2018 Chicago Ideas Week – Recap

We just wrapped up an invigorating week of discussions and learning labs at the Chicago Ideas Week (CIW). For those unfamiliar, CIW “is a seven-day festival featuring over 200 global thought leaders and innovators speaking on a variety of topics ranging from leadership and life’s lessons, to science and technology, to the most pressing issues of the day and the most creative insights in entertainment.” Between the two of us, we took this week as an opportunity to enhance our branding, content marketing and leadership skills by attending a combined nine events (five together and four separately). Attending sessions together allowed for rich conversations and brainstorming afterward. Tickets for each session were only $15 each making it a NO BRAINER to add these learning opportunities to our week!

Below we’ve included a summary of our learnings from seven sessions! We’re hoping this inspires you to attend Chicago Ideas Week in 2019!


CREATIVITY: WHAT COMES AFTER THE SPARK?: At this talk, we heard a number of creators, from various backgrounds, speak to their creative thought process. Panelists included Ingrid Fetell Lee, Ayanna James Kimani, Martyna Majok and Eddie Opara.


  1. JOY: is an evolved emotion, a sign of thriving and deeper well-being; being joyful increases productivity by 12%, studies show.
  2. CLIENT BRIEFS: the difference between art and design is the client (and their briefs, lol); we, as people, don’t know what we want even though we say we do.
  3. FAILURE: a new definition –> not being able to go as far as possible with a concept/idea and pushing the boundaries to the fullest extent
  4. HUMOR: a great diffuse-r of tension in any situation
  5. WHAT DRIVES CREATIVITY: Joy, Anger, Mischief, Visibility, Urgency, Representation of a Group of People
  6. IMG_8141IMG_8145

RAISE YOUR HAND: WHAT LEADERSHIP LOOKS LIKE IN 2018: At this talk, we heard from a number of speakers who took advantage of a leadership opportunity at an unexpected time. Panelists included Jose Antonio Vargas, David Hogg and Mitch Landrieu.


  1. This life isn’t your dress rehearsal; stand for something or you’ll stand for nothing at all.
  2. Find your brand of magic and use it to amplify your message.
  3. Say hard (difficult) things in soft ways to bring people to you.
  4. In order to be a leader, you have to be willing to lose, to be alone, to be ostracized and to sometimes not have a lot of friends.IMG_8144

THE CONSUMER EXPERIENCE: WHEN BUSINESS GOT PERSONAL: At this talk, we heard from a number of industry experts about how companies have mastered the art of transforming brand strategy into personal identity. Panelists included Amanda Slavin, Daniel Pink, Carolyn Tisch Blodgett.


  1. Timing is a science not an art – figure out whether or not you’re a lark (early riser), owl (night rider) or a ‘third bird’ (somewhere in between) to understand when the best part of the day is to make analytical and/or creative decisions.
  2. We consumer media in two ways: intentionally vs. interstitially; interstitial media is super underdeveloped today.
  3. The Seven Levels of EngagementIMG_8147IMG_8148

REDEFINING BEING HUMAN IN A TECH-CENTERED WORLD: In the next 20 years, as much as 47% of all employment in the US might be automated. Liberationist, a consulting firm centered on change, focused on reframing mindsets, emotions, and behaviors in order to break down resistance to coming change.


  1. Uncertainty is the only certainty
  3. Adaptability is the new competitive advantage; this will determine your success
  4. Technology is just a tool; how we use it will determine our success or demiseroJ5R9MwIMG_8149

CHANGING THE WORLD THROUGH ENTREPRENEURSHIP: In this discussion, we heard from five Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellows (all under 35!) who have taken on supporting worthy causes to the next level. Panelists included Alejandro Gac-Artigas, Eric Glustrom, Heejae Lim, Kiah Williams and Jason Kang


  1. Social Entrepreneurship takes over where markets have failed, using resources better than they have been used before.
  2. If you want to make a social impact, find a problem that you are passionate about and take the next step to solve it.IMG_8153IMG_8154

SOLVING THE CONTENT MARKETING PUZZLE: INSIGHTS, CASE STUDIES AND COCKTAILS WITH W2O: In this discussion, we learned how to compete to win a loyal audience in the midst of increasing online noise and how to properly measure efforts and calibrate strategies in real-time.


  1. Data, analytics and INSIGHTS are at the heart of successful integrated marketing.
  2. Social media captures more “away from home” engagement and occasions than surveys; should be coupled with traditional insights testing.
  3. Timing of organic posts is matter less and less as algorithms are looking for compelling content.


  1. Think With Google
  2. com
  3. McKinsey Insights
  4. Google Primer

CLAIMING CULTURAL CAPITAL: TURNING TRENDS INTO EARNED BRAND OPPORTUNITIES: At this learning lab, we learned how to identify and prioritize online trends using tools on our smartphone, then turn them into timely and unique opportunities for brand growth with the help of Edelman Chicago.


  1. Trends are hard to 1) anticipate, 2) validate and 3) activate against in the moment.
  2. Trends: a change in how we see and act in the world today.
  3. 64% of consumers make brand choices based on their beliefs.


  1. DIGG
  2. Flipboard
  3. Hustle
  4. Axios
  5. Edelman Trust Barometer
  6. Edelman Earned Brand Study

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