Albert Einstein once famously stated, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” At TEDxUniversityofNevada 2016, a variety of speakers elaborated on this statement by challenging assumptions about the various systems we’ve collectively created, and the need to re-think our approach to such sectors as education, career training, business, and healthcare. One speaker even urged the audience to take a hard look at the unchallenged assumptions we have about who we truly are.
Dr. Anjala Krishen, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas Associate Professor of Marketing & International Business, laid the groundwork for thinking about this idea when she stated, “We’re all born into a box.” In her talk she discussed her own story of being born into a cultural box, which created certain expectations for her as a person, until she dared to explore possibilities outside of her self-constructed box. “Opposition solves problems, creates avenues for open thought … allows for thinking outside of the box,” she said. Living outside of this box was liberating, and allowed for her to explore dimensions of herself she hadn’t previously known existed. Coincidentally, Anjala is also author of the book “The Dichotomy Heuristic in Choice: How Contrast Makes Decisions Easier.”
Dusty Wunderlich is the Founder and CEO of Reno-based Bristlecone Holdings, a high-growth innovative network of consumer and business-to-business finance platforms and financial technologies. In his talk about education arbitrage–which is disparity between education and the job you’re doing–he elaborated on the idea that the higher education system is broken when he talked about how the number of 19 million college graduates is outpacing an available 7 million jobs, that there is nearly $1.2 trillion of college debt being carried among our citizens, and that test scores don’t necessarily equate to the type of intelligence our economy requires. “We need to take action to change the path of education. We have our future generations at gunpoint,” he stated. Dusty also drove home the point that we should consider the fact that “our society is like an engine that requires many different parts to operate.” Framing the issue in this light helps us to think about alternative solutions, which is critical before the education bubble bursts.
Alex Ellison, a masters student in public policy and administration with an emphasis on higher education policy, supported and expanded on many of Dusty’s statements when she talked about the need to bring back liberal arts to standard education. “We must expose young people to practical and creative endeavors,” she stated. Frustrated with the lack of guidance and support students were receiving around college and career readiness, she founded Dunce Labs, a college and career exploration space for teens, in order to offer the needed support to students outside of school. In her talk she shared statistics about job hopping and encouraged students, parents, and teachers alike to rethink the skills required for today’s workplace, underscoring the importance of skill building and creative thinking as a basis for solving complex problems.
In David Burkus’ talk about business, he questioned cultural assumptions around keeping pay secret and revealed that sharing salary information may be better for not only employees, but for organizations and society. Encouraging openness as the best path to fairness and transparency in workplace, he stated: “Should you know what your coworker gets paid? If we want to close the gender wage gap, maybe we should open up the payroll.” David Burkus is the author of the best-selling book, “The Myths of Creativity and the forthcoming Under New Management.” As an Assistant Professor of Management at the College of Business at Oral Roberts University, he teaches courses on leadership, creativity, strategy, and organizational behavior. He is also a contributing writer for Forbes, 99U, PsychologyToday, and the Harvard Business Review blog.
In a final talk about fixing broken systems, President and CEO of Renown Health Dr. Anthony Slonim, an academic leader and tenured professor with 100+ publications and 15 textbooks, shared personal stories mixed with academic and management insights to bring a full-circle look into a system in need of real change. “Healthcare is in a state of chaos … how do we remove the chaos from patient care?” he asked. In urging society to focus on health rather than healthcare, Slonim talked about the need for creating healthy communities, and to incorporate a mind-body-spirit approach to treating people as opposed to working backwards from a system that measures patient care based on number of hours spent in a hospital bed. Reflecting from his own personal experience as a cancer survivor, and the stress that came with coordinating one’s own care, Slonim talked about the need to fix an inherently broken system and offered a variety of solutions. As a nationally recognized expert in patient safety, accountable care, healthcare quality, and innovative care delivery models, Dr. Slonim gave the audience plenty to ponder and provided hope for a future that focuses on keeping people healthy first.