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The Nature of Business

A Geoversity Executive Program (GEP)

Where Mother Nature is the Teacher

7-12 February 2017 | Republic of Panama

Geoversity's "The Nature of Business" Executive Program (GEP) is a four-day experiential and educational program where CEOs, executives, and entrepreneurs team up with business leaders, best-selling authors and designers to gain practical insights from nature that will help them drive their businesses to new levels of sustainability. The 2017 session is the first of three annual programs to be held in Panama with follow-on sessions in 2018 and 2019.

Program Overview

"Nature provides a world beyond what most of us have seen or can imagine. Key to innovation is the opening of our minds to new possibilities. Our The Nature of Business program offers an opportunity to unlock your creative potential through lessons learned from nature and immersion in nature."

Dr. David S. Ricketts, Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University

Directed by Brian Dumaine, Editor at Large Fortune Magazine and co-chair of Fortune's Brainstorm-E Conference, Geoversity's EP is in partnership with the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University (TECH). The Nature of Business Executive Program takes place in Panama, the epi-center of the Americas. You attend two days of workshops at the City of Knowledge campus bordering the Panama Canal followed by two days of immersion in the spectacular 10,000 acre Mamoní Valley Preserve along the Jaguar Trail in one of the world's richest areas of bio-diversity.

Join an inspired circle of thought leaders in discovering the latest in how:

  • Biological systems are informing strategic and competitive decision-making
  • Biomimicry is helping companies create new innovative products and services
  • Nature is instructing leaders on how to build not just resilient but "anti-fragile" organizations
  • Companies are embracing sustainability and eco-efficiency to drive increased revenues and profits
  • Workplace design is being influenced by natural environs
  • Executives are finding in nature the peace and quiet they need to unleash their best creative and problem-solving talents

The three-session program, designed after other successful multi-year executive programs, provides the opportunity for the participants to bond and provide each other peer support in implementing the insights between sessions.

The program fee includes local transportation, a helicopter tour of the Panama Canal and transfer to the remote jungle location, lodging, meals, materials, and world-class Junglewood musical performances directed by Grammy-Award winning sound engineer and producer Rob Griffin.

Join us for an unforgettable helicopter flight over the land bridge of the Americas, with dramatic views of the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal and the Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo, circling over an Atlantic coast rich in human and natural history to the continental border of the indigenous Guna people and landing near your jungle accommodations on the 10,000-acre Mamoní Valley Preserve.

Executive Curriculum

Bio-Inspired Products

What Nature Teaches Us About
Organizational Structure & Strategy

The Circular Economy

Workplace Design

Nature: The Next Great App

Innovating with Nature

Marketing with Nature

A Plunge in the Rainforest

What Business Can Learn
from Nature's Diversity

Bio-Inspired Products

Although the modern discipline of biomimicry is only about fifteen years old, bio-inspired products, such as Velcro, which was inspired by how burrs cling to clothing, and self-cleaning buildings, which mimic the leaves of the lotus plant, have already generated billions of dollars in sales. The growth potential is clear. Projections are that by 2025, biomimicry based products and services could become a $1 trillion market. At Geoversity you'll gain insights into this fast developing world and will learn how to apply this thinking to your business.

What Nature Teaches Us About About Organizational Structure & Strategy

Nature has a lot to teach businesses about how they can better structure their organizations to scale up and to compete in today's digital marketplace that is driven by real time communications. By examining the natural organization and communications used by animals (for example, bees and ants), companies can create a more organic organizational structure that will help them thrive. Transitioning to an organic-based organizational structure requires a change from a "command and control" structure to a "team of teams" approach. In doing so, employees also need training in relationship skills to make them better team members. By following nature's guidance, companies can create a winning organizational structure and strategy.

The Circular Economy

At Geoversity, you will learn about the concept of "circularity" where a business, following the rules of nature, makes sure that everything it consumes is either reused or safely returned to the earth. You will gain insights into how circularity can help drive innovation at your company, resulting in safer, healthier, and more profitable products and services. You will be shown how to account for the future price of carbon emissions in your P&L, and how to gauge the costs and benefits of using renewable energy, carbon offsets and a green supply chain. And perhaps, most importantly, you will discover how this new approach can create an organization where your employees feel proud to come to work everyday.

Workplace Design

Anyone who wants a "green" workspace will quickly feel daunted by the complicated choices and the potential traps, including cost overruns and unintended consequences. You can, for example, design a totally sustainable building that meets all the LEED standards but ignores the deep human need for contact with nature.

At Geoversity, we go beyond the usual lecture format to engage in a real dialogue about your particular challenges. This includes discussions about exciting case studies of some of the most imaginative and effective design solutions in the world, ranging from the new Facebook Silicon Valley headquarters to the avant-guard Jazz Bakery in Beverly Hills. You'll be introduced to the cutting-edge practice of biophilic design and the many ways you can experience nature in your built environment.

