Main Stage
idea sketch

Main Stage

Great Ideas offers you thought leadership from inside and outside the association industry to make sure you hear a variety of perspectives to evoke ideation and problem solving. Look forward to hearing and collaborating with some of the most innovative, inspiring, and creative leaders in the industry.

Thank you to our Main Stage host and Strategic Partner:

Choose Chicago
 

Sunday, March 11
1:00–2:30 p.m.

Improbable to Unstoppable

Fredi Lajvardi
nationally recognized STEM educator
@falconmaster

Fredi Lajvardi kindles your innate sense of ingenuity with his remarkable firsthand account of how he transformed a group of high school students into a national champion robotics team. Fredi captivated the country when he led his team of disadvantaged teenagers in a university-level underwater robotics competition, where they defeated leading schools, including top-ranked MIT. Their story inspired the acclaimed documentary “Underwater Dreams” and was also adapted into the major motion picture, “Spare Parts,” starring actor and comedian, George Lopez as Fredi. His award-winning Falcon Robotics team is also featured in the 2017 film “Dream Big” that is narrated by Jeff Bridges. Honored with numerous awards for his spirited passion for teaching, Fredi continues to serve as a prominent advocate about the importance of STEM education nationwide.

Speaker presented by:

Keppler Speakers
Fredi Lajvardi

Fredi Lajvardi

 

Sunday, March 11
1:00–2:30 p.m.

Crafting Experiences for People Not Like You

Kelly McDonald
marketing and consumer trends expert
@kellycmcdonald

A "one-size fits all" approach to customer service is no longer viable. Associations competing on service need to understand and cater to customers' lifestyle differences in order to meet or exceed members' service expectations. Diversity comes in many forms: gender, race, age, life stage, language preference, sexuality, and hobbies or special interests. All are ways in which people's differences are recognized. Kelly will deconstruct how companies, brands, and products are validating the importance of their consumers’ uniqueness and differentiating themselves in a sea of sameness by fostering long-term loyalty and brand preference through exceptional and customized customer service.

Speaker presented by:

Keppler Speakers
Kelly McDonald

Kelly McDonald

 

Monday, March 12
9:30–11:00 a.m.

How Going Green Puts Chipotle in the Black

William Espey
brand voice lead, Chipotle
@WllmSPeaks

It started 1993 from humble beginnings in a renovated Dolly Madison ice cream shop in Denver, but became a $3 billion empire in a new restaurant subcategory—by accident—and ushered in a new focus on green marketing that many other food purveyors are still trying to emulate. Beyond helping to define the fast-casual category, Chipotle has carved out a distinctive positioning with its focus on sustainability and green marketing beginning with its Food With Integrity manifesto. William Espey, Chipotle’s brand voice lead, will share key themes that have emerged from Chipotle’s green marketing efforts that collectively constitute the compelling and overwhelmingly successful strategy that helped the restaurant grow from 15 stores to more than 1,500 worldwide.

Speaker presented by:

Keppler Speakers
William Espey

William Espey

 

Monday, March 12
9:30–11:00 a.m.

Are You Ready to Unleash Your Inner Winner?

Natalie Fikes
leadership coach and best-selling author
@NatalieFikes

Everyone wants to win but not everyone knows how to be a winner. A winning mindset, like success in business, isn’t handed to you. You have to build a winning mindset over time and Natalie Fikes, central region manager for the International Association of Women (IAW), will light your way. You have unlimited, untapped potential inside of you, waiting to be discovered. It's time to connect with your purpose and activate, master, and unleash your inner winner. Be inspired to dream big, trust yourself, embrace a positive attitude, and celebrate progress not perfection.

Speaker presented by:

Keppler Speakers
Natalie Fikes

Natalie Fikes

 

Monday, March 12
9:30–11:00 a.m.

The Future of Community:
Innovation & Connection in the Digital Age

Smiley Poswolsky
workplace expert and best-selling author
@whatsupsmiley

The next generation is spending more money than ever on in-person, transformational experiences. A Harris study found that 78% of millennials would prefer to spend money on an experience or live event over buying something desirable. From Soul Cycle to Burning Man to Daybreaker to Camp Grounded, live experiences have replaced modern-day religion for the new generation. What qualities define a transformational community and what role do innovative experiences have in the digital age? Drawing from his personal experiences with communities like Hive, StartingBloc, Camp Grounded, Smiley will share how we can increase human connection, inspire creativity, and create a better world by building experiential community inside and outside of our associations.

Speaker presented by:

Speak Inc
Smiley Poswolsky

Smiley Poswolsky

 

Tuesday, March 13
11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.

Lunch & Main Stage Great Ideas Ignite

Back by popular demand, everyone’s favorite edutainment session is now center stage. Join us for Great Ideas Ignite—a showcase of talks that might be bold, possibly brash, maybe even brilliant, but never boring! It's the learning format that's fast, fun, and focused. Each speaker gets 20 slides, auto-advancing every 15 seconds, for five minutes total. Their challenge: Enlighten us, but make it quick.

Interested in presenting an Ignite talk of your own?
Contact: learning@asaecenter.org