Profiles in Courage....
Earlier this week I went to the kick off party for the California Clean Tech Open here in San Jose. The Clean Tech Open is a business competition where companies submit their sustainable business ideas for funding, and entrants are not only chosen but receive comments from the judging rounds. It's an amazing opportunity for those companies that compete. It was a really energizing event, with lots of new ideas. A company called Cool Earth was talking about it's early win in previous years competition about their idea of creating solar collectors out of mylar balloons that increases the energy efficiency of solar collectors. Their goal is to create generation plants using their technology and resell to the utilities. It's a way out idea that talks about the great power of technology.
As I went around the different tables, my first impulse was "yeah, but". Some of the ideas are pretty mundane, others are far fetched or very niche targeted. But as I suspended my disbelief and sat and listened to their explanations and to blunt, their pitches. What really impressed me was that these people had sincere ideas on changing the way we consume energy and resources. There was also a genuine desire to get rich. The two were not incompatible. The other thing that struck me was that these men (and they were predominantly men) and women were huge risk takers to go with their dreams and their ideas.
Contrasting that with myself, who has a job at a major internet company, where my entire job is about risk mitigation. Ideas rarely play into my work decisions. But it goes much beyond business risk, but to personal risk. Most of us think about local risk, to our jobs, to our families, to our reputations. I know that I right now am in that trap, this blog is a small effort to move beyond that trap of complaint and into action. But is sufficient to move change. I don't know, but I do know that I don't have an idea compelling enough to make the next big move. However, the people in the clean tech challenge have the courage, because they have the big idea, and they know that even greater than the risk of failing in business or our jobs, is the risk to this planet. And that they genuinely think they can address that risk and are doing so, truly is a profile in courage.