Hosted annually by The Atlantic, the Washington Ideas Forum is a celebration of thought leadership—where entrepreneurs, journalists, business executives, and creatives are invited to hear from some of the biggest names in leadership, innovation, communications, and politics.
Speakers and presenters ranging from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to WeWork founder Adam Neumann faced tough questions, shared personal and professional anecdotes, and took an opportunity to share the “secret sauce” (an oft-repeated buzzword) that they believe others should be incorporating in their own current and future endeavors.
We sent a crew of HZers to take it all in—here are some of the big ideas they brought back with them:
Between discussing the validity of converting an avalanche’s raw power into a usable energy source and updating the crowd on “Project Loon” (which uses balloons the size of houses to bring internet access to the most remote reaches of the globe), Astro Teller, the “Captain of Moonshot” at (Google’s Alphabet’s) Company X shared this advice for employers looking to foster creativity on their teams.
Teller explained that great ideas may not always pan out, but they sometimes lead to other great ideas. Celebrating the thinking rather than the end result helps build an office culture where people feel empowered to bring big and bold ideas to the table. And if people feel comfortable bringing up big and bold ideas, they are sure to hit gold sooner or later.
On a panel charged with answering one of the bigger questions regarding #TheFutureOfWork — “What is the recipe for success in the future of work?” — Noguera boldly and honestly championed diversity. As the founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels, she works to change “the face of angel investing and creating capital for women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs.”
Explicit inclusivity, she shared, is the only way to change the way we can work together in the future. Challenging the audience to dive deeper into what it truly means to work toward inclusiveness in the workplace, Noguera suggested a TED Talk by Mellody Hobson that echoed her own sentiments — “Are you color blind, or color brave?”
The founder of oral history project StoryCorps, David Isay spoke with PBS’s Alison Stewart about the power of undivided attention and fearless dialogue. Isay, who worked for years in public radio and produced social justice documentaries, explained his mission for the project, which allows members of the public—family members, friends, colleagues—to visit an interview booth and talk with each other about their lives and experiences.
“I knew that the microphone gives you the license … to answer questions more boldly and to ask questions that you don’t typically ask,” Isay said. Half a million people have participated to date, a popularity Isay attributes to a desire to be heard and treated with dignity. “Everybody wants to feel like they matter,” he explained.