Malcolm Gladwell Coming to the 2014 Changing the Odds Conference, presented by Momentous Institute, October 9-10

Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is coming to town, and you can hear him speak at the 2014 Changing the Odds Conference, October 9-10.

From the conference web site:


Reimagine every child’s potential for lifelong success.
This year’s theme is “Expect Momentous Outcomes.” When we expect momentous outcomes for children and their families, regardless of circumstance, we see that challenges become stepping stones on the road to success.

Malcolm Gladwell is the “biggest name” among the excellent line-up of speakers for the 2014 Changing the Odds Conference. They especially wanted to include Mr. Gladwell because of the encouragement to be found in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.

I asked Michelle Kinder, the Executive Director of Momentous Institute, to respond to a few questions about the conference. Here are her responses. (I’ve bolded a line that I especially love).

scyfc-ctoweblogo2014• Since you are wanting to “Change the Odds”…

#1 — What constitutes “bad odds?”
In short – not reaching one’s potential –kids with high risk factors and an absence of protective relationships are at risk for bad outcomes in almost every arena – including early death.  We simply cannot be ok to be able to predict a child’s future based on a zip code or a parent’s income.  And this issue impacts every one of us – it’s an educational issue, a mental health issue, an economic and a moral one. 

#2 — What constitutes “good-to-better odds?”
Finishing high school with the ability to pursue college and/or career, ability to build and sustain relationships, manage emotions, communicate, problem solve, support a family  — achieve full potential.

#3 — What are a couple of the strategies you have to change the odds?
There are two key places to intervene/ protective factors:   #1 protective relationships and #2 social emotional health – including the ability to self-regulate, be aware of self, understand others, and ultimately be an integrated influencer….. someone who is satisfied in life and contributing to society.
Examples of how we help kids learn to self-regulate include teaching kids about their brains and helping them develop calming practices grounded in deep breathing or focused attention.

#4 — What does Malcolm Gladwell have to offer in your pursuit of changing the odds?
In his new book he encourages people to redefine our view of adversity or of the ‘underdog’ by using the David and Goliath story.  At momentous, we believe a huge part of changing the odds will involve all of us changing how we look at kids who come from tough beginnings – we have to enter into relationships built on the premise of expecting momentous outcomes for all kids.

#5 — How have the first two years of your Changing the Odds conference helped change some odds for attendees/participants and the people they teach and counsel?
Changing the Odds is about inspiring and equipping people who are working with kids or those in decision making roles.  We are packing two days full of speakers who are doing some of the most interesting thinking influencing education or mental health.

Last year, I wrote the following in a blog post for their 2013 conference. These reasons are still compelling. So, here are four reasons why you should consider attending this important conference.

Reason #1 – you’ve got to get away – I mean, really get away — to think about stuff every now and then.  We all need to pull away from the daily demands, and just reflect, with a guided-set-of-conversations kind of way. A good conference can help.  And, it can really help if you will turn your phone to silent, and leave it alone for big chunks of the time while you are at the conference.  (unless, of course you are live tweeting…  but that’s another story).

Reason #2 – great input.  This conference is filled with good speakers – important speakers, with important and possibly life-changing things to teach us.

Reason #3 – great conversations will be happening all around you.  Join in.  There will be countless people standing right around you, with so much to offer as you think about the implications of what you are learning, and as you share the challenges of changing the odds in your circle of influence.  These conversations are critical to moving you forward toward more meaningful action.

Reason #4 – great conversations will be happening within your own heart and soul.  This is the big one.  I am convinced that all persuasion is “self-persuasion.”  My bet is that you will experience a little self-persuasion these two days.  You will be challenged, and you will have an internal conversation that goes something like this:

“OK, I see the challenges more clearly.  Now, what shall I start doing to make a greater impact?  What shall I quit doing that is not working?  Who can I collaborate with to increase my impact?  How can I keep learning, and changing, for the better?”

These are the kinds of internal conversations that are sparked by a good conference.  And this promises to be a very good conference!

The odds really are stacked against so many.  The odds seem to be stacked against our very efforts to change the odds.  But we do not despair.  The odds can be changed!  It’s time to change the odds.  This conference can really help.

Who could be helped by this conference?  You could.  I could.  And, any parent (grandparent) of young-through-not-so-young children, and any educator, and mental health professional or community leader or volunteer dealing with children or parents or teachers could be helped.

Do your community a favor.  Find an educator, or other professional — or a parent — and pay their way.  The ripple effects could be wonderful.

And let’s all hope for the best possible ripple effects to come from this conference.  Our communities really do need to change the odds for the better, don’t you think?


I really don’t know a sharper leader, or a more dedicated group of professionals, than the people at Momentous Institute. We are honored that they are sponsoring our October First Friday Book Synopsis. And I can endorse their work, and this conference, with such energetic passion. They know what they are doing! Go, take advantage of this great opportunity.

And, don’t forget – Malcolm Gladwell is speaking!



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