Fast Company Recommended Events October 2009



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fri, october 02
International Olympic Committee announces 2016 host city
Copenhagen, Denmark

On just one day during last year’s Summer Olympics, — the official 2008 Games Web site — racked up nearly 200 million hits. That’s a potential bonanza for the host that emerges from the pack of four 2016 finalists (Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo) — or for Steve Frayne, a 30-year-old MBA student. In 2004, he registered the domain names and On those sites, you will find “A Balanced Discussion,” where Frayne compiles info and debates about the pros and cons, economic and otherwise, of hosting the Olympics. If the Games go to one of his cities, Frayne may try to capitalize on that, but for now, “you won’t see any ads on the sites,” he says. “It’s too important to have the people get the information that they need.” You say cybersquatting, he says “an investment in the future.” Tussles with the Chicago and Tokyo bid committees over legal rights to the domain names have only emboldened Frayne. “We are protecting my property,” he says royally, before showing some can-do, persevering spirit that some might call quintessentially Olympian. “This is the first of many times I’m going to do this.” — Zachary Wilson

fri, october 02
50th anniversary of The Twilight Zone


If Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling were around today, “I think he’d be doing things on the Internet,” says Zone historian and sci-fi writer Marc Scott Zicree. “It would allow him to sidestep the production companies, sponsors, censors.” Indeed, the butchering of Serling’s scripts for shows such as Playhouse 90 compelled him to go rogue and create The Twilight Zone, a place where he could comment on social, racial, and political issues under the guise of science fiction, eluding the censors. “The irony, of course, is that if he hadn’t been censored, he wouldn’t be remembered today,” Zicree says. “He died thinking his work would be just momentarily adequate.” Fifty years later, it’s anything but. — ZW

sun, october 04
Association for Financial Professionals Conference
San Francisco

In the good old days, the AFP’s annual conference must have been quite the celebration for the 6,500 gathered wannabe masters of the universe. If the headlines are to be believed, these are not the good old days. But wait! According to a report released by the AFP itself, the average annual salary for financial professionals increased by 3.4% last year, growing 13% more than the national average. Party on? — ZW


tue, october 06
Health 2.0
San Francisco

As the quest to improve America’s health-care system continues, the tech crowd is ready to offer its own prescription: Apply the fundamentals of Web 2.0 (consumer-focused tools; crowd-sourced, minable data; robust community) to the problem. More than 1,000 people from tech companies, health-care providers, and big pharma will gather to demo projects such as online doctor-visit portals, disease-specific community platforms, “the Quicken of health care,” and all manner of iPhone apps and virtual coaches. We’re feeling better already. — Kate Rockwood

tue, october 06
Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group
Istanbul, Turkey


When this league of extraordinary gentlepeople convened in Washington last spring, they were met — as is usual for world summits now — with a small but creative resistance. “There were about 1,500 of us,” recalls Lacy MacAuley of Global Justice Action, an advocacy group that organized street protests and dance parties as the bankers and ministers met behind closed doors. Their main gripe: “The IMF and World Bank are billed as charity organizations. Really, they’re loan sharks who prey upon smaller countries in their times of need.” In fairness, some of those economies would have crumbled without outside financing, and it’s not like there are plenty of lenders rushing to offer humongous loans. MacAuley remains unmoved — and her allies already have tickets to Turkey. “I’ve talked to some people,” she says. “There will be protests.” — Dan Macsai

wed, october 07

What does TV’s Mr. Nasty want for his birthday? More money. Cowell, whose net worth is estimated at $200 million — plus, earns millions each year savaging wannabes on American Idol and Britain’s Got Talent, which he also created. But the pop mogul is reportedly miffed that he doesn’t get a cut of the programs’ profits, which go to the shows’ owners, including Sony BMG and Fox. A new project with retail billionaire and Topshop boss Sir Philip Green, though, could make Cowell’s big day. The pair are developing a media company that will handle the creation and licensing of new TV formats, talent management, and merchandising — and give Cowell a huge hunk of revenue from new shows. With the extra income, he might just be able to afford some new shirts and a decent haircut. — Theunis Bates


thu, october 08
AIGA Design Conference
Memphis, Tennessee

Forget the networking and the keynote speeches at the American Institute for Graphic Artists’ summit — for true design geeks, there’s only one reason to attend this biennial creative meet-up: the typographic quiz. Some 200 contestants will attempt to identify typefaces from Albany to Zephyr, with the winner earning the title “Typophile of the Year.” Quizmaster Allan Haley (day job: director of words and letters at font giant Monotype Imaging) recommends that this year’s challengers bone up on typefaces linked to host city Memphis. We bet Elvis was a Rockwell man. — TB

thu, october 08
Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival
New York


