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Fast Company Innovation Festival
October 7, 2020
By Brett Grischo


I am halfway through the Fast Company Innovation Festival. It’s a week-long event happening online instead of in-person. The online webinar format makes it hard to give my full attention because I can’t spend my entire day on the couch watching the event; mentally, physically and squirrelally (shiny things everywhere). I don’t even watch the NFL all day on Sundays (usually).

Just like any conference, there are plenty of panels and speakers that aren’t all that interesting or just don’t apply to my world of curiosities. But thankfully, there are enough great panels and speakers that have made it well worth the money and my time so far.

Today’s highlights were the talk with Chip and Joanna Gaines of Magnolia and the interview with MasterClass founder David Rogier and instructor Ron Finley (I’ll be taking his class next). I need to go back and watch the National Geographic discussion that started at 8a while I may or may not have still been getting my beauty sleep (hey, I need a lot with this mug!).


The Magnolia folks are my people and I confess I have never even read their magazine, watched their show or even heard of them. Okay, I know of the Fixer Upper show on HGTV but I didn’t know it was them. I loved their energy and outlook. During the Innovation Festival session they talked about how kindness is a fundamental value in their business and personal lives. Well, that doesn’t sound all that innovative, does it? Unfortunately, yes it does. I am saddened by the anger and hatred in our country right now along with the overwhelming negative affects of the pandemic that has eliminated normal and has changed all of us – many in a dififcult and unfavorable way.

Amazingly, in this time of a ridiculous political climate, racial injustice, police brutality, climate change (remember that global issue?), and all the affects of the pandemic, there are many people and companies and cultures that have changed for the better. Silver linings everywhere. I believe kindness is a primary reason that people have indeed found positive change in these turbulent times. Chip and Joanna Gaines sure reflect it with their attitude and outlook on business and life.

Between their talk and their website, here are some gems:

  • Kindness is a fundamental value at Magnolia
  • One deep well is worth a thousand shallow wells
  • If you can’t see the path ahead with clarity, how can you expect people to follow you
  • We believe in doing good work that matters
  • We believe in courage, in cartwheeling past our comfort zones and trying something a little bit scary every day

I’m going to pay more attention to Magnolia from here on out.

Ron Finley is also someone I didn’t know about until the Fast Company Innovation Festival. I’m going to pay attention to him from here on out as well. He is difficult to describe. A gardener, a green thumb, a teacher? All true, but in my limited knowledge of him I can say he’s a world-changer. I’m looking forward to spending time on his website and will absolutely do his MasterClass next.

I liked Ron’s tone of reality and conversational approach to explain things. For example, he likes to ask people what the most important thing is in their life. When they say family, he scoffs and says, “Its air! Air is the most important thing in everyone’s life!” This is where Ron should drop the mic, but I think he has so much more to share that he can’t walk away.

I’m looking forward to the last two days of the Fast Company Innovation Festival. These events tickle my curiosity, inspire ideas, expand my knowledge and get me excited about, well, everything. I mean, how else would I have known I can turn old shoes and luggage into pots for plants if I hadn’t found out about Ron Finley!




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