Burgum Advisor Made the Case Against “Reinvention” in TED Talk

Levi Bachmeier, now an advisor to Gov. Doug Burgum, speaking at TEDxFargo in 2014.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum built his campaign on a buzzword: “reinvention.” His targets for reinvention include:

These promises float in the ether, unburdened by specifics and unbothered by reality. When Burgum runs out of things to reinvent, will he reinvent “reinvention” itself?

While doing some research on Burgum’s staff, we came across this TEDxFargo talk given by Levi Bachmeier. It was in 2014, when Bachmeier, a recent college grad, was about to do Teach for America in South Dakota. More recently, Bachmeier was hired as a “policy advisor” in the governor’s office after working on Burgum’s campaign.

One of the speech’s main points was: “Resist the desire to invent.”

“In a world that idealizes start ups, new apps and charter schools, it can be easy to forget about all the things that make innovation possible,” he said. “The world needs invention but it’s possible to improve our communities without putting founder, or creator, in our resume.”

Burgum, are you listening?

“Improving and expanding impact, does not require the creation of something new.”

Burgum, you still there?

“Within the sport of pole-vaulting there’s generally one agreed upon way in which the vaulter should technically approach the event,” Bachmeier said. “With a sport as complex as pole vaulting, and with so many using the same technique, it can be easy to want to invent a new way of doing things to gain a competitive advantage. Now while each vaulter must innovate and use their strengths and skills to modify their technique, attempting to recreate the wheel, or in this case the vault, can have some negative consequences.”


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