The IdeaFestival's Secret Sauce

Energized by her recent experiences at SXSW, Emily Heyward has written a piece at Fast Company, Desks, Where Creativity Goes to Die, describing what she learned while there. I thought I'd share it with blog readers. This quote stood out in particular:

Initially, I tried to attend talks or panels directly related to my industry and clients, but each time the information felt like things I already knew, and instead of feeling inspired, I just felt tired.

But as soon as I stepped outside my little world, everything changed.

By seeking information and experiences that had nothing to do with my day-to-day, the conference became far more worthwhile. I was stretching my brain in new ways. I felt intellectually stimulated and energized. And guess what? It ended up inspiring me to think about my own work differently.

Many of us who are fortunate enough to work with the IdeaFestival are often asked who is speaking and what sessions a prospective attendee might consider. There are always favorites, of course. And some presentations, whether because of presenter or subject matter, attract more interest than others. But like Heyward, allow me to gently suggest that if you are thinking about coming to IdeaFestival 2012, don't just target the presentations that are obviously connected with your day-to-day life, whatever it may involve.

Here's why. Sessions that featuring experimental physicists or biologists, for example, are not just for academics, but have frequently provided fascinating and unlikely tales of discovery - the happy coincidences, moments of insight and unexpected outcomes that can be incredibly inspiring. They're often a testament to human restlessness and ingenuity. Likewise, presentations from marketers or former co-creators of Twitter - I'm thinking of you Dom Sagolla - are not just for the social media enthusiasts. For the attentive listener, the numerous business leaders and economists who have spoken throughout the years don't just fine tune what you may already know about turning a buck, but, rather, have had some mighty interesting things to say about what really motivates people or how to deal with uncertainty when making decisions. Nassim Nicholas Taleb of "Black Swan" fame, whose appearance in the middle of the market meltdown of September of 2008 couldn't have been timed better, comes to mind. Similarly, Jane McGonigal trashed stereotypes during her talk in 2008 by suggesting that, far from a waste of time, games could be used to improve reality, not simply as a means of escape from it. In addition to becoming the dominant 21st century medium, games have been called upon to tackle serious problems. Using the 3-D spatial reasoning skills of its players, "Fold-it" has provided insight into the design of antiretroviral drugs.

So this year when you're thinking about what events to attend during the festival, why not consider taking in as many as possible? With the purchase of an all-access pass - coming soon! - you'll not only help support the continued success of the IdeaFestival, which works very, very hard to be as accessible as possible to the widest number of people, but you may well be pleasantly surprised by the discoveries you make. We think that you'll think about your work differently.


Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by DesheBoard