It was one of the strongest Ignite Waterloo events yet at the inspiring Perimeter Institute. Before the night was over we saw no less than 3 standing ovations. Now if only they could have done something about the no beer in the auditorium rule…
It’s awesome to just be a participant. The evening unfolds as a pleasant surprise. I have no prior information on the presenters, I haven’t sat on speaker panels as participants unravel their stories. I’m not collecting PowerPoint slides and sifting through the schedule. I’m just sitting happily in my seat (after having to chug a delightful craft brew, under threat of missing the show) and waiting for it all to get started.
This was KW’s ninth Ignite. People get it, and the speakers have a large pool of past presenters to draw inspiration from. This made for a deep bench and some heavy hitters. With every event there are speakers that just don’t resonate, that are fumbling and awkward. Everyone is ok with that. We applaud the effort and it’s still guaranteed to inspire someone in the audience. This time out even the weakest speakers were on par with some of the best of past Ignites.
Aaron Male and Farina Situmorang are all easy grace and breezy candour to kick off the evening. I know the relentless beat of the slides auto advancing every 15 seconds, the words wanting to tumble out all at once, but they make it look easy. Fun even.
Richard Holmes talks about overcoming a speech impediment and the drive to becoming more than your resume would imply, greater than an assemblage of past achievements. To be able to look in the mirror and like the person you see before you. He garners the first standing ovation.
Brony Jack Lazarski Parkinson injects the right balance of geek earnest and self-awareness talking about his love of My Little Pony. It’s something to put himself out there like that and in a funny way he points to the larger, serendipitous theme of the evening. Bravery.
Later, Gord Tanner will lead us down the path of inflection points before veering off into the long grass with an admission of an arrest after a drug and gun possession. Brave, honest and open, it’s powerful storytelling. What was originally going to be a talk about foosball, garners the second standing ovation of the evening.
Stephanie Rozek gives us our third ovation sharing her battle with depression and her efforts to help others effected.
I don’t know what rare serendipity brings these elements together but it is perfectly cohesive. Like there is some larger narrative at play. So let me just say how kickass it is that Ignite has grown to be a place where people can share these experiences. That there is an audience open to having these conversations. No judgement, just empathy and understanding, tempered with a healthy dose of humor. I hope we never run out of stories to tell.