Nature: The Next Great App

Science is proving what we've always known intuitively: nature does good things to the human brain. It makes us healthier, happier and smarter. Building on advances in neuroscience and psychology, researchers have begun to quantify what once seemed well-meaning conjecture. These measurements – of everything from stress hormones to heart rate to brain waves to protein makers – indicate that when you spend time spent in green space, something profoundly positive is going on.

At Geoversity, you'll be introduced to best practices in the fast-emerging field of creating performance-enhancing experiences in natural environments. We'll learn about in-nature exercises that can be created in the workplace, as well as life-changing and team-building experiences in the great outdoors. We'll also introduce you to an exciting menu of options of special value to families, including father-son/mother-daughter rite of passage adventures that have proven to be positively life-changing.

Innovating with Nature

Diversity is the cornerstone of the success of evolution. It is also a crucial element of innovation. Using the proven theory and methods taught at Harvard University, you will learn how to apply what we know about nature to make your organization more creative and diverse. Envisioning new ideas for business strategy and technology requires seeing the world through nature's lens. Yet finding and applying analogies is one of the most difficult skills to learn because we are all programed to see and think the same when presented with information. In this session you will engage in new ways to think about innovation, leveraging the seemingly endless scientific solutions nature has created to develop new business models and solve complex problems in your organization. Examples include a social media strategy derived from insect behavior, a consumer product solutions based on the digestive system of a horse, and a 10 story building that stays cool in the hottest city in Africa because of insights gained from termites.

Marketing with Nature

Today's real-time world offers agile businesses an unprecedented opportunity to reach buyers directly. Yet most executives are stuck in the past, investing in expensive agencies and armies of salespeople to create intricately devised long-term "campaigns". The top-down approach doesn't work in a web-centric, 24x7, rapidly changing environment. We need to shift our paradigms from the traditional military hierarchy model to alternative ideas we can learn from nature. Join one of the most respected authorities on new media and naturalists in exploring the insights to be gained from such natural phenomena as hunting in pods, phenomene trails, decentralized self organization, swarm behavior and other natural techniques generate attention and engage people, leading to more customers with fewer resources.

A Plunge in the Rainforest

Competition amongst living organisms reaches it's zenith in tropical rainforests. In order to compete effectively, most organisms have entered into sophisticated, sometimes uneasy alliances with other living beings. Businesses taking advantage of emerging opportunities to grow amidst fierce competition can draw inspiration from the green realm's endless variety of strategies and tactics. Complementing "Marketing with Nature" and "innovating with Nature", we take a primer on guiding principles of rainforest ecology before embarking in a field journey into one of the world's most important rainforests. Our hikes let us explore such examples as the race to colonize a new gap after a tree fall, how partnering with fungi enables some trees to "corner" an exponentially larger share of the market for soil nutrients, and how howler monkeys use howling to signal supremacy over a territory while minimizing costly and unnecessary head-on confrontation with other troops.

What Business Can Learn from Nature's Diversity

In the tropical rainforests of Panama, living organisms constantly compete and evolve in their quest to grow and prosper. In the process, most jungle organisms enter into sophisticated, sometimes uneasy alliances with other living beings that allow them to adapt to their environments. What does this mean for businesses? Any leader trying to grow amidst fierce competition can draw inspiration from the green realm's endless variety of strategies and tactics.

This session, taught both in the classroom and during a hike into one of the world's most important rainforests, will create important links between doing business and the guiding principles of rainforest ecology. In other words, understanding how nature operates will give you insights into how your own business functions and will inspire you to engage in more innovative thinking about your markets and competitors. What happens during the race to colonize a new gap after a tree falls? How does partnering with fungi enables some trees to "corner" an exponentially larger share of the market for soil nutrients? Why do howler monkeys use their screams to signal supremacy over a territory? See you on the trail.

"Biomimicry is not just design that imitates or copies nature. It's design that asks the right questions in order to understand the mechanisms in nature's cornucopia of solutions, then uses that understanding to remedy problems-without creating new ones."

