Dreamforce Keynotes Reimagined Everything

Last week, October 13-16, 2014, San Francisco’s Moscone Center became Dreamforce, salesforce.com’s annual conference and expo. Filled with sessions, speakers and musical performances (headliners were Bruno Mars and Will.I.Am), Dreamforce is positioned as an event that can “help you transform your business and your life,” appealing to wide variety of fields and verticals – from sales and marketing to government and healthcare.

Not just a user conference, Dreamforce is also meant to inspire on a deeper level, beyond growing your business or expanding your skill set. On its last day, Dreamforce honed in on inward and outward transformation by embracing the theme of “Reimagine. Everything.” Former Vice President Al Gore and musician Neil Young spoke about the external environment and how technology is playing a critical role in how their respective initiatives will move forward and impact the world around us. Media mogul Arianna Huffington and author Eckhart Tolle took the opposite approach by focusing internally on self-preservation, mindfulness and the redefinition of success. Here’s a quick recap.

Al Gore

As a mini-update to his 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore provided the audience with new data on the world’s environmental status that have resulted in drought, famine, floods, infectious diseases, wildfires, even political instability. Huffington argues that success has been reduced to two things: money and power. But it’s not a balanced definition. Looking at success this way reduces our lives to a to-do list that will lead to more money, more power. She challenged the Dreamforce audience consider these four pillars as a healthier foundation for success:

  • Well-being – Meditation and mindfulness helps us sustain a sense of well-being that allows us to slow down, contemplate and appreciate the here and now.
  • Wisdom – Our individual life experiences provide us with wisdom that help us to figure out what’s worth spending our time on.
  • Wonder – Get away from technology and instant gratification to wonder and contemplate.
  • Giving – Daily instances of kindness and generosity.

“It’s an extraordinary moment to be alive,” Arianna said. “But we must get away from our collective illusion that we have to burnout to be successful. Go onward and upward, but also go inward. Our culture is obsessed with burning out and ignoring our inner-reality. It’s important to take microscopic steps toward connecting with yourself.”

Eckhart Tolle

As an extension of Huffington’s keynote speech, Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, joined her on stage to elaborate on the importance of living in the present instead of always thinking of the future and planning for where you’d like to be. “Eighty percent of thinking is probably unimportant,” said Tolle. “I call it the obnoxious roommate living in our head. That’s what really stops us from being our creative best. If you can get back to the underlying sense of ‘I am,’ it’s a sense of inner stillness. That’s where creativity arises. A deeper sense of happiness comes from when you can connect with yourself and a deeper intelligence within you.” Tolle doesn’t disregard the importance of goals and striving to achieve them. But a balance must be struck. If you’re constantly thinking about how to reach your goal and what you might become after you’ve achieved it, you’re not recognizing and appreciating your life for what it is today, now, in this very moment. “It’s wonderful to have goals,” said Tolle. “But if the goal that you want to reach takes up so much of your attention that you regard the present moment as inferior, then the quality of the present moment becomes diminished. Your entire life is a journey. If you miss the present step in your journey, you miss the entire thing.” Tolle used two simple yet profound analogies that put things in perspective. When people attend a concert and record it on video to watch it later, what they’re experiencing is not the concert, but the act of video-taping the concert. They’re missing the full experience of the actual concert! Tolle also described the experience he had when he was writing The Power of Now. Throughout the three years he worked on it, people would discourage him, pointing out that the topic isn’t popular anymore. But because he deeply enjoyed writing it, he already considered himself successful. While reaching a creative peak, he achieved a sense of happiness that he recognized by being present and honoring the moment for what it was. These four keynote speakers have reimagined their external and internal worlds. What have you done to reimagine your own life and/or career? In what way has technology played a part?