FACTORY WORK: Dava Newman, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, presents at the Business Innovation Factory summit.
PBN PHOTO/STEPHANIE EWENS
By John Larrabee
The daughter and granddaughter of veterans, Stacy Pearsall stuck with the family tradition. She joined the U.S. Air Force straight out of high school, and spent the next decade traveling the world as a military photographer.
That ended when she was injured snapping shots of soldiers fighting in Iraq. She retired from the service with a medical discharge, and then found herself wondering how she would build a career. The answer came when she began photographing fellow veterans she met at VA facilities and elsewhere. Now she’s a commercial photographer, often working for companies that produce police gear, outdoor equipment, and other items that are also used by soldiers, and using veterans as models.
“I’ve found I have a purpose again,” she told 500 attendees who crowded the theater at Trinity Repertory Company Sept. 18th for the Business Innovation Factory’s ninth annual Collaborative Innovation Summit.
The two-day event, organized by BIF founder Saul Kaplan, focused on both self-reinvention and technological innovation. The summit was pitched as a way to stimulate new ideas and featured 30 speakers, or “storytellers,” as Kaplan called them.
“When you want to learn how to reinvent your business, the last people you should be talking to are the same old group of consultants saying the same old thing,” said Kaplan, the former director of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation. “You should be talking to people who are successfully reinventing themselves.”
The BIF Summit was inspired by a similar event, the TED conferences, run by the nonprofit Sapling Foundation and held each year in Long Beach, Calif. The TED acronym stands for “technology, entertainment and design.”
Organizers of the BIF Summit acknowledged the connection to the TED conferences with an unscheduled talk by Richard Saul Wurman, an architect and graphic designer who helped launch the first TED event in 1984. Wurman, a Newport resident, used his time to announce his latest spin on storytelling, the 555 Conference, a global event planned for 2014. It will take place in five cities around the world, on five consecutive Mondays. At each event, there will be talks by five people – a total of 25 – whom he described as “exceptional global experts.” The goal is to present predictions for the next 10 years. Wurman described it as “intellectual jazz.”