Chicago Ideas Week–Innovation & Influence

Last night I went to my first Chicago Ideas Week talk–Innovation & Influence.  It was fantastic and definitely reminded me of the TEDx conference I went to this summer on the Great Wall.   I can’t wait to see how it grows over the years.  I’m just going to give you a quick overview.

First the Founder and Chairman of CIW, Brad Keywell, interviewed Suze Orman.  He did an amazing job and she is a little piece of dynamite.  Some of the things she said didn’t settle well with me.  Despite that, she did share some ideas that were spot on such as starting a movement to shift our culture to be more cash dependent and for that to be a positive reflection on your FICO score.  She also placed a huge emphasis on educating children on personal finance in public schools–I couldn’t agree more.

After Brad and Suze the managing editor from Time, Richard Stengel, hosted a group interview with the people below.

Rob Bell is the author of Love Wins which I think says something about their being no hell (I think).  He spoke about many things but what stuck out to me was leading life as a journey not a destination.  Bell also said he wished people didn’t have so much fear and that they would get out of their comfort zone.

Daisy Kahn is incredible.  She is the Executive Director of American Society for Muslim Advancement.  She had many amazing stories to share and is especially interested in women’s rights.  My notes are a bit vague but she said some interesting things about “Brand America” and how we are excellent at branding our products but not necessarily ourselves.

Michelle Rhee is the Founder and CEO of StudentsFirst.   One of the most important things she said was that children should learn to be more competitive–actually earn those soccer trophies.  She shared some stunning statistics such as the next generation of students will be less educated than their parents.  Waiting For Superman is a film about her work in D.C. public schools.

Gary White is the Executive Director and Co-founder of  The most stunning thing he said was that more people have cell phones than access to a toilet.  I’m really not sure what else to say.  Wow.

Stengel interviewed Bill Clinton earlier yesterday morning and he paraphrased Clinton saying something to the effect of, We don’t seem to spend time with people that disagree with us. I’m guilty of that.

*Just a side note, these are my rough notes from the event and in no way represent the vastness of the accomplishments these people have made.


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