Ignite Barrie – What a Great Event!

Tonight I had the honor of participating as one of 8 speakers in Ignite Barrie, a fun event designed to inspire the community of Barrie, Ontario by allowing each speaker just 5 minutes to present something that they are passionate about.

The event was hosted by the wonderful The Creative Space, and the venue was pretty packed.  I literally had to push three people over just to get to the sandwich buffet.

Let’s take a look at an overview of the evening.  Keep in mind, each speaker had just 5 minutes to say what they wanted to say, all timed to a PowerPoint slideshow.

Christopher Smith

The evening kicked off with the three P’s: a powerful poetic presentation.

Chris, an author and motivational speaker building his venue base here in Barrie, provided a faith-inspiring poem which drove home many points, one of which is the sad truth that many children die year after year due to the inability to afford the medicines needed to cure them of preventable and curable disease, and meanwhile “big pharma” is practically rolling in the cash.

When Chris spoke, the other speakers looked at eachother and said, how can we possibly follow him?  Chris kicked off the night right with incredible words.

Caroline Wilson

Caroline’s unshakable resolve and obvious dry wit was put to the test with the first technical glitches of the evening.  Facing problems with her presentation slides, Caroline laughed it off, and got a roar of laughter from the audience when her 20 slides flashed by all at once and she declared “Well, that’s it” off the cuff.

As a bee keeper, Caroline hit home with the audience as she expressed her concerns for the way we are killing our environment.  How can bees pollinate if every Joe on the block is putting pesticides on their lawn?  It’s a scary thought, and Caroline brought the concern to our attention.  While a heavy subject in some ways, her sense of humor helped put the crowd at ease, and I’m sure there are more than a few of us who are contemplating having Caroline secretly deposit a hive of bees in our backyard.

Rebecca Palmer

With more than a few audience members nodding their heads when she asked if she was speaking about anyone in the audience, Rebecca spoke about a social problem that is very dear to many hearts… procrastination.

The humor continued as the audience members laughed out loud during Rebecca’s display of the many possible ways to procrastinate, with logos such as Facebook, Skype, and even the classic ICQ, which instantly made me say “UH OH” in my head.

But before the old ICQ sound could get locked in, up comes a screenshot of the Hamster Dance. Suddenly, a high-pitched yodel began playing over in my head.

We all do it, and Rebecca brought humor to the subject with more than one example, not the least of which was the final slide which simply said with black text on a white background, “I didn’t really get to this slide.”

Linda Laforge

You’ll like this–Linda spoke about something truly excellent to every geek: Science Fiction and its impact on real technology.

Speaking with Linda before the event, I had to know; is the name a moniker?  Not only is Laforge her real name, but she understood the reference, which makes her alright in my books.

Linda began her talk by quizzing the audience about a variety of sci-fi shows of days gone by, and we were all surprised to find that the audience recognized every one–even an old photo of the Lost in Space cast from the 60’s.  It just goes to show that Ignite Barrie attracted a lot of very intelligent … geeks.

When I’ve looked at my tablet, I’ve often thought about how Star Trek inspired things like the iPad with the PADD, or the cell phone with the communicator.  But one of the points Linda made that was really intriguing is that not only has sci-fi inspired science, but science has inspired sci-fi.

Well, yes, come to think of it, this is obvious, right?  I mean, Gene Roddenberry didn’t invent String Theory.  So if science inspires sci-fi and sci-fi in turn inspires science, we have a circular motion of continual inspiration going on between something that is real, and something that is … only real in our hearts.  A very interesting, thought-provoking point.

At this point in the proceedings, Chad from The Creative Space invited everyone to take a 15 minute intermission with snacks and goodies provided (with big thanks) by Starr Minhas.  The snacks were nice, especially considering I headed straight over after work and didn’t have a chance to have dinner.  🙂

Katherine Parent

Next up for the evening was a presentation from nutritionist Katherine Parent, who offered testimony of her own experience with headaches and fatigue caused by the consumption of aspartame and shared her concerns about artificial sweeteners and how they are progressively finding their way into practically every processed food or drink product.

My wife and I are quite heavily into organic and non-processed foods, free-range meats without the use of antibiotics, and so-on, so Katherine’s presentation prompted a lot of head nods from this bald nerd as she reiterated, with impressive eloquence and finesse, my own concerns about artificial sweeteners; poisons masquerading themselves as obscure unpronounceable items in our ingredients lists.

I was impressed with Katherine’s confidence and calm resolve on stage.  She is obviously very knowledgeable with regards to the effects of various products on our health, and I have in fact invited her to visit the set of Category5 to discuss how a healthy balanced diet and good ergonomics can contribute to a productive work environment.

Robbie Ferguson

Next up, me!

I got up on the stage, and the DJ was still playing some funky beats.  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to just stand there, or start talking.  The bright lights in my eyes didn’t help. Many eyes looked up at me while I stared at a blank screen, waiting awkwardly for my slideshow to begin.

