Herb Kim
Herb Kim

We're very pleased to introduce a guest blog by the multi-talented Herb Kim, curator of the Thinking Digital Conference and numerous sell-out TEDx events.

Over to Herb

One of the best books I’ve read over the past year is titled MindSet: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. It’s written by the Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Carol brings her decades of research and practice to bear in helping understand a basic divide in humans. She splits the world into people with..

A Growth Mindset vs A Fixed Mindset It probably won’t take you long to figure out what she thinks is the better mindset to have.The basic difference to me is..

1. People with a fixed mindset focus on ensuring they are seen to be successful; 2. People with a growth mindset focus on learning and developing with success as a happy byproduct.

As a result..

Growth Mindset People vs Fixed Mindset People:

• Seek challenges in order to learn vs Avoid challenges for fear of looking stupid • Take risks in the pursuit of development vs Avoid risks for fear of appearing to have failed • See effort as part of the path to mastery vs See effort as a reflection of a lack of talent • Know how to take and exploit feedback vs Avoid or deflect honest feedback • Are inspired by the success of others <strong>vs Are threatened by the success of others • Enjoy life & suffer less from depression vs Constantly fear judgement leading to higher anxiety & associated emotional problems

Some of you may be thinking "well this is all very interesting but what does it have to do with digital?"

One of the most notable features of digital companies is their “geek culture”. And generally geeks:

• Love to learn • Pay relatively less attention to managing their image • Happy to put in time and effort to develop • Will take risks in order to pursue development

So I’m in a Growth Mindset industry. How awesome is that?

"Geek" Culture and New Ideas

More generally, geek culture and the digital industries are part of a larger societal shift towards a so-called “knowledge economy”. And in this knowledge economy, it’s often our ability to come up with creative solutions and innovations that are making the difference between success and failure in both the services and product sectors.

This is perhaps why we are seeing the current explosion in “ideas conferences” like TED, Poptech, Aspen Ideas Festival or my own event Thinking Digital. Even priced at $8,500 per ticket, TED sells out nearly a year in advance. And attendees like Sergey Brin or Marissa Mayer aren’t there to party or network. They already have access to any kind of entertainment they want and can get their calls returned by nearly anyone in the world. They come for a carefully constructed collection of some of the world’s most interesting and stimulating people appearing both on and offstage.

The value that these conferences bring are new ideas and people that could potentially lead to:

• a previously unimaginable collaboration • ideas on new products or services • helping you reconsider how to do what you do but dramatically better

In addition I find that people draw a huge amount of inspiration from the learning and overall experience these kinds of conferences offer.

Overall what these kinds of conferences produce is a Growth Mindset environment. The variety and quality of the talks compels people to listen, learn, connect and share. It’s a little like going back to Uni for a few days. One by-product of this kind of environment is that it often produces deeper more authentic new connections based on shared personal interests as opposed to more mercenary motives.

And while some have already grown weary of TED, the rise of these “ideas conferences” continues unabated. Most recently, I produced a TEDx event in Manchester where we drew an audience of 900 nearly half of whom were students paying up to £30 to attend.

Ten years ago could anyone imagine that I could convince 900 people to give up their entire Sunday to sit in a dark auditorium listening to a group of non-professional speakers addressing topics from vegetable farming to Middle East politics to tech entrepreneurship?

And I don’t think this is some passing phase. 2014 will mark the 7th Annual Thinking Digital and this has been our most successful year ever in terms of early registration. It’s been a real privilege for me to have been involved in producing this kind of event. I’m certainly learning a tremendous amount in the process and am happy to be creating popup Growth Mindset environments all over Northern England.

Herb Kim is the founder of the Thinking Digital Conference which takes place 20-22 May 2014. He is also the founder of TEDxLiverpool which takes place on 20th July 2014.

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