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How an Ideas Festival Can Spark Change in Your Life

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Everything around us started off as an idea — as a concept, thought or suggestion. Ideas are the building blocks of our world and reality. But we now live in a world where people increasingly choose their own “facts.” Algorithms control the content we see on social media. What we already believe constrains the news and opinion that reaches us. All of this creates a “filter bubble,” pushing away ideas or notions we haven’t already heard or hold to be true. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer found that more than half of respondents do not regularly listen to people or organizations with whom they often disagree.

Against this backdrop, I’ve become even more passionate about an organization Edelman partners with called Chicago Ideas. Chicago Ideas is one of the most accessible ideas festivals in the country, bringing together a truly diverse audience and fostering a sense of community in our city, while sparking change and propelling innovation forward.

When you attend a Chicago Ideas event, you truly see a representation of Chicago—people from all neighborhoods, backgrounds, professions and ages come together to expose themselves to new concepts and ideas. The talks are thought-provoking and inspirational, leaving the audience not only with new information, but with new ways of thinking and feeling.

In 2016, for example, a talk on terrorism really stuck with me. It went beyond facts and statistics and delved into the psyche of the recruiting tactics of terrorist group. The talk was about more than just learning—it was about stepping into other people’s shoes and grappling with struggles other than our own. On a more positive note, I was inspired enough by  Laura Vanderkam’s unique views on time management that I “found time” to get back on track with a personal trainer and put pen to paper on a creative project that I had been mulling on.

I’m fortunate to serve on the Brain Trust, an amazing group that helps shape Chicago Ideas programming, which has pushed me to think beyond my own world and helped me bring new ideas to Edelman and to our clients. For me, the group mixes the intellectual buzz of a great college seminar with an unparalleled opportunity to network with some of the most interesting people in Chicago. I’m not quite sure how I made that list, but I know our meetings help me live the Edelman value of “the freedom to be constantly curious.”

The stories I love to hear each year after Chicago Ideas are those of individuals who made a fundamental life change after attending a Chicago Ideas event. It’s more important than ever before to push yourself to hear new ideas, open yourself to other concepts and listen to new opinions. I have no doubt you will share the same sentiment after attending the inspiring events in October.

Edelman Chicago is proud to be Chicago Ideas’ exclusive communications partner. To learn more about the work Edelman Chicago does or how you can partner with Chicago Ideas, please contact Ann Glynn.

Jay Porter is president, Edelman Chicago.

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