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What I Learned About Innovation From Seven Years in the Bush

Shari Hughson on our survival instinct and why Millennials are not the Problem Generation but the solution to our gravest challenges

Shari Hughson has lived a unique life. She is a successful nurse, entrepreneur, innovator, and adventurer. She started her first business at the age of 25 and has been a founding member in four more companies and two ongoing health businesses. For seven years, Hughson and her husband lived off the land in the middle of the B.C. wilderness. Hughson is  currently director of the Master of Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University. In this TEDx talk, she talks about how these seven years in the wilderness shaped her views of problem solving on a grand scale.

Video Highlights


0:18     “My husband and I accidently lived the evolution of Western civilization over seven years.” After maintaining an intense work pace, “we walked away from everything: friends, family, successful businesses, and a beautiful acreage. And we moved to the middle of nowhere in British Columbia, a five-hour drive to the nearest town.”

4:35     Within a five-hour hike were their neighbours, a small community of 20 people. “This was probably the most amazing experience in our seven years, the coming together, the building of community from the most diverse and quirky people you could ever imagine.”

8:05     They eventually built “the most productive, efficient, year-round food ecosystem as possible. . . We added grey water recycling, we added sensors . . . and automated all of our survival needs. . . We were living that final year far more futuristic than any of you ever have.”

9:58     Hughson and her husband learned three lessons: “One, we cannot go back. Two, every innovation has a side effect or an unforeseen consequence. And three, innovation is our greatest survival instinct.”