crowd shotThe 2014 OC Business Summit Brings Bright Minds Together Discussing Transformation at Saddleback Church

By Amanda Crater

(Lake Forest, CA) — Spending a sunny Saturday indoors attending a business conference at a Christian church is not normally this Jewish hippie’s idea of a good time, but when I heard about the line-up of speakers at the OC Business Summit on March 8, I immediately cancelled the dance classes I teach on Saturdays and drove 20 miles before 8:00 am to Lake Forest to attend.

As editor of Greenbusinesses.com,  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to hear from and interview some of the biggest names and brightest minds in publishing, including Arianna Huffington, Malcolm Gladwell (author of “The Tipping Point” and “David and Goliath), pastor Rick Warren (author of “The Purpose Driven Life”), and the publishers of Forbes magazine (Rich Kaalgard) and Freedom Communications/The OC Register (Eric Spitz). Pardon my expression when I say the roster was a writer’s wet dream.

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Saddleback Church is obviously doing something right being able to attract such high-level speakers and yet offer very reasonable prices for attendees.  Saddleback’s founder Rick Warren has grown the church to over 20,000 members. Approximately 1,200 people attended the summit, hosted by Saddleback Church, which began last year as a community event to bring the Orange County business community together and has now expanded to attract people from Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

The day did not disappoint in terms of inspiration and thought-provoking dialogue on the topic of transformation. The highlight was getting to interview Arianna Huffington on camera and hear her take on what’s happening with the environment. I loved how she made the connection between burnt out people and a burnt out planet. Her advice to unplug at the end of the night and “gently escort your electronic devices from the bedroom” is an example of her provocative “sleep your way to the top” advice, which emphasizes self-care, well-being and the importance of sleep.

“We are drowning in information but are bereft in wisdom,” Huffington said, saying the old model of sleep deprivation as a badge of honor does not work for women, men, society or the planet.  She also said to define success in terms of money and power is like trying to sit on a two-legged stool. See her complete video interview with Greenbusinesses.com .

In a very un-conference room setting (Saddleback Church is modern, bright and airy with both indoor and outdoor seating, dynamic lights and audio) the stellar line-up of influential leaders charged the room with an energy I’ve never experienced before at any business-related  event.  You could practically hear Twitter humming as pastor Rick Warren took the stage and introduced author Malcolm Gladwell.  Warren’s bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life (2002) has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for advice books for one of the longest periods in history and has topped the Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly charts with over 30 million copies sold by 2007.  Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point was named as one of the best books of the decade, with his other books receiving similar acclaim.

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Seeing these two men onstage just a stone’s throw from my seat had me excitedly tweeting along with the hundreds of other attendees under the hashtag #OCBusiness.  At one point though I forced myself to put down my phone down – I wanted to be fully in the moment and look people in the eye rather than converse with them through a screen.

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Genuinely animated and passionate, Warren (“Pastor Rick”) lit up the room as he discussed the theme of transformation, using the words “appealing, attractive, mesmerizing” and “illumination” to approach looking at problems in a new light.  I agree with his comment that we’ve had “the creativity kicked out of us” and loved his suggestion to recruit children to look old problems in new ways. Along the line’s of Huffington’s message of health and well-being, Warren said “we need to prioritize our own renewal.” He said “If you’re burning the candle at both ends, you’re not as bright as you think you are.” At one point in the mid afternoon when a nap was starting to sound really good, he actually had everyone stand up, turn to their right and give their neighbor a shoulder massage.

For the full gallery of photos, click here.

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