Inspiration from a Mac ‘n Cheese Productions Potluck

Potluck brings together Chicagoans from diverse backgrounds and encourages them to speak undisturbed on the topic of their choice for six minutes. Hosted by Saya Hillman of Mac n’ Cheese Productions and Pete Aiello of Team Pete, Potluck is full of insightful ramblings. From an ode to self-defeating tendencies, unlikely career tips and a new philosophy that asks you to live life as one big experiment, Potluck never fails to surprise.

Here are the highlights from our favorite talks of the night:

1. How to get ahead by quitting your job
Becky Eldridge started off her talk with some unconventional advice: quit your job to get ahead. This controversial life plan has helped her balance the previously dueling creative and career-oriented sides of her personality. “I realized the people I really admired and respected were not the ones who followed a path, they were the ones who did what they wanted,” Eldridge said. She decided that she was going to say yes to the things that made her excited and quit the things that bored her. This simple decision unlocked creativity she never even knew she had. “I thought to be an artist you had to be born with it, then I realized that you just have to do it,” Eldridge said.

2. Stop judging and start living
“Being a self-defeater gave me an excuse for why I might not excel,” said Pete Aiello, a self-confessed lifelong self-defeater. He has long used this personality trait as an excuse for compulsive eating and procrastination. Aiello even admits that there are moments in his life where he get depressed that he doesn’t have enough things wrong with him to overcome. To rid himself of these self-defeating tendencies he completely stopped judging the activities he was involved in. “I would encourage you to realize that most of our actions or activities are value-neutral. They are not inherently good or bad. If we stop judging our activities and start just trying to be present in the moment and say yes we can create more value in our lives,” Aiello said.

3. Getting your confidence back
What is an urban planner with an identity crisis who was just fired from his job in the midst of a recession to do? Naturally curious with a love of learning, Nick Stocking put himself out of his element and began looking for likeminded people. He found designers, artists and entrepreneurs who “were really passionate about what they wanted to do, they just needed help from other people,” Stocking said. That’s where the idea for Design Cloud came from. Design Cloud is a hybrid studio/gallery where creative freedom reins. Stocking has created a culture that brings out the best in each designer helping them get their confidence back, an important part of his very own personal journey.

4. Living your life as one big experiment
What if life was one big experiment? What if we lived our life by observing those around us and then made conclusions? According to Jewels Bolden, a life coach, living like this can relieve stress and help bring out breakthrough moments. “This philosophy helps you take things less personally and brings you closer to your life goals. Taking a step back helps you understand what you want and what you don’t want,” said Bolden. Living life like this forces you to ask questions (What can we conclude here? What has this observation taught us?) about the most mundane experiences allowing us to self reflect.

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