Resilience. Our 2020 World Summit theme, and an apt description for Technovation participants in any year, but especially this one. In a year marked by a pandemic, social and political unrest, natural and climate disasters, Technovation chapters and clubs around the world pulled together to support each other. This year, we wanted to celebrate everyone, regardless of whether or not they won or finished their projects, and we are so grateful to all the members of our community who joined us online for World Summit to help us do just that. Between August 13 and 14, nearly 2,000 people from 56 countries logged on to learn and celebrate as a global community. Some of the most inspiring moments came from our incredible speakers who generously shared their wisdom and their courage with all of us.
We heard from an astronaut, a 5-time Olympian, a giant of the tech industry, and our own CEO, all of whom reminded us again and again and again to never give up, and to never give in to the fear of failure – because our visions for a better, safer, more just world are worth fighting for.
In her keynote address, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli generously and openly shared her experiences of failure, and how she’s overcome them. She reminded us that failure is normal and just part of the process of pursuing a goal – “if you challenge yourself and want to achieve something great, you will fail along the way.” But that’s not a dire prophecy, it’s a reminder that failure is simply part of learning. It doesn’t mean that you’re not meant to do something bold and courageous, it doesn’t mean that you will never be able to do whatever it is you’re learning to do – it just means that there is more to learn. As Jasmin also told us, being passionate about something doesn’t magically make that thing easier to do, but “if you know what you’re doing is worth it to you, don’t ever give up.”
5-time Olympian Natalie Cook reminded us of the same thing – “never ever ever ever ever ever give up” she told us in her keynote. “Resilience is really simple. The only way to practice resilience is to have a go at something and fall over and get back up.” Nat also talked about building the self-confidence you need to develop that resilience; the reliance on yourself as a cheerleader, a coach, someone who can take feedback in stride, and someone who never stops trying. We’re so grateful to Nat for reminding us that there is always something to be proud of, and something to appreciate about our efforts, even if we don’t perform as well as we had hoped or expected. “Whether you come in first, second, third, or fourth or fifth or sixth, or however far down it goes, be proud of what you’ve achieved and how far you’ve gone…We all know that you can take a little bit of winning out of everything you do.”
This was an echo of something Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women had told us the day before during her fireside chat: “Every girl who got into the competition is a winner, as participants all learn from each other, and even an app that did not get a prize can be one that people really need. For those who win, they must never forget the importance of helping others, lifting them too as they climb.” We deeply appreciate the reminder that this competition is just one place for an idea to be recognized, and that not winning an award at World Summit or not advancing in the competition doesn’t mean an idea isn’t valuable or important. What you’ve made might be just what your community needs, and if your neighbors and friends use your app and it helps them, what is that if not victory and success?
During that same fireside chat, Marian Croak, Vice President, Site Reliability Engineering at Google Inc. emphasized the importance of supporting others as we succeed as well. She spoke of the importance and value of creating space for more people of all backgrounds in places decisions get made. “If you let women in, imagine what the world would be. Maybe we can do much better, maybe we can collaborate more. Maybe there will be peace in the world.” Dreaming big, making space for people to succeed and shape the future along with us – those are visions we can all work towards, visions worth pouring our energy and attention into, visions that make it worthwhile to get back up when we fall or fail or stumble.
We took great inspiration in hearing these incredible leaders and adventurers speak. We hope you did too, and that you’ll carry the lessons they shared far beyond World Summit.