Last week was Chicago Ideas Week in Chicago, which is an incredible week where dozens of individuals from around the country are invited to Chicago to share about the innovative work they are doing in various industries.  Current and past speakers include individuals from the startup world in Chicago, numerous TED talk speakers, authors, professional athletes, and celebrities, Deepak Chopra, Bill Clinton, and more.

I had a great deal of takeaways from the week and in order to do the speakers justice, I want to break my insights down into a couple of blog posts with some bite size ideas for you take with you.

One of my absolute favorite speakers was Jason Carter Mayden.  After growing up on the south side of Chicago, Jason longed to become like his hero, Michael Jordan.  Since the age of 14 his dream was to design Nike Air Jordans.  How amazing is it that Jason grew up to work as Nike’s senior global design director?? He was their first ever design intern and worked for the company for 13 years.

Jason’s speech resonated with me on such a deep level, in a big way because of my work with Ryan Banks Academy but also because he displayed such an intense level of passion – for his work, for what truly matters to him in his life, and for his desire to make an impact on others around him.

The inspirational take home ideas for me were:

  • Bend… but never break.
  • It’s not about what you receive, it’s about what you give back to the world.
  • Dare to dream out loud.
  • There is no such thing as an impossible goal;  rather, there are just various levels of difficulty.  Leonardo di Vinci was labeled a criminal thrown into jail and was ridiculed because he couldn’t focus and had what were thought at the time to be insane ideas.  No idea is too crazy or too impossible, if you have passion and belief in yourself.
  • He also shared this awesome (short) clip from the movie The Pursuit of Happiness which is definitely worth a watch about the importance of never letting ANYONE tell you that you can’t do something.  Even those who you love and those you respect should never have the power of stifling your dreams.

If you want to learn more about Jason’s story, you can watch this short 5 minute TED talk where he talked about his journey from growing up amidst violence on the south side of Chicago to attending Stanford Business School to where he is today.

What’s one thing you can do today to dream the impossible?  To live your dream out loud?

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