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It’s been said doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. So why keep going to the same old conferences and expect a different result? The model is broken. Hotel ballroom + panels + rubber chicken lunch + grin and grab = lame experience and marginal results at best.

We believe there’s a better way. Get out and get real.

For executive leaders in particular, conferences are more of a PR strategy than an authentic learning and networking experience. It’s a speaking opp. Executives arrive and have a handler escort them to do their speech. They do their monologue, eat at a special table, maybe mingle in a green room and then they’re onto the next thing.

They aren’t learning. They aren’t thinking. They aren’t challenged.

It’s time executive leaders and key decision makers in industries that are changing fast, actually talk with, learn from one another and share transferrable insights. We believe sparks of innovation lie in these cross-overs – ah-ha moments that come from real conversations and diverse perspectives. The no BS, not behind a podium, real insights are golden and they’re more likely to occur outside a boring hotel ballroom and with people from outside your industry.

Don’t take our word for it. We love this bit from Beth Comstock’s March 9, 2016 Harvard Business Review article “Innovation Springs From the Unexpected Meeting of the Minds

“Crossovers are what happen when an invention, idea, or body of knowledge in one field jumps into another — and the result is a quantum leap of progress. Sometimes the people and the pieces we need to put together to get the job done come from the unlikeliest of places”

The space suits worn by the Apollo astronauts were made not by aerospace contractor Hamilton Standard, as NASA originally intended, but by the seamstresses at ILC Dover, better known as Playtex. It turned out that knowing about couture, the art of constructing garments perfectly fitted to the body, was more important to helping humans survive the vacuum of space than the aerospace engineers initially understood.

Instead of attending the same conferences year over year focused on your industry, seek opportunities where you will learn from and network with leading thinkers and executives outside your industry.


“Deja Vu occurs when we encounter something new, but it feels like we’ve seen it before. Vuja de is the reverse – we face something familiar, but we see it with fresh perspective that enables us to gain new insights into old problems” (Adam Grant, #1 New York Times Bestseller Originals. Penguin, 2016).

New experiences give us fresh perspectives. Shared experiences help us build meaningful connections. We’re into sparking both at Harvest Summit and we’re not doing it because we’re a media company that needs to churn out conferences for additional revenue and provide editorial with a live platform. We’re just people who care about where the world is headed and know there has to be a better way for leaders to interact and collaborate.


We’re lucky because we stand in Sonoma County wine country with our megaphone calling for leaders to come think, talk, collaborate, connect and change the world. This unique sense of place elevates the conversations much like Aspen does for the Aspen Ideas Festival or Davos does for the World Economic Forum. It’s a beautiful place where the fresh air adds to the fresh perspectives shared.

Your call to action. Get out and get real. At the very least, vow to attend something different this year. One conference, summit, gathering or meet up that isn’t in a hotel ballroom and isn’t all about your industry or area of expertise. We wish you Vuja De.

Your to-do list-icle:

  1. Harvest new ideas and connections. Connect with a unique community of innovators that will provide value beyond the gathering.
  2. Take time to think and hear how other leaders are solving problems or addressing challenges. It will invariably help you in your career, industry or business practice.
  3. Network the brain power of the room. Instead of passively listening and enjoying a brain spa, actively engage, test ideas, problem solve and get immediate feedback.
  4. Level up. Be more professional athlete, less actor honing your craft. Training with better athletes improves your game.
  5. Take-away actionable innovation strategies and practices you can use.
  6. Leave with authentic connections and potential partnerships, not a stack of business cards.

At Harvest Summit we bet you’ll do all this and actually enjoy it. Conversations under an oak tree with some of the smartest minds, masterful meals and tasting rare wines doesn’t suck and in fact helps you decompress and be more open to new possibilities. A relaxed setting is a springboard for real conversations that matter while you explore the future of possible. Get out and get real.


Published in Blog

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