Live On. Give On. Dream On.

Earl Bakken was a dreamer, an achiever, the co-founder of Medtronic and the inventor of the first portable pacemaker. Years later, when he was due to receive his own second pacemaker, he marvelled at the extra life this piece of technology gave him. He thought about the other people around the world whose lives had been extended due to a piece of medical technology or procedure.

“Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone did something to give back to the community with their extra life?” The Medtronic Bakken Invitation award was born from Earl’s forward thinking. 

Live On. Give On. Dream On. 

I feel privileged to be selected as a Medtronic Bakken Invitation honouree alongside 11 others from around the world, out of over 200 applicants. Together with our care/support partner or a loved one, honourees travelled to Hawaii for a week to share our stories, learn from one another and prepare our projects we plan to undertake with our extra life. 

Hawaii was where Earl chose to retire after a brilliant career. In Kona, the Big Island, Earl was well known for all of his philanthropic work, bright energy, and community spirit. Many people we spoke to, from tour guides to shopkeepers, knew Earl’s name, and they knew of his contributions throughout the island.

We spent an afternoon visiting some projects that were dear to Earl’s heart. Each new project was vastly different from the last. From the Makalii voyaging canoe program to reconnect the future generation with their culture to the planning and building of the North Hawaii Community Hospital that integrates spiritual healing with modern science, Earl’s passion and dreams knew no limit.

We had a wonderful facilitator from KornFerry who prompted us to reflect on ourselves and our work.

We shared highlights from our journey alongside the lowlights. We were reminded that bad experiences often reflected upon a positive turning point in our lives, and that this inspires the resilience, determination, and spirit needed to overcome obstacles. We talked about what it meant to be an influencer and the power of storytelling. We talked about trust and confidence in a team and the various personal attributes that went along with it. 

Throughout each exercise, we identified our strengths and learned strategies to improve our weaknesses. Most importantly, we talked about managing our energy and maintaining that work-life balance. Often advocates do what they do on a voluntary basis, but the commitment becomes like a second job. We were reminded that before we change the world, we need to look after ourselves.

And just like that, our week together

was over as we concluded the ​workshops with the dreaded circle of reflection and sharing (of tears). The Bakken Invitation is undoubtedly a special and memorable event, made even more so by have our care/support partners or loved ones there by our side.

Sometimes we get so lost in our own world, chasing the next thing, that we forget to celebrate all the achievements we have accomplished. What better way to celebrate all our work and efforts by this Hawaiian retreat! What an inspiring week away filled with so much learning, sharing and making new friends from all around the world. Now I’m ready to bring all this back to the team and together, we’ve got some exciting projects coming soon. 

Thank you Earl for making this possible and for believing in us. You may not be here physically with us anymore, but your spirit and legacy lives on.