Alice intern Madison headed down to Inspirefest last week in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. For two full days the theatre was filled with open-minded, entrepreneurial thinkers, ready to be inspired. Here are the top three things she took away from Inspirefest 2017.

1. Replace fear with curiosity

Monica Parker, Founder of Hatch Analytics, kicked off her talk by revealing a childhood obsession with Wonder Woman, when it was hard to find her without a red cape and mask. Throughout adolescence and into early adulthood, she continued to wear the mask, to shield her from: being vulnerable, driving change, and the unknown. What she would later learn on her journey, from homicide investigator to business owner, boiled down to one thing: don’t let fear control your life. Parker subsequently chose to take off her mask and began embracing vulnerability. She admits that taking that step was like starting a new life. “A blank slate, for me, for who I am and who I’m meant to be.”

2. Productivity is overrated

Adrienne Gormley, Global Head of Customer Experience at Dropbox, discussed what the future of the workforce will look like. Gormley starts by arguing that the future of work isn’t a nine to five desk job filled with productivity for the sake of productivity. In fact, she argues the workplace should have designated spaces devoted to creativity. Dropbox, for example, has a music room for musicians and coworkers to jam. She elaborates that companies should foster a company culture of creativity because employees will be happier, more loyal, and motivated. A Harvard Business Review revealed that Google, rated one of the best places to work, has thirty-one per cent higher productivity and thirty-seven per cent higher sales, with creativity three times higher.

3. Changing micro behaviors will transform society

Dr. Anita Sands was the only woman in her company on the board of directors, so she has first-hand experience on the issue of diversity and being a minority in the workforce. From day one, she noticed micro behaviors that made her feel excluded as a woman. These behaviors frame what’s appropriate in a conversation and thus the culture of a workplace. Sands likes to joke that “…there ought to be a class in the use of American sports analogies for us non-US directors! You wouldn’t believe how often baseball terms are used to describe business outcomes, which used to leave me looking for an interpreter.” It was not meant to harm, but nonetheless it created an atmosphere that excluded Sands.

Another example of a non-inclusive micro behavior was demonstrated while discussing a female employee. One of the board members led her evaluation by describing her as a mother, something he had not done when discussing a male employee. Sands found that by leading with the female employee’s family life, the board became disengaged and didn’t listen to anything else said about the employee. Sands later asked him why he had made this difference when discussing the two employees, and found that he hadn’t noticed and was embarrassed to have contributed to a negative workplace culture. Sands believes that it is crucial to inform others when they exhibit a non-inclusive micro behavior as increasing awareness creates a work culture that embraces diversity and inclusivity.


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