Chicago Ideas Week: Addressing Life’s Biggest Questions

If you’re from outside Chicago’s city limits, you might not know last week was Chicago Ideas Week, a much-anticipated annual event hosted by Chicago Ideas, a nonprofit platform designed to inspire action through entertaining and accessible events, grassroots initiatives and stimulating content.

The week itself is a seven-day festival featuring more than 200 global thought leaders and innovators who speak on a variety of topics ranging from leadership and life’s lessons, to science and technology, to the most pressing issues of the day and the most creative insights in entertainment.

This year I attended “Life’s Big Questions.” According to CIW, this event was designed to dig into life’s most thought-provoking questions about happiness, truth and beyond, with speakers from a variety of professional backgrounds – including a filmmaker, a comedian, a CEO and a creative consultant – discussing life’s greatest mysteries.

Here are my three takeaways from the session:

  1. Collect bad wine, Ric Elias, cofounder & CEO, Red Ventures. This saying particularly struck me because I never heard it before and I really agree with the sentiment: Live life in the moment. What are you saving all the good wine for? What if you never get to drink it? Don’t wait. Nothing in life is guaranteed, including your next glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
  2. Live with purpose, Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker; founder of the Webby Awards; and cofounder of 50/50 Day & Character Day. Tiffany kicked off the evening by live-narrating her documentary, “30,000 Days.” The average life expectancy, on the high end, is 82 years, i.e., 30,000 days. The main theme of the video for viewers to ask themselves how they can spend those days living a more purpose-driven life. At the end, she gave the audience three thought-provoking directives: “Please stand if you find meaning in your work,” “Please stand if you feel purpose in your life”; and “Please stand if you still have more you’d like to contribute to the world.” By the end, the whole crowd was standing in agreement that there is more they’d like to contribute in what’s left of their 30,000 days.
  3. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, Aasif Mandvi, actor, writer and comedian. Are you aware that no matter how many statistics exist, our mind doesn’t fully change until we feel emotionally connected? As an American Muslim, Aasif discussed the American Dream post 9/11 and the American Dream in 2017. He spoke to the role we allow fear to play in our lives and the way we let others determine our fears.

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