Jay Harman, The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation

Faculty

Geoversity has brought together top thinkers and authors in leadership, marketing, innovation and sustainability who will conduct in-depth workshops tailored to making your business grow. Meet the faculty members who will teach our three-year Nature of Business executive program:

image of Anand Devarajan image of Anand Devarajan

Anand Devarajan

Senior Partner, Gehry Partners LLP

image of Brian Dumaine image of Brian Dumaine

Brian Dumaine

Senior Editor at Large, Fortune Magazine

image of Nathan Gray image of Nathan Gray

Nathan Gray

Founder and Co-Executive Director, Earth Train; Board Member, The Mamoní Valley Preserve

image of Jay Harman image of Jay Harman

Jay Harman

Founder and CEO, PAX Scientific

image of Verne Harnish image of Verne Harnish

Verne Harnish

Founder and CEO, Gazelles; Chairman, Geoversity

image of Dr. David Ricketts image of Dr. David Ricketts

Dr. David S. Ricketts

Innovation Scholar, Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University

image of David Meerman Scott image of David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott

Sales and Marketing Strategist, Freshspot Marketing LLC

image of Lider Sucre image of Lider Sucre

Lider Sucre

Co-Executive Director, Earth Train

image of Anand Devarajan

Anand Devarajan

Senior Partner, Gehry Partners LLP

Anand Devarajan attended Carnegie Mellon University where he received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1998. He immediately set off to Yale University, where he had the pleasure of being Frank Gehry's student while he was the visiting Davenport Professor of Architecture in 1999. Upon completing his Masters of Architecture from Yale in the summer of 2000, he joined Gehry Partners. Since 2002, he has been working directly with Frank, collaborating on the designs of a number of projects in the office. His international project experience includes a multitude of building types and scales ranging from museums and other cultural projects to commercial, residential and large-scale, mixed-use developments.

image of Brian Dumaine

Brian Dumaine

Senior Editor at Large, Fortune Magazine

Cover of the Book, &quote;The Plot to Save the Planet&quote;

Brian Dumaine is a senior editor at large at Fortune magazine, where he covers clean technology and environmental policy, energy, management and international economics. Dumaine co-chairs Fortune's Brainstorm-E Conference and has chaired the Fortune's Global Forum. He is the author of The Plot to Save the Planet: How Visionary Entrepreneurs and Corporate Titans Are Creating Real Solutions To Global Warming, and more recently he was the editor of the book The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time with a foreword by Jim Collins.

image of Nathan Gray

Nathan Gray

Founder and Co-Executive Director, Earth Train; Board Member, The Mamoní Valley Preserve

Nathan has over 40 years of experience in the fields of international development and education. He is one of the founders of Oxfam America, the international assistance organization based in Boston, and is a pioneer in promoting emerging community development leadership in poor countries and socially positive investment. He co-founded the Community Investment Fund, which led to the formation of the Calvert Group of socially and environmentally positive investment funds. He was the Co-Convenor and Executive Director of the International Community Leadership Project, co-chaired by then Governor Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton and involving exceptional community development leaders, such as Nobel Laureate, Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank. Nathan started Earth Train in 1991, the Mamoní Valley Preserve in 2001. He was a contributing author of Disaster and Development (Fred Cuny) published in 1989 by Oxford University Press and a contributing author of Change Not Charity: Essays on Oxfam America's First 40 Years published in 2010 by Oxfam America.

image of Jay Harman

Jay Harman

Founder and CEO, PAX Scientific

Cover of the Book, &quote;The Shark's Paintbrush&quote;

Described as a "visionary" and "futurist" by the Science Channel, Jay's expertise couldn't be more timely. An award-winning entrepreneur and biomimetic inventor, Jay Harman has taken a hands-on approach to his lifelong fascination with the deep patterns found in nature. In the process, he has founded and grown multi-million-dollar research and manufacturing companies that develop, patent, and license innovative products, ranging from prize-winning watercraft to interlocking building bricks, afterburners for aircraft engines, and non-invasive technology for measuring blood glucose and other electrolytes. He is credited with being among the first pioneering scientists to make biomimicry—the science of employing nature in advancing sustainable technology—a cornerstone of modern and future engineering.

Aside from his entrepreneurial exploits, Jay started a boarding school to teach kids about the environment in Australia, became a champion skin diver, sailed his own yacht 27,000 miles on the Indian Ocean, restored the sister ship to Jacques Cousteau's Calypso—and made it his mission to bring the subject of biomimicry to the public.

Born and raised in Australia, Jay started his career as a naturalist with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, but quickly demonstrated talents as an inventor. In 1982, he founded ERG, Ltd, which grew into one of Australia's largest technology firms with a capital value as high as $3 billion. Since then, Jay has been at the helm of numerous companies recognized as global leaders in their respective fields.

image of Verne Harnish

Verne Harnish

Founder and CEO, Gazelles; Chairman, Geoversity

Cover of the Book, &quote;Scaling Up&quote;

Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO's premiere CEO program, the "Birthing of Giants" and WEO's "Advanced Business" executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The "Growth Guy" syndicated columnist, he's also the Venture columnist for Fortune magazine. He's the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times, for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs Fortune Magazine's annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. An investor in several scale-ups, Verne resides in Barcelona, Spain, with his wife and four children and enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

image of Dr. David Ricketts

Dr. David S. Ricketts

Innovation Scholar, Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University

For the past decade, Dr. Ricketts, together with his colleagues at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University, has taught the next generation of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs how to create disruptive innovations. His keynotes share those insights and, through entertaining real world examples, he helps leaders and front-line innovators understand how to develop disruptive innovation in their organizations. Dr. Ricketts has worked with some of the world's leading organizations, such as General Motors, Disney Research and the U.S. Military. His innovations have been featured in ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News as well as ESPN, Smithsonian Innovation and Popular Science. With an engaging and down-to-earth style, David works easily with organizations and individuals on many aspects of business and technology. His driving passion is to understand how individuals create new value—and how to harness that understanding—for increased business growth.

