Community Update: Out of an abundance of caution, Liftoff PGH 2020 has been moved to December 15-16 2020. Please read our statement and subscribe to our newsletter for more updates.

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Mission Log

3.11.20

Announcing Our Keynote Speaker

Shankar Vedantam

Host of NPR’s Hidden Brain Shankar Vedantam is Liftoff PGH 2020’s Keynote Speaker

The mystery that we’ve whispered, hinted, and nearly blurted in every conversation is finally (un)hidden. On December 15 Shankar Vedantam will electrify the Liftoff PGH stage as our keynote. Vedantam hosts the hugely popular Hidden Brain podcast, in which he takes a fine-toothed comb to everyday human behavior. Luckily for you, we’ve anticipated your overwhelming enthusiasm and launched our Early Adopter registration. Not only will you receive a discount on your Liftoff PGH 2020 ticket, the first 100 to sign up will receive a snazzy t-shirt. Read on podcast fanatics!

Why Bring Shankar Vedantam to Liftoff PGH

Innovation is a mindset, and there is no better guide to the human mind than, you guessed it, Shankar Vedantam. But let’s take a step back to how we got here.  

When humans have a problem, they create a technology. Iron tools, steam engines, emojis—all responses to enormous challenges to society. But improving the human condition with innovation overlooks one fundamental flaw. People simply aren’t that great at making decisions. It’s not that we’re unimaginative or uninspired. As Vedantam explains, the human brain relies on a number of biases that undermine even our best intentions. So if we are to radically reorient health care, how can we retune how we think? Well, Vedantam has been answering this question in weekly installments for the past 15 years. And Liftoff PGH gets to pick his brain on December 15, 2020.

It's not just that we don't imagine…the future in all its fullness and detail. But we also don't fully appreciate that we might not quite be the same people we are then that we are now.

Shankar Vendantam

Prepare for Shankar's Visit with a Hidden Brain(storm)

We’re going to kickstart your imagination with a list of our favorite episodes that get us thinking about regional transformation.

  1. What makes a good leader?
  2. Do strangers make better partners?
  3. Should I hire troublemakers?
  4. How can I cope with chaos?
  5. Can an entire city change its mind?

There’s so much more to come, but in the Podcast Age, another episode is just around the corner. Become a Liftoff PGH Early Adopter today by purchasing a ticket online. To tide you over, we’ll close with a couple of words from the man himself.

The United States, a country that accounts for about 5 percent of the world's population, has won about 60 percent of all the Nobel Prizes ever awarded...Could some of this outsized creativity have to do with the extraordinary diversity of America?... I'd like to think the answer is yes.

Shankar Vendantam
Liftoff PGH Team