Purpose is proud to have served as a first time programming partner for the 2015 Concordia Summit. Now in its fifth year, the Summit convenes the world’s preeminent thought leaders and decision makers to address the most pressing global challenges by highlighting the potential that effective cross-sector collaboration can have in creating a more prosperous and sustainable future.
Purpose Co-Founder and CEO Jeremy Heimans co-moderated a panel discussion along with Henry Timms, the Executive Director of 92Y and Co-Founder of #GivingTuesday. Their session, “Introducing: New Power in a Multi-stakeholder World,” featured an exciting line-up of speakers, each pioneering change in their respective industries in innovative ways:
Scott Heiferman, Co-Founder & CEO of Meetup
Nancy Lublin, Founder & CEO of Crisis Text Line
Jenny Abramson, Founder & Managing Partner at Rethink Impact
Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League
The session focused on the fundamental transformation that is taking place in business, civil society, government, and other sectors. The public is waking up to its own power and people are coming together at a scale and speed unimaginable a few years ago. This has created new opportunities for cross-sector collaboration, particularly in the pursuit of social, economic, and environmental impact goals.
Panelists shared stories from their own organizations, highlighting emerging models that are taking shape to reflect new power values of peer-driven participation and tap into this global energy and human agency. A few discussion themes emerged that particularly captured the attention of the panelists and audience:
Products to Spark Agency
Nancy Lublin emphasized the importance of building products first, in particular technology platforms and infrastructure, that give people agency and enable bottom-up currents to flow. She said, “Old power types of organizations think people. ‘We need this particular partnership or we need to hire this person or we need a study to be done.’” Nancy continued that this old power model is expensive and unsustainable, while the products first approach has the potential to “create more agency at the bottom rather than at the top and is faster and cheaper than people.”
Igniting New Power Organizations
Jenny Abramson built on Nancy’s comments and focused on the importance of activating both old and new power organizations, adding “I think Nancy is right. We can do it through product but then partner at both ends,” referring to the need to fund and support social enterprises who are upholding new power values and mobilizing the masses, as well as helping old power institutions at the other end shift course via both product and partnerships.
Brands Need to Keep it Real
Jonathan Greenblatt applied the new power framework to the millennial generation and their expectations from brands. He talked about how consumers today, especially younger ones, are all about authenticity. “People are responding to the real,” he commented, “young people have filters in their brain – – they see what’s fake in a way that you don’t.” He urged brands to tap into this desire for authenticity in order to remain relevant, and in some cases, survive.
People to People Builds New Power
Scott Heiferman shared that one of his takes on new power is that people are turned to each other, which aligns strongly with the model he has built with MeetUp. He pointed out the irony of the old power model of this session with the panelists being on a stage, under a spotlight, broadcasting out to an audience sitting in distant rows barely visible to the panelists. He urged audience members to apply a different type of structure and thinking to their own organizations: “How can you empower people to turn to each other – – how can you unlock that most beautiful phenomenon?”
You can find more on the new power panel and other sessions from the 2015 Concoria Summit here.