Food banks have reported a 30% increase in requests for aid since 2007, and it’s estimated that one in eight Americans doesn’t have stable access to sufficient food. Leave it to do-gooder foodies to find a way to feed the hungry by stuffing their own faces. At the second annual Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, some 25,000 people will raise more than $1 million for hunger-relief organizations through sales of tickets to talks, tastings, and cooking demos by celebrity chefs/Food Network stars including Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, and Ina Garten. This four-day festival shows that opening the heart — by way of the mouth — can sure be tasty. — KR

SAT, october 10
Rough It
Adventures in Travel Expo
New York

Half of all U.S. adults have taken an adventure-travel vacation in the past five years, and the sector has grown solidly among women — especially for no-boys-allowed trips. Susan Eckert, founder of the Montana firm Adventure Women, says that a girls-only river-rafting trip in Colorado is one of her most popular products. From her description, it’s easy to understand why. “We have gourmet chefs, the staff sets up tents with cots, we eat on tables with white tablecloths,” she says. “We go to a different campsite each night, have wine, and relax.” But the economy has hit this niche as it has the whole industry, and Eckert says that travelers are opting for shorter vacations. In fact, the biggest adventure might not be taking the trips but selling them. — Stephanie Schomer


sun, october 11
Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day

Since the holiday falls on a Sunday this year, just show him some love — it’s a bear market for teddy bears. Plush-toy revenues are down 17% this year, according to market-research firm NPD Group. Build-A-Bear posted a $6.8 million loss in the first half, a 525% decline in profit from the same period in 2008, and sales at the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. have halved since 2005. Asked for comment, Winnie the Pooh, a Hundred Acre Wood — based toy analyst, stuck his head into an empty honey jar and mumbled, “Oh, bother.” — DM

mon, october 12
Distressed Hotel Summit
Arlington, Virginia


Motel 6 says it’ll leave the light on for you, but these nights, some hotels can’t afford to. In the first half of 2009, average revenue per available room in the U.S. fell nearly 19% from 2008, according to Smith Travel Research. Foreclosure has hit hotels as plush as California’s St. Regis Monarch Beach, the site of AIG’s post-bailout junket. So 300 affected hospitality pros will meet at the first-ever Distressed Hotel Summit to snack, schmooze, and discuss loan restructuring, and, presumably, where to buy cheaper pillow mints. — Nia Arnold

tue, october 13
By Barbara Ehrenreich

This book could be nick-named “The Hangover.” Journalist and social critic Barbara Ehrenreich saw America binge on the power of positive thinking, and now tries to piece together what the hell happened. In the process, she dissects our obsession with deluded optimism and how it has been sold as a palliative to everyone from breast-cancer victims to white-collar workers. The reader is routinely confronted with the pervasiveness of the rot: If you’ve ever called a layoff an “opportunity,” you’re as guilty as the prosperity preachers, religious (Joel “Your Best Life Now” Osteen) and secular (Rhonda “The Secret” Byrne), who profit by peddling mindless optimism. As you realize how this chirpiness has drowned out dissent, the effect is as bracing — and necessary — as a splash of cold water the morning after. — David Lidsky


tue, october 13
Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition
By Michael J. Mauboussin

At a surgery conference, doctors were polled on two treatment options for a hypothetical patient. The vast majority voted for a newer procedure that is more complicated but yields higher payment. But when the surgeons were asked, “What if this patient is your wife?” the results reversed. It’s a stark example of the power of inappropriate incentives, and as Michael Mauboussin, chief investment strategist at Legg Mason Capital Management, notes in Think Twice, just one of the many reasons smart people make stupid decisions. (Another: We tend to be hyperoptimistic pattern seekers hungry for control.) Peppered with research, case studies, and a smidge of self-help talk, the book makes an engaging case for going against your gut. — KR

thu, october 15
BlogWorld & New Media Expo
Las Vegas


Whatever you do, don’t confuse the BlogWorld & New Media Expo with that other techie meeting in Austin. “South by Southwest is spring break for geeks,” sniffs event chief Rick Calvert. “We’re more focused on educating online content creators from all communities,” including sports, business, and politics. In the past, the expo has lured boffo bloggers such as Guy Kawasaki and Glenn Reynolds. This year, Calvert expects even more “social-media rock stars,” and he hopes that they will all embrace BlogWorld’s latest tradition. “We’re going to do tech karaoke,” he says, “and it’s going to be grand.” — DM

