VM Summit Connects the Dots Between the Brain, Technology and Leadership

By

David Kepron.

NEW YORK—The power of creative thinking and its application in both the professional and personal realm was on full display at Vision Monday’ 10th annual Global Leadership Summit, held here on April 13. The day-long event, billed as “BrainStorm,” attracted close to 400 top level executives from throughout the optical industry.

The program featured experts from fields as diverse as neuroscience, cognitive computing, retailing, wearable technology and music. Each speaker offered thought-provoking ideas about how to best utilize the incredible capabilities of our brains and leverage new discoveries about the brain, technology and leadership. The imaginative approaches they presented provided insights into the social, customer and patient experience.


Rachel Shechtman.

Supported by Premier Sponsors Essilor and VSP Global, Signature Sponsors ACEP/ABS Smart Mirror, Adlens and Luxottica and Supporting Sponsors Alcon, CareCredit and The Vision Council, the VM Summit got underway with Marc Ferrara, CEO, Information Services for Jobson Medical Information. “There’s a gold rush going on around artificial intelligence.Today we’re focusing on the convergence of brain power and computing power, and it’s critical the two work together because that’s when true creation happens.”

Vision Monday’s Marge Axelrad, senior VP, editorial director said, “It’s Important to move beyond traditional thinking.The future is coming faster and change is coming from anywhere and everywhere. Today, we are literally trying to map the brain and understand how the brain works.You need to know what to do with all that data.”


Peyush Bansal.

David Kepron, vice president, global design strategies at Marriott International, and author of “Retail (r)evolution, Why Creating Right-Brained Stores Will Shape the Future of Shopping in a Digitally Driven World,” set up the “BrainStorm” theme, by discussing how the physiology of our brains affects our behavior, particularly as consumers. Explaining why our brains like to process new information, he said, “Our brains love novelty. Dopamine moves into the neural system and we love it.”

Kepron said retailers should use storytelling techniques to create novel, in-store “experiences” for customers that communicate a brand’s essence. “Brands love stories. Your brain is activated as if it’s in the story. It has the ability to stick you in space and time within the story.” He advised retailers and marketers, “If you want to push a new brand into market, tag it with experience.”


Marge Axelrad and Jim McGrann.

Describing how technology is dramatically impacting the consumer experience, Kepron noted that “The retail world is no longer a two-dimensional landscape, it’s a three-dimensional, interactive, multilayered sphere of interdependencies” that produces “a creative collaborative consumerism.”

Rachel Shechtman, CEO and founder of STORY, a New York-based concept store known for its ever-changing, editorial approach to retail, shared her unique approach and perspectives. She said STORY partners with different marketers by using merchandising and experiences to tell the story of their brand. Shechtman stressed that “experience per square foot is more important than sales per square foot.” She added that the key to a successful partnership with her clients is combining “a contextually relevant brand telling stories through a retailer for a contextually relevant product.”

Shechtman and Kepron then engaged in a conversation in which she further elaborated on her ideas. She summed up her retail philosophy as being about “content, commerce and community.”


Michael Weiner.

Peyush Bansal, CEO and co-founder of Lenskart, India’s fastest-growing optical retailer, outlined how the company uses a unique mix of technology and on-site sales, to fill the overwhelming need for eyecare and eyewear in India. “Of the 532 million people who need vision correction, only 170 million people have it.” The former Microsoft exec, helped start the Indian online portal for eyewear because “we knew we had to make it simple and easy to use.”

Today, Lenskart is leveraging technology and a hybrid business model of online, mobile refractionists and physical stores, integrated to create enthusiastically satisfied customers. “We are reaching out to the younger generation and know that the older patients will want to follow their lead.”

Andrew Karp, group editor, lenses and technology for the Jobson Optical Group, kicked off a segment called “Adventures in Brainland.”

Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, is professor in neurology, physiology and psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. His laboratory studies neural mechanisms of perception, attention and memory, with an emphasis on the impact of distraction and multitasking on these abilities.

“Modern humans have always been preoccupied with reaching high level performance [in physical fitness.] What have we done in optimizing the brain?” When it comes to attention, memory, perception, emotional regulation, compassion and wisdom, he said, “in this regard, we’re really tragically lacking. The ‘art’ of medicine is based on subjective feedback. What we need to do is come up with an approach that is a closed loop system.”

Jim Marggraff is founder, chairman and CEO of Eyefluence , a company focused on learning, communication and productivity. “Eyefluence transforms intent into action through your eyes. It’s one thing to get data that tells us the position [of the eyes]...I’d like to transform that into action.

“The bar that I set was to say that anything you do with your phone with your finger, you should be able to do with your eyes, and faster. Today, there are 100 companies developing head mounted displays (HMDs) dealing with one challenge: control. We're using hands, head and voice, but what about the eyes?”


Ted Gioia (l) and Bill Charlap.

Ted Gioia, musician, author and expert on management and business creativity challenged attendees about what they assumed they knew about creativity before explaining how to nurture “the strangest kind of creativity” in a business environment. “It’s the kind of creativity that challenges us, that forces us to think in different ways, the kind of creativity that takes us out of our comfort zone.”

During the Mastermind segment of the program, Gioia said while organizations need creativity, they are often afraid of it and miss out on crucial opportunities.

“Organizations are afraid that someone’s creativity is going to put you out of business, and creativity is often not a compliment,” Gioia said. “Organizations believe that they need to step outside of their business to get creative.”

However, following the tradition of ‘stepping outside of the box’ isn’t the method that works. It is using what is already in the box that best stimulates creativity, he said.

“Creativity is a lot more methodical than you believe. It’s a lot more anchored in what’s already existing.”

Michael S. Weiner, MD, chief medical information officer of IBM Healthcare who is also involved with the company’s high profile cognitive system, Watson. He pointed to an “evolution in health care as the wave of technology and data flood the heath tech sector. After Watson’s appearance on Jeopardy, the health care organizations were calling so we sent Watson to medical school and a year ago we launched IBM Watson Health.”

Today, Watson is helping treat cancer, read EHRs, including medical images, in the fight to treat diseases early and up the preventive medicine game.

Jim McGrann, president and CEO of VSP Global, sat down with VM’s Axelrad for a one on one dialogue about the changing role of VSP as a 60-year-old company that continues to evolve to meet the needs of its 80 million members. The not-for-profit company, with revenues of $5 billion, is a provider of opportunities, McGrann said, uniting doctor and patient (VSP member), and supporting that relationship.

“Individuals want to be treated a certain way, and we’re trying to look at the marketplace and say, for our members, how do they want eyecare and eyewear delivered?”

VSP is focused on a B-2-I (or business to individual) approach, in which individual needs are met with individualized solutions. VSP looks to the future, embracing technology, and answering to the needs of doctors and members and the forces of the marketplace. “We look at ourselves as a provider of opportunities.”

Leslie Saxon, MD, a professor of medicine, clinical scholar, at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias and preventing sudden cardiac death. She spoke about disruptive innovation in health care.

“Access to care is the problem we haven’t been able to solve. What I think we’re evolving to is digital care. The future of medicine is virtual. Once we take the fear out of medicine...we can take that and turn it into a virtual story [and] engage people for their own good. If Facebook has over a billion users, why can’t we use that to integrate and connect health care in a private place?"

Bill Charlap, a Grammy award-winning pianist, bandleader and educator who has performed with many leading artists sat with Ted Gioia, who queried him on how he develops new songs and arrangements. Charlap ended the session and the Summit by demonstrating his creativity with musical examples as he took piano song requests from the audience.