Team Leader & Chief Engineer EDL, NASA Mars Rover Curiosity & Author
The Right Kind of Crazy
Wednesday, June 28
When NASA needed to land Curiosity—a 2,000-pound, $2.5 billion rover—on the surface of Mars, they turned to the Jet Propulsion Lab for a breakthrough, never-been-tried-before solution. At the helm of this effort was an unlikely rocket scientist and accidental leader, Adam Steltzner. Adam’s team couldn’t test their kooky invention, the Sky Crane. They were on an unmissable deadline. And the world would be watching when they succeeded—or failed.
From aspiring rock star going nowhere fast to history-making rocket scientist, Adam Steltzner is recognized as one of NASA’s leading—and most unique—innovators. After barely graduating from high school, he followed his curiosity to a local community college to find out why the stars moved, where he discovered an astonishing gift for math and physics. Upon getting his Ph.D., he ensconced himself within JPL, NASA’s decidedly unbureaucratic cousin, where success in a mission is the only metric that matters.
Described as “Einstein brilliance meets Johnny Cash cool,” Adam will share a profound perspective on innovation for anyone who wants to channel their craziness into creativity, balance discord and harmony, and find a signal in a flood of noise. Buckle up and get ready to learn:
- How his team learned to switch from fear-based to curiosity-based decision making
- How to escape “The Dark Room”—the creative block caused by fear, uncertainty, and the lack of a clear path forward
- How to tell when we’re too in love with our own ideas to be objective about them—and, conversely, when to fight for them
- How to foster mutual respect within teams while still bashing bad ideas
One of the original story creators at Pixar
The Best Story Wins!
Thursday afternoon, June 29
The most powerful tool in business is a great story. Stories compel us to engage in experiences, learn lessons, and define our values and ourselves within our organization. They bridge the gap between the mind and the heart. As one of the original story creators at Pixar Animation Studios, Matthew Luhn spent over two decades inside the most successful filmmaking group in the history of Hollywood. His story credits include Up, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Monsters University, Cars, Ratatouille, and all three of the Toy Story films. Prior to joining Pixar, he was, at 19 years old, the youngest animator to work on The Simpsons TV series.
In this (naturally) story-driven presentation, Matthew will demystify the storytelling process, providing practical strategies to connect more effectively and persuasively with audiences—and helping you drive your story toward one unforgettable selling point. Attach emotion to logic and anything is possible. That’s the power of story.