For the last 3 days I have been bombarded with information, inspiration, and incredible artistry, at the EG Conference in Monterey. It was hard to take this much time out from expedition preps (and thanks to Naomi for keeping things moving along in my absence) but rarely have I spent 3 better days.

With around 50 speakers ranging from magicians to inventors to musicians to entertainers to astronauts to software engineers, I am still trying to assimilate the onslaught of input. It seems almost rude to try and pick out individual presenters, as absolutely everybody was amazing, but if pushed…..

Trey Ratcliff – travel photographer, gorgeous photos, informative and inspiring website, and fellow contributor on TWiT Network of podcasts

Ren Ng and me in a shoot-out (photo by Yi Ng)

Ren Ng – inventor of the stunning Lytro light field camera. A whole new concept in photography, the camera captures every beam of light along with information relating to its direction. Focusing happens post-production using online software. Play around with the images in the Lytro gallery and see how you can shift the focus from one part of the picture to another. Looking at a photo is no longer a passive experience, but an interactive one, a process of exploration. And the 3D capabilities are simply jaw-dropping. I had to order one!

Philip Sheppard – cellist and composer, survivor of composition marathon when he was given just weeks to arrange every national anthem in the world (203 of them) in time for the Beijing Olympic games. Performed the Stars and Stripes on cello, in the style of Jimi Hendrix – which really had to be heard to be believed!

Jonathan Harris – proponent of ethically responsible software, on the basis that software shapes the way we think. Check out Cowbird for “teachable moments” and personal stories told through images.

Brian Selznick – creator of Hugo, and other illustrated children’s books. Prolific, imaginative and talented.

EG Conference cartoon - my head in a jar!

Simon Coronel – magician and fellow recovering management consultant. I loved his description of his fascination with the unusual as seeking out the “things you find under the edges of bell curves”

Kevin Olusula – cellist and beatboxer. Check out this video to see his unique combination of classical cello with the most amazing human sound effects. I found myself looking around the stage for the percussion section, only to find that those noises were coming from Kevin’s mouth. Incidentally, Kevin was also one of the undergraduates assigned to a Yale World Fellow during his at Morse College. He reckons I’m going to have a very special time on the program. I’m sure he’s right!

Yoky Matsuoka – inventor of the Nest eco-intelligent thermostat. More about her on the Neurobotics website.

Daniel Kim – this is the most incredible vehicle: to call it a motorcycle seems almost insulting. Gyro-stabilised, it would allegedly take a baby elephant to push it over. Imagine how much better our traffic would flow if all those single-occupancy vehicles were replaced by one of these.

Although the speakers were incredibly diverse, something they all had in common was their absolute dedication to their particular art form – dedication to the point of obsession. I wonder how many of them might have been told at some point that they should have “better balanced lives”, or that their obsession was unhealthy. Thankfully, they all had the courage to remain out there at the edges of the bell curves.

To truly excel in a particular field of endeavour, a degree of obsession seems essential. According to Malcolm Gladwell in “Outliers: The Story of Success“, 10,000 hours is the minimum amount of time required to achieve mastery. Having been inspired at first hand by the pinnacles of human achievement over the last few days, I would take “excellence” over “balance” any time.

Excellence inspires. Balance only reassures us that mediocrity is okay.


(Featured photo: a fun portrait taken at EG – what do we think of the granny glasses?!)

Enhanced by Zemanta


  • Just the outfit for rowing an Ocean :)……the hat is perfect for a gale……as for the shades!
    The links you added are fascinating. I want a C1 !!!…a great concept.
     Perhaps you could have the stability  system installed in your boat!!!
    Good luck with the preparations …the Sauvignon Blanc is ordered 🙂
    David C

  • To hell with balance, you are definitely going for “resilience.”  The ability to play hard, work hard, dream, aspire, achieve, rest, reflect, learn, go slow, build momentum and do it again.  Coming back to center over and over, allows us to go further / be more than we ever imagined.  It sure beats a state of angst over balance.

  • Bummer, but I’m going to have to skip the Point Molate cleanup day tomorrow. Just too much to do at the boat with Bojangles heading off on Monday to St John’s. Apologies to anybody who was planning to join me there!

  •  Very sorry, Roz, that I can’t be at SF on the 23rd to wish you well, but you can be sure that I shall be with you in spirit then and throughout your cold and damp return to England 🙂

  • Hi Roz,

    I like the new web page, but the older one resonated more. I felt closer with that one. I’m having trouble seeing the forest for the trees.  Just some feedback for you from an ever-devoted fan. 


    • Bruce – can you give me more details? What is the problem with the new version? Tell me more about the forest and the trees!

      • I think the lines and angles are hard and they do not ease my eye across the page. There are also too many elements for a home page. Elegant simplicity is best. Here’s an example of a similar page that is visually simple and has a softer feel: (and the content is good too, if you’re interested). 

        To be fair I was used to your old page. But, Roz, even if you use a chartreuse background with a flaming orange font I’d still follow. Keep up the good work and keep us posted!! -Bruce 

        • That is indeed a very nice website – but I have to say that I love the design that Tom and Tenny Allen did on mine – so I’m going to stick with it!

          • Wonderful. 

            We’re all very excited for you. It was an honor and complete inspiration being able to keep up with you on your Indian Ocean crossing, and this will be no less. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you really helped bring me out of a shell I was in. I’m ever thankful. Good luck with your preparations. 

          •  I like the new splash page. Especially the primary photo with the oar and windswept hair. The page is tidy and every link is clear. In fact it’s now one of the better pages on the web. Sorry Bruce!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *