Archive for the ‘UP Community’ Category

UP Alumni In the News 2.23.11

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Good morning and happy Wednesday to all!

One of our favorite things about The UP Experience is that it allows us to uncover new fields of study, new practices and new passions that stick with us long after the speakers have left the stage. It has also introduced us to a community of people in Houston and around the world who are constantly innovating and announcing new ideas that generate recognition in places around the world.

We do our best to keep up with past speakers to stay on top of their new research, business ventures and publications. Starting today, we’ll be posting weekly updates of notable UP Alumni in the news. Check back each Wednesday to see the latest.

And don’t forget, The UP Experience is about discussion and we love to hear your feedback. If you find a news story you’d like to share please post it as a comment, and let us know what your thoughts are on the stories posted here.

UP Alumni in the news this week:

UP 2009 speaker Brené Brown was interviewed by Martha Rosenberg at The Huffington Post about the findings in her latest book The Gifts of Imperfection

The victory of IBM’s Watson computer on Jeopardy last week has prompted lots of comments on the development of artificial intelligence. Watch here as UP 2009 speakers Michio Kaku and Peter Diamandis discuss AI and Web 4.0

UP 2008 speaker Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage continues to get recognition around the world for rewriting the long held truth that success brings happiness. Read Shawn’s Harvard Business Review article here on how to make stress work for you.

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Creating the UP lineup

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

In addition to being about the power of ideas, The UP Experience is about the power of connection. While each speaker talks about a unique topic, it is the connections between their subjects, the connections made between attendees and the connections that we all make between the talks and our lives that make UP truly incredible.

The power of those connections is driven by the lineup of speakers each year. If you have attended, or have spoken to a past UP attendee, most will tell you that although the topics range from undersea exploration to the future of the web, common themes do evolve over the course of the day. More importantly, by attending, everyone is exposed to new ways of thinking. Perspectives that may be common in science can potentially revolutionize the way a CEO solves a nagging operational problem and vice versa.

Crafting a lineup of speakers that we know will create another great UP Experience each year is our number one job. Every year we read countless books, travel the country to hear dozens of speakers and research copious numbers of thought leaders suggested to us by friends, family and UP attendees.

Why? Well we can’t say that we don’t enjoy uncovering all the new ideas and meeting all the new people that we come across in these pursuits. However, the real reason is that we are committed to bringing only the best speakers to The UP Experience – speakers who are pursuing work that promises to change our lives, and who have a contagious enthusiasm that makes the room come alive when they start to speak.

A unique combination of professional excellence and personality is required to take the UP stage. We believe finding people who can strike that balance is why so many attendees find The UP Experience to be a mind-opening event.

Each speaker who will join us October 27, 2011 will be someone who we’ve seen speak, who we’ve gotten to know, and who has truly blown us away with their intellect and innovation. Sometimes these speakers are names that we all know, but often they are people whose names are unfamiliar now, but that will be unforgettable very soon.

If you haven’t yet attended UP, get a taste by checking out some video highlights of past years. And, if you have a suggestion of a speaker that you think needs to be added to this year’s UP lineup please let us know!

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Keep It UP!

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Thank you to everyone who joined us at UP 2010. Every year we are truly amazed at the discoveries shared on our stage and the connections made both within the audience and between attendees and speakers. And, without a doubt our favorite part is hearing about the ideas sparked over the course of the day.

Now it is up to all of us to keep it UP! It is our goal to make The UP Experience a year round inspiration, a community where exploration, innovation and entrepreneurship are happening every day.

Please post comments here and contact us at to share how you are staying UP, and let us know how we can help! We’ll be using this blog and a few other means to keep things going in the coming months. Check back for more news on how to stay connected and involved.

Follow your favorite speakers on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and visit their websites and blogs to get the latest news on their work. And, don’t forget about us at UP!

The UP Experience:

On the web:

Twitter: @theupexperience



Linked In:

Michael Eisner:

On the web:

Dan Buettner:

On the web: (check out the bottom right-hand side of the site to sign up for Dan’s newsletter)

Twitter: @BlueZones



David Pogue:

On the web:

Twitter: @Pogue




Luis Von Ahn:

On the web:

Twitter: @LuisvonAhn



Adora Svitak:

On the web:

Twitter: @adorasv



Gracie Cavnar:

On the web:

Twitter: @r4shouston




Steve Thomas:

On the web:

Kevin Kelly:

On the web:

Twitter: @kevin2kelly




Wendy Schiller:

On the web:

Richard Florida:

On the web:

Twitter: @Richard_Florida


David Eagleman:

On the web:

Twitter: @davideagleman


Jessica Jackley:

On the web:

Twitter: @jessicajackley @kiva @teamprofounder



James Maas:

On the web:

Bill Nye:

On the web:

Twitter: @TheScienceGuy



Dennis Littky:

On the web: – check out “stay informed” to sign up for the newsletter

Twitter: @Dennis_Littky @bigpiclearning



Shawn Achor:

On the web: – newsletter sign up on the left



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Health Care Choices and Gen Y at the Mini-UP

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Ernie and Sheryl Rapp hosted the first Mini-UP of the season on Wednesday in the newly-purposed community room at Humana‘s Houston offices in Greenway Plaza. Frankly, I expected to run right home and write something for this blog that evening. However, the two talks we heard that afternoon have continued to linger in my mind, opening up more questions, further possibilities for personal action, and a curiosity about how I can use that information in my business and daily life. I should know by now, that’s what happens when you tap into The UP Experience.

Thomas Goetz, author of The Decision Tree, spoke about how technological advances in information sharing and iPhone apps can radically improve outcomes in health care.  The added revelation is that the improvement is not just general — it is very specific and personalized, positively improving outcomes in the management of MY health and YOUR health.  Peter Sheahan, author of Generation Y and Flip, spoke about the challenges and advantages for businesses as they incorporate a younger generation into the workforce.

The contrast between the two speakers was invigorating and complementary, each at home and completely in command of the subject matter that is their passion.  I was struck by the common thread uniting the two talks, and indeed, all of The UP Experience.  That thread?  ENGAGEMENT.

That thread was also the moral of both stories.  People who are engaged in their lives, in their work, in their health, and in their experiences DO BETTER OVERALL than people who are not.  Thomas Goetz spoke of the famous Whitehall study from the UK, where class differences predicted the likelihood of heart disease.  It turns out that having some autonomy and the ability to shape one’s own destiny and the environment around you is actually healthier than being stuck in a low-level job with no ability to make a difference.  Peter Sheahan has shown, time and again, that the young people now joining businesses and corporations EXPECT to make a difference.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  Attention, engagement, and effective action make all the difference in the outcomes, whether by qualitative or quantitative measures.  THAT is powerful information!

And that is why The UP Experience makes a difference.  Making connections between people, between ideas, to create value here and now,  today and into the future.

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Compose the UP Theme Song

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
UP Composer Competition
UP Composer Competition

Contact if you would like a pdf of this announcement to print and post.

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Ask Santa for the “Sixth Sense”

Monday, August 31st, 2009

It’s the hottest buzz among gadget-heads,  and you’ll get to see it at The UP Experience in Houston on October 15.

It’s the ultimate information interface device, developed by Pattie Maes‘ lab at MIT, spearheaded by Pranav Mistry.  Think about that CRAZY cool info-wall in Minority Report, all contained in a wearable device about the size of your cell phone.  Add “marker caps” to your thumbs and forefingers, and you’re ready to rock and roll.  “The Sixth Sense” will project  relevant information about  anything that is in front of  you onto any surface — a wall, your hand, the shirt of the person you’re  talking to at UP!  No keyboard required: you access all the information through your own gestures. Can’t imagine it?  Have a look here:

You’ll see a demonstration of the newest version of The Sixth Sense, and meet Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry at the UP Experience.  Here’s what we want to know:  would you want one?   How would you use it?  When do you think this device will be the hot “stocking stuffer” of the future on Santa’s sleigh?

It’s all part of one game-changing, mind-blowing day.  Don’t miss it!

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Mini-UP: Catch UP, Listen UP, Talk it UP!

Thursday, August 13th, 2009
The Rice shield
Image via Wikipedia

Wow!  I’m just back from the latest Mini-UP, held at the Shell  Auditorium in the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at  Rice University.  I think there must have been about 400 people there — and they were  UP! especially after the  two  featured speakers surprised, informed, and inspired  us.

Louise Parsley writes about family life, and spoke on “Family Side UP:” how laughter is a natural buoy when you’re drowning in your own gene pool.  Her deadpan delivery and universally recognizable revelations had the crowd roaring with self-recognition.  She proved the old adage, related by her father, that “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

Louise described feeling intimidated this evening as she thought of  being the “opening act” for  Shawn Achor of Harvard University, whom she described as “Einstein, Oprah, and George Clooney, rolled into one.”  Shawn thanked her for providing the most gracious introduction he had ever received, and then said, “I do look a lot like Oprah.”  We were primed with more laughter to hear his presentation about “The Science of the Ripple Effect.”

Shawn Achor,  one of the favorites from  UP ’08,  teaches the most popular course at Harvard:  “Positive  Psychology.”  What makes people happy?   Does it matter?  He demonstrated the effect of  “mirror neurons,” and described how the most expressive person in any group — whether positive or negative — will have an effect on the emotional tone of  the entire group.  He challenged  us to start a big “ripple” by performing Random Acts of Kindness, and to monitor the effects. You can see the slides from Shawn’s presentation here.

