Well, here we are: rattled, unsettled and full of anxiety.
Less than 24 hours before a historic U.S. election, we are perched on the edge of a precarious precipice. And we are not alone. A recent SWNS OnePoll just arrived in our inbox showing that 67 percent of Americans want 2020 to be over as soon as possible and that more than half of respondents anticipate election day being the most stressful day of their lives.
There’s no eliminating the anxiety. And there are plenty of excellent tips and coping mechanisms — from The New York Times story “Don’t give into ‘Election Stress Disorder” to Psychology Today’s piece on “How to cope with election stress.”
Here at GeekWire we’ve found another way to deal with what certainly could be several days, or weeks, of negativity. Over the course of the past three weeks at the 2020 GeekWire Summit, we asked many of our speakers — leading entrepreneurs, educators, scientists and philanthropists — a simple question: What gives you hope?
We’ve included many of their abbreviated answers in the compendium below and video above. Take a moment to read or view their responses, tied to themes such as collaboration, innovation and truth. After all, we could all use a dose of hope.
And then, finally, take in one very deep breath … and then calmly exhale.
What gives you hope?
“Every day I’m really full of hope. Just the way we’ve come together as an industry, the transparency we’ve shown each other as companies. We are sharing our protocols, we’re releasing our data, we’re working so collaboratively. I can’t tell you the companies that have reached out to me and said: ‘How can we help?’ The organizations, the academic institutions. It’s just the most extraordinary experience to be part of. So I am very, very hopeful, incredibly proud of what we are doing.”—Dr. Melanie Ivarsson, chief development officer at Moderna.
“A lot of the tools that we’re developing now are going to continue to be available for us to build on, to address future pandemics and other diseases. To me, it’s like a research renaissance, in a way. We’re all sharing ideas as we’ve never done before. And seeing the emergence of new technologies is just going to really accelerate vaccinology forward, in the future.” —Dr. Deborah Fuller, professor of Microbiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
“People should also trust the scientists because I think, ultimately, the scientists are there to find solutions and help the world…. Having trust in that will help people get through this.” — Dr. Lynda Stuart, deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Well, some people are optimistic that we’ll have better politicians in charge. So that’ll be interesting. Overall, the basic framework that life is getting better, that is slowly but surely we’re recognizing how we treat minorities, how we treat women, slowly but surely we are reducing cancer deaths, beginning to understand things like diabetes and Alzheimer’s. There are setbacks. The pandemic is a gigantic setback. But the sort of Steven Pinker framework is one that I believe in deeply. Because 100 years ago, the death rate of children was about 30% died before the age of five. There’s nowhere in the world that is that bad. The U.S. is about 1%. There are parts of the world that are still over 10% — and that is tragic and we should stop that. But, you know, progress will continue to take place. And so I’m upbeat even about bringing the pandemic to a close.” — Bill Gates, co-chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“I am hopeful that we turn a corner in the coming months in leadership in this pandemic, and I’m hopeful that the next year brings some light.”—Nina Kjellson, partner at Canaan Partners
“It’s easy to think of work as just something you do to earn a check. But right now, it’s the thing that drives us. We’re in a moment of real change, real opportunity. And having something to really connect with in our work is very powerful.” —Peter Kern, CEO of Expedia Group
“I think this opportunity allows us to rethink the model of learning, all the way from pre-K through higher education…. And so my goal is that we use this to really change the way we think about educating teachers, educating students and the use of technology.” — Dr. Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College
“I think we have is to redefine what success looks like. And I know that sounds crazy and big. But the reality is, we know that most parents in this country actually don’t want sort of the rat race, the standardized tests, the beat everyone else out — just so my child can achieve. They want whole human beings that care about the world, have purpose, are happy people. And this is our opportunity to really, as a country, reflect on how we define success, largely on very single measures about how much money you make to a much fuller, more complete view of success, and then match how we’re preparing our kids for that life.” — Diane Tavenner, CEO of Summit Public Schools
“I’m hopeful that the science-based message is actually cutting through more than we may think it is.” — Dr. Vin Gupta, affiliate assistant professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington
“I think one of the real challenges is trying to find joy in life right now. There are a lot of kind of stressors, and we don’t have some of the normal outlets we do where we find happiness. And there isn’t always the opportunity to celebrate some of the small wins. So, I spend a lot of time trying to make sure that I celebrate the small wins with my family and close friends. And that we do the same thing, whether it’s remotely or in some other way with the people I have the good fortune of working with.”— Steve Harr, CEO of Sana Biotechnology
