The Ignite Lansing 4.0 Experience – A Newcomers Perspective
By Jim Beiermeister (Guest Blogger)
Back in the fall of twenty-ten after arriving in East Lansing and I first heard the phrase ‘Ignite Lansing’ it conjured up images of everything from a mid-summer night festival complete with a spectacular firework show, to an uprising by the MSU faithful at the final buzzer of a National Championship run. What I shortly realized was this phrase referred to a marquee event and was yet another example of one of the threads weaving its way through the greater Lansing Area tying together a community of believers & progressive thinkers moving this region forward.
Fast forward to last Friday evening (February 11, 2011), and I attended my first Ignite event – Ignite Lansing 4.0. By now I had gained more insight on the program, but held no real concept for what the atmosphere would have in store. What I had learned was – Ignite is a global phenomenon, with local focus; tickets are Free and the event is sponsorship funded; it is a grassroots event featuring individuals that hold a passion for an idea and have a desire to express it; presenters submit ideas to the Ignite Lansing website, which are voted on by the community and those with the most votes are awarded a spot in the program; and perhaps most intriguing, the format is straight forward & structured (20 Slides, 5 Minutes – GO).
When we arrived at the Capital City Airport the ticket dispenser for the parking lot was already empty so I quickly realized that this sell out was legit and that these were in fact ‘golden tickets’ [did I mention I had to hassle a few of my connections to even procure my stub – thanks Gravity Works (Dave Smith) and MSAA (Dave Isbell via Tim Bograkos)]. The scene inside the terminal for check-in registration was abuzz. It was at this moment that I had my first impression of what the evening had in store. The line for registration was less than uniform, but there was an implied order to the flow which seemed enabled by genuine excitement, respect and a sense of community. The crowd was diverse – young, old, international, professional, casual – everyone was represented here.
With registration badge in place and drink tickets in hand, I boarded the shuttle that would take us to the venue for the event – an airplane hangar, which was unique and carried a certain coolness factor. As the shuttle pulled up, the music, of what I would later come to know as that of John Beltran – a Lansing music producer, pounded on the walls of the building as to call out “a party is about to get started in here!” Stepping inside, I immediately recognize faces of people I knew – Jeff Smith, Bill Moore, Chris Holman, to name a few – and noticed many more I didn’t know (yet) but all of whom were greeting connections of their own.
After checking my coat and making my way to the food and beverage tent – snacks in one hand, a glass of red wine in the other – we set off to find our spot in the audience which by now had filled just about every seat in the house, standing room only. Luckily – thanks to my business partner Blaine DeGracia – we found refuge right in front of the DJ booth, with a clear view of the stage and projector screens. Looking over the crowd and greeting a few more connections – Jillian Wynn, Vivek Joshi, Tom Stewart etc. – I quickly observed how interconnected the community really is in Lansing as my network was interlaced with the others – in LinkedIn terms, 2nd or 3rd connections. The laser lights combed the atmosphere and the music further dialed me in.
Almost without warning all the anticipation and expectations converged as the MC for the evening – Camron Gnass – took the stage and kicked things off with a few sponsorship and key personnel mentions, many of which were familiar to me, and added an anecdote “Ideas are never too small, change the world somehow”. With that, he introduced the first presenter, one of MSU’s prominent figures in this culture – Meghan Gebhart and her 52 Cups of Coffee. Meghan would be followed by 12 inspiring, educational, thought provoking presentations each containing a spool of thread that added something special and significant to the fabric of a community building something great. I’m already looking forward to Ignite Lansing 5.0 – and the opportunity to gain a veteran perspective.
Jim Beiermeister is a local recruiting agent with Recruitment Management Consultants, LLC based downtown East Lansing and a member of Michigan Technology Network (MITN) – both entities support and serve the Information Technology community in the Greater Lansing Area. Contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org, @RecruitMichigan or at (517) 507-5504