Speakers Contribution
My Learnings from the Epic Speaker Summit - Part II
My Learnings from the Epic Speaker Summit - Part II
By Tiago Forjaz
May 23, 2024

Often, we seek refuge in the future to absolve ourselves of what we need to do in the present. More than technological skills, we need to invest in human skills.

In our reflection on the future, we noticed that Border Careers sometimes emerge from “competencies”, so we dedicated the second part of the Epic Speaker Summit to the discussion of “Border Competencies”.

Border Competencies – Emerging competencies that could become border careers. We still don’t know… one thing is certain, without them, there is no future.

Keep up, with Tiago Forjaz thoughts from our First Epic Speaker Summit.


Pedro do Carmo Costa - Inclusion - “Inclusion and Diversity Matter for Business”

I had already learned from Pedro do Carmo Costa that diversity is inviting different people to the party, and inclusion is creating an environment for everyone to dance. But he added an important perspective: we need to start with inclusion. To leverage people’s cognitive and experiential diversity, we must start by listening to and including those who feel overlooked internally first. Before seeking to build a fair and accurate representation of society, we should first meet the needs of the people we already have in organizations. Perhaps that’s why it makes sense to start calling it I&D instead of D&I. One thing is certain: “Inclusion has value for business. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s essential for business success.”

Marta Rebelo - Mental Health of the Future - “From Self-Stigma to Self-Esteem”

No one can write or describe the importance of mental health as well as Marta Rebelo, but I dare to summarize my conclusions from one of the most personal testimonies of the Epic Speaker Summit. I learned that the numbers may underestimate the issue, but it is said that two out of five people suffer from mental illness (which means more than 3 million Portuguese). As long as we have prejudice against mental illness, we ignore the 2nd leading cause of death among “Zoomers”. As long as we carry the burden of self-stigma, we will not be able to address mental health preventively, occupationally, and integratively. Without a mental health strategy, the future of work is unsustainable.

Duarte Fonseca - Social Impact - “Misery is Business” - The Power of Purpose-Driven Companies

It may seem shocking, and it is, but “Misery is Business”. That’s how Duarte Fonseca begins his talk. Through learning from his personal journey leading Reshape, Duarte reveals how companies solve social problems through business. This was the case with Danone, and it is the case with many other organizations. Ultimately, whenever humanity faces a problem, it solves it by turning it into a business. Although it may seem opportunistic or incorrect, this can be good. Perhaps this means that we trust the economy, companies, business leaders, and ourselves more than politicians and society. Perhaps this way, we can all participate in solving social problems through our consumer power.

Every day, we deal with what is expected and what is unexpected. Life is improvised and João Peral explain us how. It is our natural ability to improvise that helps us, but we insist on calling it “luck”. If we learn the right protocols for improvisation, mistakes become an opportunity to move forward. Yes, because improvisation is a practice. Improvisation teaches us to trust and take risks, and those who take risks and trust go further. When we expose ourselves and become more vulnerable, we learn more and improve performance. Improvising drives success. Saying “Yes, and” is co-creating, focusing on others, and creates a safe environment where we can take more risks. We can use improvisation as a tool to learn how to leverage diversity. Improvisation is the protocol that frees creative collaboration within your teams. This helps to harness the potential of diversity and to lead.

José Pedro Cobra - Consciousness Challenge - "Having to Be."

The most important place to start your future is within you. All of us, leaders or not, need to take time to challenge our consciousness. In a play on words and humor, Zé Pedro showed us that we focus too much on “Having” instead of “Being”. In reality, we are not “Human Havings”, we are “Human Beings”. We increasingly need to save time for self-reflection and challenge our perspectives and expectations. In serene reality, we discover that what defines us is “the relationship we have with what we have, not what we have”. Nothing has to be, we are not slaves to anyone, much less to ourselves. When we train detachment and learn to dissolve problems instead of always being in battle mode trying to solve problems, we find the future in the present. Otherwise, we remain camouflaged in what the world, what others expect or want from us.

Mónica Cordeiro de Lucena - Allophilia - “Loving the Difference”

At the end of the event, I interviewed Mónica Lucena. She came to teach us how to build love for difference (called allophilia).

In a very personal testimony and an act of enormous courage, Mónica – a graduate in architecture – told us about living the challenge of designing a life for her daughter Matilde.

Matilde is the first child of the Lucena family. At 6 months old, a doctor said, “Matilde will never develop like a normal child, she may remain in a vegetative state”.

Mónica decided to turn that “gut punch” into a slap at the odds; she decided to challenge that future and overturn it with her certainty that no doctor would decide what would happen in her daughter’s life! She left behind a career in architecture and embraced a unique and fascinating project, and she realized that what she most wanted for her daughter was not only for her to be autonomous but, above all, for Matilde to have self-esteem.

The most important thing Mónica wanted for Matilde was for her to have self-esteem, to like herself and her life, regardless of the conditions in which that life would be lived.

By dedicating herself to Matilde, she realized that to build Matilde’s self-esteem, she would have to build her own at the same time. By dedicating herself to Matilde, she freed herself and discovered her passion for therapeutic dance. With the support and love of Lourenço (her husband) and the whole family (the Lucena family also includes Pilar, Santiago, and Vitória), she studied for two years in Germany to use dance as a therapeutic form for her daughter.

She explained that to help Matilde be happy, she had to gather a network of professionals from different areas, from psychology to speech therapy, dance therapy, among others, and it was she who realized the importance of all of them working as a team and aligned with each other. A network that she leads and moderates, so that every day Matilde learns and feels the love that exists for her.

She also shared the importance of having good friends, people she can count on to have time to date and take care of the other children too. By explaining the “small strategies”, which include: repetition, pretending not to have heard, or even using humor to correct Matilde, she inspired and moved everyone in that room, especially by the serenity with which she spoke about this life project and full of life!

At the end of her story, I asked her if she had already managed to give Matilde self-esteem, and in response, she told us a story: after reaching 18 years old, Matilde did not have an educational institution that could continue to stimulate her as it had been until then (at São Tomás school and then at António Arroio school). It was then that the coincidence of Lourenço traveling a lot to Mozambique and always bringing capulanas as if he would not return, created the opportunity for Matilde to learn to undertake in the production and commercialization of capulanas. From the importance of choosing fabrics, the fine skill of sewing, to creating keychains and bags that are now called “Matiti Bags”, the Lucena family created an entrepreneur. But the confirmation moment came on a beach day when Matilde saw someone using a bag made by her and explained that that bag had been made by her. And then, we realized that everything had been worth it; that she had her identity and self-esteem.

To me, Mónica taught me that we have to give ourselves to others, find a platform for dialogue, and believe in that cycle of love that is built.

When I asked her what she would ask all of us, she replied: she would ask people to look at difference differently. I added: that we learn to love difference!

For me, it became clear that our lives can change from one moment to the next, That what the Lucena family experienced could happen to any of us, but I learned that it is not enough to tolerate difference; we really need to fall in love with difference and let that difference shape and create us as well.


These were some of the many learnings I took from Epic Speaker Summit 23.

I thank all the people who helped make this dream of The Epic Talent Society come true and who participated in it.

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