#ATD2015 Keynote: Erik Wahl

ATD Keynote: Erik WahlWhen I stepped into the last session of the ATD Conference, I was not prepared for what I saw. I did not know who Erik Wahl was or what he did. But I am now a fan. This guy impressed me with his message and skill. It was a great way to end a great conference.

Who better to understand global leadership than a graffitti artist. ~ Erik Wahl

An example of Erik Wahl’s work

According to Wahl, 100%  of kindergartners can draw but it decreases as we get older. The challenge is to remain an artist. How can we remain young?

He goes on to say, creativity takes place between the notes. How can we tap into the new ideas for L&D? He encourages to build your talent brand in the niche.

Break out of mode of instruction just within the classroom.

When he brainstorms with teams, he requires meeting notes with crayon. He went on to say that Crayons are in top 20 smells. This smell can reduce blood pressure.

Art is a learned skill. Creative skills have been allowed to atrophy. It is important to experience diversity, cultures, creativity, etc. He discussed the show Fear Factor. Participants have to break outside of their comfort zone to be successful. He then pulled a participant on stage. Everyone thought he was going to have her paint a picture. Instead he gave away one of his paintings, which seems to go for a lot of money. This is a disruptive strategy. Wahl does not sell art, but uses art to make world better.

Sometimes it pays to take a risk. Following unmet goals often leads to fear.

  • False
  • Evidence
  • Appearing
  • Real

Look at future with a blank canvas. Sometimes you need a reset.

Trigon healthcare needed a reset and produced this commercial

We were taught to be risk averse, always required to find the one right answer. As a result, we have the most disengaged workforce and school force.

Wahl  also shared Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford. It was important to “Stay hungry and stay foolish.”

A 4th grade teacher told him that he was not a good artist. He could not stay within the lines and he colored too fast. Became an artist after 30 years old. He first was in the business world and the business he worked so hard for was taken from him. By financial default that he took up painting. The right side of mind opened up.

Art is a practiced and disciplined skill. How are we going to reawaken creativity and childlike mind?

Trainers are about igniting lifelong learning.

Be willing to fail. If you are not failing, you are not willing to take risks.

How we define failure

  • negative vs growth
  • loss vs opportunity
  • deficiency vs learning
  • weakness vs development

Fail often and fail forward. ~ Erik Wahl

Here is another video showing Erik Wahl’s skill and message.