Coming Oct 21st: Unique Perspectives Conference in Houston, Texas


Keep learning, keep progressing

I’m a proud participant in a little-known but emerging Unique Perspectives Conference in Houston, Texas called The UP Experience. The next conference is October 21st, 2010.

Houston… not what you’d expect

I am not sure what the general public thinks when they hear HoustonOilers Football? (gone, moved to Tennessee; now it’s the Texans)… NASA Johnson Space Center? (still there, but now a major public education center)… Texas Cow Town? (well, they do still have the annual Rodeo)… #1 Medical Center? (yes, it’s that)… Oil Business (yes, it’s that too).

Houston is not what you’d expect. When I moved here, twenty years ago, I was told to expect cattle horn hood ornaments and shotgun racks in pickup trucks. Instead, I found a woman mayor, an annual gay-rights parade, and courteous, soft-spoken, native Houstonians. Since then Houston has had a white mayor, a man mayor, a black mayor, and now it has a gay mayor (opponents tried to make an issue of gender preference but the voters weren’t buying it).

Houston’s demographics are diverse and dynamic, and the city just keeps chugging along with a wild mix of young and old, international and native. Houstonians speak softly but carry a big brain. And a lot of initiative. When I try to capture Houston in a summary caricature it defeats me. Not even its multiple Chambers of Commerce can keep up with it: they created a sort of superset organization to keep track of it all. I have come to endure the humidity, love the flat land and magnificent cloud vistas, and be continually amazed at the variety and depth of culture, community and profession.

World-class, cross-disciplinary ideas and application

And now… Houston as an emerging, recognized center for cross-disciplinary, world-class ideas, learning, progress, and application.

Sheryl and Ernie Rapp struck me, when I first met them, as a prototypical Houston couple with children. Their land line is answered by a recorded greeting from their youngest daughter. Their teen son tells you what the code is for the house wifi if you need it.

Apparently, a career in law and accounting and domestic management were not enough – Sheryl and Ernie had been inspired by the famous Technology Education Design Conferences offered in Monterey, and wanted to do something similar for Houstonians. And, with great initiative, labor, intelligence, and persistence, they have succeeded by producing, three years in a row now, The UP Experience.

The UP Experience

UP stands for Unique Perspective. Also Unique People. UP provides a one-day event for hundreds of attendees to listen to the world and fold it right back into their daily perspectives and lives. Fifteen world-class speakers each give a twenty minute “best talk of their life” summary of their work.

I have had lunch with the guy who re-discovered the Titanic on the ocean bottom. I have heard from Apple’s “Woz”, Nova’s deGrasse. I have learned about the Elephant and the Dragon (India and China), heard the latest research on life extension and happiness; been enlightened about the economy, fine cuisine, and the environment, I have heard from Obama’s social network campaign manager… and more.

Each year there is a big name but I’ve learned that it’s the new people I’ve not heard of before who zing me the most. Last year I learned about the economic similarity of oil to salt, and why it matters to world peace!


The next UP conference is Oct 21st. October is excellent in Houston (four seasons: Nov, Dec, Jan, and Summer). Sheryl and Ernie have program information online at The UP Experience website.

I’m campaigning tor them to someday add web streaming, maybe next year. But for this year, ya’ gotta’ come to Houston live for The UP Experience. More updates soon.


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