CIWOctober has been a fun-filled, learning month for FLIRTies. First, Social Media Week earlier in the month and then Chicago Ideas Week last week! We were lucky enough to attend a few sessions that truly inspired us so we wanted to give you a Cliff Notes version of our experiences.

Storytellers: The Power of Perspective [TALK]

Presented by Leo Burnett

Storytelling is a big buzz word these days in the marketing world—it’s practically been defined as the best way to reach audiences. This TALK delved into why and how to use storytelling as a strategy through the eyes of an advertiser and multiple novel and magazine writers. According to Carol Edgarian of Narrative Magazine, “everyone is a storyteller.” As we write our “stories,” we should focus on memories, emotions, passions and obsessions as these are the story elements that people remember and relate to most. To apply the art of storytelling to advertising, Susan Credle, CCO of Leo Burnett, expressed that we should “treat brands and products like [story] characters” to help consumers better connect with them.


Meaning of Life: What’s It All About? [MEGATALK]

The FLIRTies that attended this session were left practically speechless from its intensity and powerful messages. Speakers included author Mitch Albom, Deepak Chopra, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rudy Tanzi, Lisa Niemi Swayze (wife of late Patrick Swayze), artist Jeff Liberman and author Natalie Haynes. What a line-up, right? The best way to summarize this session is with a few favorite quotes that speak for themselves:

  • If you live in the questions, one day life will you move you into the answers.
  • If you believe you need something to make you happy, you do.
  • Our brain is not a noun, it’s a verb.
  • We are ruled by two basic emotions: Fear (the memory of pain) and Desire (the memory of pleasure).
  • We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.


Problem Solving for Humans [LAB]

Presented by Leo Burnett

This was FLIRT’s first experience with a CIW LAB and it was such a treat! Attendees were grouped and seated at separate tables so they could work together to creatively solve a “human problem.” Based on the book Humankind, a breakdown of Leo Burnett’s strategy, a human problem is what you find when you delve deeper into a business problem. Clients might come to Leo Burnett wanting increased sales or a bolder website, but all employees at the agency push those clients to look at what the human problem could be behind those goals. Our practice problem to solve? How to stop people from biting their nails. Using Leo Burnett’s process, each group dissected and analyzed the “people and behavior” associated with the problem and then developed a solution for nail-biters. Results ranged from a #NailGeorgeClooney Twitter campaign to a Justin Beiber gnawing pencil product. We can’t wait for CIW 2013 so we can ensure that many more thought-provoking and engaging LABs make it on our agenda!


Social Entrepreneurship: My Venture Changes the World. Can Yours? [TALK]

Presented by University of Illinois

What an inspiring session! Every speaker shared their story about how they ventured out and changed the world. From building health systems for Nepal’s poorest communities to connecting classrooms in need with donors…each organization founder spoke with passion and persuasion providing enough information to motivate the audience to go and “be the change you want to see in the world.” The take away was simple: don’t let fear stand in the way of changing the world for the better.


Military: From the Front Lines to the Home Front [TALK]

Presented by Chase & JP Morgan

From the stellar lineup of military leaders, heroes and advocates, we learned that just saying “thank you “ is not enough in supporting our troops. We need to go that extra mile to help those who put their lives on the line to fight for our freedom. Whether it is supporting an organization such as Wounded Warrior Project or, providing a meal to a military family who just needs a break, or sending a simple care package…it is the small things that can make a big difference.  After all, as stated in the session, “soldiers carry the weight of our world on their shoulders…we need to care-y them home.”


Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) was held from October 8-14, 2012 in various venues across downtown Chicago. Planned by The Innovation Foundation and sponsored by Time, Chase JP Morgan and other community partners, this was the second annual Chicago Ideas Week. According to the event’s robust site, “CIW is about the sharing of ideas, inspiring action, and igniting change to positively impact our world. For one week each October, CIW brings together some of the world’s most outstanding speakers to present their ideas and inspire the innovations of tomorrow at 80+ sessions across the city of Chicago.” Those sessions include Talks, Megatalks, Labs and Partner Programs that fully engage their attendees by inspiring them to think, and think hard!


Perhaps our favorite part of the event is that the city of Chicago is “lit up” by artificial, bright yellow light bulbs leading up to and throughout that week. What was your favorite part? We’d love to hear about a session we couldn’t attend!


Image borrowed from That Pink Girl.