On May 24th of this year, I had an incredible opportunity to speak at IgniteOKC XI. The event was amazing in so many ways and, as someone that values words, I'm frustrated knowing that whatever follows will insufficiently describe how profoundly I was affected by IgniteOKC. Through this process I felt validated as a speaker, as a thinker, as an Oklahoman, and as a member of a community. Before we progress, I encourage EVERYONE to get involved in an Ignite talk for a number of reasons (that I'll write about later). Additionally, this event would not have happened without the IgniteOKC board. They put on a truly world class evening.
First of all, you need to understand what an Ignite talk is. It's 5 minutes; 20 slides; and, those slides rotate automatically every 15 seconds. So, to get your message across, you have to be DIALED IN. Your talk can be about anything. I chose to give my Redefining Moderation talk (which typically clocks in about 30 minutes), which means I had a helluva lot of fat to trim.
I had an ascending reaction to being selected to speak at the event. When I was first notified that I had been chosen, I was pleased. When I met the other speakers at a meet-and-greet, I was honored. When I watched the other speakers presentations, I was floored. I got to hear some amazing presentations from some people that are so talented and accomplished and do some truly unseen phenomenal work in our Oklahoma City community. We heard presentations about women in STEM, the power of reading, the black owned restaurants of OKC, women in positions of power, the role of virtual reality as therapy, being bold, our response to fear and so much more.
I can't say enough about my fellow presenters and their presentations. I can't wait until our presentations appear on youtube so that I can create a playlist and just watch them over and over again. After the presentations, we all headed over from the incomparable Tower Theater to The Pump Bar. In the spirit of the Ignite system and getting to the point, let me do just that. I felt that I needed to mention the venues, the Ignite board, and the speakers because I came away from the night feeling so good about Oklahoma City. When people talk about the "spirit" of Oklahoma or "the people" or any such ill-defined, vague terms, I think that this is what people are talking about. Everyone involved from the speakers, to the Ignite board, to most of the audience, to the venues have bought into an idea of "the Oklahoma City Community" and they are actively building towards that idea. I've been thinking a lot about the idea of Community and I realize that it's something you have to actively work towards. You have to take an active role in building that out. "A community" or even the community that you want doesn't just fall into your lap; like any good relationship, you have to work at it. I've come to know my fellow presenters and the IgniteOKC board as people that are actively engaged in the Oklahoma City community and have only inspired me to work even harder for to add value to this city.
I'm really grateful for the opportunity to speak and I'm especially thankful for the following folks for their guidance, support, inspiration and hand-holding through this process:
Obviously my wife Carmen and my kids that watched me practice this presentation with varying levels of enthusiasm.
Pat and Gale Lewis from OG&E
The Ignite Crew:
Travis Brown, Alyssa Grooms, Tim Hast, Stephanie Pena, Eden Badgett, Adam Brooks, Matt Goodwin, Sunil Isaac, Genni Ellis, Tom Marks, and Matt Farley
And of course the other speakers:
And thanks to the NPR and Explosions in the Sky for supplying the soundtrack to this post.