By: Kelly McCoy

Researchers found that those who go to Burning Man come back different. Whether it is neurological, biological, or just a frame of mind – unique experiences, whether it be art (among other things) in the desert or a week in Beverly Hills can change the way you think.

I applied to the Military Leadership Circle because I saw an amazing opportunity to tie in with others who think differently, explore challenges from varying perspectives, and who want to make a positive change from wherever and whenever they stand.

My thinking was that through attending the Milken Global Conference, I would have the opportunity to tie into these likeminded leaders and harness the creativity and energy that would come from it – and I was not disappointed.

With all my optimism walking into the 2017 Milken Global Conference there was nothing that would prepare me for the knowledge, passion, and exceptional perspectives. To this end – I walked away from that conference with three takeaways.

First – massive societal disruption is coming and we are not prepared for it. Pretty heavy right? In a panel on the future of the workforce and how robotics will effect it – a riveting discussion took place on what the impact would be for the middle class. The critical point was when Anne-Marie Slaughter unpacked Aaron Levie’s vision of what future work would be for humans and asked the panel members – would you pay middle class wages for that? Across the panel the answer was no. The next question, Ms. Slaughter asked was “how then does the middle class survive?” The only response from the panel was silence. Hitting the point home – Ms. Slaughter observed that the last time we had a significant industrial revolution we got Marxism, what will get out of this one if there is no plan to preserve the middle class?

Second – the last bastion of privacy is going to fall within our life time. Mary Lou Jepsen, CEO of OpenWater, up front recognized how crazy her idea is but is convinced that within 30 years it will become a reality. Imagine a beanie on your head that has the ability to read your brain like an MRI and translate your neuro activity to allow for what in simplest of terms would be telepathic communication. That is what OpenWater is doing – and when they succeed your thoughts will no longer have a guarantee of privacy.

Third – listen to Richard Haass. Sure he is the President of the Council on Foreign Relations – so you should listen to him; however, when you have CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies and other major public figures in the same room, impressive names and titles blend together. But of all the panels I attended, Mr. Haass stood out for his relative unbiased and insightful comments during a panel discussing the first 100 days of President Trump’s new administration, and the next 1,000. Where just about every panelist spoke with the entertaining value of a pundit, Mr. Haass was an exceptional rational voice in the chaos.

To me there is no greater opportunity to continue along my path than to grow my network by experiencing in person the dialogue and debates led by today’s greatest thinkers and doers. The Military Leadership Circle has and continues to do this for me. Through this opportunity I have changed and continue to change for the better – personally and professionally. I even opened up to the idea of Feng Shui. I am excited for the opportunities that this year’s global conference has to offer – and the knowledge, connections, and energy I will be able to bring to my life because of it!

Kelly McCoy is a US Army officer and strategist, Director of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum Advisory Cloud, and a member of the Military Leadership Circle. A blessed husband and proud father, when he has time he is either brewing beer or maintaining his blog, Drink Beer; Kill War. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US government.

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