Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Q&A with Tamara Christensen, Think Big Kansas City Speaker

Last week, I talked to Tamara Christensen, director of research at R&D Leverage and Think Big Kansas City speaker, about what she is looking forward to most at TBKC this year.  Below you will find my Q&A session with Tamara.  Don't forget to register for Think Big Kansas City, May 24, 2011 at the Kansas City Convention Center!

TBP: What made you interested in presenting at Think Big Kansas City?

Tamara: It has such a strong presence in the Kansas City entrepreneurship and business community and it’s a very well organized event.  When you put those two things together it makes for a great conference.  I think that it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and become part of the growing tribe of people in the Kansas City area that are committed to entrepreneurial excellence.

TBP: What are you looking forward to most at Think Big Kansas City 2011?
Tamara: Meeting new people and learning and teaching.  I am excited about the potential of knowledge exchange and skill-building.  I think the idea of catalyzing growth for myself and for other people in attendance.  And to be honest, also introducing my own new business. I’m starting a creative consultancy so this is the first time that I’ll be going public with that.  I am hoping that this conference will bring a lot of value to the Kansas City business and entrepreneurship community.  It’s a fun even to be in the teacher role but also in the student role.

TBP: What are you planning to present at Think Big Kansas City 2011? 
Tamara: It’s experiential and interactive and I will be talking about tools for creative thinking that people can immediately apply when they go back to their organizations.  People think that creativity takes a lot of effort, but the point of my workshop is for people to recognize that in less than 60 minutes there’s a ton of things you can do to promote and generate creative thinking in an organization.  So, in 60 minutes we are going to go through a number of activities that attendees will experience first-hand and then also afterwards we are going to de-brief so that they get tips on how to facilitate those activities.  Anyone who attends the session should prepare to become a creative catalyst for their organizations.

TBP: What makes you a good speaker for an entrepreneurship event like Think Big Kansas City? 
Tamara: I have been a speaker and a workshop leader at a number of national and international conferences over the years, but usually these conferences relate to product and service design or consumer and design research or innovation and creativity.  What’s fun for me is Think Big Kansas City is an amalgam of all of these different disciplines because successful entrepreneurship and business requires skills in all of those areas.  I think it’s an interesting coming-together and overlap of these different areas where I have had a conference presence before.  Part of it, too, is the idea that since I am starting my own consultancy, I get to come and be a speaker but I also have my own curiosity about entrepreneurship and enterprise creation.  So I get to wear both hats.

TBP: What three things will people leave your presentation with?
Tamara: Knowledge and vocabulary for discussing creative thinking as it relates to business. Also, clarity about what learnable and teachable skills and capabilities comprise creative intelligence.  And, actual practice with various tools for creative thinking that they can use immediately.

TBP: Why is entrepreneurship so important to bring to Kansas City or to the Midwest?  
Tamara: The entrepreneurship community is new for me, but it’s intriguing because it’s an investment in the future of our city and our region.  I think about other cities and what sets great cities apart from the others on the map is how receptive they are to the new and the up-and-coming.  Some of the best places to live right now—and I think Kansas City is included in there—are the places that have rising creative classes so there are a lot of fertile opportunities where people want to go to launch their big ideas and contribute to the great conversation about the future.  I feel like the Midwest right now and Kansas City in particular is like a hidden gem—we attract big players but we are also very good at nurturing home-grown talent.  We are doing a great job of fostering that.  Think Big is great because it’s another way of nurturing that home-grown talent and the entrepreneurial community before everyone else comes in and realizes how great of a place it is to do that.

TBP: What’s the one piece of advice that you would give a potential entrepreneur?
Tamara: If it’s not fun, don’t do it.  If you’re not having fun with what you’re doing from the beginning, then you are setting yourself for a long journey.  If it doesn’t feel like play, then find something else.  If you’re undertaking launching your own enterprise and it’s something you’re going to pour your heart and your soul and your life and your time into then it ought to be something that you love doing.

TBP: What are you interested in seeing at Think Big Kansas City this year?
Tamara: One is I’m looking forward to hearing from Adam Coomes with Infegy.  I think he is going to have some great lessons about research and innovation and social media.  I’m also intrigued about their company culture.  They seem to have a pretty passionate creative company culture so I’m curious to see their formula for creative success.  I am also looking forward to Pitch Big: Shark Tank Style.  It will be great learning and delicious entertainment.

TBP: How do you Think Big?
Tamara: I am a compulsive, divergent thinker so I’m always asking myself, ‘what might be all the ways to...’ and generating lots and lots of options.  I have no trouble thinking big.  Right now I’m thinking big about my new consultancy.  I’m thinking big about summer class and teaching at KU to help bring design and creativity to K-12 kids.  I’m also thinking very, very big way down the road about a life-long dream I have of opening a sustainable creativity campus near the Kansas City area that will be a resource for business and schools.  That’s the big thinking!
Interview conducted by Allison Way.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an amazing event with some amazing thinkers/speakers! Makes me home sick for Kansas City to hear about the exciting developments going on in the business community. Congrats Tamara!!