Examples of Successful Submissions

Not sure what a good Ignite Seattle pitch looks like? Here are the original submissions from previous speakers (shared with permission):


Retiring My “Best Idea” – Emoji Pillows (Roberto Hoyos, IS#39)

This story is about letting go of your “best idea” and trusting in your own creativity. In 2013, I created a product that was a turning point for my company. I created Emoji Pillows (Yes, the Poop Emoji Pillow!). My story highlights the struggle of creating something out of love that gets bigger than you imagined, getting the idea stolen, trying and failing at standing out, and ultimately killing the product while learning that every creative person’s greatest asset is their own creative mind.


A transgender band walks into a rural Olympic Peninsula bar… (Ginger Chien, IS#39)

Imagine a rock band of transgender women on stage in a bar 15 years ago in the rural fishing and logging town of Port Angeles. What followed is a lesson on the power of creating and holding “space”, and how that can build lasting and healing bridges through shared connections such as music. This is also a story of transformation and how everyone discovered something about themselves: while it may seem clever to want to change the world, wisdom comes from learning to change one’s self.


Intersections: What Uber Has Taught Me About Humanity (Andrew Spink, IS#38)

I will share 3-5 true stories from my experience as an Uber driver in Seattle (with permission and anonymity), that will make us laugh, cry, and reflect on what it means to be human in our world. A couple sharing a final dinner before an almost certain death, a man’s conscious and very mystical experience during a coma, a woman’s heroic efforts to save someone’s life at work, a self-proclaimed healer joining a shared ride with someone quite sick – all pointing our attention to the power of being present with others, the value of our individual stories, and the amazing potential each human possesses for good.

(n.b. this is a good example of a pitch which shares a story without being too much of a “life lesson.)


Convincing People: An Attorney’s Guide to Negotiation (Alexander Theoharis, IS#38)

There are things you need. There are things other people think they want (they’re wrong). How do you help those misguided souls find the right way (your way)? People are human, and humans are easily manipulated. As an attorney I negotiate deals all day every day–here are the core concepts I use that will give you an edge the next time you’re selling a multi-million dollar company or just convincing your friends it’s okay to order pizza for the third night in a row (it is).


OCD is a Family Affair (Melissa Reaves, IS#40)

OCD can be dibilitating to both the patient and their family. We had fought our 16 year old daughters for years with no signs of hope. Then we worked with Children’s Hospital’s IOP program for OCD teens and they turned it around with Exposure Therapy in three months.The entire family now knows how to combat the OCD monster. This therapy requires 4 days a week, 3 hours a day, plus 2 hours of exposure “homework” EVERY day. And a parent must accompany the child. It’s a family affair and a battle that can be won when addressed.


Cats, Rats, A.I., Oh My! (Ben Hamm, IS#39)

This is the story of how I taught myself soldering, coding, and machine learning, all to thwart my sweet murderous cat. He brings in dead (or not dead) rats, mice, and birds. I tried to stop him with bell collars, operant conditioning, generous feeding. Nothing worked. So I built an AI-powered cat door that can tell when he approaches with a critter in his mouth. If it’s just the cat, door’s open! If he’s carrying a rat or bird? Cat door locks, texts me pics, and donates to bird conservation.


Dying Black (Ashley McGirt, IS#40)

People of color are dying younger and at disproportionate rates due in part to heart attacks, high blood pressure, and cardiac concerns as a result of our unprocessed trauma. When we think about trauma & mental health we don’t often think about the impact it has on our mortality. When we talk about death & reframe the way we view mental health we can better understand how to live well. Whether you are a person of color or not you need to learn how to die well!


Civil Disobedience: a Beginner’s View (Tae Phoenix, IS#38)

Ever wondered what it’s like to voluntarily get arrested for something you believe in? Open to the idea of civil disobedience but scared of all the unknowns? Want to support your activist friends without getting arrested yourself? I’ll walk you through why I chose to start doing CD and what my experiences have been like thus far. I’ll also relay the stories and guidance I’ve received from more experienced activists whose example I am working to follow.


Why We Should Teach Kids to Write Fiction (Rebecca A. Demarest, IS#40)

While expository writing is important, fiction writing can be just as important to the critical thinking skills of today’s students. It fosters a growth mindset, provides a platform to explore complex sociological concepts, and provides an outlet for a kids’ day to day struggles.


