RETURN to NEVERLAND (Part III):
STOP. REWIND to time-stamp 29 JAN 2013… ZZZZZIP…
I have walked past The White House and 10 Downing Street many times. I have even walked through The Kremlin. But, I have never ever been inside the house of the leader of a nation. Thus, the evening of 29 JAN at the house of the President of Estonia was a first. I love firsts. And LOVE is a big word. I had already done my homework on President Ilves and in doing so, found out that he lived in New Jersey for 2 years just a few minutes away from where my sister lives now. That’s all I needed to read. Anybody who has actually lived in “Joysey”, home of Einstein, Edison, Springsteen, and Sinatra (and my sister) gets a free pass. I’m sure the Estonians are delighted to hear that their leader has been vetted according to the New Jersey protocol.
It is now 7 weeks after the Presidential reception and my impressions from the experience there have not changed. It was truly impressive to see firsthand that LDI not only has visibility all the way to the top, but also has open, vocal support from the President. (and has had it since the very beginning!) President Ilves did not hedge his bets in his language about LDI as most politicians would. He made clear statements.
After the reception, we boarded the bus and headed off to the ferry port on the coast and then on to Pädaste Manor on the island of Muhu. Estonia is definitely THE most “wired” country I have visited in the past 5 years. There was WiFi on the bus! There was WiFi on the ferry. There was WiFi in all 3 hotels I stayed in. There was WiFi in the cafés and restaurants. BFD, right? (big f-ing deal) There is WiFi in other countries too. True, but not FREE, hassle-free WiFi. No logon headaches. No annoying codes or passwords needed. Even though we are already >5 years into the age of the iPhone and >10 years into the age of the SmartPhone, many places, hotels, restaurants, etc, have not “arrived”. They simply do not get it. Nobody wants to deal with passwords and codes, especially not the omni-connected, digerati world travelers. They just want instant access to the high-bandwidth data pipe. In 10 years, the Estonians will look back at this advanced, precocious even, level of connectivity as being one of the lubricants that allowed them to innovate faster than the rest of the world.
I recognized one of the women on the bus as the one from the video sent over from California during the 2012 conference in which they inducted us in to the Blue Marble Game and set the scene for the delivery of the blue marbles. I asked Sarah if she had ever heard any feedback about that event. It was hard to believe given the impact that it had, but she said she had not. So, I told her there was barely a dry eye in the room. Even macho man me got all misty-eyed. Little did I know just how much we would hear from Sarah Kornfeld over the next few days.
Even though the Brainstorm was not to begin until morning, it still felt like the moments just before a game or a concert. The feeling transported me back in time to the band years and even further back to the college and high school basketball years. The words “start” and “begin” and “opening” fall terribly flat considering the hyperaware, pre-performance I was in. I thought the agenda should have stated something like:
- 8:00 breakfast
- 8:30 “tip-off” or “face-off” or “house-lights down”
This feeling always makes the minutes preceding the tip-off of a basketball game or the downbeat of the first song of a concert seem like an eternity. It is agonizing. You just can’t wait for that first moment to spark the engine and get the damn thing roaring.
Little did I know… it would be a long wait.
Thanks to the stunningly gorgeous and cozy surroundings at Padäste Manor, I managed to get some sleep. The next morning, after making a mental note to be sure to return to the island in the summer, I forced down some breakfast and headed through the snow over to the carriage house where the brainstorm was to take place. We were finally there. Game time! My stomach was in knots and I could barely sit still.
It would stay in knots for the rest of the day and through the evening.
(to be concluded in Part IV…)