Vail Daily column: An intellectual mindset |

Vail Daily column: An intellectual mindset

Ross Iverson
Valley Voices

Recently, a roundtable group from Vail met for a regularly scheduled meeting, and the topic of “intellectual relevance” came up. As a self-selected lifestyle, Vail residents choose a moderately paced way of life to create a daily depth of living that I have not found in other areas. The pace is set by the natural boundaries of nature that protect residents from the physical and mental congestion of an urban environment. The boundaries though can also create norms that inhibit innovation, growth and knowledge from outside sources.

I was invited to a unique experience outside of Vail in Evanston, Illinois, held at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. This event, called KIN, references the Kellogg Innovation Network, and it hosts delegates from 21 countries that convene each for this Global Summit. The theme for 2015 was Growth for Good. This topic is highly relevant for nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs and even multi-nationals who are looking to create sustainable practices that will impact us all.

The knowledge from this event ranges from a board member of Finland’s Central Bank, Women Social Entrepreneurs from Afghanistan, the head of cloud platforms for Google, the CEO of Indiegogo and the former director of counterterrorism finance programs. This is just a sample of the over 50 speakers and artists contributing to this intellectual foray.

What KIN has done exceptionally well is to stimulate “community” within the attendees of this conference. The goal isn’t to simply “learn,” but rather to find solutions and connections to advance this learning into practice. Over dinner the second day, I sat with the former CEO of MTV Films who has followed a passion and recently started a media firm called We Are the Mighty, dedicated to the culture of returning veterans. The way in which he planned and launched this organization was highly relevant to the intellectual renaissance we are developing in Vail.

The beauty of being a lifelong learner is that one can be intentional with their learning journey, or simply be open to learning as opportunities arise.

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I have observed Vail locals who purposely seek out learning opportunities on a national level, like Nicole Magistro at The Bookworm of Edwards who attends a national writer’s conference and brings back best practices about the bookselling world to our valley. Haven’t you always wondered how The Bookworm continues to stand out in a changing industry? The commitment to lifelong learning is one the tools Nicole uses to protect the business behind this important community asset.

The beauty of being a lifelong learner is that one can be intentional with their learning journey, or simply be open to learning as opportunities arise. For Vail residents, Step 1 may be to assess what areas of learning intrigue you, or what type of learning will help elevate your impact within your organization, your family or the community in which you live. It also helps to surround yourself in a community of learners to hear how others are approaching their journey. Buck Elliott, one of the founders of the Vail Leadership Institute, has said, “If you don’t go, you won’t know.” What a perfect way to talk about the first step in one’s lifelong learning journey.

Finally, as I sat listening to a concert at KIN held at the Music Institute of Chicago, it invigorated my passion to bring this intellectual mindset to a place where community is already centric. There is definitely a need to leave your primary place of residence to stay relevant in this highly complex intellectual world, but there is also great opportunity to bring this level of intellect to a place where the boundaries of nature could serve as a campus for global growth that encourages the “human connection.”

Ross Iverson is president and CEO of the Vail Leadership Institute.

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