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The Chautaugua: The Feld Men’s Trip

Posted Aug 29 2012 9:21pm

Stanley Feld M.D, FACP,

Two weeks ago after I wrote “A Tribute To Jack Feld” , I received a bunch of requests to write about the upcoming Chautaugua we had scheduled at the Aspen Institute for this year’s Feld Men’s Trip.

The Tribe Aspen Institute 8 2012

Left to Right: Daniel, Stan, Kenny, Jon, Brad in front and Charlie. There was no room on the rock for Brad so he was pushed off.

Our private Chitaugua took place August 23rd-26th. Each of the 6 of us had 2-3 hours to talk about anything we wanted. During that time there would be discussions and reactions to the ideas each of us presented.

My brother, Charlie Feld , requested that he go first and that I be the cleanup presenter.

I figured that was good because I would try to pull everyone’s ideas together.

Charlie distributed statistics about the United States for the last 70 years.  There are many categories that can be compared such as population, the unemployment rate, the national debt and the baseball standings.

The only thing that remained stable was that on August 23 of each decade the New York Yankees were in first place in their league or division.

The major point that was made was there has always been uncertainty and change in the world.

Technological change has accelerated social, political and economic change.

PC’s are 30 years old. Smart phones are 12 years old. Our son’s kids don’t know what a typewriter is. Imagine the rate of change in the next ten years.

We did a lot of imagining.

We concluded that change is not random. Technological change has stimulated innovation, which in turn stimulated more innovation.

Leadership evolves, and initiatives are started. The ability to change and progress lies with Americans’ individual freedom.

The U.S. constitution gives Americans these freedoms. We must protect these freedoms.

My son, Brad Feld , was next. Brad is in the midst of creating a “Start Up Revolution.”  

He just finished a book called” Start Up Communities, Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.”

Brad spoke about the value of entrepreneurial ecosystems. He outlined how networking can increase the efficiency of all organizations.

He stated that society is in the process of changing from a hierarchical society to a networked society. Hierarchical society was an invention of the industrial revolution. The networked society is an outgrowth of the Digital society as we progress through the  Electronic Revolution.

He also spoke about the importance of social networking to communities and the vital need for mentees to become mentors in their community.

The community should become a non-zero sum community to enhance innovation in the community. Community meet-ups are vital to enhancing entrepreneurial ecosystems.

For more details, buy his book. I think it is great even if I am his father.

The level of the discussion of the first two sessions overwhelmed me. In fact the discussions spilled over well into dinner.

Jon Feld was up next. Jon talked about the mechanism for being great at something. First you have to have a passion for the activity. Then it takes 20,000 hours of intense practice. Sometimes putting in your 20,000 hours does not result in greatness.

Jon talking
Daniel Feld is missing because he is taking the picture. Jon  is speaking and Charlie, Brad, Kenny and Stan  are listening.

He gave us examples. The discussion then went to kids and their inability to be exposed to multiple activities because of the intensity of competition.

The lack of concentration on one activity puts them too far behind children who have perfect one activity.

The examples given were basketball, baseball, piano, orchestra playing, dancing, singing or acting.

The children of today must concentrate on becoming expert in one activity and make the grade in middle school or high school.

I remember being perfect in nothing but exposed to everything. I wanted my boys to have the same exposure. It worked.

In my view a one- dimensional exposure to activities can be stifling when a child reaches adulthood.  

The combination of a one-dimensional child exposed to fierce competitive stress can burn out a child rapidly. If the parent is living through the child’s success is can affect the parent/child relationship.

 “Kids are people too.”

I reminded the guys that my father said to me “I could do anything I wanted as long as I became a doctor.”

Brad reminded us all that I said to him, “he could do anything he wanted.”  I ended the sentence there and he appreciated it.

The discussion lasted a long while with lots of great ideas and opinions.

Kenny was terrific. He analyzed the way he problem solves. He is very perceptive and very optimistic. We discussed decision making in the context of reality vs. fantasy.

The discussion became deeper and deeper as we progressed. This enhanced our bonding with each other. Jon brought up the concept of the six of us being a tribe and something special was happening here.

Daniel asked us to define the meaning of charitable giving. Of the six of us Brad’s concepts and methodology wins the prize. He and Amy have done a lot of thinking about the concept. They have developed a well-designed plan for giving.

There were many meaningful ideas presented.  We all agreed that charity was a lousy word. The common denominator should be that giving be self-satisfying.

I was the cleanup hitter. I started off by saying a mentor somewhere along the line gave my brother and me the thirst for lifelong learning. I have learned from this meeting that we have somehow transmitted this thirst to all four boys.

 I also said we all have to be involved in our community whether national or local.

 This statement pressed my Repairing the Healthcare System button. My brother is a fan of my concept.

 The boys understand that the healthcare system is self-destructing. There is nothing anyone can do because of the political irrationality of the day.

My point was we should never stop trying.

This led to the last question. Which character did each of us identify most with in “Atlas Shrugged” and why?

I will leave the answers for another time.

It was a fascinating weekend. When I spoke to Cecelia during the weekend all I could say was it was a phenomenal weekend as I was savoring the concepts discussed.

Wow. Same time next year.

  Charlie and Stan 8 2012 Aspen institute

 My Brother and I discussing the progress of the Chautaugua at breakfast.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone

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