News & Views

The Nantucket Project / Conference

by Contagious Team

Visionaries, innovators and business leaders gather on an island to re-think the status quo

On 30th September 2011, 350 people will descend on the US island of Nantucket for the inaugural Nantucket Project - a three-day ideas conference designed to encourage attendees to 're-think the status quo and explore change'.

Leading the forward thinking will be talks from over twenty of America's most celebrated businessmen, politicians, and innovators, with the line-up including Google's Eric Schmidt, Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, award-winning director Julie Taymor, and biologist Craig Venter - one of the first people to sequence the human genome.

The Founders of TNP, Tom Scott and Kate Brosnan (both from Plum Television), are hoping to nurture a collective conversation about issues raised in the conference with some cunning scheduling that eliminates competing presentations. 

Contagious has been lucky enough to be invited to join this illustrious company, so before we rushed off to Wikipedia to brush up our knowledge on all things highbrow, we caught up with Bob Lord, CEO of Razorfish and member of The Nantucket Project advisory board.

Contagious: What are you hoping the conference will achieve, both from your role as an organiser and an attendee?

Bob Lord: From a personal perspective, of course I'm hoping to walk away inspired, but more than that I'm hoping to truly learn from the other speakers and participants. It's rare that a group of people this accomplished and universally admired convene, and even rarer that it's in an intimate environment like TNP is cultivating, and rarer still that it's cross-sector.  The subjects we're going to explore - from economics to medical science to sustainability to globalism - affect us all as global citizens first, then as leaders.

From the perspective of someone on TNP's Advisory Board, I'm hoping that both our speakers and attendees leave the island eager to sign up for next year's event. Of course, this will only happen if we inspire, educate, entertain and engage in a way that is distinctively unique to this event - which is not an easy feat considering our audience and their level of achievement and access.  

Contagious: You've managed to gather together an impressive collection of individuals for the inaugural TNP; are there any speakers you're particularly looking forward to seeing?

Bob Lord: At the top of my list is my good friend Deb Roy from Bluefin Labs, who you folks just covered in Contagious Issue 28.  His work is highly relevant to what we do at Razorfish in blurring the boundaries between technology, media, and creativity.   

And while I've never met Thomas DeLong before, I'm looking forward to hearing from him, too. As well as being a professor at Harvard's business school, Thomas consults with organisations on the process of making individual and organisational change with an emphasis on helping talented people who are resistant to transformation. As the CEO of a global organisation whose product is its people, you can see why this interests me.  

Lastly, I always look forward to listening to Sarah Kay's poetry.  I learn something about life every time I hear her share her gift.

Contagious: Sarah Kay's a great example of the diversity of speakers at TNP. As an ad man, how do you feel being at the same table with biologists, economists and politicians?

Bob Lord: That's an excellent question but honestly, I don't consider myself an ad man - my  background is in engineering and technology. Razorfish does work that one would  characterise as 'advertising', but we're also an innovation company; we own 22 patents, we've developed products and services for clients that go well beyond the marketing realm, and we've even incubated start-ups of our own. So, I think we have a lot to share when it comes to executing a lofty vision. And on a personal level, I find my background allows me to understand basic concepts around speciality areas like economics and biology - and then help others with more functional expertise move those ideas into action and execution.   

Contagious: Thanks, Bob. We look forward to seeing you there.

Twitter users can follow @Nantucketproj and the hashtag #TNP2011.