What We Learned from eMerge 2017

June 13, 2017 marked the third annual Women in Technology (WIT) summit at the fourth annual tech conference of the year in Miami, eMerge Americas. eMerge Americas brings together top names as well as up-and-coming companies in technology to the Miami Beach Convention Center where all things tech related converge on the beachside city.

The women of Modernizing Medicine Women in Innovation and Technology (MMwit) were given the opportunity to once again attend the conference and soak in all the knowledge they could from the diverse array of speakers, topics and exhibitors. It was my first time going to this conference and it was certainly an impactful experience.

When talking with the team during and after the conference, a few common themes really echoed true throughout our shared experiences, and we wanted to share what we learned. From resilience, to the entrepreneurial spirit to the value of social good, the importance of being mindful and the value of your network and global impact, there were many lessons to be learned and key takeaways that made for a memorable 2017 at eMerge. 

Two widely recognizable public figures took center stage at eMerge on day one. The commonality between them? Humble beginnings and determination to beat the odds. Maria Hernandez, MMwit founder and coach stated, “I was impressed (and entertained) with the Suze Orman and Pitbull panel.  It was very inspiring  to see two great celebrities share their journeys of success as well as failures. They didn’t let their backgrounds or poor beginnings deter them from their dreams, especially when it came to entrepreneurship. Suze is an advocate when it comes to managing your money, especially for women. And interestingly enough, the topic of managing your money is going to be the focus of an upcoming MMwit panel this summer for our employees.”  Regardless of your celebrity status or not, humility and resiliency despite extreme success and fortune are desired and distinguishing characteristics.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit
Uri Levine, founder of the well-trafficked app, Waze, kicked-off day two at eMerge. He spoke about how Waze came to be and his many other ventures. One of his key points was specific to the creation of Waze and the notion that things that are “good enough and are free win every time with consumers.” He went on to share, “If you build it to be perfect, someone else will capture the market and take it from you. You have to start when it’s good enough.” It was a good reminder about being empowered and taking action and not waiting around.

The line from Uri that caught Linda Zukin’s, Revenue Cycle Advisor, attention included, “Great ideas are 10% of the work, yet execution is 90%. And that there are great lessons in failure. Don’t be afraid to fail, there’s value in the lessons learned.” Linda stated, “Knowing that even the most successful people experience failure is definitely comforting and makes the possibilities for everyone seem endless.”

The Value of Social Good
The trend of companies like Tom’s and Warby Parker giving back to the community is nothing new. What is ever-evolving are the various companies launched by entrepreneurial women giving back in a big ways to causes that are near and dear to their hearts. I know as a consumer, I feel better about purchasing products or services from companies that do good. I feel like I have helped make an impact, albeit a small one.

Two of the speakers really stood out when it came to this topic. One was Shiza Shahid, Co-founder of the Malala Foundation and Founder of NOW Ventures and the other was Francesca Kennedy, Founder + Social Entrepreneur, Ix Style Water for Children. Both of these women’s companies were founded on making an impact in different ways and in different areas that they were personally passionate about, and they used their platform to share their missions with the world.

The Importance of being Mindful
In the world where our attention spans may be on par with those of goldfish, it is becoming increasingly challenging to be mindful and be in the moment. A few sound bites from a panel discussion on the topic that were captured and reflected on by the group included:

  • Be fully present without being attached to the outcome.
  • Executives that are mindful are able to pause and are much more likely to come up with innovative ideas.
  • Mindful stretching during the day helps make individuals better communicators with better focus.

It was interesting that this was a hot topic at the conference, as MMfit (a branch of MMwit focused on fitness and health) recently started meditation classes at the office and brings in Raw Juce to help our team focus on overall health and wellness. Looks like our group definitely understands the value of taking time for yourself to reset and this panel was a nice reminder of that.

Marcia Resta, Knowledge Services Communications Specialist, shared her take on this panel discussion and mindfulness. She stated, “A key takeaway for me was the value of mindfulness in business. As technology continues to drive and disrupt, I think we’ll hear more about the value of mindfulness and meditation in the workplace. It’s more than simply ‘unplugging,’ but rather cultivating a sense of presence and not letting the conversations in your head rule your behavior. Take a step back and evaluate from a higher state of being and afford yourself the luxury of observation not just reaction. I also loved the ideas that were discussed around wearable technology that can measure the physical manifestations in the body, such as stress and muscle movement, to help individuals keep their stress and connection in check.” This session reminded us to be fully present – whether that is in your professional or personal life.

The Value of Your Network and Community
It is true that you are often judged and influenced by the company you keep. Linda Zukin shared two of her favorite and impactful quotes from attending the WIT track during eMerge. One came from Lauren Van Wazer, Vice President, Global Policy at Akamai Technical Academy. Ms Van Wazer shared words of wisdom when she said, “Be your own North Star. Ignore naysayers, explore passions outside of work.” And the second came from a panel discussion, when Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises, shared, “Women are great at peer networking. We accomplish more with community than on our own.”

“After hearing these two quotes I thought about how it applies to me in my daily life both in and out of the workplace. I practice associating with like-minded people, and agree that women are great at peer networking. There’s no doubt we have to take advantage of and make opportunities to be inspired, to be the change, to put ourselves out there, to get out of our comfort zones. That’s what resonates with me most about MMwit. Push past limitations, take the challenge, face your fear, use your leadership skills, and before you know it you are raising the level of excellence for yourself and those around you,” commented Linda.

Global Impact
As our world becomes even more interconnected with advances in technology, global impact comes into focus. Tara Auclair, Senior Marketing Communications Manager, enjoyed the international focus which was another common topic throughout the conference. Tara shared, “For each of the three years that I’ve attended eMerge, I’ve gained useful and inspirational knowledge, and also made valuable business contacts. This year of particular personal interest was the panel discussion “Cuba: The Case for Continued Engagement” moderated by the incomparable Soledad O’Brien. The subject matter was quite timely since my summer vacation plans included Havana the following week. Learning about business considerations from the three panelists provided a unique perspectives that most travelers aren’t privy to.”

The combination of global impact and social good, mentioned previously, really resonated with the group. Khue Tran, Business Operations Analyst, shared, “I really enjoyed the speakers who dedicated their careers to improving lives of other people. For example, Shiza Shahid and Francesca Kennedy used their education and success to advocate for those in Pakistan and Guatemala, respectively, who would not have a voice otherwise. They found a way to raise awareness internationally while changing the lives of so many people and becoming entrepreneurs along the way. They also created opportunities for many women, causing a huge ripple effect from their efforts – Shiza encouraged and advocated education for Pakistani women, resulting in Malala winning a Nobel Peace Prize and Francesca employs over 800 Guatemalan women in her company, providing jobs and freshwater.”

So much knowledge was shared by the great speakers throughout the conference and the insights gleaned will resonate with our group throughout the year and stretch beyond the walls of Modernizing Medicine.

To read about MMwit’s experience at eMerge Americas 2016, click here.

Aaron Stoklosa
Aaron Stoklosa

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