The 99% Conference 2011: Day One Recap

Our day one overview of the idea-making conference


Now in our third year, the 99% Conference speakers are a group of hard-workers at the forefronts of their fields, carefully selected by Behance and Cool Hunting for how they manifest Edison’s notion that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

The 2011 line-up features 16 thought-provoking leaders taking the stage over the course of two days, including designer Yves Behar, Google Ideas director Jared Cohen, partner at IDEO Diego Rodriguez, Pixar’s Dr. Michael Johnson and more. In other words, there’s no shortage of information on how to break a creative sweat, and yesterday started things off with some of those great ideas on how to produce ideas, which we’ve recapped below.

Simon Sinek

Author and leadership expert Simon Sinek spoke to the group of nearly 400 people about the importance of trust, providing several examples on how the concept stems from an authentic set of common values. Sinek explained its significance lies in the fact that trust encourages confidence in experimentation and exploration. Proving the premise that “as a group we’re pretty damn amazing,” Sinek showed the power in numbers and delved into how much more successful an organization can be when they are consistent in their beliefs and authentic in their actions. The professor and communications strategist also touched on how much generosity impacts action. While there’s “no equation” for this selfless sentiment, Sinek left us with the thought, “If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.”

Tony Schwartz

Giving the audience a sigh of sleep-deprived relief, President and CEO of The Energy Project, Tony Schwartz explained the importance of shut-eye. Describing how you should “live life like a sprinter,” Schwartz broke down some common myths about being a workaholic, explaining “human beings are designed to pulse” and that intermittent breaks yield far greater capacity for doing quality work than marathon all-nighters. Also emphasizing the importance of focus, his approach isn’t to be confused with multi-tasking (or shift tasking as he calls it) since the brain actually can’t do more than one task at once. Shift tasking actually disrupts the work flow and, according to Schwartz, you need to skillfully manage technology and focus on one task at hand for an extended amount of time. Summing it up with “sleep is the most important behavior in your life to get right,” he advocates practicing renewal and recovery to align you with a natural rhythm that will give you the capacity to do better work.

Patrician McCarthy

Rounding out Schwartz’s pragmatic approach to making ideas happen, Mien Shiang Institute founder Patrician McCarthy demonstrated how analyzing personality types can affect how you work. A professional in the Taoist technique of facial diagnosis, McCarthy gave an array of face shape examples, linking them to behaviors and explaining how to use them to find more a productive balance in the workplace. Understanding a face based on her classifications of Water, Wood, Earth, Metal and Fire helps better collaboration with colleagues by knowing their work habits.

If you weren’t lucky enough to snag one of the now sold-out tickets, make sure to keep up with the action on Cool Hunting’s twitter feed, the official 99 Percent feed or catch it all at the #99conf.

Photos by James Ryang