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Report from Wisdom 2.0: Time Well Spent

meditator crop compress

Wisdom 2.0 is an unlikely conference. Its goal: to help people “not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world.”

There, tech titans such as LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner mix with masters of mindfulness, including Jon Kabat-ZinnHaving experienced that breadth of perspectives, each attendee leaves with a different takeaway. This is mine.

The 6th-ever Wisdom 2.0 felt less wide-eyed and more mature. Soren Gordhamer, founder of the W2.0 movement, set the tone: “At the end of our lives, what’s gonna be important?” Adding, “What is it like to live like any one moment isn’t more important than another moment?”

The conference covered compassion in business, wisdom in leadership, and mindfulness in everything. But the overall theme was Time—and the battles being waged over how we spend it.

The term “peak attention” emerged. Like peak oil, or “the point of maximum [oil] production,” peak attention suggests we humans are maxed out mentally. We’ve reached the point that every moment of our time can be filled with more information than we could ever process. I know that some nights, my forehead feels almost hot to the touch after cramming messages and reports left over from the day.

Tristan HarrisIn the way we so freely and constantly text and tweet and email, “we bulldoze each other’s attention,” claims Tristan Harris. Tristan, who works for Google and considers himself a design ethicist, gave a presentation about Time Well Spent, the same as his talk at TEDx Brussels.

Tristan believes our ever-present smart phones and search engines present us with an all-or-nothing proposition: Continue reading

Cubicle Dwellers: This Design’s For You

Stand Steady in box points

Since word got out a few years ago that sitting too much isn’t healthy, products have become available that help people on the job, but some seem more fitting for a CEO. It took one of the many who work in cubicles to come up with a solution that works for them. This is her story.

Day Martin used to be a data analyst, a “knowledge worker,” as she likes to call people who make money using their minds, almost always while they’re sitting down. “They sit there all day, every day,” as she says. “They have to. It’s their job.”

That’s what she was doing at her job in suburban Washington, D.C. until one day, she had a car accident. When she recovered, she noticed something about her back: “I just had pain when I went to work.”

When she checked online, the Internet suggested she try a standing desk. But there was a problem: nothing on the market allowed her to stand comfortably inside her cubicle. “I thought it was obvious, but it wasn’t available.”

So Day decided to make one herself. At first, she hacked together some cardboard. That helped, but didn’t fit the office aesthetic. “People said stuff like, ‘How long are those boxes going to be sitting on your desk for?’”

Then, with assistance from her father-in-law the home builder, she made some sturdier prototypes. “My colleagues loved them. I was shocked at how many people have their back pain stories – I had no idea.”

To build her final design, she sourced parts from within the U.S. “What I love about American manufacturing is that it’s so much easier. I could get things in the mail in a couple of days.” In practically no time, the Stand Steady desk was born, as Day proudly reports, “It was fifteen months from the accident to the product going live.”

CEO Day Martin at StandSteady desk

Day made sure that building her desk is easy. She wants knowledge workers to “get it,” right out of the box: “I didn’t want this to be a big three-hour project with her heels and skirt trying to figure it out.”

That’s why Stand Steady is simple to assemble, right down to the penny. Seriously, you have to watch this one minute video to see what she does with the penny: Continue reading

Caring, Cooperation Save People from Pollution Scourge

Kyrgyzstan child image courtesy Pure Earth

If you live in the U.S. or some other country with strong rules for clean air and water, the most polluted places in the world seem far away. It’s likely your neighbors don’t have radiation poisoning or barrels of pesticide festering in the backyard.

But those in low- and middle-income countries are not so fortunate. They bear the brunt of almost all the cancers, disease and other afflictions caused by pollution. Children are especially vulnerable.

Fortunately, the Global Alliance for Health and Pollution connects needy nations with sources who can help. “GAHP exists so countries don’t have to deal with pollution on their own,” according to Richard Fuller, president of Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth, one of the NGO’s partners. “There are terrific results where countries have done the right things,” adds Stephan Robinson of Green Cross Switzerland.

Here are some success stories from a new report, The Top Ten Countries Turning the Corner on Toxic Pollution: Continue reading

Puttering as Good for You as Jogging

messy counter top indicative of putterer

If you exercise before work and think that punches your health card for the day, better think again. Sure, a brisk walk or a spin on the elliptical certainly revs up your metabolism, but if you sit down for everything after that, you could negate the good you did for your body.

CEO Day Martin at StandSteady desk

CEO Day Martin at her StandSteady desk

I learned that from Day Martin, CEO and founder of StandSteady.com.  Day was a full-time data analyst a few years ago when she hurt her back in a car accident. Her condition gradually improved to the point that the only place her back hurt was when she was at work. “The Internet recommended I try a standing desk, but when I went to buy one, I was shocked at the price: $700 to $4,000!”

So, out of necessity, she designed an inexpensive, lightweight, little desk that sits on top of a regular desk.

I’ll say much more about Day in my next post, but suffice it to say now that she clued me into a little secret about standing while you work: it may help you live longer. The reason?  Continue reading

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