4 inspiring talks from Ignite Chicago

Ignite Chicago is an evening of fast-paced talks on a variety of topics with a simple goal: to inspire. The high-energy event, held last night at co-working space 1871, consists of fourteen five-minute presentations with twenty slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. A cross between WBEZ’s This American Life and a TED talk, this live event brings together passionate experts from all walks of life. Below we highlight our four favorite topics of the night:

Jill Felska
“If you’re going to treat your employees like kids, they deserve a snack and nap time”

Jill Felska opened up her presentation with a daunting commentary on the state of the American workplace: “Adults are in control of their destiny – until Monday morning.” She explains that workplace unhappiness occurs because our society fails to promote managers who display strong leadership skills and genuinely like people. Instead they  choose to promote those who have been there the longest. Felska argues that this needs to change because employee happiness is directly related to increased sales (37 percent), increased productivity (31 percent) and more task accuracy. “When you give someone autonomy it gives them an incredible opportunity to step up to the plate,” said Felska.

Here are Felska’s top three tips for increasing workplace happiness:
Bring people from different departments into different areas: this allows them to show off their skills and solve problems.
Focus on employee strengths: when people use their strengths once a day they are six times more likely to be engaged in their work.
Remember to take breaks: encouraging and enforcing breaks increases productivity.

Robbie Abed
“Fire me, I beg you”

Before taking the audience through how, when and what to do after you quit your job, Robbie Abed explains the two questions you first must ask yourself: “What do I want the outcome of this situation to be?” and “What do I secretly want the outcome of this situation to be?” If you get an email scheduling a meeting where your boss says they want to ‘catch up’ and you decide you secretly want to be fired, Abed says it’s time to quit your job.

Here are his recommendations on what to do after you quit:
1. Find out what you are good at
2. Find the “super connector” (someone you know that knows everyone)
3. Help out this person
4. Ask them for help in return
5. Make decisions and stick with them

Catherine Morgan
“Selling ‘we’ is easier than selling ‘me’: collaboration is the new black”

Catherine Morgan knows that small business owners often have trouble with selling and sales. She has taken it upon herself to provide entrepreneurs a simple strategy that helps: collaboration. Morgan recommends partnering with people who have complimentary services and people who have very similar services. Connecting with others is always a win-win situation.

Here’s how it works:
People want to work with others that they know, like and trust
When you refer someone to your collaborator—who you know, like and trust—they will think that you took their problem seriously and tried to find them someone who could help them.
The person you refer to will be excited that they got a lead, remember you and reciprocate.
What does this reciprocation mean for you? Experience doing things you don’t feel comfortable doing on your own, exposure to someone’s list, referrals and collaborative projects.
Don’t forget: it’s ok to share knowledge, best practices and leads, even if you sell very similar services.

Alan Matthew
“Burning Synchronicity”

A world traveler and photographer, Alan Matthew’s presentation featured breathtaking photos of Burning Man, an annual art event based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in Nevada. Matthew’s described the event as Mardi Gras with a twist of Mad Max, a place where no one is an outcast. In addition to his inspiring photos, Matthew’s speech contained a few stand out quotes about the energy of the event:
1. “Burning man helps you realize the possibilities are endless, but you have to step up and be the captain of your own ship”
2. “There is a lot of fun at Burning Man and a lot of healing. Illumination goes both ways: it lights you up on the inside, burning away notions of what you think makes you happy.”

Below are some of the photos that Matthew used to supplement his talk.

Filed in: Startup Community