen throughout my life. But I’m reflecting that I should ask my parents for some help and try to track all that stuff down so that that can exist somewhere.
  • Someone in my family tree has done some family history work and we have some of that documented somewhere in some binder no one ever looks at, but I don’t know how much health history we have on any of that, nor do we have much there.
  • And now I have a record of today’s visit and today’s data in Mayo Clinic’s separate online database where I can look at all that stuff. And that’s great, but now that’s still separate from everything else above.

I asked the doctor if there’s anything I could do to consolidate all of this and take better control over it and all he could say was “I wish”. Bummer.

He recommended that I start tracking weight and blood pressure every week or few weeks to see how I’m trending. But where exactly do you do that? The whole thing is a mess.

Which leads to…

2.) If the biggest problem in healthcare is public health (people taking care of themselves), then perhaps the root of the biggest healthcare problem is “simply”: Accountability.

The result of my check-up? “You’re good. Exercise a little bit more.”

Alright, well, I’m still very glad I did it because it’s good to know that I got a clean bill across all the other stuff. But I asked how many patients he’s basically telling that same thing. It’s a lot.

Eat better. Exercise. We all know it. Heck, my doctor even recommended I download the 7-Minute Workout app, which my company makes yet it still sits on my phone with that blue dot next to it that means I haven’t opened it. The kick in the butt you get at the doctor’s office is maybe helpful to reinforce doing something. But we don’t (many of us) hold ourselves accountable to actually do it. Despite the fact our lives are quite literally on the line.

Why is all the effort of doctors not here? Seeing a doctor once a year if that’s your main “accountability buddy” is woefully deficient.

If I’m tracking my weight and blood pressure on a weekly basis, why am I not doing that in a system where I and my doctor can see it, and then why not an Internet of Things device like ambient energy orbs that I can put on my dresser or my keychain or anywhere I want that glow red when I’m trending bad for the week and glow green when I’m trending good for the week?

And a thousand other ways we could drive accountability.

It’s so big in every facet of our lives.

***

We live in a crazy exciting time for healthcare.  How great that is it that we live in a time when we can augment our bodies with new senses, we can choose the genetic make-up of our kids, we can have sensors going through our bodies capturing real-time data about everything, and pretty soon we’ll all be augmenting our bodies with more and more wearable -> implantable devices that will allow us to do more and live longer. This is some crazy stuff that is all happening all around us.

Much like we can’t imagine living without our phones, our kids won’t be able to imagine that people lived without <insert x implantable device> that will drastically improve quality and length of life.

As Juan Enriquez talks about, “life code” will be the software development of the next few years, and it’s amazing to think what we’ll be able to do with all the kinds of ways our bodies will be improved.

But for the here and now, I find myself wondering when I’ll see another doctor again and how? And what role will (and should) that person play?

Last year, Jason wrote about BETTER, an exciting app to help people actually find physicians, make appointments, and get some decent advice. Sadly, this went belly-up.

I suppose I could roll the dice and just Google for a PCP in my network (Aetna) and then pick one (and yes, I know services like ZocDoc exist to help) but it’s still a hassle to do. And as far as looking at my genetic data and others? I guess that has to wait.

I’m certain the next few years we’ll see a lot of progress in the two areas above, but it can’t come fast enough. As excited as I am about the future, I’m frustrated by the present. Smart minds of the word: help us save our lives! And will one of you be “that doctor” for me?