Ideas fresh off the wire

Top Of Their Game: Entrepreneurs And Their Startup Stories” Reminds Us that Inside Every ‘Impossible’ is ‘I’m Possible’

IMG_1246IMG_1225IMG_1229                   This month, Chicago Ideas hosted their fifth annual Chicago Ideas Week. From flying lessons to a behind-the-scenes look at Chipotle , the event pulled out all the stops to cultivate innovation in the Windy City. Our Chicago team attended “Top Of Their Game: Entrepreneurs And Their Startup Stories,” which featured conversations with some of the most successful women in the country.First up was designer Cynthia Rowley who, like a true Chicago-native, arrived on stage in a custom Cubs jersey. Rowley is a great storyteller who, frankly, doesn’t give a crap about what other people think. For example, when someone told her she couldn’t design wetsuits, Rowley immediately decided she “was definitely gonna do it.” Rowley embodies her message for budding entrepreneurs: fearless optimism.To foster that sense of fearless optimism in her company, Rowley started an internal incubator fund for employees to start their own ventures. Rowley is so dedicated to entrepreneurship that she’s willing to risk her own talented workers to nurture innovation in the fashion world.


Next up was Martine Rothblatt, the creator of Sirius XM Radio and the founder and CEO of United Therapeutics. She is also transgender and the highest-paid female executive in the United States. She lives by four commandments: be curious, question authority, act lovingly and practice practicality. It was these commandments that guided Rothblatt when her daughter Jenesis was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension at only seven years old. Rothblatt dived into the life science sector with no prior experience, founded a biotech firm, United Therapeutics, and discovered a cure that saved her daughter and countless others. Martine Rothblatt is the type of person who makes impossible things seem possible (she emphasized that the word ‘impossible’ includes the phrase ‘I’m Possible’). Currently, Rothblatt has her sights set on manufactured organs and uploading human minds to computers. If anyone can pull that off, it’s going to be Martine Rothblatt.

Last but not least was domestic goddess Martha Stewart. Before Stewart flew to Chicago to speak at Chicago Ideas Week, she picked fresh apples out of her garden and made the “most lovely” pink applesauce (naturally). The epitome of practice what you preach, Stewart became her own most loyal customer in her quest to make beautiful things accessible to everyone. By learning and teaching each day, Stewart built a domestic empire and an extremely successful career.Though Stewart’s brand is based on the simple things in life, she’s embracing technology in work and life. Obsessed with Twitter, Stewart joked that her number of followers could “rival that of Jesus.”

The key takeaways from “Top Of Their Game: Entrepreneurs And Their Startup Stories” are quite simple: be fearlessly optimistic, act lovingly and make the world more beautiful. These principles may seem elementary, but living by them led the above visionaries to huge success. The future entrepreneurs in the audience, our Chicago team members included, couldn’t help but be inspired.When it comes to producing startups, Chicago is somewhat of an underdog. Events like Chicago Ideas Week bring together the city’s brightest and most ambitious young people to work towards a common goal: enrich the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.Don’t forget to connect with us on social @HighwirePR and catch up with @chicagoideas speakers @Cynthia_Rowley, @KayKoplovitz, @marthastewart, @LBDesmond, @shr4dha and @bradkeywell for even more inspiration.

 

Written by Brenna Hogan, an intern in Highwire PR’s Chicago office.