“For me, it’s the youth, the next generation. Being part of the trans community, I’m amazed by this next generation of leaders…. They’re inheriting an unprecedented amount of challenges that we have failed to solve, and have exacerbated. But they’re also incredibly attuned to it and incredibly motivated to fix it. I think the single biggest thing we can do is figure out how to get them in power sooner. And I think we’re seeing that in the political sphere, in the business sphere. So what gives me hope is the next generation.” — Ina Fried, chief technology correspondent at Axios
“When the George Floyd incident first happened, we brought everybody together virtually, of course, and 100% of the team at the Urban League are people of color, mostly African American. And so we just, we just had a moment of just expressing our frustrations, our fears, our pain, that most of us have been living with all of our lives, quite frankly. But it just felt good to just share space with folks, be honest, share our grief, because we were grieving in that moment. And then, further than that, many companies that we partner with reached out to listen to my thoughts, our team’s thoughts, and engage and see how they can be supportive, learn and make necessary changes internally. My hope is that this is a movement and not a moment, and that the conversations and the listening, and the deep listening and the necessary changes to the systems continue and that we don’t lose this moment.”— Michelle Merriweather, CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
“Just the little moments, little wins. Just celebrating those and trying to take space for those.” — Karen Weise, Seattle technology correspondent at The New York Times
“2019 was a tough year for us in our family. We had a whole bunch of health issues. And so I just look and see the resilience and relentlessness of my wife and the family and friends around her, and that to me is something that I can bring with me that kind of just the grit, the resilience, the relentless strength and positivity that helped us as a family get through a real challenging situation. Now, I feel like I can bring a little bit of what rubbed off and what I saw her do to my colleagues and peers in the world, so it’s pretty personal for me.” —Henry Albrecht, CEO of Limeade
“The extent to which society has reorganized itself to protect the most vulnerable.” — Dr. Trevor Bedford, associate professor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
“People are in the midst of their own personal difficulties finding a way to be a constructive part of their communities. And, to me, that’s representative of this sort of indomitable human will. This desire to keep making things better and keep working.” —Raj Singh, CEO of Accolade
“The kids. The young people. It just makes me wonder: What can I do? How can I lend my power? How can I lend my platform to really empower these amazing voices that are driving change.” —Yoko Miyashita, CEO of Leafly
“I’m a people person. You have to be to do a job like mine. And I get inspired by our team. I’ve never lost sight of the fact that this what we do in this company, it’s an essential service. Keeping people connected is more important this year than maybe ever before.” — Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile
“One of the joys of this COVID period, if you will, is the forced intimacy with your families. Right now, kids would be dispersed. You wouldn’t get a chance to go through these really challenging issues with them, because they’d be off at schools and doing their own thing. And the ability to see it through their lens and have these discussions, have the debates will have a lasting impact. And so I would encourage us all to continue embrace them. And I get optimism, from the depth of those conversations, and really the passion in which these topics are being pursued.” —Scott Torrey, CEO of PayScale
“The best part of the past few months has been how we’ve refocused the conversation on the folks who deliver care and the folks who need care. And that has changed the discussion in boardrooms. It has changed the discussion inside of our portfolio companies and certainly among our peer organizations. And that gives me some hope that we can come out of this and keep the focus in the right place.” — Rob Coppedge, CEO of Echo Health Ventures
“During a time of crisis, sometimes people do things that go beyond what they’d normally do. And when you see that being done every single day, whether it’s healthcare workers putting themselves at risk, frontline workers being able to put themselves at risk. And then where we have seen some very extraordinary partnerships between folks that are non traditional partners come together to develop technologies and solutions and platforms.” — Dr. David Rhew, chief medical officer and VP of healthcare at Microsoft
“The courage and clarity and convictions these kids have, it’s pretty inspiring. That tells me that these youngsters will conquer the next decade in making the world a better place.” — Aashima Gupta, director of global healthcare solutions at Google Cloud
Editor’s note: If you’d like to watch full on-demand sessions from the GeekWire Summit, please go here to register.
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