At the end of day 3 at Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellows Program and it's been a non-stop two days. Our programs run 13 hours per day -- our brains are constantly absorbing new information and being stretched and pulled to the limits. On top of that, most of us are deep in the midst of funding and communications. After a long day at the Point Lookout Conference Center, we had back to our cabins to put in a few hours of work. Four hours later we wake up and repeat the cycle.
With that said, Pop!Tech treats its guests like royalty. They do their very best to reward their Fellows with comfort, mentorship, tools, and contacts. Did I mention that there's heaps of food on demand?
Day two featured two intense sessions: "Funding Social Innovation" and "Taking Projects to Scale." Jon Balen of Canaan Ventures headed off "Funding" and Jim Koch and Kevin Starr led "Taking Projects to Scale." In the latter, each Fellow's organizations was individually evaluated by best evaluation metrics for economies of scale.
Day three tapped into our creative sides with a morning session on "Digital Storytelling" led by David Sasaki. We finished out afternoon with "Media Training" by Fenton Communication and topped the evening with a personal conversation with Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enterprise and Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College in India. Both Polak and Roy shared their stories of what drives their enormous contribution to a global society. Paul Polak, who's devoted the majority of his life to helping small farmers get out of poverty, gave us all chance to ask him any question we wanted:
Q: What's the hardest challenge? Polak: My own stupidity... I'm willing to learn from failure
Q: Do you have hard days where you wonder why you do what you do? Polak: I crash and burn. I lay in bed and read a chap novel.
Q: Is there a correlation between wealth and happiness? Polak: If you talk about a dollar a day... those people in some ways got it a lot better than people in the West. But a mother has to watch her kids go hungry. That's not happy. Unhappiness has to do with the 20% probability of watching your kids die. Having wealth doesn't guarantee happiness, but it gives you options.
Q: Is there anything you've learned that you wish you learned when you were 25? Polak. No. I made a lot of mistakes at every age. At 25 I grabbed the world by the throat and throttled it -- but I learned that I had no control. And once I learned to give up control, I was more powerful. Be open to the mysteries of things you don't control.