Ivanka at CES - So were we?
This was my first year being invited to speak at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and it was awesome. The Beyond Capital panel included Elizabeth Gore (Hello Alice), William Sonneborn (IFC), Melissa Bradley (1863 Ventures), and I. The panel was moderated by Brandon Andrews (Values Partnership) who created an interactive experience between the audience and the panel using twitter polls and real-time feedback. Melissa discussed the power of mentorship, Elizabeth discussed the power of alternative sources of funding and data while I brought the thunder on Community Building as a Service, then William drove it home with the importance of international relations. I'm pretty sure that sentence is grammatically incorrect, however please note that It was a kick-a** panel to say the least.
Prior to the event, I had several people reach out to me for meetings or to get my thoughts on this year’s event including NBC, CNN Hong Kong and more. A super cool reporter from BBC reached out to specifically get my thoughts on Ivanka Trump being one of the main speakers. I noticed the way the news outlets and social media went crazy over finding that she would be a speaker. The CEO of CTA spoke on her contributions being great and her knowledge on the future of work being necessary - a fairly political answer. Instead of giving my thoughts to reporters I figured I would use my on my own platform to speak directly to my own people about how I felt.
The public criticized whether her expertise matched up as a viable candidate for speaking at CES. At the least, it can be said that she is leading the country’s initiatives on Apprenticeship which is a large part of The Future of Work. I missed her speech at CES but I saw her speak at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India. I’m sure she did her homework and validated being qualified to stand on the stage with data points and a simple story formula. She typically says all the “right” things. It’s kind of cold, informed, and robotic. Ivanka doesn’t offend anyone (anymore?) per se nor does she show too much passion.
In my opinion, the place where CTA really put numbers on the board with CES this year was Diversity and Inclusion. I would have loved for the anxiety around Ivanka’s appearance to have been directed at the amazing things that happened with CTA’s inclusion efforts this year. The New Voices Foundation had its own Pavillion in Eureka Park which showcased 4 awesome Black women-owned businesses. Sherrell Dorsey (The Plug) hosted a Blacks in Tech Luncheon. The Entrepreneurship Stage hosted panel discussions and talks that could move mountains for founders and funders in terms of connections, knowledge and just an overall sense of belonging at one of the largest trade shows in the world. I understand the public’s frustration, but Ivanka knows how to check the boxes. There is still a lot of work to be done to include more Black/Brown US based companies and this year was a huge step in the right direction.
The hashtag #innovationforall will give you all the highlights from the excitement that was NOT covered by the media as heavily as I believe it should have been.