PSFK Conference in New York

Searching For Purpose at PSFK

At the end of May, I headed East for the PSFK Conference in New York. The theme for 2017 was “Innovation with Purpose,” and focused on “the importance of purpose in our work and the personal, communal and global impact that such an approach could have.” The day felt like a series of mini, easily digestible TED Talks. Which I think I prefer to the full-length TED Talks. Presenters included film-maker Morgan Spurlock, chef Nicholas Morgenstern and speakers from Facebook, Google, Peloton, Alfred and Dame Products.

I came back inspired, energized and with every intention of writing a recap immediately afterwards. But the big office move, Memorial Day and life got in the way. Now that we’re settled into the new space at 200 N. Broadway (and Laura is hounding me), I thought I’d share a couple links to the speakers and topics from the conference that really stood out to me.

  1. What Three Words

This blew my mind. It’s based on the insight that an overwhelming amount of places on this planet lack a formal, physical address and the problems that can cause. Think disaster recovery or emergency services in remote villages or crowded urban centers without permanent street addresses. To solve this challenge, the organization has mapped out the entire globe into 3m x 3m squares, and given each square a unique three-word address. Go ahead, discover the three words for your little corner of the world here:

  1. Ginkgo Bioworks

“Have you ever really looked at plants? They’re insane!” proclaimed Christina Agapakis, Creative Director of Ginkgo Bioworks. Christina’s enthusiasm and sense of humor were infectious, and the work she does reminds me of our clients at the Danforth Plant Science Center. Ginkgo Bioworks is a team of organism engineers who “learn from nature to develop new organisms that replace technology with biology.” Christina joked that “biology is nanotechnology that actually works.” She also said, “thinking about poop as technology is really interesting.” I totally agree.

  1. Con Body

Coss Marte was the last speaker of the day and arguably the crowd favorite. He shared his amazing story of growing up poor in New York City, running one of the Lower East Side’s biggest drug rings, spending four years in prison and ultimately creating a prison-style boot camp so popular it has an outpost at Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s an emotional, uplifting story about the power of perseverance, ingenuity and the importance of second chances. To read more about Coss’ journey, check out this NY Times article: