My #PinkSocks Story

"My #PinkSocks story started out like many people’s. With some serendipity and some bacon. via @jameyedwards"

Post written by Jamey Edwards

My #PinkSocks story started out like many people’s. With some serendipity and some bacon.

Our company was selected to be in the Innovation Lab at Exponential Medicine 2015 in San Diego which is a wonderful Singularity University conference (shout out to pink socker @Daniel_Kraft for leading this great event).  This was going to be an exciting conference for us due to the caliber of speakers, attendees and the opportunity to showcase our pioneering telemedicine solution for healthcare disparities that addresses Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Deaf and Hard of Hearing patient populations known as Martti (My Accessible Real Time Trusted Interpreter).

When we showed up in San Diego, my expectations were high.  We were ready to rub elbows with healthcare leaders around the world while enjoying the sun; learning about AI, 3d printing and Crisper CAS-9; and experiencing new things like a silent disco event (what’s silent disco you may ask?  The networking was great, the learning value amazing and the exposure for our company unmatched.  We met the teams from Kaiser, IBM Watson and Microsoft and have since been exploring partnerships with each.

The biggest surprise though occurred half way through the event when we ran into a guy wearing a kilt who was wearing bright pink socks with black moustaches on them.  I had seen him once before at the American Telemedicine Association conference the prior year interviewing companies (with Gregg Masters – @2HealthGuru, another #pinksocks tribe member) and had missed the opportunity to learn his story and what drove his wardrobe choices, amongst other things.  We didn’t want to miss the opportunity this time around.  We ended up luring him over to our booth when we tweeted out that our team had procured a chafing dish of bacon for those that wanted it.

I mean the food on hand was healthy California.  Kale, Quinoa, Yogurt, etc…The conference needed some bacon 😉

When he finally stopped by, we learned that his name was Nick Adkins and he loved telemedicine.  He was an asynchronous guru from Portland who believed in the power of gifting to effect change. He tweeted.  A lot.  And people tweeted back.  He was helping to shape a dialogue online about how we could fix our broken healthcare system, one pair of pink socks at a time.

The #pinksocks started off as a lark for him. A simple gesture to brighten someone’s day.  But then healthcare leaders from across the US, scratch that…from across the world were taking notice. From Jonathan Bush (@Jonathan_Bush) to Jeroen Tas (@JeroenTas), from John Mattison (@johnemattison)  to Rasu Shrestha (@RasuShrestha) and from Eric Topol (@EricTopol) to Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, people are donning their pink socks to signal their desire to change healthcare and the world for the better.  You know when you put the socks on that you aren’t an island on your quest to make a difference, but that likeminded souls from across the globe are wearing those socks as well and trying to make a difference in their own timezone, city, neighborhood or house.

So when he offered me and my colleagues a chance to join the pink socks tribe, we ripped off our shoes with reckless abandon, tore off our somewhat sweaty socks and threw on a fresh pair of pink ladies leggings with black moustaches on them and well,…we tweeted.

We were now part of a movement of folks looking to “disrupt from the ground up”.  We had the chance to share our innovations with other #pinksocks wearers and more important, we became a part of something bigger than ourselves or the companies we worked for.  This subtle act of connecting has opened up a world of new opportunity for us.  And the socks have functionally become more than the conversation starter they were originally intended to be.  They are a symbol of innovation, collaboration and disruption. They are a symbol of individual effort and the spirit of a community working together to effect change.

But more importantly, they have become a symbol of friendship.  Because of them I have learned to tweet and take part in an important dialogue around changing our healthcare system for the better.  Because of them I have developed relationships with people whose paths would normally have never crossed mine (@CancerGeek, @mHealth1, @AGDGRoque, @estrellajrios, @andrewintech, @dflee30, @MooreRoxanne, etc… you know who you are) and my online world has melded with my world IRL (In Real Life).  Because of those socks, I am now good friends with a guy who wears a kilt and is a constant reminder to not judge and that there is the power in us all to make a difference.

So here’s to being open minded, forward thinking and desirous of making the world better.  Here’s to #pinksocks and bacon.

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