Turning orphanages into creative hubs (Simon Okelo, IS#40)

I will talk about how I have mobilized Seattle artists, filmmakers, and innovators to turn orphanages in African slums into Creative Hubs producing content and transforming communities. I will share the example of my work as the Founder & Executive Director of One Vibe Africa.


Dating Tips From a Former Dominatrix (Miss Kaila Yi, IS#38)

For 12 years, I worked as a Professional Dominant supporting my clients (mostly men) in uniquely vulnerable scenarios. Through a series of funny and unexpected stories from my former line of work (including The Pie Guy, Human Surfboard, Persian Business Owner-turned-Britney Spears, etc.), I would love to share dating tips with the audience (i.e. Be Fully Present, Know Thyself, Give, Receive) that will hopefully increase compassion, acceptance, and deeper connection with themselves and others.


How religion shaped me as a scientist (FoSheng Hsu, IS#40)

I will talk about the intersection of my Buddhist upbringing and career as a microbiologist in modern science, and how the former posed as a challenge/ conflict for the latter. Through the exploration of various examples, I will reveal that these conflicts turned out to be necessary for helping to shape my approach and work ethics in research.


Forgive and Remember: How Forgiveness Really Works (Susan Fee, IS#39)

We are biologically wired to remember pain. It informs us what to avoid so we don’t get hurt again. That’s why the common advice to “forgive and forget” is misguided. The true path to forgiveness requires the opposite – remembering. But, remembering the right things like lessons learned, not the pain itself. Other blocks to forgiveness include thinking it’s letting the person who hurt you off the hook or inviting them back into your life. Learn what it really means to forgive and how to do it.


Fix Evy-thing (Evy Haroldson, IS#39)

My name is Evy. All my life I’ve tried to fix broken things versus buying something new. I started with a Phillips/flathead screwdriver when I was ten and continue to present day. I learned that it matters how you take things apart because they don’t always go back together. I’ve fixed blue tooth headphones and blown up the mother board of my furnace. I’ve fixed TVs and replaced car parts and my friends say I can fix Evy-thing.


Oh, You’re a Mommy Who Wants to Work. How Sweet. (Nancy Jensen, IS#39)

I’ll share my back to work experience, illustrating the stark disconnect between many companies’ public commitment to diversification; the techbros who make the final call; and the reality of what happens when hiring managers are faced with a woman who, like 45% of women in the U.S., had to step away to care for her family. These women face incredibly hard, expensive, career wrecking, heart breaking choices when having to balance home and work. This is a call to action to do better.


When My Husband Said, “I Don’t Want My Penis Anymore” (Kate Pond, IS#38)

This is a story about love, loss, and courage. The kind of courage it takes to love someone unconditionally, and become the person you’re supposed to be when you have no idea what’s coming next. When my husband told me that he would be transitioning to become my wife, my world was flipped upside-down, I questioned who I am, and I knew that my life would never be the same again. Life’s hard, but it’s even more difficult when you’re not being true to yourself.

(n.b. this story was shared with the support of Kate’s former partner.)


How To See Your Own Perception Bias (Aeva Black, IS#40)

Four years ago I was a rising star of the Cloud movement, speaking at global tech conferences. Companies were throwing job offers at me! And then I changed my gender expression. In the last year, I’ve received 40 rejections, and experienced a shift in bias that no one could have prepared me for. Meditation gave me tools to understand how our perceptions are coloured by our experiences. We call this “bias”, and I have some news: we’re all biased & that’s OK. What matters is what we do with it.


Growing Up Un-Special (Leah Scherschel, IS#39)

My sister, non verbal & special needs, is an impactful teacher of life lessons- though, sometimes I proved to be a slow learner. This is a sampling of experiences and insights from a childhood of being a voice for someone who didn’t have one. From short bus rides to public outings, I learned at an early age about acceptance, some life philosophies, and the power a 5 year old wields being the voice for another.


Multisensory Music and Autism (Kent Godfrey, IS#39)

My talk is about my methods of teaching music to autistic students through senses in addition to sound. This includes activities such as object exploration, painting music, and moving to patterns that are on the floor. Consequently, the participants encounter tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony in multiple ways including whichever sense best suits them. The Ignite Seattle audience will be interested in this talk because it sheds new light on something that is ubiquitous yet is taken for granted.


