Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending TEDxPresidio. It was the first Presidio version of the ever-expanding family of TEDx independent events. TED, the brand, is known for the high quality of their invited speakers and their ability to capture your imagination, inspiring you to learn and do more. TEDx is a franchise of that brand, with local folks licensing the name and methods and adapting an event to the local terrain.
Here’s the pitch, direct from the site…“TEDxPresidio brings together some of the brightest thought leaders in business who are shaping the future of their sectors. Covering evolving 21st Century business trends like CSR, competition in a global marketplace, entrepreneurship, technological tools, survival in the digital age, and the changing set of internal and external values emerging from the C-Suite, employees, customers and partners – this is Business 3.0 – Not Business as Usual.”
Ah, yeah. Let’s disentangle the jargon: CSR, C-Suite, Business 3.0…First: CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, can be thought of as corporate conscience, the antithesis of a company’s reptilian hindbrain. The C-Suite is the Big Suits, the guys and gals with “Chief” in the titles, like CEO, CIO, CTO and C3PO. Lastly, Business 3.0 is a phrase that, like “shero,” should have been shot and buried long ago. Oh well, this is San Francisco after all, and annoying has been the new cute ever since the Dot Boom.
For me, the TEDx event was a no-brainer. I live and work in the Presidio, I run a San Francisco Green Business, and I pay more than passing attention to the legacy we all will entrust to our children. Bearing that in mind, I ambled over to the Palace of Fine Arts across the street from the Letterman Center and, after introductions, settled in for some enlightenment.
The first speaker was Ari Derfel, Executive Director of Slow Money. With humor and restraint, Ari’s presentation set the tone for the whole day. He talked about his belief that business should be a force for good: business as activism. He stressed that integrity and positive, solid relationships are what makes a well-run business better.
Next up, Rick Aubry, Founder and CEO of New Foundry Ventures. His emphasis: evolution in the wild is a combination of cooperation and competition, and good business practices should follow that path as well. After Rick, Dr. Kellie McElhaney, consultant and Faculty Director for the Center for Responsible Business at UCal-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business took the stage. Her message: be authentic, which is as applicable to life in general as it is to work. She pointed out that trust is a rare commodity in the business world, and that maximizing profit demands that you maintain the trust of your customers and clients.