Kaplan: Welcome to #BIF2017. Let the Inspiration Begin!
Friday, September 08, 2017
Every year the BIF summit experience is completely new and different. It never fails to inspire us with the excitement of limitless possibilities and leave us emboldened with a renewed sense of purpose. After 13 years of catalyzing conversations, enabling random collisions of thousands of unusual suspects, and over 400 storytellers, it never gets old. Hosting the BIF Summit is one of the greatest honors and blessings of my life.
One of my favorite things to do leading up to the BIF Summit is to connect with each of the storytellers to talk about how their personal journey story is shaping up. We never prescribe what our storytellers should say and instead, offer them the opportunity to genuinely share their personal transformation journey and what they have learned from it. They always rise to the occasion. Their stories come from the heart and are always awe inspiring. They are stories that compel us to action. We accept the responsibility to convert random collisions from the summit into powerful and purposeful collaborations. At #BIF2017 we are modeling how to enable self-organized purposeful networks.
Storytelling and engagement is imperative to form and strengthen our purposeful networks. At BIF, we believe that stories can change the world and storytelling can help us make transformational change safer and easier to manage. One of the first things we did while launching BIF 13 years ago, was to create an Innovation Story Studio as a platform to integrate storytelling into everything we do. By openly sharing stories about the process and output of BIF’s work, we are strengthening our community of innovators and becoming more purposeful with every new story.
#BIF2017 storytellers are catalysts to get our reaction started. Summit participants engage in colliding with the stories and each other to figure out what is relevant and meaningful to them. We don’t tell participants what their takeaways should be or prescribe what’s important. It’s up to the audience to decide what to share with their networks and what insights to act upon. Inspiration is personal and it’s up to participants to decide where it comes from, who to connect with, and how to emerge with a renewed sense of purpose. Let’s make a RCUS at #BIF2017 because that’s how the magic happens.
#BIF2017 is more community than event. We need a human-centered, optimistic, inspired, and engaged community now more than ever. As our BIF community continues to grow, so do our personal networks and our reach. It’s time to unleash the adjacent possible at the edge of our networks. It’s time to make our networks more purposeful to make meaningful progress toward transforming our important social systems, including healthcare, education, and public services.
When we connect outside our normal silos, we build our network of capabilities and gain the most by experiencing change through the lens of others. Transformation requires an emotional connection to the work. When we feel involved, when we feel like we are an essential part of the story, only then are we ready to transform ourselves, our organizations, and our communities.
It’s time to go from tweaks to transformation. It’s time to make our self-organized networks more purposeful. It’s up to us to become powerful storytellers to co-create the important societal changes we want to see in the world. A good story can change the world.
Welcome to #BIF2017!
Saul Kaplan is the Founder and Chief Catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory (BIF). Saul shares innovation musings on his blog at It’s Saul Connected and on Twitter at @skap5.
Related Slideshow: Power List - Business
Kevin Tracy and Oliver Bennett— There are deals and there are BIG DEALS. In Rhode Island, with all of the changing players and banking relationships, one reality is pretty much the same. If you have a big deal that needs sophisticated financing, the community banks may not be able to handle it.
Bank of America may have abandoned the Superman Building, but they are still in Rhode Island and still doing big deals. Kevin Tracy, the former Brown golfer and Oliver Bennett — long ago Fleet Bank trainees — are now the guys you bring in for a $50 million deal. The more things change - the more they stay the same.
John Hazen White, Jr. — White has taken Taco to new levels as he has made a series of strategic acquisitions to bolster the Rhode Island manufacturing company into a global firm.
He continues to be a leader in American manufacturing investing in worker retention and employee training.
Behind the scenes, White is a combination of an adviser and moral compass to many in Rhode Island. Despite taking a lower profile than his Lookout RI days, White is still a force pushing for ethics reform.
Joe Paolino — Once the young Mayor who took over in the 1980s when Buddy Cianci was forced to resign (the first time), now the leading corporate voice in Providence if not Rhode Island.
While others complain at lunches at the Hope Club and University Club about the plight of the Capital City, Paolino has rolled up his sleeves and taken on issues like panhandling and homelessness.
With a real estate empire that includes much of downtown, some of the top properties in Newport and Hasbro’s campus in Pawtucket to name a few, Paolino has close ties to Governor Gina Raimondo and even closer ties to the Clintons - could a federal appointment be in the works in 2017?
Steve Kirby — No one dominates commercial real estate in Rhode Island like Kirby does on Aquidneck Island. His red “Kirby Commercial” signs are literally everywhere across the island and in Newport proper -- they are more frequent than street signs.
Want to open a clothing store in Newport? Go see Steve Kirby. Looking to launch a startup tech firm? Call Kirby. Developed cool technology and want to start producing for the Navy? Email Kirby.
Kirby maybe the most influential in business on Aquidniick Island. (PS He will tell you which bankers to talk to).
George Nee — President of the AFL-CIO, Nee is one of the most influential players in business in Rhode Island.
He is Vice Chair of the Convention Center Authority Board, on the Commerce Corp board, the most influential voice for labor at the State House, and involved one way or another in just about every negotiation on constructing public buildings or issuing a tax stabilization agreement in Providence.
For the most part his public persona has been more muted recently, but that has not impacted his private influence. If it happens in Rhode Island, Nee has probably touched it.
Sally Lapides — If Teddy Roosevelt were alive today and saw the number of Residential Properties’ real estate signs on the East Side he would call it a monopoly and want to break up the company. Lapides not only dominates one of the most affluent sections of Rhode Island, but she also delves into the arts, education and politics.
When you sell the wealthiest and most influential their homes, you make a lot of friends.
Lapides is a force in residential real estate and it will be interesting to see what she does next.
Helena Foulkes — Two of the biggest decisions CVS ever made were the brain children of Foulkes. The Extracare card and the removal of tobacco from its stores were both influenced by Foulkes.
She has emerged as a national power in business and makes all the business lists for top women, but make no mistake - she is wildly influential in Rhode Island.
She is close to Raimondo and she may decide to jump into political waters in the future - or may decide if she can snag the CEO spot at CVS.
Visionary or Free Rider
Buff Chace — One of downtown Providence's biggest real estate magnates is a lightning rod in the Capital City. Widely considered to be one of the prime catalysts of Downcity's resurgence, Chace's accumulation of properties on Westminster Street is straight out of a Monopoly playbook.
His recent acquisition of the ProJo building has further solidified his dominance, which has not been without intense scrutiny, given his ability to continually secure -- and extend -- tax stabilization agreements at a time when the city's dire financial straits are close to reaching a head.
Wealthy, influential, and active in the community, Chace has chaired the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy and has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Providence Foundation, and is a director emeritus for GrowSmart RI and a trustee emeritus of Trinity Repertory Theatre.
Richard Baccari — One of the biggest real estate developers in New England. For decades he has been a major player in Providence, Rhode Island and the northeast.
During that span, he has been the driving and innovative force behind some of the region's most significant residential and commercial development endeavors.
See a Stop and Shop development and Baccari probably built it. Has fought back business challenges and much more.
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