We’d like to hear from you!  What crazy family story did you remember after hearing Louise?  And, what Random Acts of Kindness did you perpetrate upon Greater Houston within 24 hours of hearing Shawn?

posted by MaryBeth Smith

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They Must Be Stopped

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Leonardo Da Vinci is well known for his creati...
Image via Wikipedia

The following is a piece of satire.

What is it with people these days? Creativity and innovation are back in fashion — almost everyone is using the terms as buzz-words. Then, there’s the constant, tiresome litany, “Old problems need new solutions, build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a  path to your door, yada yada.”  Enough, already! Let’s just face it.  Creativity and innovation can cause huge changes that aren’t easily predictable.   This is a bad thing.   People should stick with what they know.   Those creative types need to get out of our faces.

The UP Experience makes you spend all day listening to people who not only have crazy innovative ideas, they are acting upon them,  building careers from them, and creating  great value for their communities and for society at large because of their creative work.  These people are dangerous and must be stopped.  I mean, some of their ideas are game-changers.

We do have powerful weapons at our disposal in our battle against innovation.   Whenever possible, rely on conventional thinking.   Whatever you do, refuse to shift your perspective.  Once you see things from a different point of view, all is lost.  Common Sense and The Voice of Reason can hold the line for a bit.  However, creativity is wild and free.  It can be channeled or squashed, but it can never be tamed.

Creatives and innovators are strange and moody.  Some are quiet and focused, others are so energetic and enthusiastic they make you tired. Watch out for the quiet ones,  they can get to you. If you find yourself in the presence of a creative person, you must act supportive to gain their trust.  You can only  hope to plant a seed of discouragement so that they’ll talk themselves into quitting.  However, if someone  has a really good idea, they won’t give up until they see it through.   Those are the tough ones, and they’re really inspiring.  They’re  the type of people who will be speaking at The UP Experience.   We’ve got to do something.

Here are some time-tested questions, proven to be really effective at getting the majority of so-called “creatives” to slow down and abandon their hare-brained notions. At the very least, they’ll have momentary doubts  and feel bad about themselves.  It’s not a lot,  but it’s something.

Creativity Quashing Questions:

1.  Has anybody else ever tried this?
2.  Would anyone actually use this?
3.  Do you  have any metrics, success rates,  proven effectiveness?
4.  Are  you qualified to do this?
5.  How will you make money on this?
6.  Why don’t you put together a focus group before you proceed?

You get the idea, and might be able to improvise from  here.  The  important thing is, new ideas are, well, NEW.  We can’t just be trying new stuff for the hell of it.  These are hard times, and we  have to be sensible.  The worst of it: new ideas inspire other new ideas, some of which seem  completely unrelated to the original idea.  Then, things are out of control.  That’s  what  happens at The UP Experience.  Everybody starts thinking they have something to contribute,  that maybe they could be innovative, too.

It makes my head hurt.

Posted by MaryBeth Smith

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Coffee for comments!

Monday, April 6th, 2009
Cropped image from a larger one of Michio Kaku...
Image via Wikipedia

A quick glance at Google Alerts this morning is exciting, alarming, overwhelming, invigorating.  Just over the weekend (April3-5, 2009) there were 30  mentions of our UP Experience speakers on blogs and major news outlets.  That was just in 3 days!  In a little over six weeks, our speakers have been quoted 365 times. So what?  Movers, shakers, trend-setters and -spotters, idea-launchers and innovators are these unique people, sharing their unique perspective with Houston!  My Google alerts are consuming my waking moments, spent at my computer in the office, when perhaps I should be  doing something else.  I can’t help it.  And now, they are infiltrating my sleep as well.  That’s the only possible explanation for why I dreamed about dinner with Michio Kaku last night.   Random?  I think not.

Drop us a comment  here.  Tell your friends you commented, and maybe they’ll comment on YOUR comment.  Whatever Chris or I write for this blog is only part of the equation.  The comments are the rapid-response, the lifeblood  of any blog.  Just as the meet-the-speaker dialogues are the lifeblood of The UP Experience, your comments and the ongoing conversation here can make the event  on October 15 even more dynamic.

Here’s an enticement.  Have a look at previous posts, look at the list  of speakers, and respond via the Comments box.  Each week, Chris and I will read through all the comments, and select one at random.  The lucky winner will receive:

  • a cup of coffee or beverage of choice at our favorite geek-gathering  spot,  The CoffeeGroundz,
  • an amazingly entertaining conversation with us, over the aforementioned  beverages
  • a SPOTLIGHT mention of you (with links to your business or other approved site — ahem!)  right here on the UP Blog.

You’re responsible for your own transportation to and from and in Houston.  But seriously, the coffee’s on us.

posted by MaryBeth Smith

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