Saving the Planet with your Fork (Mary Purdy, IS#40)

Close to 1/3 of greenhouse gases come from our food system! This presentation educates participants on how individual food choices and habits can affect our environment and also offers some very simple, easy and practical suggestions on diet and lifestyle shifts that can make a positive impact. Luckily, what’s good for the planet is also good for health and nobody has to become vegan to make a difference.


I like your shoes, wanna be friends? (Nadine Khoury, IS#40)

Do you remember how easy it was to make friends when you were 8. You were on the playground or in school or at the park. You might have had 50 best friends and changed them a million times and it never really mattered. Fast forward 2 and a half decades and those 50 are now 5. If you’re the type that moves around, then each of those friends is in a separate city. What happens when it’s time to move to a new city? A step by step guide of how to make friends as an adult.


An Immigrant’s Battle (Salome Munyaka, IS#39)

As an immigrant the battle to survive in this country has been trying to fight to be successful or worst case scenario be a good poor not a bad poor by the standards set, to work 3 to four jobs to keep my house , pay for food and stay of the street . the minute i have to seek welfare support whether it is due to a misfortune such as a medical condition that drains all my resources, i quickly fall in to the Bad POOR category of lazy immigrants taking all the jobs.


The Unbearable Lightness of Being… (Bruce Dawson, IS#38)

The subtitle of this talk is “The unbearable lightness of being… carried to work” and explains how I ended up with 9 of my friends carrying me to work in a homemade litter (sedan chair, palanquin). This happened as part of Commute Challenge 2018 when, for the 2nd time, I used a different commute method every day for a month. This talk (which I’ve given at work) explains the genesis of Commute Challenge, covers some of the crazy commute methods, and how my neighbors were convinced to carry me.


Confessions of an International Smuggler (Angela Barrus, IS#40)

Have you ever broken the law . . . and not realized it? I have! And you won’t believe what my crime was. Kinder Surprises are my families favorite Easter treat and because they’re not sold in the US, I made sure to buy some when I visited Canada. But on the way home, the border guard demanded that I get out of the car and show them to him. I thought he was kidding! What happened next was a series of unfortunate events including drawn guns, whiplash, concussion and bloody hands. If it hadn’t happened to me, quite frankly, I’d question the sanity of the storyteller.


I’m the weirdo who left the elevator note (Sixta Morel, IS#39)

When I moved to Seattle I learned that cultural differences can really hurt. I was told about the “Seattle freeze”, but I was not ready for the coldness I received back, with every greeting attempt. Tired of being ignored, one night I left a post-it at my building’s elevator asking residents to start greeting more. Note taken down, nothing happened, and after few more days of stone faces, an angry me, decided to get cold, like everyone else, until I got my own lesson from another neighbor


Run, Forrest Stump, Run! (Nicole Ver Kuilen, IS#38)

Nicole lost her leg to bone cancer at age 10. Since then, she’s seen incredible advances in prosthetic technology, but struggled to access something as basic as a leg to run on. After 16 years of being told “No” by insurance, Nicole was fed up. So, she quit her job and took on a 1,500 mile triathlon to raise awareness. She called her journey Forrest Stump. Nicole would prove she had the athleticism to make it to the finish. The biggest question was: would her only prosthesis survive the journey?


Does this p-value make my lies look good? (Josh Jelin, IS#40)

A Google data scientist breaks down some of the worst examples of data science in recent history. You’ll see how the austerity crisis happened, and of course learn about deadly female hurricanes. Along the way, you’ll learn a few tips to help you spot fakers, and feel a little more clever next time you see something say “according to science!!”


You can’t ask a choking person for instructions (Christin Boyd, IS#40)

I’ve practiced this talk in my grief support group. When my husband was fighting cancer, and later when I was grieving, people said, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” They meant it, but it put the burden on me. I was too overwhelmed to ask for help, drowning, choking. Instead, offer specific help to your friend. Give a few options, not too many. They brought food, chatted while we folded laundry, raked leaves, and 5 women cleaned my fridge in a flurry of rubber gloves!


Life After Death: An Instructional Guide (Heather Smith, IS#38)

On July 25th, 2017 as I was crossing the street, I was run over by a man making an illegal turn–everything went white and that was the end. I was lucky to be alive, but I had to relearn how to do every daily task from dressing myself to sequencing tasks for work projects. I became the queen of life hacks and comebacks. This talk is about how I learned to cope, what I did to rebuild my life, and how these lessons can help people find happiness in the face of fear and uncertainty.