I suddenly realized that all eyes were on me and I should probably say something.  So in the infinite wisdom of Karl Pilkington, I opened my mouth and let it make up words.

Once the slideshow began, I knew it was my time to shine–no no, I’m not saying I’m anything special or good… I mean literally: the lights were suddenly brighter and my bald head was blindingly shiny.

The point that I wanted to get across tonight was this: You can ignite inspiration in others if you share your talent.

The fact is, we live in a world that is all new.  15 years ago, if you wanted to be an international TV host, you’d have to get a contract from a major multi-national television network. Now, you need an Internet connection and a webcam.

We are so good at making up excuses… perhaps procrastinating as Rebecca said.  The fact is, the only thing holding us back from sharing our talent is ourselves.

I spoke about the importance of consistency and how always maintaining a consistency with your talent, you will almost guarantee yourself a following.  Be it a blog (write one at least every week), or if you’re a singer (post a video of you singing every single week), the truth is, if you’re consistent, your followers will forgive the occasional mistake or bad content.  Consistency keeps them coming back.

I hope my talk inspires someone to take that wonderful talent they have locked into their head, and share it.

Trevor Morgan

As a programmer, I automatically felt a kinship to Trevor (also a programmer), but that’s where our similarities end… because he (very unlike me) runs marathons.

Interestingly reiterating my points about consistency in an entirely different example set, Trevor explained how when running a marathon, you need to set your eyes entirely on the finish line.  Set a tangible goal and push yourself hard to achieve it.

Of course, Trevor was using his experience metaphorically to drive home the point that we, everyday people, can achieve great things if we just push ourselves hard for the finish line.

I found it very interesting how a theme was happening in the evening, and I was feeling like wow–this is a really inspiring event at this point.

Trevor was a pleasure to speak with off-stage, and while he has lived in Canada for many years, he has never lost the strong English accent.  I told him to hold onto that–maybe it’s my appreciation for the BBC, but I think we Canadians love a good English accent  🙂

Angela Turner

Finally with her turn on the stage, Angela headed up the stairs to the stage.

Her topic: Autism.

As Angela began speaking, my heart immediately felt her love for her child and empathy kicked in.  For a moment, I thought to myself that this was going to be a heavy topic to end the evening on.

A few slides in however, the devastating sadness of finding out your child has autism segued seamlessly into the love of a mother who looks for and recognizes communication in a variety of ways, through words spoken without speech but with a simple look, to a powerful loving kiss from your child that would instantly melt your heart and sooth your pain.

There is no other way I know to say it: Angela’s words were beautiful.  Simply beautiful.

Her carefully chosen words powerfully described the love of and for an autistic child.

In conclusion, Ignite Barrie was a wonderful evening which was surely enjoyed by all.  It was awesome to realize how many of the speakers offered complimentary themes.  You’d almost think we planned it that way, but truth be told, many of us didn’t even meet until 20 minutes before the event.

I appreciate getting to know many people I’ve not met before, and re-connecting with some I haven’t seen in a while.  It was super nice to see Mayor Jeff Lehman during the second half of the event, and a real pleasure to finally get to work with Chad and Sandra Ballantyne and the team at The Creative Space.

*** Watch for the videos — probably available around October 22 (Well, the 22nd has come and gone and I haven’t heard anything about when the videos will be ready. I’ll update here as soon as I know) ***

Big thanks to the amazing sponsors of the event:

  • Title Sponsor: Laurentian University
  • Inferno sponsors: M.E. Audio and Visual, Barrie.tv and Rhubarb Media
  • Flame Sponsors: Mullun Law, At the Five, Ali Spensor Photographer
  • Friends: Simcoe North Packaging and Inciteful Solutions
Big thanks is also extended to:
  • Ali Spensor for being our photographer for the night
  • Starr Minhas for bringing the munchies and drinks
  • Our amazing DJ, Yoshimojo
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Rebecca Palmer
11 years ago

Thank you Robbie for your wonderful run-down of events at ignite Barrie. You highlighted all of our presentations wonderfully! As Katherine said, it was nice to know I wasn’t alone in feeling nervous. Looking forward to hearing future speakers.

11 years ago

Great to meet you on Friday, Rob. I see that you practice what you preach when it comes to consistent blogging – this must have been written right after the event!

Anyway, you’ve inspired me, and it’s great to know that there are other programmer geeks in the city!

Katherine Parent
11 years ago

Thank you Robbie for eloquently writing about last evening. It was as you said, an honour to speak at this fun event to Ignite the Barrie Community. The 8 of us really routed for one another and gave some encouraging words. I know I felt more reassured after I met everyone and saw that I wasn’t alone in feeling a little nervous. It’s intimidating to stand in front of so many faces and know that you have 5 minutes to “Ignite” a spark of interest, intrigue, those “aha” moments. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and it was nice to be in the company of 7 great people speaking. Your descriptive words of everyones presentation was to the “T” Robbie. I’m so pleased that we met and I look forward to future collaboration.