Highlights from Ignite Chicago’s August event

The mission of Ignite Chicago is simple: Enlighten us, but make it quick! At the program geared towards creatives and entrepreneurs, hosted by Pete Aielle and Claire Lew, presenters are faced with a intimidating task: they must tackle a five-minute presentation consisting of 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. This format leaves no time for second guessing, forcing Ignite presenters to be confident and persuasive when delivering a talk on their topic of choice. Here are some of our favorites from last nights event at 1871.

John Trupiano
“No Money? No Problem!”
To make his dreams a reality and fund his upcoming NFL-based documentary, Tailgate 32, John Trupiano combined an extreme case of wanderlust with the power of the cheap, available resources surrounding him. Before walking the audiance through his bootstrapping process, Trupiano reminded us that in life “the barriers are imagined.”

To get the ball rolling you must first plan a budget—turning his vision into a documentary was a way to capitalize on the project. Next, ask yourself what can you bring to the table. This step includes utilizing your personal skills and leveraging your network to help you out. “When somebody buys into your network, they buy into the product too, which is great because then they want to promote it,” Trupiano said. Appearing professional is also important. For Trupiano this meant hiring a designer to brand his idea and creating a tangible audience of backers through Kickstarter. He recommends using Google Docs as a free way to manage media relations and market outreach.

Kim Hannan
“How PowerPoint can set you free. No really.”
Preaching the benefits of PowerPoint to a tech-savvy group like the one at 1871 is risky. Kim Hannan succeeded by shifting the focus from a standardized presentation template to creativity. By removing the template and beginning to look at the screen as a series of colors and shapes she was able to turn PowerPoint into her own personal graphic design tool. When using the program this way “you are not trying to force your ideas into a template [and] you are not trying to force a concept into a ridged framework,” Hannan said, an idea that begs to be applied to life in general, especially if you are an entrepreneur.

To spark the type of creativity that PowerPoint inspired in Hannan just follow these simple steps:
1. Let yourself make mistakes
2. Let go of rules and expectations
3. Try things that you have never tried before

Sarah Neukom
“Creating a Culture at the Office”
Red Frog Event’s ‘work hard, play hard’ company culture has been well documented. Working in an office with a zip line, tree house, foosball table and conference room made of Legos is sure to create an interesting company culture, but what’s the ROI?

According to Sarah Neukom, “Producer of Positivity” at Red Frog, striving to be a family with strong values and beliefs pulled together by a crazy office environment helps to foster creativity, collaboration and new ideas. With unlimited vacation days, birthday massages and a family lunch every Monday some may wonder how Red Frog stops it’s employees from taking advantage of all these perks. Neukom says it’s because employees are stimulated by their work: they are empowered and want to be there, working to grow as people and professionals. Creating, innovating and remaining flexible through everything is huge at Red Frog. Bottom-line, “when people tell you that you can’t do something, do it anyway,” Neukom said.

Hadiya Nuriddin
“I Can Speak for Most People when I Say that We Cannot Speak for Most People”
Hadiya Nuriddin began her talk with an important question: If you are not curious, how do you create? The college professor says that her students are often unwilling to distinguish facts from their own opinion. It is this confusion that causes her to worry about their ability to create. To help her students, or anyone who has trouble bridging the gap from thesis to fact, foster creativity and verify their thesis, Nuriddin uses this quote as a guide “it is only through the exploration of fallacy that we can explore truth.”

How can we do this?
Step 1: Recognize that you must try to debunk your own theory: What can you do to prove it to yourself?
Step 2: Figure out whom you can speak for: what do you need to know to share the experiences of others?
Step 3: Conceive that your world is small: learn to be an active learner and make your world bigger
Step 4: Identify that research is important and that data is the only way to differentiate between opinion and fact

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