The thing about EVO conference is that you’re going to cry, probably more than once, because the speakers truly show you what we are capable of accomplishing if we decide we’re going to change the world.
Derreck Kayongo from the Global Soap Project spoke on Friday morning in the keynote sponsored by Babble.com. He talked about his journey from Uganda to America, and how seeing toiletries being tossed while in a hotel gave him the idea to make a difference. Derreck and his team gather the barely used soaps from hotels, clean and reprocess them, and then distribute those soaps to areas in the world where clean hands means saving lives. I dare you not to listen to his story and not be moved. We all see something small in our lives that if we change, if we act, we can make a difference.
Devi from ShotAtLife, the new campaign to vaccinate children from the United Nations Foundation, reduced every person in the room to tears as she described how $20 can save a child, can literally give them a shot at life. Her picture of the mother in Mozambique, who walked 15 miles with her baby on her back to get him a vaccine because she didn’t want to lose another child to measles? Stop it. I’m tearing up now. Diseases and vaccines we take for granted, that we even turn down because we have the luxury to do so, stop it. Let’s buy more vaccines.
I don’t lose my cool very often, but at the California Avocado dinner, when Shannon and Erica mentioned a chef’s name, I turned around and Lost. My. Cool. Susan Feniger! Mary Sue Milliken! Two of the most famous chefs in America, and more importantly, two of the pioneering women in the modern restaurant business, were right there, standing in front of me. I flipped out. Total fan girl moment. I even asked for a picture with Susan Feniger, who laughed and agreed.
A half hour later, my team and I made the winning dish in the avocado cook-off: The Mexicali 4am Hangover Special. A guacamole made with bacon, hardboiled egg, jalapeno, chile flakes, rice wine vinegar, red onion, tomato, and salt, served on the avocado halfshell with an adobo sour cream and cotija cheese to finish. I think I take competitions too seriously.
So much more happened at EVO, it’s one of my favorite conferences. I haven’t even talked about how my friends gave fantastic Ignite speeches and inspired a flash mob, how we survived a 6 hour power outage, and even more life-changing things I learned. There’s always next year!
What I Learned at EVO Conference
- You are qualified to make a difference
- You can decide to take the small, actionable changes that can lead to larger change
- Start a conversation and connect with people because that can open doors for you both
- We have almost eradicated polio from the face of the planet, and we can finish the work in our lifetimes
- You do not have to be a PhD, or have “official” credentials to make a difference, your passion is enough
- I might lose my cool if I meet Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken
- A flash mob can have the power to make a dream come true
- I’m probably too competitive