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“We want our Collaborative Innovation Summit filled from stage to seats with people sharing transformation ideas and stories,” says BIF Creative Catalyst Saul Kaplan.

After all, it was out of the Summit that the hashtag #RCUS was coined — Random Collisions of Unusual Suspects. From now until the Summit takes place in September, we’ll run a series of short interviews with former Summit attendees who’ll tell us in their own words why the BIF Summit is a must-go event and how #RCUS has changed their lives. Next up, BIF board member and BIF9 storyteller Deborah Mills-Scofield. A former Bell Labs scientist who is now a consultant and venture fund principal, Deb connects people, ideas, and businesses. She is a proud Brown University alumni who mentors students, as well as a prolific writer who publishes in the Harvard Business Review, Switch and Shift, Innovation Excellence, and more.

“The BIF Summit is the ultimate interdisciplinary happening. ” — Deborah Mills-Scofield


Here’s her answer to the question: Why go to the BIF summit?

To me, the BIF Summit is a humbler, more intimate version of TED. It’s where you can talk to people doing amazing things and there’s a sense of inclusion between the participants and the storytellers. People share ideas and learn new ways of doing things from different industries that you can apply to your own. At the BIF Summit, people treat each other as peers and are really anxious to learn from and give to each other. It’s a great critical mass of people from so many walks of life for you to learn from, that’s hard to find anywhere else, frankly. It’s the ultimate interdisciplinary happening.

Some specific examples: John Hagel (who is also a BIF10 storyteller) was a guru of mine growing up. I had read his stuff and knew his writing. At BIF6 I was standing in line for Tony Hsieh’s Happiness Bus right behind John Hagel and was starstruck. I introduced myself, calling him “Mr. Hagel,” and he said, “call me John,” and I said, “I don’t know if I can!” We were able to develop a professional friendship that’s now more of a personal relationship. I can actually call him “John” now! And my relationship with Whitney Johnson came about because I saw her at the BIF Summit, and she’s helped broaden my perspective and ways of thinking.

Whitney and John were more into technology, but Carl Størmer — I never would have crossed paths with him if not for meeting him at BIF9. He would not have been in my normal day-to-day! But now we’ve co-written stuff together and become very good friends.

I’ve been able to get my clients to go to the Summit, and it’s broadened their perspective. But I tell them, “this isn’t about our work, I don’t want to see you at the Summit. I already know you!” At the BIF Summit, random collisions are not just for me, but for my clients too. And I’m happy to say the connections go both ways as well — Liza Donnelly and Matthew T. Fritz, both of whom came to BIF’s attention through my network.