I don’t remember exactly when or how I heard about the Ignite concept. I suspect it was via Mashable sometime last year. But in January I read that the Ignite event was coming to Tulsa and signed up for two free tickets right away. With my tickets in hand, all I had to do was wait for March 4th to roll around.
What was I waiting for? What is Ignite? It is a free event where everyday people volunteer to get up in front of hundreds of their peers and speak for 5 minutes on some topic they are passionate about. Each speaker provides 20 powerpoint slides and they automatically advance every 15 seconds. The quick format is designed to keep the speaker on task and move things along. To reinforce this point, the motto of Ignite is “Enlighten us, but make it quick”.
The weekend before the event, my wife had to back out. However, she was very encouraging and told me, “You go ahead and go, I don’t mind. Invite someone to go with you. A man.” I had to ask three different (male) friends before I found a taker for my extra ticket. My request was typically met with “what is this again?”.
IgniteTulsa was held at the Blue Dome Diner. This night is full of firsts, as I have never been to the Blue Dome Diner before. It does not look very big from the street, but that is because all you can see from the sidewalk is their modest size dining room. But when you walk through the door into the back room, the place really opens up and had a great ambiance to it.
The doors opened at 6 and the event was scheduled to begin at 7. My buddy and I arrived shortly after 6, which was a great move because we were able to secure one of the non-VIP tables near the stage. We passed the time by consuming some of the free Bud Light and COOP beer (pronounced like Chicken Coop, not Farmers Coop) being offered to attendees. A review of the titles of the night’s talks also led to plenty of speculation. Tips on how to Rock Your Face Off? An explanation of the Rise of the Retrosexual? Let’s get this party started!
7:00 finally rolled around, but instead of jumping right into the talks, there was a contest open to the audience members where you built a tower out of index cards capable of holding a 5 pound weight. I was a little surprised at the passion displayed by some of the participants as they disputed claims made by index card architects at other tables. It is just a game, right?
Talk Time finally arrived. Let me say this – it takes a LOT of guts to get up in front of several hundred people (who have been drinking beer) and deliver a presentation. Some topics were better than others, and some speaker’s presentation skills were better than others, but I admired all of them for getting up there.
A few highlights from the early session…
@kklockhart educated us about being an Alpha Blonde. Being a blonde is great because you are constantly underestimated. Take time to be distracted by shiny objects. Dolly Parton has tiny feet because nothing grows well in the shade. She was very funny & entertaining.
@hwall told us how to be a media whore. Apparently, this is a real concern for most people because it appeared to me that everybody was paying rapt attention to her presentation. I am going to try and finish describing her talk without confusing “your”, “you’re”, “their”, or “there” because that means you are an idiot and a reporter would hit the delete key immediately. While she had funny things to say, she also gave us some practical tips, such as don’t schedule your press conference at 4:00 if you want anybody to show up. Good stuff.
@tjclark helped us out with shuffling our playlist and rocking our face off. Are your kids repeating lyrics from today’s hits that you would prefer them not say? Try switching to Croation Hip Hop. You and your kids both will have no idea what you’re listening to. African drumbeats from the 70s are an under-appreciated genre for most people.
Intermission took over at this point. I learned that some free beer is more free than others when I went to the bar. I ordered a Bud & Bud Light, anticipating paying for both since I was out of drink tickets, but she brought me back a Bud and a free cup of Bud Light. All Right! I took the initiative and asked for a cup of COOP since I was there, and the bartender asked me for a drink ticket. Huh? I left without a COOP but still pleased I received an extra free beer.
The second session was very entertaining, perhaps as a result of the free beer that Ignite had been supplying us. Hey, they’ve done this before – they know what they’re doing.
@brettmckay brought me up to speed on the Menaissance and the Art of Manliness. This is the rise of the Retrosexual. Dress nice. Look sharp. Go hunting. Go to a barber shop. Brett was the best dressed man there, and he needed to be with a topic like this.
@eblakejackson wrapped up the evening with a discourse of why American music sucks. He provided roughly 53 specific examples of musical acts which clearly illustrate Americans love affair with crappy music. Ironically, we import quite a bit of our crappy music from Canada. This presentation had a reference to Chris Gaines, Garth Brooks alter-ego I had forgotten all about. Oklahoma’s contribution was also highlighted, including Color Me Badd and Toby Keith. The session wrapped up with a reference to “Pants on the Ground”. You know, this could have been a 10 second presentation with that reference, and he would have got his point across just fine.
The evening wrapped up about 9:30. I had time to say Hello to a few folks that I knew before my friend and I hit the door. We had to skip the after-party at McNellie’s because mature people like us need our sleep and have to work the next day.
This was such a unique experience that I think it definitely has staying power. I see Ignite events in Tulsa continuing to be more successful. The audience was great. Each presenter was warmly greeted before & after their talk. Good job, IgniteTulsa.