Physician, Speak Thyself – Sam Blackman – Ignite Seattle 37

Sam Blackman started his professional life as a philosophy major, but the fact that he spent his nights reading medical journals might have been a clue to where his career would end up.

The thing in those journals which fascinated Sam? The case studies — stories with the (often gory) details of the treatment of a patient, in a narrative format.

In his Ignite talk, Sam explains why this sort of storytelling makes medicine work, makes a case for the humanity of medicine, and urges us not to lose track of storytelling as medicine increases its reliance on technology.

photo by: Brady Harvey

What Military Peacekeeping Taught Me About Humility – Urs Koenig – Ignite Seattle 37

Twenty-two years after completing mandatory military service — and approaching the age of fifty — Urs Koenig decided to enlist in the military peacekeeping force KFOR in Kosovo.

Many readers may be wondering, “Why does Kosovo need a peacekeeping force at all?” By the time he deployed, Urs thought he knew the answer. Until he watched a school play which made him reconsider not only what he knew about the war, but also the role of peace-keepers.

In his Ignite Seattle talk, Urs explains how his time as a military peacekeeper taught him to ask better questions, and how that can make us all a little more humble.

photo by: Brady Harvey

A Survival Guide for Black Millennial Single Mothers Striving to Slay – Sydney Swonigan – Ignite Seattle 37

“So who in here has absolutely just fucked up before?” That’s the question Sydney Swonigan started off with during her Ignite Seattle talk. (Judging from the audience reaction, the answer was: a lot of us.)

In her talk, Sydney discusses the time she fucked up: accidentally becoming pregnant shortly after graduating college. (“#whoops-a-daisy”) After years of striving to overcome the stereotypes placed on young black women, she found herself worried about becoming stuck in a negative narrative of a single black mother. She didn’t want to just survive, she wanted to slay.

In her talk, Sydney talks about her experience deciding not to choose between being a mother and a leader, owning her own story, and why there’s no better time than today to fuck up.

photo by: Brady Harvey

So You’re Black in Tech? – Rovina Broomfield – Ignite Seattle #37

After Rovina Broomfield moved from Chicago to Seattle to start working at a large tech company, she wanted to become part of the local community. As she’d meet people, though, many would start by expressing their surprise at, well, a black woman moving to Seattle and working in tech. One day, at a brunch, she heard another black woman in tech describe herself as a “unicorn,” and decided she’d had enough.

When we see someone who is, as Rovina puts it, “a rare, or an only”, she asks that we realize: they know they’re rare. They pushed through that and decided to act, despite having few role models. But throughout history, many people had to start as an “only.”

Instead of focusing on their uniqueness in our community, we need to focus on making them part of our community. Like a transplant who’s just moved to a new city, people who are rare need to feel welcome and cool, not rare and untouchable. So, you’re black in tech? As Rovina puts it, “let’s go from being transplants to being locals.”

photo by: Brady Harvey

Ignite #37 Preview: Exploring the 8th Continent

Most people think there are seven continents: Asia, Africa, Antarctica, Europe, Australia, and North and South America.

Cindy Wu is not most people. As a board member of the National Speleological Society, she’s become very familiar with a secret, 8th continent.

Where is the 8th continent? If you’ve ever met Cindy (or looked up the word “speleological”), you might have a pretty good idea. Still, we’re not going to be the one to spoil the secret.

Join us on October 4th as Cindy tells the story of her first visit to this isolated place, gives us a taste for what it’s like to be there (“you kind of get a feeling for what it felt like to stand on the moon for the first time”), and explains how you can safely visit too.

This is part of a series previewing the talks we’ll be hosting at Ignite Seattle #37. Interested? Get your tickets, but make it quick: Ignite Seattle sells out.

Ignite #37 Preview: Translating Earth’s Historical Record

Most Ignite Seattle attendees are aware that Earth’s climate is warming (we hope) but speaker Elisa Bonnin wants to know the grim details. What will our future look like? To answer that question, Elissa, a graduate student in Chemical Oceanography, looks to the past.

Earth’s climate has changed drastically before… humans just weren’t around to see it. What were? A type of tiny, primitive creatures called Foraminifera. In her talk, Elisa will explain how we can use the shells they left behind (as tiny as four human hairs stuck together!) to learn more about the future we all face.

This is part of a series previewing the talks we’ll be hosting at Ignite Seattle #37. Interested? Get your tickets, but make it quick: Ignite Seattle sells out.

Ignite #37 Preview: De-Mystifying the Instant Pot

When Sumit Basu was a child, his mother would get out a weird metal pot, clamp it together, and tell the kids to keep away in case it explodes. Then she’d cook food in it.

Much later in life, Sumit decided to revisit pressure cookers, but as a scientist, he had new questions: What can you cook in it? How does the pressure help it cook quickly? And why does the food taste so good?

And, really, who hasn’t had these questions? We’re excited for Sumit to unravel the mysteries of the Instant Pot on-stage at Ignite Seattle #36.

This is part of a series previewing the talks we’ll be hosting at Ignite Seattle #37. Interested? Get your tickets, but make it quick: Ignite Seattle sells out.

Two new partnerships to make this season better than ever

We’re excited to announce partnerships with two new organizations which will help us make Ignite Seattle better than ever this year!


We’re excited to announce our headlining sponsor for the 2018-19 Ignite Seattle season, WeWork!

WeWork is a global network of workspaces where companies and people grow together. We transform buildings into dynamic environments for creativity, focus, and connection. More than just the best place to work, though, this is a movement toward humanizing work. We believe that CEOs can help each other, offices can use the comforts of home, and we can all look forward to Monday if we find real meaning in what we do.

Even more exciting, WeWork is offering the Ignite audience one free week of coworking at their newest Seattle location, 1411 4th Ave. This offer is exclusive for the Ignite community! Learn more and get your free week.

The World is Fun

We’re also partnering with Seattle nonprofit The World is Fun to help us build a volunteer program and to allow us to accept tax-deductible contributions. This partnership means we’ll finally be able to get started on a lot of long-running ideas we’ve had for making the show more fun.

You might remember TWIF from founder Amy Faulkner’s talk at Ignite #34, where she described her mission to get Seattleites involved in their community through unique events and partnerships with more than 140 local nonprofits.

When asked why she was excited to work more closely with Ignite, Amy said “The World is Fun is a perfect partner for Ignite Seattle: We both share the goals of teaching Seattleites how unique, passionate, and connected they really are in an approachable and fun format.”

Ignite is thrilled to have the support of these two organizations, and this year’s shows will be better than ever!

Learn Public Speaking From the Ignite Seattle Team

Update: thank you to everyone who joined us for this sold-out workshop! We’ll be running another soon; you can sign up for notifications here.

Ignite Seattle thrives on diverse ideas and challenging stories. We think everyone should give public speaking a shot, and we’re hosting a workshop to help you do that!

Join us to learn:

  • How to tell better stories at work or in life (and do it fast!),
  • The 6 most common mistakes speakers make and how to avoid them
  • The science behind fears about speaking and how to manage them
  • How to get a talk proposal accepted at events like Ignite Seattle, TEDx, etc.
  • Plus a few volunteers who bring 60 seconds of a talk they have will get an expert critique

You don’t need to have a talk idea or submit to Ignite to attend.

Your coach will be professional speaker and Ignite Seattle emcee Scott Berkun. In addition to giving 20 to 30 lectures and keynotes each year, he wrote the bestselling guide to public speaking, Confessions of a Public Speaker.

  • Date: August 7, 2018; 7-9pm
  • Location: Idea Lab at Fluke Hall, University of Washington
  • Cost: $5. SOLD OUT.