CEREBRATE – A Real Mindshare Experience

How long do you think it will take for 22 people to introduce themselves?

How about just over 2 days?

This was (almost) what happened at the CEREBRATE2010 event late last month (detailed write-up on Cerebrate blog here)

CEREBRATE is the brain child of Kiruba Shankar and it follows an Unconference format. I was so glad to participate in the 3rd edition. This edition was sponsored by MARG.

The Rules of Cerebrate

The rules of the conference are simple (read: the birth of Cerebrate by Kiruba Shankar)

  • Every participant (achiever) will be from an unique field. No two people will be from the same profession.
  • The event will always be a residential program, preferably at a venue that is away from cities.
  • There will be no audience.  The only people who will be in the event are the achievers. There won’t be ‘talks’ but conversations.
  • Participants are highly encouraged to leave their laptops, blackberrys behind. There won’t be newspapers or TV either. The focus is highly on people interaction.

The event was one of the best I have attended in the last twelve months. I am already missing the participants and it’s not even been ten days.

What made CEREBRATE2010 successful?

Here are a few that I can think of:

1. Choice of People: This was an invite-only event and the participants were handpicked not just for their achievements but also for their mood and willingess to contribute richly.

2. Diversity: No two participants were from the same field. There was only one mountaineer (Sandhosh) and there was only one musician (Vasu) and there was only one designer (Ramesh) and there was only one historian (S.Muthiah) and so on.

3. Egalitarian Approach: From the get go, the approach was egalitarian and within minutes the participants felt “very” comfortable being in the group. There was no time needed for “warm ups” and “small talks”

4. No-holds barred Conversations: Every participant shared with an open mind and an open heart. Each one had their trials and triumphs and they laid them bare. The richness of the conversations shot up by 100 times as compared to a typical corridor conversation in a conference.

5. Choice of Venue: The event took place in MARG Tapovan, one of the new properties by MARG and the place was simply breathtaking. When we were not engaged in heart-to-heart conversations, we were busy swimming (actually playing water-touch-rugby in a swimming pool), playing table tennis or playing cricket. The hosts (MARG) treated the participants with love and caring that is typically uncommon.

6. Listening: Every participant was “totally” listening when others were talking. The focus was on people and the conversations and not on what was on their Blackberrys.

7. Openness: Last but not the least, participants were open and believed in the outcome of the event even though many of them were participating in an Unconference for the first time in their lives.

What will come out of CEREBRATE?

Apart from lifetime friendships with the 21 other participants, one of the highlights was to create a book called CEREBRATEtweet ( in the THINKaha format). It is a completely crowdsourced book with ideas and insights from the 22 participants. Stay tuned.