Doug spoke with Aman Singh of Futerra, who was the MC for the first day of the Commit! Fourm, about day one and her takeaways from all of the different speakers.
“I think the diversity of the content was really amazing. It’s something you don’t find at a lot of conferences in the space.”
“I’m going to say I’m a believer in this conference now, after the last few years of kind of really struggling with keeping up their reputation as a conference organizer. I think this year they’ve proven that they can turn around with a new team in charge and the right focus on relevance, and what is it that we need to learn.”
DOUG SIMON: We’re at COMMIT! Forum 2017, at MGM National Harbor in Maryland. It’s the end of the first day, an awesome day. Big reason for that– my colleague here, Aman Singh, who was the master of ceremonies throughout the day. You’re with Futerra. Tell us some of your thoughts and takeaways from the day, with all the different speakers.
AMAN SINGH: Yeah, I think the diversity of the content was really amazing. It’s something you don’t find at a lot of conferences in the space. Lots of things stuck out for me, one was the passion that came across pretty clearly from our speakers, and some of the audience members.
The opioid crisis is going to really be my headline. I did not know enough about it. I’m really motivated. I was really struck by the numbers– more than half of the audience members either have dealt with it or know someone who’s dealt with it. That was really striking.
I think some of advice from the Department of State, I think, is really crucial advice we should take home, thinking of them as a partner, regardless of what’s going on at the federal government level; thinking of them as a marketing channel, as a viable entity to tip the scale, I think, really a critical piece of advice for companies.
DOUG SIMON: Yeah. One of the great things I think they did with the structure was changing the length of the different sessions– a lot of 15 minute sessions, 30 minutes. In fact, I was given the shortest session of the day, when probably five minutes, probably a very smart decision as well. But I think that allowed people to take in different amounts of information and forced the speakers to really be concise and get to their top line points.
AMAN SINGH: Yeah. Getting into it, I was a little skeptical about staying on time, making sure people delivered their keynotes while staying on time. I think they delivered. I think the organizers did a good job of prepping the speakers too, because I think we got some solid sound bites. We had very few speakers that kind of kept going. And we had some good questions from the audience.
DOUG SIMON: Yeah, one of the highlights of the event was from MGM Resorts International, who had their top person in the corporate responsibility space speak movingly about the recent events in Las Vegas. It was even picked up by ABC News and aired in Los Angeles on the ABC channel.
AMAN SINGH: That’s awesome.
DOUG SIMON: That really set the mood for the day, I thought.
AMAN SINGH: Yeah, yeah. And I think the statement was pretty heartfelt and relevant. I think it really set the tone for speakers who came after Phyllis to kind of just keep it real.
DOUG SIMON: Yeah. I think it also underscored the need for humanity in any organization’s corporate responsibility program.
And another thing that came– this switches from the humanities side– is how– there’s such a direct tie to profits into business success by emphasizing corporate responsibility– not as a separate silo, but you need to maybe– just, OK, we’ll throw some things over there, but actually an integral part of your business. Was that a takeaway that you got as well?
AMAN SINGH: Totally. I mean, at Futerra we’re guided by a couple of things. One is our theory of change. And part of that is making sustainability so common it’s mainstream. And that’s part of it. You’ve got to be built in, not bolted on.
DOUG SIMON: That’s a great expression. And any final thoughts before the end of the day? I know one of them. You’re happy. You don’t have to MC tomorrow, so you can just enjoy it and take in the information.
AMAN SINGH: Yes.
DOUG SIMON: Any other moments?
AMAN SINGH: I think the speakers today did a really good job of staying on focus. I’m going to say I’m a believer in this conference now, after the last few years of kind of really struggling with keeping up their reputation as a conference organizer. I think this year they’ve proven that they can turn around with a new team in charge and the right focus on relevance, and what is it that we need to learn.
DOUG SIMON: Well, we know we’ll be back. And I’ll tell you, I would think a lot of college students who are entering their junior or senior year– make a lot of sense if they’re interested in social entrepreneurship for them to be coming here.
AMAN SINGH: Yeah, I hope the content is widely distributed. I really do, from tweets to the articles, to these interviews like this. I hope it’s amplified.
DOUG SIMON: Well, that’s why we’re here. And we’re glad you’re here as well. Thanks so much for your time.
AMAN SINGH: Thank you Doug.