“Are we there yet?” “In a minute”, was the reply I got when my family embarked on long car journeys. This was never the case and probably my parent’s all time best white lies, which infuriated me, and I vowed I would never use on my own little cherubs. Luckily none of the speakers at this months FastBREAK infuriated me or told me white lies (I hope). Instead I left the session feeling inspired and full of thought-provoking tales around innovation and success against adversity.

If you haven’t been to a FastBREAK before, organised by Vibewire on a monthly basis, then I suggest you do – the delicious pastries are enough to get me there. The talk includes five speakers from various backgrounds who are given five minutes each to discuss a topic. This week’s subject, “Are we there yet”, chosen to celebrate the Australian Innovation Festival and proved a great talking point.

There is a fine art to spoken word, especially when you only have five minutes to explore your subject. However, the crowd was stunned when a 12-year (Sam) opened the talk in the most articulate manner, going so far as quoting Thomas Edison, the pioneer of modern innovation. Sam gave an interesting insight into a digital world that I never knew as child. He probably doesn’t ever say “are we there yet?” and get bored in the back of the car like I did, as he is probably too busy sharing ideas on twitter and facebook.

So, the delightful Sam set a very high standard and welcomed Julian Waters-Lynch to the stage like a true professional. Julian spoke modestly about his contrasting training as a jazz musician and economist – a strange mix by anyone standards. The improvisation skills of jazz taught him to approach learning in a different way and be spontaneous. His leaving message was; that to innovate, we need to look at things in a different way and let go of attachment and rules of society.

Michela Ledwidge took us back to the .com boom and demonstrated her passion for the internet in the early days, claiming she was the first student to use the world-wide web at Sydney University. She shared some interesting first hand experience about a concept she had developed and launched on the web years ago which failed to catch on as the idea was too innovative. However, those ideas are now coming into fruition and the online community is ready to embrace. Michela’s final comments struck a chord with me, as it is something that we should all consider; “If you are worried about being there yet, then I suggest you hop off for a while and enjoy the ride”.

I saw Tim Longhurst recently on the panel at IF Talks and relished his story telling and opinion. Tim shared stories (and amusing images) of his early days as an activist and argued that to innovate we need to keep asking the question, “is there a better way?”. Suffice to say he is no longer out on the streets causing a rebellion, explaining the meaning of ‘irony’ to the police, but instead uses the Internet as a vehicle for communication. He concluded by saying, we are not there yet and that in order to we need to keep an eye on the future, a finger on the pulse and a seat at the table.

The birth of the Internet has forced businesses to innovate and it is no secret that certain industries have struggled to keep up. Jules Harvey, a producer and editor discovered this when he and his partner set out to produce their first ever feature film. They soon realised they were limited to expensive funding and distribution options and therefore decided to subsides their masterpiece by crowd funding ($1 a frame) and distribute it through pirate networks. With now only a few weeks till the film is launched (The Tunnel), Jules leaving comments were more concerned with what happens if we get there and what the hell do we do? I wish you all the best Jules.

Michelle Williams, co-founder of Social Innovation Sydney, who reminded us that as a human race we have achieved amazing things. A point we so often forget. However, she went on to explain that the human race is in a transition stage, growing up from being carefree teenagers into adults with responsibilities and that we need to grow up and help our world to progress. Michelle will be hosting Sydney’s launch of the film “Economics of Happiness” this Tuesday, which will be well worth a watch.

Overall for my first FastBREAK, I had an excellent time and nourished my mind with some tasty thoughts to marinade over the weekend. I just wish I could have plucked up the courage to say ‘hello’ and tell all the speakers how great and inspiring they were in person…perhaps another time. The next one will be in conjunction with the Sydney Writers’ festival so get your tickets soon.

Article by Jo Horsley: Manufacturer of Ideas and Events. You can follow Jo on Twitter.
Miss marketing and communications. Interested in sustainable living. Lover of all ideas from the heart, cups of tea and riding my bike.