Carter Harkins

Chief Storyteller, Harkins Creative
Nashville, TN, United States

About Carter

Bio

I've always been a storyteller. Whether it was through songs, screenplays, public speaking or corporate marketing, the one constant has been the fact that I want to tell well-crafted stories that impact and change people and their perceptions.

It's not a one-way push message sort of thing, though. A good story involves the audience, and makes them participants. My unique experience as a pioneer in a social media technology startup has given me a unique and thoroughly vetted philosophy of Storytelling in the socially connected digital world.

Increasingly, the concept of authenticity has become a focus of my life's work. I believe that in order to be sustainable, all products, people, communities, organizations and communications must find roots in authentic expression and imaginative story. To do less than this is to shortchange the world, consumers, and ourselves, both individually and collectively.

I've gotten to be a part of creating the technologies that drive the Social Web. I've spoken on the Social Web at the World Future Society and NetImpact conferences, as well as keynoted for private organization events, and I'm pretty opinionated about the sustainability and authenticity of what has been termed "Social Media". I am co-authoring a book called "Daring Authenticity"; a handbook for doing life in a way that values our questions more than our answers.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

177090
Carter Harkins
Posted almost 3 years ago
Is there an indispensable person or group in your life with whom you frequently disagree? How has this made you a better person?
Jeff, that's keen insight. How often I wish I had remembered that the other person in an argument is the person from whom I stand to learn something very important, if I just humble myself and really listen... And then perhaps by showing that level of respect, I may receive it in return when asking questions and challenging their viewpoints. It may be that they aren't capable of that level of reciprocal respect, but at least I will have walked away having learned something I can take with me, whatever that may be.
177090
Carter Harkins
Posted almost 3 years ago
Learn/share what tools are available to learn the skill to 'disagree constructively'.
Not sure of any formal tools or programs available for constructive disagreement. I know for me it has been incredibly useful to take a few moments at the beginning of any potentially heated or emotional discussion to outline a few "points of connection" with the person or group with whom I am engaging. It usually sounds like this: "Before we get too far in to the points we want to make with each other, can we agree that continuing down this road may raise our blood pressure, may find us raising our voices a bit, and may increase our personal feelings of tension with each other? (usually gets an affirmative response along with a smile) But can we also agree that at the center of what we want to say to each other, there is a deeply rooted respect for the other, and this respect will reveal itself in the way in which we listen carefully to the points the other is making, and work with one another to keep the tone and content of our statements fair and open, without personal attack or criticism, making sure that in our actions and ideals we esteem one another as being more important than the conflict we may be about to explore? If we can agree on these points, then I think that the important discussion we are about to have can be tremendously beneficial and enlightening, even if it isn't an easy thing to undertake." This usually helps people to activate permission to not take other opinions as personally, and keeps the elevated goals of empathy and connection in the forefront of our minds as we engage. Sometimes, depending on the person or group, I'll mention the brain's tendency toward confirmation bias and information selectivity - two things from which no one is immune - and this usually helps us to realize that we need to view our own biological process with as much suspicion as the other person's viewpoints.
177090
Carter Harkins
Posted almost 3 years ago
Is there an indispensable person or group in your life with whom you frequently disagree? How has this made you a better person?
Debra, I love how you use the word "argue" in your comment. I don't sense any hostility in it. It is an intellectual exercise with the sole purpose of discovery and enlightenment. It doesn't cheapen or demean the other, it esteems them. Your humility and willingness to learn from someone with whom you disagree is such a breath of fresh air! This is what I have experienced myself. It's the kind of argument that seeks to liberate the best in someone else, not beat them up with my "rightness". It hopes for a mutual ground, a place of reconciliation, and if that's not possible, then a mutual respect and admiration. It is possible to share heated words and passionate opinions with someone who argues this way, because you know that throughout the exchange what matters most is the person, not the point.
177090
Carter Harkins
Posted almost 3 years ago
Is there an indispensable person or group in your life with whom you frequently disagree? How has this made you a better person?
Thanks, Fritzie, I appreciate the prompt. Unfortunately, I was once pretty intolerant of others outside the tribe. I was much younger then, and full of zeal and enthusiasm for a cause I barely understood, but which defined me completely. I was in. "They" were out. But I had one person in my life who refused to let me get away with the arrogance and certainty I displayed. He disarmed me like no one else could. And even though I knew this person was wrong in their beliefs (not like me; therefore not worthy of my attention), I continued to engage, because somehow it felt safe with this person. I could push them, and they let me. They could push back, and I let them. At first I told myself it was good to have practice sharpening my arguments against an opponent. But slowly, this opponent began to get in my head. I even called him a friend, sometimes. I never admitted he was right when we would argue for hours, but if I was honest, I would have to admit that he had a valid perspective I did not possess. I came to rely on this perspective. Over the years world events would loom, and it was him I sought out first. I began to see how this person with strange ideas would often have insights that proved to be correct long before anyone else I knew. I trusted his perspective, even though I still clung to my own beliefs on most matters. Eventually, I grew up, and in the process, let go of a lot of the intellectual pride and stubbornness that characterized me earlier. Now, when we speak, this friend and I often begin to see each other's perspectives even before the other has put it into words for us. And for the first time, I realize that I have had an influence on him as well. We trust each other. We temper each other and strengthen each other's ability to go past the 5 second sound bites and look for the real meat of the thing. We still disagree. But we always keep civility and respect at the front of the relationship. I am a better human being for him in my life.
177090
Carter Harkins
Posted almost 4 years ago
If the Genomic Revolution is upon us, what basic human rights will this challenge?
Another great question. Insofar as the mapping technologies become ubiquitous and cost-effective medical tools, we would certainly see the potential for healthier, longer lives. Good friends of mine have a daughter who, just last week, was conclusively diagnosed with (through the identification of the genetic marker for) CCHS, a very rare and potentially lethal genetic syndrome. As a result of a positive diagnosis, which will require special care and ventilation equipment, they have discovered they are entitled to a number of things that anything less than conclusive genomic evidence would not allow for, such as being placed on the local power utility's "Red Zone" list, in order to make sure they have uninterrupted power and backup power, dedicated, on-site nursing staff available throughout the child's school years, as well as additional things. Whether these things fall under the category of "basic human rights", I will leave it to others to say. But I am amazed at how responsive our community has been to this situation.
177090
Carter Harkins
Posted almost 4 years ago
If the Genomic Revolution is upon us, what basic human rights will this challenge?
Mr. Resnick, Thanks for a great response (and a great talk!). This has sparked an interesting line of thought for me. As we increasingly rely on the genomic lens to see and interpret our lives, the very stories we have used to understand our world and relationships will be challenged. Legislation is notoriously incapable of keeping pace with technology's implications (Is GINA enough?), and I already wonder if personal genome mapping may create a plausible social basis for discrimination, this time legitimized not by religion or creed, but by science. Much to consider and engage with around this topic. Thanks again. -Carter Harkins
177090
Carter Harkins
Posted almost 4 years ago
How Do We Teach Children Compassion and Empathy?
I think empathy is an emotion, but compassion is an action. We empathize with someone's suffering (see it as they do), and then perhaps are stirred to act compassionately toward them. I found it interesting what Joan Halifax described in her talk as one of the potent enemies of compassion: pity. I agree that different things may stir empathy in different people, but at some meaningful level the human condition shares a great deal across all race, gender, socio-economic and political divisions.