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Day One: Transformation

The 2015 Lake Nona Impact Forum kicked off this evening with remarks from Rasesh Thakkar, senior managing director of Tavistock Group, on the topic of transformation.

While Thakkar was talking specifically about the incredible transformation of the Lake Nona community over the last decade, his comments set the tone for the evening’s discussion. Transformation in the way businesses, academia and government think about health and wellness will be at the center of the conversations happening over the next few days at the Lake Nona Impact Forum.

Arianna Huffington, co-founder, editor-in-chief and namesake of The Huffington Post, continued the theme, talking about the transformation in employee wellness happening in workplaces across America. She noted that C-suite execs are openly discussing once-marginal concepts like their meditation or “digital detox” practices. In short, she explained, downtime is no longer synonymous with laziness but an opportunity for renewal.

The conversation continued with Huffington interviewing Alex Gorsky, CEO and chairman of Johnson & Johnson, on how a focus on employee wellness leads to improved employee engagement. No longer is there a disconnect between employee investment and a company’s bottom line. In fact, Gorsky noted their research finds that, for every dollar invested in the employee, the company earns three to four in return. “Investing in our employees is just the right thing to do,” he told delegates.

The duo stressed that working excessively long hours or on the weekends should no longer be considered a badge of honor. In fact, as Alex explained, Johnson & Johnson now has a policy not to answer emails on the weekend, unless it’s specifically stated as urgent. It’s these small but powerful changes to the vernacular of the workplace that greatly reduce employee stress levels and improve workforce engagement.

Transforming from a country based on sick-care to one of well-care was another prevalent theme throughout the evening. It was introduced in the context of Johnson & Johnson’s Human Performance Institute, based in Lake Nona, which studies patients’ specific motivation for recovery – and that leads to structured behavior, which allows them to reach their goals.

Innovation in the delivery of health care and practice of wellness was a conversation that began tonight in presentations from leaders at Guidewell and Garmin. Dawn Iddings of Garmin introduced participants to Vivofit, a wearable wristband that tracks activity and personalized activity goals. She announced the Impact Forum Step-Challenge, in which delegates will have their steps logged over the course of the Forum and displayed on a leaderboard. It was noted that our inactivity as a society is comparable to the issue around smoking in the decade before. Garmin is advancing consumer technologies to encourage healthy living and inspire active living.

Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, discussed ongoing concerns about the cost of America’s health care system and called the third Lake Nona Impact Forum “just what the doctor ordered” to challenge the existing way of doing things and bring disruptive ideas to create a sustainable and healthy world.

The “transformation” is underway, with more to come Thursday and Friday at the Forum.

Remember to follow us @LN_Institute and join the discussion at #LNIF15.