IgniteMpls: More than Millennial Flannel

I brought a newbie to IgniteMpls. And from the show of hands from the crowd poll of 900, many others did too. Experiencing the event with someone coming in fresh reignited my fondness of this format -- 18 presenters, 5 minutes each with 20 slides that advance on auto pilot every 15 seconds, whether the presenters like it or not. For many reasons, it's a format worth exploring. So now that I had intro'd a new Igniter, my husband, timing seemed prime to dive into why Ignite is unique.

The November 3 IgniteMpls event was number 11 in a series held semi-annually (next one is in May). In bidding farewell to the beloved host of Ignite talks prior, Riverview Theatre, IgniteMpls11 was held at larger venue -- Ted Mann Concert Hall on the University of Minnesota campus. Gone are the days of a majority Millennial Flannel audience -- this audience was more diverse than previous Ignites. I'd attribute that diversity to the wider range of presenters, the larger tribes who turn up to support them and event success that makes it more mainstream.

The format is still golden. In conversations with my new Igniter, we sussed out some observations on format to favorite talks. These notes and tips might be helpful if you're trying to figure out how to entice your potential date to join you for IgniteMpls12.


I wrote about a secret sauce (craft beer and food trucks) after attending the April 24, 2015 Ignite. The secret sauce elements were still very much in play for this Ignite with four (vs one) foodtrucks (@gastrotruck, @hotindianfoods, @O_Cheeze, @StanleysWheels). As we approached the venue on a warm November evening, the foodtrucks lined the street with a backdrop of the Mississippi. Igniters took no issue with lines and gathered in groups while sitting on the curb with their foodie finds. If you were smart -- you sent one in your party in to get Surly while the other waited in the foodtruck lines.  (#IgniteTip).


Points for an especially attentive staff -- don't think I didn't notice the details. The first greeter standing at the entry gave us our options for checking in and quickly made the transaction by looking up my last name (tickets were pre-purchased and are always in demand!). Our 6:15p.m. arrival and outdoor sidewalk dining experience pushed us right up to the 7:00p.m. start time for the talks. Staff helped us find lesser known available front row, stage left balcony seats and we slid into them one minute before event creator and producer, Patrick Kuntz, took the stage.


After Patrick's crowd warm-up he turned it over to Naaima Khan (IgniteMpls10 presenter), who took the role of emcee and was delightful in her delivery. Naaima reviewed some Ignite audience expectations for behavior including a reminder to be kind. She cautioned: not every single talk is going to strike the same chord or resonate with everyone in the same way. Relax, take a deep breath and keep listening. (#IgniteTip)


The cool thing is that it's obvious these presenters are on fire. They're passionate about their subject matter -- which often times isn't their professional expertise. It's refreshing to hear a jewelry maker talk about the making of macarons and a bearded man talk about the importance of redefining masculinity. While other events mimic Ignite style, they are still business or product pitches or related to professional expertise. Not so for Ignite. Note: while at Ignite you will be asked, "what would YOU talk about if you were to Ignite?" It will keep you up at night for awhile. (#IgniteTip)


The talks were well sequenced in terms of their style of delivery, tenor of the message and personal story. Some had a compelling educational message (health insurance, infrastructure and water), others were inspirational (I am an American, Make-believe), yet others were focused on awareness (Black Snake, School-aged children with disabilities) or highly quirky (Macarons, Fosho font). It was so varied and vibrant that we alternated between emotions of awe, sadness, happiness and compassion throughout. Expect to hear vulnerability and profound stories. (#IgniteTip)


The energy level is so high here! With 18 presenters and their tribes in tow, calls outs during all of the presentations were random, frequent and affectionate. The vibe continued during intermission and right after the show with the happy release of Ignite graduates.

Now you're primed to share the Ignite format of foodtrucks, friendliness, framework, fire, freestyle, finale with friends. And for fun, in SixWord style that favors brevity and simplicity of ideas, here (in inside-baseball more than generally understood SixWord format) are some #SixWords for IgniteMpls11:

Katie Pennell: Why You Should Volunteer at Sundance: Film experience unnecessary. Sundance wants you.

Zach Coulter: Let's Build a Hyperloop to Omaha: CEWHOA Favors Fault Avoidance in Midwest

Megan Gavin: Employers + Health Insurance: A Love Affair: Your Boss Deserves Not Sucky Healthcare

Fadi Fadhil: From the Mideast to the Midwest: Makes friends in Manhattan. Then 911.

Cisco Cole: The Masculine Myth: Embrace your tears men. Dispel myths.

Emily Heying: The Gluten Guise: Cocaine is gluten-free. Beware of buzzwords.

Sarah Super: If Not, That's Okay, Too: Offer a choice. Really mean it.

Rick Ellis: Social Media Wisdom From Some Old Guy: Twitter. Facebook. Admit wrongs. Twitter. Facebook.

Jordyn DiOrio: The Delacroix of Desserts: The Macaron: Macarons and champagne. Ultimate Italian pairing.

Fru Nde: The Power of Three: Power of three. Conflicts with six.

Alison Ling: The Secret Urban Water Cycle: Best clean water hope: educate highschoolers.

Kathryn Ho: Assignment: Compare and Contrast: Twin and teacher gives mindfulness lesson.

Jennifer Sommerness: Why Special Ed Isn’t: No more fake Slushies. 100% integration.

Patina Park: The Black Snake Prophecy: Tribal culture heats up over water.

Chank Diesel: Fonts & Places: Typography's Influence on the Urban Landscape: A job opening: Foshe-like font namer.

Erica Klein: Santa will MESS YOU UP: Santa will mess you up. Ho!

Aly Wallberg: What would YOU say? Find your passion and brightly ignite.

Andy Zimney; Make-Believe is the New Currency: Gorillas can’t make believe. Humans rejoice!

That's a wrap for this recap. Upon exiting, I noted the signage that circled back to the Ignite theme. Lightbulbs in a chalk font (not sure if there is such a font exists, but I will consult presenter and font expert Chank Diesel), appeared in the convening spaces and hung above the stage. Accompanying the lightbulb signage were quotes like, "one idea lights a thousand candles" -- Ralph Waldo Emerson -- which connected to their motto: "Enlighten us, but make it quick."

-- Thanks, Ignite, for all of the enlightenment over the years! Check out Ignite's site for background and streaming and archived shows and we'll see you at IgniteMpls12!