It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond

Upcoming (and past) events about new ideas in Charlotte by Nheeda Enriquez

I’m highlighting two events that focus on Charlotte folks sharing (pitching?) their innovative ideas for everyone else to absorb.

1.  The Charlotte chapter of the American Marketing Association (CAMA) is hosting a Donny Deutsch-style “Big Idea” meeting at Dilworth Grill on Oct. 20th at 6pm.  The panelists include some local heavyweights:

• Julie Rose (Moderator): WFAE News Team
• Louis J. Foreman: founder and chief executive, Enventys
• Winn Madrey: executive vice president, Topics Education
• Jim Bailey: founder, CEO and president, Red Moon Marketing

2.  The second is BarCamp Charlotte, over at Area15 in NoDa on October 17th, all day.  BarCamps have become known as an “unconferences” where sessions are decided on the day of the event and an open-source mentality is required.  (I’ve never been to one before, so I’m looking forward to it.)

Finally, I’m just now getting around to it, but the SocialFresh folks posted some post-conference material from their Charlotte social media event back in August for those of us who didn’t get to sign up in time!  There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, check out Spike Jones’ presentation on movements vs. campaigns.

“Yes, and…” is the golden rule for ideation (and improv!) by Nheeda Enriquez

yesandI’ve been fortunate to take a handful of improv workshops during my life for different reasons, but it wasn’t until one from grad school (led by a Second City member, no less) that I realized its influence in innovation.

When brainstorming, I encourage using the phrase, “Yes, and…”  to make sure everyone reserves judgment of others’ ideas.  Generally, we find ourselves practicing the opposite, readily dismissing the kernels of a new idea without airing it out to see if someone can improve upon it.

Improv teaches us how to “live in the moment,” which can actually be a frightening place, but this is where the purest level of creativity (and comedy) live in your subconscious.  Many workshops are geared to get people out of their shells, but they can also get them out of the box.

Here is a wonderful write-up with 10 principles of improv where you can easily see how they might be applied to a business setting.

And here is a free workshop put on by Funny Bone in Charlotte next week.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to check it out because of another event, so I’m hoping for another one at a future date.

Can Charlotte get smarter through creativity? by Nheeda Enriquez

flickr photo credit: benrybobenry

flickr photo credit: benrybobenry

The friendly folks at Civic By Design and Charlotte Viewpoint are hosting what promises to be an interesting, interactive “mini-conference” on Thursday, October 15th at 6pm called Making Charlotte Smarter.

I’ll be checking it out, and I’ll also use it as an opportunity to peek at the brand-spanking new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Uptown.

Registration is only $20 and can be found here.

Create a bigger pond to fish for ideas: Serendipity and innovation by Nheeda Enriquez
photo via wikipedia

photo via wikipedia

In an article for Charlotte Viewpoint about social media in Charlotte, I hinted at a downside of relying solely on one’s networks to mine through an ever-growing plethora of information.  We risk being too narrow in our interests and lose the potential to discover something completely new, whether that be a new author, a new product, or a new recipe for dinner.

Though sometimes it’s difficult, I always advocate trying new things just for the sake of it.  You never know when you might call that experience to inspire a new idea.

Everyone has their own way to introduce serendipity, but my boyfriend Brian has a painless way to do it at his own desk.  When he needs a diversion from a hectic workday, he’ll poke around wikipedia for a few minutes just to see what’s there.  They’ll have a featured article that’s different every day, and you never know what it’ll link you out to, and that helps create a bigger pond for you to fish ideas from.

Thought it’s old, I offer this Wired interview with Apple’s megamind Steve Jobs.  Towards the end, he describes the value of new experiences in innovation:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

The Center for Design Innovation’s Idea Exchange by Nheeda Enriquez

cdiI recently learned about the Center for Design Innovation, a collection of inter-institutional research based in the Winston-Salem area that is dedicated to economic development for the design industry.

Apparently they host a Tuesday night series called the “Idea Exchange,” where different presenters share their thoughts on “design processes, digital media, business strategies, and other interests related to the growth of creative enterprises in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad.”

CDI’s website is kind of light, but the schedule for the upcoming Idea Exchanges can be found in a PDF here.  The first one is on 9/22, and is about digital imaging used to study the biomechanics and swarming behaviors of bats!

Professional development at a bargain price: Triad Design Leadershop by Nheeda Enriquez

leadershopI recently learned about an impressive series of workshops in nearby Greensboro at NC A&T State.  The workshops take place over 5 weeks and is $500 for the lot, but even if you can’t make every single one, the free keynote addresses each week might prove to be worth the drive for anyone looking to inject a little design thinking into their everyday business strategies.

According to the website, The Triad Design Leadershop is “a transformative series of lectures and workshops based around best practices for the design and business communities.”

Perhaps the biggest name in the bunch is Claudia Kotchka, who was cruicial in helping AG Lafley and the folks at P&G execute their big turnaround through innovation and design.

If anyone’s interested in carpooling…

Imagining life in 2059: Call for entries deadline extended by Nheeda Enriquez
photo via

photo via

In addition to partnering with individuals and companies to bring new product ideas to life, publishing Inventor’s Digest is one of many innovation activities that Charlotte entrepreneur Louis Foreman and his team tackle over at Enventys.

If you can get your hands on the printed edition of the magazine, do it.  The editors have done a bang-up job of reinventing the look and feel of the layout and the articles.  (They’re still working on getting the web presence is waiting to match.)

In honor of National Inventors Month, the magazine is sponsoring a contest inviting young readers to submit 500-word essays on what technology, tool, product or service will be an important part of our lives in 50 years.  The new deadline is September 30th.

I feel like the world has changed quite a bit in the lifespan of the kids that are eligible (ages 12-17,) so it will be fun to see how they envision the future.


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