Before joining academia, Dr. Ricketts was a former head of R&D in the semiconductor industry, where he lead front-line innovators in product development and research departments, from initial concept and intellectual property (IP) development through to testing and customer service. His work on identifying and developing high-value products in the corporate environment provides a real-world context for his research into innovation, and his process for discovering high-impact problems.

Seeking to innovate and solve difficult problems, Dr. Ricketts is an award-winning academic researcher. He has held appointments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and North Carolina State University. He is the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Investigator Award. His work has appeared in the prestigious scientific journal Nature as well as many other leading engineering journals.

image of David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott

Sales and Marketing Strategist, Freshspot Marketing LLC

Covers of books that David Meerman Scott has written

No one knows more about using real-time tools and strategies to spread ideas, influence minds and build businesses than David Meerman Scott. A best-selling author and international speaker, David's specialty is bringing modern, real-time marketing strategies to life for audiences around the globe.

David Meerman Scott is an internationally acclaimed sales and marketing strategist whose high-energy presentations have excited and invigorated audiences on all seven continents and in over 40 countries around the world. Some of the most respected firms, organizations and associations have invited David to speak to share his insights on the best real-time marketing and sales solutions for business owners today.

David's books and blog are must-reads for professionals who are seeking to generate attention in ways that will grow their businesses. He has authored and co-authored ten books — three of which are international bestsellers. The New Rules of Marketing & PR, now in its 5th edition, has been translated into 28 languages and is a modern business classic with over 350,000 copies sold and counting. Scott also wrote the book Real-Time Marketing & PR (a Wall Street Journal bestseller) and Newsjacking. Among his coauthored pieces are Marketing the Moon (with Rich Jurek) and Marketing Lessons from The Grateful Dead (with HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan). In David's latest book, The New Rules of Sales & Service, he demystifies the new digital marketing landscape and provides guidance for business owners not wanting to be left behind.

image of Lider Sucre

Lider Sucre

Co-Executive Director, Earth Train

Lider is a Harvard MBA, with early experience managing a provider of industrial maintenance to the Panama Canal. After obtaining his MBA, he also became a Consultant and then Senior Manager in management consulting firms in both Boston (U.S.) and Panama. Since 2001, Lider has been a full time environmentalist, first as Executive Director of Panama's National Association for the Conservation of Nature (ANCON), playing a key role in initiatives such as the creation of Coiba as a National Park by law. Between 2007 and 2010 Lider was the Executive Director of the then-in-construction Biomuseo, designed by Frank Gehry. In 2010, Lider became Executive Co-Director of Earth Train, with programs centered on the 10,000-acre Mamoní Valley Preserve. Since 2011, Lider has also been serving as the Regional Director for Latin America of Wildlife Works Carbon (WWC), a global pioneer in the development of private sector projects for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD+. In September of 2015, Lider was elected to the global Board of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as delegate for the Mesoamerican region for the 2016-2020 period. Lider is an avid naturalist, scuba diver, and certified as an eco-tourism guide. He has traveled in over 40 countries, both for work and as backpacker. Author of the Guatemala Chapter of the Let's Go Central America 1997 travel guide. Currently a board member of the Biomuseo, the Panama Audubon Society, the Harvard Club of Panama, and of ANCON, amongst other memberships.

Learning Environment

You will be venturing into two dramatically contrasting settings. For the first two days you will attend workshops at the high tech City of Knowledge, Latin America's leading technology and education park, located near the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. On days three and four you're in for a dramatic change of scenery as we bring our conversation to the rain forest in the 10,000-acre Mamoní Valley Preserve set in one of the world's most important ecological hotspots. Host to over 100 years of research led by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama is in the most studied tropical biome in the world. No place on the planet offers more scientific and natural resources for learning about the workings and patterns of natural systems. Why settle for a PowerPoint presentation? Join us and actually experience Mother Nature at work in one of her greatest laboratories. Meet some of her students, that is major figures in the life sciences and natural design, who can help you unlock some of the riches she has been developing over the last 3.8 billion years.

"Companies are living, breathing organisms. As such, the more they can mimic nature, the faster they can scale."

Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) and Chairman of Geoversity