My first Time at the Chicago Ideas Week Rodeo

You’ll have to excuse my unbridled enthusiasm, my gushing, but This WAS my first time at the rodeo and it was exhilarating. This week marked my first time attending Chicago Ideas Week (CIW). On Monday, me and the Zealous Good crew sat in the audience for a talk on a topic very near and dear to our hearts, social entrepreneurship. But even before we grabbed seats at the Goodman Theatre, Monday morning was filled with a palpable energy. From our team meeting, changed from its usual office location to a tucked away cafe in the second lobby of the historic Pittsfield Building on East Washington, to the nervous buzz at the Goodman and sea of yellow Chicago Ideas Week “inspiration badges.” And that was all before the speakers entered the stage.

Community Manager, Ali, with CIW inspiration badge, ZG iPhone, and Instagrammed face.

A good origin story can reel me in. I’m looking for something to connect with you on. I want to know how you got where you are today and why it personally matters to you. Tiffany Persons, a speaker at Social Entrepreneurship: My Venture Changes the World. Can Yours? and  founder of Shine On Sierra Leone, spoke of working in Hollywood on a path to become an actress. Her message was this: You don’t have to be born a philanthropist, you don’t need a certain pedigree, you don’t need to know the steps before you take them.

Shine on Sierra Leone founder Tiffany Persons

After a conversation with a friend about the atrocities in Sierra Leone she felt compelled to take a trip. That trip is what led her to create Shine On and provide sustainable programs in the war torn country. She came across as an average person who has done remarkable things. And if she can do it, why not me or you? That’s the kind of inspiration I hoped to gain from CIW.

I’m not the only one who has something to say! Here are my Zealous Good team members thoughts on the week:

“The best part about Chicago Ideas Week was meeting new people and running into old friends and acquaintances. It was great because in these brief conversations we talked about ideas and being inspired as compared to the standard update on what was happening in our lives.

 I was surprised that this year there were no for-profit social enterprises represented at the Social Entrepreneur talk. While the non-profits were incredibly interesting and inspiring, I’m hoping next year they mix in some for-profit social enterprises to show diversity in the “for purpose” space.” -ZG CEO Brittany
Hey You! What's Your Big Idea? giant notebook at CIW
“I thought CIW was great! I liked that there was variety in the events ranging from Megatalks with seven speakers to Labs with one speaker and a small audience. My favorite was the lab at 37 Signals with Jason Fried because there were only a few people there which led to some great discussion and also because we got a tour of the office.” -ZG Head of Operations Jesse 

The CIW stage is set for some great dialogue


“CIW placed the Zealous Good team, in the epicenter of world changing ideas. We attended the Social Entrepreneurship talk together. The speakers shared their ventures and their struggles. The talk’s over arching theme focused on non-profits merging with for-profit’s ideology. Adam Bruan’s Pencils of Promise talk stood out as a venture that best represented these merging ideologies. He called his organization “for purpose.” He is reshaping what it means to be a non-profit organization. At the end of his talk, he displayed strong transparent data about his nonprofit’s finances. It allowed the audience to understand how large of an impact Pencils of Promise creates. At the same time, the data shows participants how their funds are being distributed for the largest impact.

Social entrepreneurship ventures disapprove of a static world. They instead view the world as a maleable place. All of the speakers are rapidly molding a better world with their organizations.” -ZG Outeach and Marketing Lead Victor

How about You? What were your favorite CIW moments? Did you meet anyone new? Let us know! You can tell us here, tweet us, or drop us a line on Facebook. Let’s keep the engaging conversation going year round!

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