Buddhists Know a Wiser Way to Meet

I've been intrigued with Wisdom 2.0, a conference that explores the intersection of wisdom, technology, and neuroscience, since its inaugural conference in 2010.

I particularly liked how founder Soren Gordhamer jumped in with both feet from the beginning — the first conference webcast several sessions and fearlessly mixed Buddhist monks and academics with Silicon Valley’s high-flying tech entrepreneurs.

The conference sold out both years, and was such a hot ticket last year that Premal Shah, president of kiva.org, got in the door only by accepting Gordhamer’s invitation to be a panelist. (Convene wrote briefly about Wisdom 2.0 in a sidebar to the “Focus Group” story about meditation and meetings in our June 2011 issue.)

Gordhamer, who has co-organized a conference with the Dalai Lama, is an original thinker. So I am paying attention as he experiments with the design of the 2013 conference, to be held next February in San Francisco. Like many other conference organizers, Wisdom 2.0 is seeking to improve traditional formats without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Earlier this summer, Gordhamer wrote:

While people enjoy quality content, and know there is a value in hearing someone live, instead of via a screen, we are also adapting our conference to include more interactive sections.

Instead of a one-way street, with the speaker talking to participants, we are working to develop several paths, including: quality content from a stage, ways to connect with others on shared interests, practices that help us apply teachings, and options in how people spend their time.

That’s sounds very much like what I am hearing from meeting planners from a wide range of disciplines and organizations. In fact, getting that mix right seems to me to be the Holy Grail  in the conference world right now. Please chime in if you know of other interesting conferences that are reinventing themselves.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.

  • First time ive heard of the wisdom conference. but i am absolutely ecstatic about it and am looking forward to attending this FEB. by just watching the video i can tell that it will be amazing. i wonder if calling the small groups or what we know as breakout sessions Tribes came from reading Seth Godins book of the same title.

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  • bpalmer

    Miguel, thanks for the comment, it’s nice to hear from someone so excited about the conference. (I also thought of Godin’s book.)

    I think it is interesting that the tribes will be put together randomly (or that sounds like the current plan). I am writing now about a very successful conference that created interactive groups, but did advance work to connect like-minded attendees — it was a business conference and attendees wanted concrete takeaways.

    I hope you keep in touch and tell us what you think about Wisdom 2.0!

  • Hi Sharon,

    This is Paul here, Director of Social Media for the Wisdom 2.0 Team. Thanks for your shout out about the experiments we’re trying for the 2013 Conference!

    Breaking into “tribes” and the other more interactive forms of connection are a direct result of feedback we’ve gotten from our participants. While we’ve received excellent feedback about our speakers and topics, the most common piece of negative feedback we’ve gotten is that people want more time to dialogue and connect with their peers. We care deeply about listening and this is one attempt to work with that request.

    Miguel – both Soren and I are Seth Godin fans and certainly his book Tribes is on both our bookselves. :~)

    Thanks again Sharon!

    Paul from the Wisdom 2.0 Team