Like all the best ideas, Disruptive Thinkers was formed over a beer in a bar (Bankers Hill Bar and Grill) in July of 2011. The topic of conversation between Brian and I was military pensions and the coming fiscal cliff.
As we delved deeper into our frustrations, we tried to figure out a way that our generation could be heard and make an impact within a military bureaucracy. Both of us knew many innovators under 35 who had been wildly successful, but all of them were in the private sector. Then it hit us — why not seek them out and have an exchange of ideas? Attempt to cull the best of both the military and civilian worlds, and try to inculcate a culture of entrepreneurship within the military?
A friend of ours had started a group called “Idealog,” which in many respects was the spark that prompted our own group. Idealog was focused on conservative political philosophy, and although we wanted our to be non-partisan, its format of free-wheeling discussion at a very high level inspired us to adopt its model.
Our initial venture was called The Strategy and Innovation Forum. The initial goal was to focus solely on national security problems, and our first meeting, in my living room, drew five people. We watched some videos, threw out some ideas, and tried to figure out what in the world we were doing.
This military focused venture soon grew as Ben Weinrib came on board and started bringing more and more people to our events. We began sending out a monthly syllabus composed of TED talks, non-traditional books and articles that could our attention. Each seminar featured a 20 minute expository presentation followed by a 45 minute discussion. By December, our numbers had grown to over 20 per meeting — the vast majority being innovative civilians.
Around this time, I decided to start a blog. I came upon Disruptive Thinkers by happenstance — every other name combining Disruptive and Innovation was taken on the blogspot account I planned to create. But it truly captured the essence of what I wanted to do, namely exploring the ideas, people, technology and trends shaping the 21st century. This project morphed together with our budding social venture, and Disruptive Thinkers was officially and forever named.
As with any venture, there have been ups and downs. Honestly, we’re still trying to figure out how to truly effect change in large organizations. But the interest in our intellectual pursuits keeps growing. We’ve been recognized in national news articles, and started a firestorm of a debate in national security circles about Disruptive Thinking.
We are an organic organization, with a grassroots feel. We collaborate, and seek the 80 percent solution. If a project fails, which some have, we aim to do so quickly, while also learn from it. Our seminars are in their current, popular, format because we took user feedback directly and integrated their suggestions. Most of all, we’ve exposed a growing segment of our innovation generation to interesting trends that many would not have understood otherwise. The development of a Disruptive Mind is subtle, and long term, but it seems were making headway.
Please let us know if you have an interest in starting a chapter in your city, or simply enjoy what we are doing. Critical, constructive feedback is always welcome as well, especially since that is where the best learning always occurs.