2019 YPO EDGE: Technology and Mindfulness Lead the Day

We are living in a time of radical change: the way we communicate, the way we work,  the way our economy functions, the way we receive health care, and the way we conduct our daily lives are evolving quickly.

Technology is impacting everything and everyone.

The 2019 YPO EDGE in Cape Town, South Africa opened today with more than two thousand chief executives from around the world in attendance to learn and to be inspired.

Here’s a sampling of the speakers in various fields, including technology, education and business that took center stage.

Max Hawkins, spoke during the opening session and shared that he once questioned whether he was truly living his own life.

He found that he would go to a particular coffee shop because reviews online told him it was the best. He took a certain route to work each day because the GPS on his mobile phone told him it was the best route to take.

Hawkins came to the realization that algorithms were controlling how he lived his life and what he was experiencing. He was not discovering new things and he was not having new experiences because he was following the guidance of machines.

For Hawkins, the solution was to write his own program that would randomize how he lived his life. Nothing would be repeated. Each day a random route, each week a random event and eventually he decided he enjoyed the experience of discovery so much that he allowed for the program to randomly choose where he would move to every few months.

“In randomness I found freedom,” says Hawkins.

What Hawkins realized is something that EDGE speaker Manoush Zomorodi researched by tapping her extensive podcast audience. She questioned our excessive reliance on our mobile devices to not only give us information, but to fill the gaps in our day between one task and another.

She learned from experts who explained that it is during those moments of nothing, those small moments of boredom, that connections ignite in the brain and facilitate problem solving.

Alerts on your mobile phone that tell you a connection commented on your LinkedIn post or that your aunt just sent you a question on WhatsApp end up controlling your day.

Missing from your day are those precious moments of simple boredom.

You may think you’re doing nothing during those moments when you are idle, but you’re actually coming up with solutions. Your brain needs that time. 

“Taking control of information coming at us gives us control over our lives,” says Manoush Zomorodi.

Not to say that technology is all bad. No one was suggesting that. YPO EDGE attendees learned also of the many positive sides of technology.

For example, speaker Joseph Ndagijimana explained how drones are saving lives in Rwanda by delivering much needed blood and medicines to hospitals throughout the country — on demand.

But the 2019 YPO EDGE wasn’t just about technology and the ethical questions around it.

Geshe Lobsang Dhondup, a Tibetan monk, offered a new competitive edge — mindfulness. He said we need to challenge our minds. “Ask yourself, ‘do I really need this car?'” He’s not stating that wealth and technology are bad, but that if we do and create without questioning, we will not find happiness.

Dhondup says, “You need to understand the reality of things before acting.”

Manoush Zomorodi Edge


An experienced writer with a background in public relations, Vicky enjoys writing about brands, the people that give them life, and about business topics that matter to senior executives. Vicky is the senior manager of content at YPO.