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Health + Wealth Summit: The Importance of Learning, Connection and Resilience Amidst COVID

“The future is rocky but bright,” said 1-800-FLOWERS founder and chairman Jim McCann as he closed out the final day of summit.

Photo by Floriane Vita via Unsplash

Day three of Health + Wealth of America kicked off with “Voices of American Resilience,” moderated by Esther Dyson, executive founder of The Way to Wellville, a nonprofit project devoted to defining and testing models for producing community health. It featured Marquis Childers, a community organizer and economic prosperity consultant, and Tressa Crosby, a community health worker lead at Mercy Health—both based in Muskegon, Michigan, where they work to create sustainable change.

According to Crosby, only 20 percent of clinical care has direct impact on the population. What matters more are the social determinants of health. “It’s really these other factors—the physical environment and the social factors—that impact our health as a population,” Crosby said. “And that really goes back to what has happened in history that has brought us to where we are now. And then, how can we address that and start moving things out of the way?”

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One big barrier, Childers said, is a lack of trust in systems. He said the way to address that is by saving seats at the table for those proximate to the issues—and listening to their voices. “No one person speaks for all Black people, just like no one person speaks for all white people or Latinos or Asians,” Childers said. “You should love the community in which you’re serving and treat people like human beings.”

As for this painful year of 2020, “we don’t want to go back to what we had,” Dyson said. “We want to go forward to something else. We’re kind of like a patient with cancer on the table. We’re opened up, it looks awful. We’re under quarantine. People are getting sick left and right. There are no jobs. And we have got to get rid of the cancer before we sew the patient back up.”

Vidya Krishnan of Ericsson

As global chief learning officer of Ericsson, Vidya Krishnan’s mandate is to create conditions for the company’s 95,000 employees in 180 countries to change themselves—not only to advance their skillsets, but also their mindsets. “Education is one of those rare things that once you have it, no one can take it away from you,” she said. “We know it is one of the most powerful things people could do for themselves and people could do for one another. I always say with all the connections there are in the world, learning is right up there with love. It’s one of the most empowering, enabling things there could be.”

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Krishnan explained how this value allows Ericsson to innovate and shape the future by empowering its people to create an intelligent, sustainable and connected world. Ericsson is one of the primary technical architects of 5G wireless technology, and Krishnan said it couldn’t have evolved from previous tech generations without valuing learning as a core value. “There’s zero tolerance for zero learning at Ericsson,” she said. “[That] means we know we have no choice; we have to learn our way into a better future.”

Chris & Jim McCann of 1-800-FLOWERS

To close out the Health + Wealth of America conference, 1-800-FLOWERS founder and chairman Jim McCann was joined by his brother, company CEO Chris McCann, to discuss how its business has continued to soar despite the numerous challenges of 2020.

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The pandemic and subsequent worldwide shutdown had a multifaceted impact on its business. While it saw its floral business pull back right away during the last two weeks of March, its food brands, including Harry & David, Cheryl’s Cookies and The Popcorn Factory, immediately surged; people were not only stocking up on food for themselves, but they were also using it as a way to reach out to others, Chris McCann said. “One of the most important lessons, I think, that we’ve learned here is that, as human beings…as we isolate, the need that we have for social connectivity is even greater and greater,” he explained. “We were very fortunate as a company that we [have been] in front of that trend. It is our vision, to inspire expression, connection and celebration.”

That connection piece has been at the forefront for both McCanns throughout the pandemic. “What we used to think of as a customer base, we now think of as a community,” Jim McCann said. “There’s a lot more to go, but I have every confidence that Chris’ dream for what we look like a year from now—much more community-focused, much more interested in how do we…help our customers express, connect and celebrate.” In what could have been a summary of many conversations throughout a conference that kept coming back to the urgent need for empathy and engagement to build a better world, Jim McCann said  “The future is rocky but bright.”

This story was originally published on Techonomy.

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