House of Genius Minneapolis – “Ice Cracking”

One day after the inaugural House of Genius-Minneapolis session and I’m still fired up over having the chance to sit in as the scribe for the event.  I didn’t participate as a panelist in the discussion and probably for good reason, after hearing from all the quick-thinking professionals in the room.  Regardless, this was without a doubt, an eye opening experience for a college student like me.

If you’re not familiar with the House of Genius format, check it out. I’d like to highlight one aspect of the format – the “anonymity”. Everyone in the room is on a first name-only basis and is asked to refrain from discussing anything about their background or experience. This is the secret sauce of House of Genius that brings out the brilliance of everyone in the room.  There is no “qualifying” or possibly even worse, “disqualifying”, of comments or feedback from people in the room.  It was the fuel that fired the free and exciting flow of a great session.

Now, I am about as green as you would expect from a college student when it comes to the workings of the professional world. I’m typically just struggling to figure out what the heck is going on in operations class, the best way to BS a post-marketing lecture reflection paper, and how to spend my weekends.  This night of disruptive thinking is exactly what I needed to break from the status quo and get a breath of fresh air courtesy of real, practicing, business and entrepreneurial professionals with diverse backgrounds.  In fact, I am completely skirting some homework responsibilities to write this while the excitement from last night is still fresh.

While taking notes for the event was fairly difficult because of the pace, fortunately, I still had a chance to soak in the collaboration being had amongst the geniuses in the room.  The content was equal parts inspirational, informative, and new to me.  I have never felt that excited when leaving a  classroom-like setting, nor has a class ever felt like it flew by quite like this House of Genius session flew by.

Our three presenters were nearly as diverse as the panelists providing the insight.  We led off with Tarmac, a near shore consulting services company that specializes in ruby on rails and grails development.  Next up was Docalytics, a company with a web-based platform that provides B2B marketers with more efficient lead capture and deeper engagement analytics surrounding their document based content marketing resources.  Finally, GetKnit Events, a Twin Cities based company that provides a platform for local businesses, individuals, and non-profits to experience events in the area that may otherwise be unheard of.

Each of the three presenters came to House of Genius with different challenges they were looking for help with and the panel offered insightful suggestions and ideas for each of them. This included a recommendation that Tarmac change the way they market their differentiators and the possibility of integrating Docalytics with existing applications. By the end of the night, everyone in attendance seemed to keep referring back to one thing though. Whiskey and whitewater rafting. Specifically referencing the exciting and unusual events they wanted to see GetKnit start hosting. I will spare further details of the discussions because there is no way I could do them justice. After all, the “genius” is created in the room of anonymous people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

For those of you that haven’t lost interest in this piece, thanks for bearing with me on my first blog post.  I couldn’t have adequately conveyed the power of this disruptive thinking but hopefully I have at least given you a sense of how powerful and exciting it was for me, and maybe even inspired you to check it out for yourself.

Thanks to all in attendance and to those who made the first House of Genius-Minneapolis experience possible.  I’m certainly looking forward to seeing new faces, perspectives and the collaborative “genius” in future Minneapolis sessions.

– Jacob Kaska

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