Shannon Block and Michelle Loader

Why this experiment happened.

Within about 10 hours of our initial meeting, we found a common purpose, and as staunch believers in purpose-driven existences, we knew we had a responsibility to do something about it, and so you find yourself conducting a series of experiments. Timing is an interesting thing, as is a connection for that matter and we guess that when you overlay purpose, the intersection of head and heart is the juncture where magic begins.

These experiments were created from the walk of incredible women who inspired others to find their magic as we opened minds towards the making of modern women.

Anyway, let us introduce ourselves before we get too carried away.

Michelle’s journey from a farmer’s daughter to CEO of a 1.5b dollar company demonstrates that it is possible to run a multinational company, love what you do and happily integrate work and life. As a mother to Ruby and Lily age 6 and 7, Michelle and her and husband’s Russell’s greatest priority is raising their girls to be ready for the world in front of them. With technology and globalization coming together in ways we have never seen before her parenting priority is to ready her daughters for the road ahead.

Shannon Block has had 10+ years of progressive executive experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. She has extensive executive experience in managing budgets of over $300 million, supervising over 900 employees and international experience overseeing 21 locations.  She has served on several boards including the Executive Committee of Young Presidents’ Organization in the Western United States, Chairwoman of the Women’s Forum of Colorado and several on several hospital Board of Directors.  She is the Founder and CEO of World Forward, Executive Director & COO of Skillful, previous CEO of Denver Zoo, former CEO of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers and former Chief Business Development Officer of Denver Health. Her educational background includes a B.S. in Physics and B.S. in Applied Mathematics from George Washington University, M.S. in Physics from Tufts University and she is currently completing her Doctorate in Computer Science.  When not leading international humanitarian projects, Shannon can be found hiking and skiing the rocky mountains of Colorado with her daughter Addison, age 7 and their large Bernese Mountain dog.

So, as mothers, executives and community leaders we decided to use our unique position to build an intergenerational bridge through a global experiment. We started with conversations with mothers, executives and community leaders to harnesses the collective wisdom and experiences of the women who have gone before them. This experiment provided unique access to women from across the globe to explore personal experiences and advice from the prior generation to the emerging generation.

Both Shannon and Michelle want to acknowledge the International Women’s Forum for helping make this global experiment possible.

We are living through a change period of record rates with technology and social connectedness adding to that acceleration. As we started our research for this experiment, we were reminded that in 2006, the iPad, Uber, Airbnb, Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp did not exist.

Just think about that for a moment–some of the most used global tools used today, which will be taken for granted by our children were still three years from creation when they were born. Because we live in a changing world, we sometimes forget how fast it is moving and how easy it is for us to ignore the pace of technology innovation and its impact on our society and behavior. Advances in technology have brought all corners of the globe closer together. In so many ways, we are becoming a borderless world and we wonder if we are preparing our children to live in that world?

With the exclusion of holidays, for the most part, our children live in a localized world. They go to school in their neighborhood, have activities within a small radius, and have friends from a summation of the two. Yet, our world is becoming more globally driven by the minute. While there are over 7,000 languages in the world, we can now communicate instantly using translation services on our mobile phones with a free app.

We worked together from the opposite sides of the world to bring this experiment together and yet, with the use of technology, it feels as if we have been with each other from the beginning of the journey.

So how will technology impact our children and their work? We predict that our children won’t study at a university to gain a degree and then build a career; rather, they will build their skills via other means to build a series of careers. We have already seen a shift from travel agents to travel websites and taxi dispatches to mobile apps. How will we best prepare our children to use the plethora of information available to them without feeling like they have a fire hose in their mouths? In the first experiment, we explore how best to make effective use of skill building in an evolving world.

Facebook, Snapchat, and other social media are consuming more than one-third of a teen’s days – nearly nine hours on average, according to a study from the family technology education, non-profit group, Common Sense Media. For tweens, between ages 8 and 12, the average is already nearly six hours per day. In the second experiment, we explored how to successfully network in a borderless world, turning potential modes of distraction into opportunity.

Courage and resilience in a changing world; we are never going to get it right 100% of the time, but we cannot be paralyzed by the fear of failure. Enabling a creative world where there is a positive aspect to failure is imperative. In the third experiment, we explored building resilience and the sliding door moments that make us who and what we are.

Finally, in last experiment, we focused on finding your true purpose in an evolving world. There is an urgency for young women today to better understand where the world is going and how to best align themselves with their passion. The journey involves bumps in the road, but we explored how to move past the confusion into living a meaningful life of purpose and joy.

We hope this social experiment will impact you. Through this process, we have laughed and cried and been overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit of our sisters and brothers sharing their time and treasure. We hope these experiments will warm your heart, motivate you to find your purpose and create a life where you can flourish.

You can tell who the strong women are, they are the ones building each other up, sharing the wisdom of the past, understanding the promise of the future; they are not tearing each other down. May the path ahead be full of amazing adventure and stories to share with our daughters and your daughters.