The IdeaFestival's One and Only Rule

Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee

Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee

This post is an edited version of a blog entry inspired by meeting a new fan of the IdeaFestival two years ago. I hope you enjoy it.


I love meeting people who discover the festival and decide then and there that they just HAVE to be a part of it.

I was once that guy.

Yesterday, I took part in a couple of IdeaFestival meetings with various organizers and interested people. Following the second get together late in the afternoon, I was approached by someone who was new to the whole idea and wanted to know more. Over the years, I've learned that the most common question we get when meeting with people about the festival is this one.

What is it?

Here's my answer to that question. Paraphrasing Daniel Pink, the IdeaFestival celebrates the fact that it's become a whole-brain world. Reason and logic will take you a long way, but whether you're an artist, businesswoman or scientist, it's the ability to see an alternate path, to imagine, to connect the factual dots as it were, that will get you where you want to be.

Why? As Pink has argued, your success is not about information, but what you do with the information. Given the wide accessibility of information today, the meaning makers win.

Every IdeaFestival fan or organization that makes its way to Louisville for one week in the fall is making a statement of faith. As Kris Kimel explained to the afternoon audience yesterday, "we don't do tracks." There is no business track. There is no arts track. There is no day set aside just for physicians, accountants or marketing professionals. One presentation on mindfulness will follow another on what nature can teach us about complex systems will follow another on what magic says about belief and everyday life.

No person who goes to the festival knows what she will find. That's good. Because with some patience and an openness, something astonishing will happen. Three hours and fifteen minutes - let's say - into day two you will suddenly realize that what speaker A and speaker B were saying has a lot to do with your situation C.

You'll sit a little straighter in your seat back. A smile will cross your face.

To have that moment, you must do one thing and one thing only. Follow this rule:

Stay curious™.

I hope to see you at the IdeaFestival in Louisville.