Chicago Ideas Week – A hotbed for creativity + inspiring change


Chicago Ideas Week provoked more unexpected conversations than any other event experience – truly a hotbed for creativity. Not only were technology companies leading the conversation, but scientist, philanthropists and foodies galvanized to talk about fostering creativity to inspire a richer culture & community. 

Legendary speakers elevated the conversation from chef Cat Cora, Grammy-winning musician  T Bone Burnett, actress and wildlife advocate Kristin Davis to  intellect Malcolm Gladwell. Below is L&Co’s peak behind the curtain at hot conversations and tours in the windy city of Chicago.

The Nature Champions - There is no doubt that our world is transforming. The question really is what can we do to mitigate the change? What can we do for the future generation. There was lots of debate on how to conserve and protect the environment. A common theme that transpired out of Google Zeitgeist early this year.  Film maker Peter Byck was on stage impressively talking about advances in clean energy and green technologies. It’s not all doom & gloom, as long as people are committed to helping the world reduce carbon footprint.

The Storytellers – Award-winning authors of Waiting to Exhale Terry McMillan and  The Good House Ann Leary shared the personal stories behind some of their greatest narratives on life, love and laughter.  However, the most profound story was from travel writer and fellow author Ryan Knighton, who spoke on his personal journey as a writer and becoming blind at age the youthful age of 18.

“Blindness doesn’t scare me, boredom scares the hell out of me”,  Knighton said strongly to the  crowd. His enlightenment came from using his blindness to empower his writing and curiosity to explore the world as a travel writer. Writing was his eyes. Knighton’s wisdom and humbleness was an insightful reminder that often our biggest stumbling block is our own selves. Anything can happen when ideas are put into action.


The Makers -  A creative installation that caught our eye was GE Garages. A partnership formed between the big brand and maker groups to engage aspiring inventors &  creators with free workspaces equipped with high tech 3-D printers, laser cutters, welders etc. This spirited initiative was designed to inspire a resurgence in manufacturing merged with high tech.

The Artists - A backstage pass brought us to the  inner workings of a renowned opera company Lyric Opera, urban winery  City Winery and a live broadcast at the tower of NBC. We ventured across a six story high catwalk to sipping, swirling &  learning about the art & science of the fermentation process to create a perfectly balanced wine. Craftsmanship and artistry  was at the heart of all experiences.


Stephan Holt, NBC and Shannon Lewis, Liberty & Co.

The Future Leaders - Often events forget about inspiring the  younger generation in communities. Companies/brands that have a vision for investing in young talent, not just growing the bottom line are winning in leadership in our economy & society.  We caught a glimpse of an interactive lab at  think tank IDEO that challenged youth to think differently and be vocal about ideas, no matter how big or small.



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