Having never been to Arizona before, much less a Hospitality Design Summit, I had some apprehensions before last week’s event in Scottsdale. For one, I had been stuck in the cold New York polar vortex for so long—would I even recognize the sun? Second, I didn’t know what to expect from our annual event. Was it just rubbing elbows and cocktail parties?
In fact, it was much more.
While the free coffee and breakfast at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn were an enticement to wake up before 7 a.m., it was the thought-provoking speakers that piqued interest, holding everyone’s attention.
During the first day, we heard from Jake Wood, a former Marine, who after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan started Team Rubicon, an organization of military veterans who work in disaster-ravaged areas providing support and supplies. Wood has seen things most people in the conference room would never have to experience. Yet, we all could understand leading when it matters most. Like Wood said, it takes foolishness, daring, and persistence to create a high-impact successful team.
Think differently, Edie Weiner, a futurist with Big Think, told the crowd. Design, after all, shouldn’t be an intelligence test but comfortable, she said, while also reiterating how important it is to stay current. Listen to popular music. Talk and hire teenagers, and use them for more than for fetching coffee. While on the surface they may want to only talk about Harry Styles, they’re the ones with ideas that evoke change.
A true innovator using his work as an artist and computer engineer, Zachary Lieberman showed us how the world can be different and effective through technology and innovation. Indeed, there are no limits or boundaries as John Gerzema pointed out. Author of The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future, Gerzema said feminine values, such as empathy can drive innovation. As a woman and a feminist, it was empowering to see a man dismantle the status quo and a system that has been in place for years, espousing the importance of feminine values in building quality of life and successful business models.
The final session ended with the awe-inspiring Louie Schwartzberg. The filmmaker uses time-lapse, high-speed, and macro cinematography to create a different world of everyday things, such as flowers and butterflies, to inspire people to connect to the universe.
After the sessions, these ideas pervaded HD Summit. While hiking Squaw Peak with a few attendees after the first day, the blue skies juxtaposed against the Arizona desert provided the perfect outlet for discussing Weiner’s vision of the future, Wood’s perseverance, Lieberman’s genius, and how we can all play an integral part in the changing world.