fri, october 16
Where The Wild Things Are
Directed by Spike Jonze

Forget the beloved storyline (a kid wakes up in monsterland); the all-star director (Spike Jonze); a famous author as screenwriter (Dave Eggers cowrote with Jonze); stunning visuals (Imax); and the kiddie-lit legend who penned the story in the first place (Maurice Sendak). The film’s luckiest charm might be Catherine O’Hara. Best known for her roles in Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries (Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind) and for playing Macaulay Culkin’s mom in Home Alone, the 55-year-old comic actress — who voices a monster in Wild Things — has something of a Midas touch with kiddie pics. Since 2004, she has starred in Over the Hedge, Chicken Little, Monster House, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Every one of those films grossed at least $140 million worldwide. — DM


sun, october 18
Branch Out
World Forestry Congress
Buenos Aires

Every year, the loggers and farmers of the world chop and burn an area of forest the size of New York State. That’s bad news for the creatures who live in those woods, but it’s also grim for the rest of us: Deforestation accounts for 20% of the carbon emissions that cause global warming. Which is why the tree-saving policies recommended by foresters and scientists at this summit are so crucial. The trendy talk may be about nascent energy-efficient technologies and promising innovations that could someday sequester our CO2, but as Gerald Steindlegger, head of the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Forest Program, points out, “We can immediately reduce emissions by taking action on deforestation now.” — TB

sun, october 18
Milcom 2009


Seems impossible, but it’s true: Until April, the U.S. Army did not have mobile-Internet capability. This is particularly ludicrous since the Department of Defense’s budget for military communications this year is $23.7 billion. (For a rough comparison, that’s a couple billion more than the annual revenue of T-Mobile U.S.A., the nation’s fourth-largest cell carrier.) This year’s military communications conference will showcase new software that gives soldiers access to email, video, and other data while they’re on the go; it could be rolled out Army-wide by late 2010. As Milcom spokeswoman Fran Jacques says, “[The troops] should have as much technology as you and I.” — Anne C. LeE

thu, october 22
Windows 7 on sale

Microsoft’s Windows 7 OS is to Vista as:
a) a lightly bruised peach is to a rotten one.
b) a fresh coat of paint is to a clunker.
c) a nonevent is to an epic fail.
d) all of the above. — DL

mon, october 26
World Medical Tourism and Global Health Congress
Los Angeles

If there’s one upside to the soaring cost of health care in the U.S., it’s that Americans are improving their knowledge of world geography. In 2007, 750,000 U.S. patients traveled abroad for cut-price care; by 2015, Deloitte Consulting estimates, that number will rise to more than 13 million. Top medical-tourism destinations include India and Thailand, where a heart bypass costs $11,000, less than 10% of the average U.S. fee. At this international medical meeting, 2,000 insurers, clinicians, and travel agents will be discussing how to win your diseased dollars. Anyone know the Hindi word for hemorrhoids? — TB

mon, october 26
Talent Management Summit

The hiring rate today is at just 3% — meaning only 3% of jobs in any given month are new, the lowest since the government started tracking this stat in 2000 — and unemployment is at quarter-century highs. But the HR people of America will have you know that they aren’t any less busy. Rather, we’re told there’s been a shift in emphasis both in their work and at their yearly convention: Retention has replaced recruitment atop the agenda. That’s interesting, since most people we know aren’t job hopping right now, and the creaky economy is proving to be a decent retention “program.” Which makes us wonder whether the jobs those HR folks are trying to retain are their own. — ACL

tue, october 27
Smart Grid America Forum

The United States accounts for just 4% of the world’s population, but it produces 25% of greenhouse-gas emissions. Not smart. Deforestation (see World Forestry Congress, October 18) isn’t one of our big problems, but energy use is. That’s why power players will gather at this forum to discuss how to improve, both economically and environmentally, the way we distribute electricity. Outages and interruptions to the current electric grid cost us $150 billion per year. And even small changes could bring big-time payoffs. According to the Department of Energy, if our grid were just 5% more efficient, the energy savings would be equal to taking 53 million cars off the road. — SS

thu, october 29
80th anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash

“For 18 months, unemployment has been spreading poverty and acute suffering through industrial and agricultural areas alike. Timidity and disingenuousness have marked the course of the administration at a time when heroic courage and bold frankness were necessary. No one yet knows when the present economic disaster will be brought to an end.” — From The Nation, 1931


About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.