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Follow up on a killer trip to open the IF! Italians Festival in Milan with Dojo Thinking.

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Conn  Bertish
Follow up on a killer trip to open the IF! Italians Festival in Milan with Dojo Thinking.
By: Conn Bertish
Published: Wednesday, 25th November 2015

Opening a 4 day festival filled with hundreds of Italian designers and creatives is a big deal. What you say pretty much sets the tone of the event to follow. So stepping out onto the triangle dotted stage of the beautiful and vintage Theatro Franco Parenti (reminiscent of crafted set in Wes Anderson movie) in Milan to deliver the ultimate talk on Design Thinking and how it helped saved my life, was crazy exciting. Especially as my audience where not first language English speakers. I realized that moving my hands around a lot would be key as would keeping it simple and not saying things like kiff, befok or phsychoneuroimmunology in the same sentence (I actually did say this one, as I couldn’t find an Italian alternative.)

I opened with my talk titled “Happy People Are Harder to Kill” which documents the cancer dojo way of approaching disease. I make it fun, and scary and funny and slightly crazy, but backed up with some powerful medical studies and some breakdance moves to boot.

I tell them that my kids call the holes in my head my volume buttons, they find this very amusing.

To say it went well was an understatement. I love Italians, because when they like something, they make no bones about letting you know they did. And they did. Cancer Dojo and my talk remained one of the top influencers of the event on Twitter for the duration of the event and I managed to connect with the right people; Google Italy, Jamshid from The Berlin School of Creativity (uber respected) and many more. It still amazes me that when you just put yourself out there, commit to and idea you believe in, the right people emerge and the idea gets bigger, better and boosted, by collaboration.

The trip was whirlwind 3 day tour of Italian design with a half day visit to the European Institute of Oncology's innovative Cancer Centre in Via Ripamonti, Milan. It's a pretty amazing facility, I loved their use of plants, greenery and open space to enhance healing. With over 600 cancer practitioners under one roof, I got some super tips on foods, community building, med tech and funding techniques.

It was a privilage to be there, open the festival and experience the passion and excitement around the intersection of creativity, technology and humans in our growing digitally enabled world. This is the best time in human history to be a designer and social entrepreneur. Yes, we have many problems to solve, but we also have many more ways to solve them. Just like Cancer Dojo, the ultimate Design Thinking; creativity to help people engage with their disease, make themselves stronger, more resilient and increase the cancer survival rate, one playful mind at a time.

It was an amazing trip, with heaps of espresso, espresso,  espresso, maybe 7 per day, come now! You are in Italy! Have another Conn!

“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzztttttttttt, sure” I would say.

I’m back now, in Mzanzi, optimising Cancer Dojo after learning a lot about social enterprise on an international level. We in SA are pretty far behind other nations when it comes to generating business for good. Turning non profits into socially led businesses that can scale beyond relying on hand-outs and donations. The world is changing as we speak, exciting things are merging and I truly believe many global issues will be solved in this manner as we charge forth into a purpose led digitally enabled age.

See ya next month peeps of Yoda Voda!

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Nathi Silenga


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