Albuquerque’s entrepreneurial scene is buzzing after Steven Kotler’s presentation at EpicenterABQ, a downtown hotspot for people to come together and share innovative ideas.
Kotler, an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author of “BOLD: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World,” shared insights from his book with a crowd of about 50 people, including fellow entrepreneurs, community members and UNM students.
“The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest opportunities,” he said. “To put it differently, the easiest way to make a billion dollars is to help a billion people.”
His book revolves around just that: how people can reach their full potential, predominantly through the power of neuroscience and technology. Kotler is co-founder and director of the Flow Genome Project, an international organization formed in 2012, geared at studying the science of human performance. From the military to the general public, Kotler and his partners are focused on training people to “perform their best when it matters most.”
Kotler said there is a name for this phenomenon, first explored by researchers in the 1960s and 70s.
“Ultimate performance has a signature, and it has the same signature in every domain,” he said. “It is a state of consciousness that researchers call ‘flow.’”
Over the years, people have referred to it as being “in the zone” or simply a “rush.” Kotler described the state of “flow” as “near perfect, high-speed decision making.” Intellectual performance is amplified because neurochemicals are triggered to enhance creativity, learning and motivation all at once. The concept, according to Kotler, has led to the artistic and technological breakthroughs shaping our future today, such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing and hydroelectric cars.
Regina Puccetti, director of certificate programs with UNM College of Fine Arts and Anderson School of Management, said she enjoyed Kotler’s presentation, as well as being a part of a panel discussion. With her own students, Puccetti has recognized ‘flow’ and its effects during group projects.
“It’s when students seem to find that place of joy, creativity, energy and fascinating results,” she said. “They love that energy, but I don’t think any of us realized they were in the flow.”
Art and business students from UNM, particularly Puccetti’s Introduction to Art Management class, were actively involved in the discussion as well. A variety of topics were brought to attention, from impacts of robotics on future job opportunities, to the rewards and challenges of entrepreneurship.
For Zeke Chavez, the idea of starting a business after college has crossed his mind. Chavez, who is graduating with a degree in economics this year, said that he plans to embrace the evolving job market and technologies to come.
“I wish some of these tools were available when I first started,” he said. “Students often feel that they don’t have the skills to succeed, but with developments like the Innovation Academy, there are plenty of resources.”
Kotler said one idea to keep in mind is that passion drives performance.
“Remember, you have the decision to go bold,” he said. “Do what you love and the rest will follow.”