Ignite Boulder. You have five minutes and twenty auto advancing slides to teach, enlighten or inspire your audience about something you are passionate about. No pitching.
Ignite Boulder was held earlier this month at the Boulder Theater. In many ways, this Ignite was one of my favorites. But, it also included something I found distasteful. And I’m not the only one who felt that way.
Founding organizer, Andrew Hyde was overseas. And legendary MC Ef Rodriguez has moved on. So, organizing and MC duties would fall to new hands. Thankfully, Ryan Wanger and Ryan Van Duzer proved up to the task of putting on a first class event. Ryan Wanger has long been involved as a volunteer and past presenter at Ignite Boulder. The first time I remember seeing him was when he presented “My Mom Joined Facebook. Now What?” when Ignite Boulder was still going through growing pains. It was held at the CU Boulder campus in a chemistry building, if I remember right. And although Ryan Van Duzer seemed familiar, I hadn’t seen him before. Or at least I didn’t think so. When I found his website, I saw that he’s often on TV. So, perhaps that’s why I find him familiar.
The last thing these two guys probably want me to do is refer to them as “The Two Ryan’s”. So, outside of just mentioning it, I won’t. But, they clearly do a very good job working together. Ryan Wanger was spotted close to the stage before the show whispering and making various directions. And during the intermission, he was mingling amongst the crowd. When it comes to MC duties, Ryan Van Duzer is the perfect replacement to Ef Rodriguez. Not only did Ef bring a guitar on stage. He also brought an immense talent for words and such a nice guy vibe, you wanted to run up and give him a hug. One important job for an MC, is to warm up an audience. And Ryan Van Duzer sure knows how to do that. His enthusiasm has an electricity to it. And the fact that he’s a bicycle enthusiast and advocate, makes him alright in my book.
Being the second annual black tie (optional) Winter Ball, there were plenty of attendees dressed to the nine’s. And just in case your face was feeling naked post Movember, there was a table for picking up your fake mustache. The organizers, many a familiar and smiling face, certainly know their game. From checking people in at the door via iPhone, to assisting with people finding the perfect seat. They’re like a tightly wound clock.
For me, Ignite Boulder is the place where I get to say hi to everyone I follow on Twitter. It’s where all the geeky awesome people I know gather all in one place. So, I’m always on the lookout for a friendly face. Both before the show commenced and at intermission, I found friends, old and new. Ignite Boulder shines brightest as a community event. It’s not only about the topics. At it’s core it’s the people.
Speaking of which. I suppose I should say something about the talks. This group of topics were hands down some of my favorite. Everything from Designing for the Bible Belt to the Year of Banking Dangerously. Lynn Brewer gave her very funny and somewhat surprisingly graphical interpretation of what literary figures would tweet. And on the other end of the spectrum, Derek Olson gave a very sobering talk about what it takes to rescue someone from a car after a traffic accident. Tim Davids had the crowd in the palm of his hands while talking about how he lost weight. And Richard Welch’s talk about living with an extrovert hit close to home with this writer.
I think my first Ignite Boulder was number four. Unfortunately, this was the first time I remember hearing a presenter pitch their company from the stage. It’s really unfortunate. That’s not why I go. If I wanted to be sold something, I’d stay home and turn on the dusty television I keep in the corner of the basement.
All in all, Ignite Boulder was the perfect community event. The Two Ryan’s (oops!) brought together some amazingly awesome people to educate and entertain a captivated audience. Congratulations gentlemen! You did great! Just warn the presenters not to pitch. Please.