GAIN Conference: Epiphanies, Fields and Neuroscientists

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Today the GAIN conference opened. Tom Kelley, head of IDEO, California, was at his best, with a rare ability to combine sharp insights, empathic questioning, stories from a long career at IDEO with wit and humility. One of the presenters this morning, Michael_confortiMichael Conforti was talking about jungian archetypes and how we perceive different people, organizations or roles (say, in a movie) in terms of the field they are taking on. For instance, the hero in Disney’s Hercules doesn’t honour the idea of what a hero is. The hero in this movie is selfish and acts to create personal gain which doesn’t correspond with the idea of a hero. Michael calls the established understanding of a particular role or archetype ’Field’. Fields have specific properties to them, established over time. And if you don’t follow and meet the properties of the Field you are trying to be or communicate, your project is not likely to become a success. In terms of my book on authenticity it was a really interesting reminder of the way we understand anything in terms of what we already know. This goes just as much for business and the identity and brands of companies as for characters in movies. It was really interesting to hear that idea applied to a different field than what I usually work with. The understanding of an authentic car manufacturer, telephone service provider, bakery or accounting firm draws on a particular Field as well. We refer the experience of a corporate identity to our existing understanding of a business or industry. And we see any business as authentic in the light of this pre-existing notion and the degree of seperation from the existing field, defined by heritage authenticity and reflective authenticity.

Anne_nikolajThe afternoon was a blast! The 27-year old Jonah Lehrer did the most jaw-dropping presentation in regard to his new book ’Proust was a Neuroscientist’, eight casestudies of scientists who was not considered scientists but artists. Examples would be Cézanne, Stravinsky and the ‘founder’ of fine french cuisine, Auguste Escoffier. As what goes for Proust, he found what has taken Neuroscience decades to figure out, which is memory is a process and not a depository. Most of the things we remember are not actual memories but things we subconsciously make up as we go along. The memories awakened by our sense, smell and taste are the most valid as they have been through the cognition the fewest times. I will not go into further detail, just recommend the book and if you ever get the possibility, go hear the guy talk. It’s pretty amazing and very inspiring!

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