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Marty Cooper and Naila Chowdhury

June 23, 2016 Comments (0) Views: 713 Blog, Life on the Mesa

Life on the Mesa: The Introduction of a Lifetime at the Design Forward Summit

The event brought together some of San Diego’s brightest minds, including Marty Cooper and Naila Chowdhury

Come sit by me…

Don Norman and Michele Morris brought their “A" game last Thursday, and raised the bar to new heights with their Design Forward summit at the Broadway Pier. Some big names up on the main stage were Robert Schwartz, General Manager of Global Design, GE Healthcare; Kurt Walecki, VP of Design, Intuit; and San Yen, Chief Design Officer, SAP. Mayor Faulconer and his team attended as well, thanking the Design Lab for pulling together a city-wide collaboration focused on the importance of human-centered design. This concept cuts through every industry and is the perfect thread to pull us together. Unfamiliar with the term “human-centered design?” It’s all good. I can set you up with the Design Lab. Better yet, we should host office hours at the Social Club. Chat with the experts Don Norman, Michelle Morris, Joan Gregor, and Chuck Pelly while sipping on a sangria at sunset.

There were several opportunities to get your social on. San Diego Startup Week hosted a mixer. Creative Mornings hosted their meetup at the Port Pavillion the following morning. And then there was the private curated dinner at the University Club. A room filled with great minds eager and ready to put some action plans into place. Which party did I attend? You bet your ass I was looking out over the city on the top floor of the Symphony Towers, dreaming big and ready to share my vision of mass collaboration with this group.

Seated at my table were a few local greats, including TedX San Diego Director and Curator Mark Lovett, Victor Nacif of Brojure, NewSchool of Architecture & Design President Marvin Malecha, and musical genius and producer Dan Atkinson from Athenaeum Jazz Concert Series and UC San Diego Extension. To my right, Larry Stambaugh, founding Principal of Apercu Partners. Intimidated? Could have been. But when you are passionate about your vision, you seize the moment.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was introducing my mentor, Ms. Naila Chowdhury, to Marty Cooper, pioneer and visionary in wireless communication. Marty was so moved to learn that Naila had a direct role in the Village Phone Project that resulted in a Nobel Peace Prize for Professor Yunus and Grameen Bank back in 2006. In a world where everyone now makes a smug comment to Marty about cell phones, it was so special to see the sincere joy he felt when meeting Ms. Chowdhury. Imagine meeting the very person who took your technology and used it to help pull millions of women and families out of poverty. It was an honor to witness the exchange and facilitate this new connection. Marty and Naila’s work have shown us the true power of collaboration and how technology can improve the lives of people around the world. It wasn’t until our car ride home that I brought it up. “Do you know who that Marty Cooper was?” “He's the inventor of the cell phone.” Her reaction? Priceless.

Looking back to that glass room filled with some of the city’s finest thought leaders—Mary Walshock, Greg Horowitt—I am confident that the seeds planted over the past year are now about to bloom. Stay tuned. San Diego is going global. And our great minds on the Mesa are leading the way.


Upcoming Events on the Mesa (I'll be at the fun table…)

  • Conversations with Angel Investors: Activating More Latina Angels & Advice on Deal Flow
    June 23, 4 p.m., Hera Fund Sorrento Valley
    Calling all female angel investors, founders, innovation/startup advocates, and entrepreneurs! And calling all men who love to surround themselves with a room full of power women. Latina investor Valentina Vitols flies south from Seattle to school us on how to pick the right startup at the perfect time. The native Venezuelan will share her secret sauce for choosing wisely while speaking candidly about the importance of growing a strong network of female angel investors here in SD. Be sure to head to Barrio Sorrento to give props to these women who invest in women. Location? It's hosted at Hera Hub of course.
  • John Hollenbeck Claudia Quintet – Jazz @ the Athenaeum
    June 25, 7:30 p.m., Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
    Dan Atkinson is at it again, spicing up our sleepy town with some hot jazz. This time the Athenaeum debuts NYC-based John Hollenbeck Claudia Quintent. We’ve got perfect weather this week, my friends. So, come on! Get out on the town and listen to some steamy world beats infused jazz in one of the world’s classiest downtown seaside villages. Jazz, man. It’s good for the soul.
  • The Last Tiger in Haiti
    June 28, 7:30 p.m., La Jolla Playhouse
    If you take a moment to read their mission, the La Jolla Playhouse aims to advance theater as a “vital social, moral and political platform.” The LJP village is so much more than just a collection of stages. It is a public arena for our community to gather, learn, be challenged, and get inspired. Their upcoming world-premiere play, The Last Tiger in Haiti, proves a stellar example of their intentional curation of top-notch productions that push their audience to explore the unimaginable. Restavek. That is what they call these Haitian children who are modern day slaves. The subject will not be an easy one to stomach. But theater is not always meant to be a happy chorus of song and dance. Bravo La Jolla Playhouse for bringing us a world-premiere that shines a spotlight on a modern-day injustice that we all need to recognize and end.
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