A First Timer’s Take on Idea Festival

An entrepreneur and good friend of the KIX team, Burt Walker, was a first time attendee to Idea Festival this year.  We graciously agreed to be a guest blogger and share his experience.


I’ve been hearing great things about Idea Festival for years, but until this year, I’ve never attended.   This year I had no excuse and fortunately, I was given a chance to attend as a guest of the Kentucky Innovation Network. On the way home, I scolded myself for waiting this long to attend as I contemplated all the ones I’d missed in the past.

I’m an entrepreneur and when I attend events like this, I inevitably do so looking through that lens.  On the continuum of level-of-interest in entrepreneurship ranging from say, “bored” to “very interested,” I fall well into the category of “obsessed.”

The latest and biggest buzzword in world of entrepreneurs, startups, and innovation is “Disruption.”  In the lexicon of the average person, this is usually a word with negative connotations.  Not so among the community of entrepreneurs.  Disruption is a great thing.  If a startup can be disruptive to its industry and offer value, it has a much better chance of succeeding.  It’s the equivalent of  “a better mousetrap.”  So, when I noted that one of the goals of Idea Festival is to create a collaborative environment of disruptive change, I knew it was something that would be of great interest to me.

I attended on the first full day, and it was clear to me there was a theme.  It was about communication, and primarily about unique, and often overlooked ways of communicating more successfully.

I learned that it is indeed possible to think like Sherlock Holmes from a noted author and how magicians manipulate and fool the smartest among us from a professional magician.  I also heard firsthand what it’s like to be imprisoned for 16 years for something you didn’t do and how poor communication and preconceived ideas resulted in the speaker’s wrongful conviction.  And finally, I saw how stand-up comedy isn’t just about being funny.  It’s actually sometimes practiced with scientific precision.  What’s more, comedy can often lead to people listening to and seeing things from a different perspective, when all other forms of communication would fail.   All of these talks were evenly woven with the theme of creative and often unrecognized forms of communication and how they can be used in beneficial ways.

As a businessman, it’s not hard to understand the importance of effective communication, but sometimes, we need to take off our old hats and put on new ones, just so we can see and understand things from a different point of view.  As an entrepreneur, its value is even more pronounced because we often need to communicate new ideas to people who are often very skeptical and uninterested.

My first day at Idea Festival was enormously rewarding.  I was amused, enlightened, informed, educated, and inspired.  It was evident from the diverse group in attendance, that it would be the same for people of all areas of professional life.  After all, who doesn’t benefit from better communication? It’s hard to think a day like that could be anything but worth the time and effort to attend.

I encourage anyone, regardless of age or area of interest to attend Idea Festival.  And by the way, if you go to Idea Festival and you don’t come away a better person,…well, I recommend seeing a therapist.