This year at Ignite, we spent a lot of time talking about meaningful work as a career goal. Success in reaching this goal is self-defined. Different people define meaningful work in different ways. Figuring out what meaningful work is to you is the journey of your life’s work – some of the definition will be based on your personal compass, and some will be based on the trial and error of building a career worth having. We want all our Ignite participants to be successful, but we want to see them on a path that looks like the one on the right. We want them to fail and we want them to succeed. We want to see them take one step forward and two steps back. Most importantly, we want them to learn and grow from experiencing failure, celebrating success, and facing difficult decisions about which direction to go. There is no wrong time to engage purposefully in this journey – Ignite provides the inspiration, skills and connections that, when combined, give our attendees the confidence to move forward.
At the beginning of Ignite, our newly arrived attendees participated in a mini-House of Genius. They only knew each other by first name, and they engaged in an hour’s discussion to help Kyle Rood of StartRight foods figure out what the brand’s next convenient, high-protein breakfast item should be. At the end of the session, they got to reveal more information about themselves – their jobs, their majors, their hometowns, and more. This set the stage for the buzz of conversation that didn’t stop until the last of us left the post-Ignite Cardinals game celebration on Saturday night.
Saturday morning, we heard three key messages from Rehan Hasan, an excellent example of a person whose unusual path has brought him to his current work as owner of his own law firm in Denver and co-founder of The Flow Collective, which recently established the first ever incubator in Cuba:
Collaboration is key. Be empowered by your personal mission. Naysayers abound – it’s ok to ignore them.
After that, attendees gathered in small groups with our Reverse Panel entrepreneurs, each of whom has taken a very different path to success. Conversations ranged from the personal to the technical and our attendees left with a lot of new ideas about what’s possible.
After lunch, attendees headed into their Emergenetics session. Emergenetics is a powerful tool that we use with many of our Matter families, as well as with our employees, to analyze, identify and leverage the way we think and behave. Ignite attendees learned about their thinking and communication preferences and how they can use that knowledge to interact effectively within their community of personal and professional connections.
Finally, Travis Sheridan, Executive Director of Venture Café St. Louis, led the group through “How to Build a Career Worth Having.” This is a workshop we developed in collaboration with ReWork that helps attendees think through what they know from experience about themselves and their strengths and passions, what they think they might like, and how to choose a next step in their careers that is aligned to their personal definition of meaningful work. We asked attendees to think of their career as a grand experiment, a perspective which lessens fear of failure, encourages innovative thinking, and allows us to view experiences which aren’t helping us move toward meaningful work to serve as learning experiences.
Throughout the event, both attendees and entrepreneurs continually remarked on the sense of community that was built from the very beginning. Many people came to Ignite thinking they would spend a day and a half mostly listening to the stories of our successful guests, but what actually happened was a day and a half of mostly interaction. Attendees contributed their opinions in a large group at the mini-House of Genius kickoff, got to know each other through their reverse panel discussions with entrepreneurs, worked together on a very personal level in the Emergenetics session, and shared their aha! moments, personal experiences and plans for the future when working through the Career Worth Having session at the end of the day. They spoke in small groups at meals and between sessions, only stopping when necessary to listen to a presenter.
Each year during Ignite, the sense of connection and community has created a safe space for attendees to think and talk about themselves and their ideas. And every year after the event, the connections made in the day and a half have lead to internships, jobs, ongoing mentorship, and new friendships.
Visit our Ignite website, www.ignitestl2016.com, to learn more and click here to stay updated about the next Ignite!