Picture of Rohit at SXSW Sydney

Navigating the mind: SXSW insights from non-obvious thinkers

In a world that demands constant adaptation and innovation, two thought leaders, Ray Good and Rohit Bhargava, offered distinct yet interconnected perspectives in their talks.


By Martina Ricci, 14 November 20235 minute read

As we explore the ideas put forward by presenters Ray Good and Rohit Bhargava, let’s first look at the main points presented by each speaker before synthesising the key takeaways to help us understand the challenges of today’s world.

Ray Good’s insights

Understanding the high price of distraction 

Ray Good, Founder of The Good Place and Peak Performance Mindfulness, took us on a journey to explain ‘The High Performing Mind’. He started by talking about the high price we pay for distractions in our fast world. When we’re in the zone, interruptions can make us lose focus, taking from 1 minute to 2 hours to get back on track, plus an extra 20 minutes to really get into it again. Good encouraged us to notice how often these interruptions happen, especially when it comes to our “constant companion” – the smartphone.

Embracing the superpower of unit tasking

One key thing that really struck me from Good’s talk was the idea of focusing on one thing at a time. He really stressed that this isn’t just a trick to get more done, it’s like having a superpower in today’s world. Good strongly argued against trying to do lots of things at once, saying it makes it harder for us to concentrate and perform at our best.

Managing stress through breathing techniques

Exploring how stress affects our bodies, Good explained that when we’re stressed, we breathe quickly, similar to how we would if we were being chased by a predator. This fast breathing can make it hard for us to think clearly. Stress, he warned, doesn’t only mess with our minds, it can also be bad for our physical health and might make us more likely to get diseases such as cancer.

Unlocking the potential of telomeres and mental fitness

Turning to a fascinating topic, Good looked at how stress is connected to something called telomeres, which play a role in aging. But, if we adopt positive habits like exercising daily, getting quality sleep, eating well, enjoying positive social interactions, and practising mindfulness, we can build a well-rounded approach to keep our minds healthy and slow down the process of telomeres getting shorter. Meditation, especially, stood out, with practitioners showing a 30 percent increase in telomere length.

Box breathing – A US Navy-inspired stress management technique 

Sharing lessons from the US Navy, Good talked about something called box breathing. It’s a technique where you change how you breathe to go from feeling stressed to calm. He explained that using box breathing can be really helpful for managing stress in the moment, giving us useful skills for dealing with the busy and challenging parts of our lives.

Mindfulness and meditation – rewiring the high-performing mind

Good’s talk highlighted the positive and transformative effects of mindfulness and meditation. He explained how these practices can change the brain, making us more focused and better at paying attention. Surprisingly, spending just 10 minutes a day on meditation can make big improvements in how our brain works, unlocking the full potential of a high-performing mind.

Kindfulness for a positive impact – ending on a positive vibe

Good talked about something he calls “kindfulness”. Backed by research, he suggested adding kindness to mindfulness activities to make a positive impact on mental wellbeing and how well we do things. In a world where our minds can feel really busy, upgrading how we think isn’t just something nice – it’s something we really need. It’s like a guide to putting mental health first and unlocking the power of a high-performing mind.

Rohit Bhargava’s insights

Breaking the familiar

Changing directions, Bhargava’s talk on non-obvious thinking invited us to break free from the constraints of routine thinking. Using examples like the Fosbury Flop, a revolutionary change in high jump technique, he highlighted how athlete Dick Fosbury introduced the backflip to the sport of high jumping, transforming the game forever. This innovation showcased the power of thinking differently and stepping outside the usual ways of doing things.

The art of pattern recognition

Bhargava, who works in the advertising industry, shared his own strategy for non-obvious thinking – he gathers different stories and looks for connections between them. He said you have to really pay attention to the world, not just the usual stuff, so you can find patterns and figure out what might happen next.

The talk ended by highlighting how powerful it is to use your imagination. Bhargava emphasised that the only future we can shape is the one we can imagine.

Bringing Rohit Bhargava’s and Ray Good’s insights together

Looking back on both talks, we find some common themes. Good and Bhargava both stressed how important it is to understand people, step out of the usual, and really get involved with the world. Whether it’s upgrading how we think or trying out different ways of thinking, the main idea is to break free from the usual ways of thinking.

Imagination, mindfulness and new ideas

Putting these talks together, we see how imagination, mindfulness, and coming up with new ideas all go hand in hand. When we understand people, think in new ways, and handle lots of information mindfully, we can handle the challenges of today’s world with strength and creativity.

Wrapping up

In today’s fast-changing world of thoughts, what we learned from Ray Good and Rohit Bhargava isn’t just about getting by – it’s about doing well. Whether we’re updating our thinking style or trying out new ways of thinking, the key is in understanding people, breaking away from the usual, and getting really involved with the world. As we move through this changing world, we can let these ideas guide us toward a future where imagination and mindfulness lead to real innovation and positive changes.

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