Okay, I really don’t get it because I’m not much of a “gamer”, but people are getting shot and robbed, shoved and squished while waiting in lines to buy the newest video game controllers. I know millions think differently than I and know that these are absolutely the coolest electronic gadget, but let me introduce you to technology many others believe is far better. Not just cool – chillingly so.
I’m betting that unless you read “Fast Company” magazine most folks have never heard of Pop!Tech, an annual one-of-a-kind conference held each October in Maine. While enjoying the New England fall foliage, attendees of this three-day summit explore the cutting-edge ideas, emerging technologies and new forces of change that are shaping our future. For each of the last ten years the event has been bringing together 500 visionary thinkers in the sciences, technology, business, design, the arts, education, government and culture.
Big deal! So what? Okay, I’ll tell you. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of a LifeStraw®. Go ahead, hold ‘em up high so everyone can see. Anyone? Well, it’s just one of the many things and ideas introduced at Pop!Tech this year.
At any given moment, about half of the world’s poor are suffering from waterborne diseases, of which over 6,000 – mainly children – die each day from consuming unsafe drinking water. The LifeStraw® was developed by a Danish company now headquartered in Switzerland – The Vestergaard Frandsen Group – a company with several other inventions that help aid countries and people in desperate environmental situations.
As a personal mobile water purification tool, the LifeStraw® is designed to turn surface water into drinking water, thus providing access to safe water wherever you are. Touted as costing only $3.50 each, one “straw” can provide an individual safe drinking water for about six months. (check it out at www.lifestraw.com)
So let’s do some math. These Wii’s and Guitar Hero games will likely cost consumers about $600, once they’ve acquired all the different games, and add-ons. If the manufacturers would raise the price of their products by $3.50 and it could provide millions and millions of LifeStraws. Or instead of spending $600, a “gamer” could donate the money to acquire – hang on, let me get out my calculator – 171 LifeStraws.
Now, I’m pretty realistic and I know the last idea is very unlikely to happen. But what about the first one? Sony would look like a heroic corporation. Heck, so could Nike, Home Depot, and even Tiger Woods. And what if each “gamer” on their own, decided to buy a single LifeStraw® when they bought their chosen controller? Retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, hhgregg, would have incredibly compelling and positive public relations stories.
I’ve not heard anything about Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt or Tom and Kat (Cruise and Holmes) dropping their bucks on these things. Why do you think that is? Media coverage is showing them as “compassionate”, right? It can’t be because a LifeStraw® is too costly. Just think of the money spent on the recent wedding by the likes of Cruise, Holmes and their guests – the private jets, designer clothing and jewelry, food and beverage, lavish rooms, and personal bodyguards, just to name a few.
The celebrated anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
For the past decade, Pop!Tech has been building and inspiring just such a community of committed change-agents. This network not only stretches across North America; it’s totally global. And Pop!Tech folks are doing exactly what people should be doing . . . making the world a better place. I’m not sure if Jolie and Pitt, Cruise and Holmes, and those of the same ilk deserve our attention. I prefer to give mine to the folks at Pop!Tech (www.poptech.org) who are committed to changing the world and creating cool stuff – like the LifeStraw®.
Brian Howe is a professionally-trained executive and business coach, writer and speaker, who owns ThinkTank Coaching. He is also a Certified Mediator, and holds the highest human resource certification, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). He has worked with over 300 business owners and professionals, coaching and consulting with them on leadership development and other aspects related to people in business. He can be reached at (770) 922-6007 or via his website www.coachbrian.com