Fortune Brainstorm E Day 2: Lessons

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  • May 18, 2016
  • Starr Million Baker

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to have my brain melt out of my ears from an amazing overload of information, thought provoking debate, and solution-oriented discussion at Fortune’s 9th occurrence of Brainstorm E. If you ever get invited, or even think you may have a not-so-subtle way to finagle an invitation, do it. Go. In the energy, tech, or food industry, or all of the above, go.

Here’s just some of what I learned, in no particular order and through the lens of my expertise in communications, tech and energy:

When 196 countries came together in Paris in December of 2015 and all agreed to do something about climate change (and, in fact, did not have one argument about the existence of climate change), the door opened to say these words: CLIMATE CHANGE. Until this point, so many of our clients and other players in the energy space, while internally recognizing the absolute truth that is climate change, did not want to discuss it as such externally. It was rather a “focus on sustainability” or job creation, or local economic growth, or all of the other benefits of renewable energy and a carbon-free economy, except that pesky one of saving our world. There was indication at the conference that this, from a policy perspective and now a communication perspective, is changing. I say, let’s be real – our climate is changing.

That said, I very much get what Dr. Peter Eisenberger of Global Thermostat espoused every chance he got: we need to reframe the problem. Who wants to hear about the world ending? It’s true, Jeremy Grantham scared the absolute crap out of me and the entire audience, but is society motivated to act by fear, or by possibility? I’m with Peter – I think it’s possibility. The possibility to solve the world’s most challenging problems, the possibility to be a part of an exciting time in the history of mankind – the advent of the 4th industrial revolution – and the possibility to provide my children with a future not laced with carbon dioxide and methane? Yes, sign me up, and quick.

Positive movements on the technology side of the energy house are all about storage and batteries, batteries and storage. Are you in this space? You might wanna get there as fast as you can. This is what the VCs are looking at. And can you make solar even better than it already is? Give that a shot too.

Speaking of solar, this non-profit is the bomb. GRID Alternatives not only puts solar on people’s houses who really need that savings in their energy bills, they train folks in need of retraining and new jobs to install those systems. Fortune closed out the show with an interview of GRID founder Erica Mackie and trained installer (and former hip hop artist) Diane Adams and it was a nice way to ground everything we had talked about at the show into the reality of life.

Overall, I was super impressed with Fortune. So many smart, relevant, good speakers in one place, on topic, and on time – my gosh, it was on time – and providing information that was interesting and actionable.

Like I said, go. I hope to do so again. In the meantime, I’ve got energy-technology-climate-change-energy-efficiency-saving-the-world on the brain. And you can help. Stay tuned.

Other good stuff in here

What is the Energy Story?

EP. 58: The Rise of the Rest

Podcast