innovationAwaken 2020 is fast approaching and we are excited! One of our speakers, Roger Firestien, is going to talk to us about innovation! Here’s an interview we did with him about the event: 

Q: Why are you involved with Awaken?

A: Jim Wardlaw was one of my graduate students and he went out and started doing some really good work. Last year, when Awaken was in its first year, several of us attended, and it was a wonderful event. It takes place during springtime in Buffalo, which is beautiful. Awaken brings together such a good mix of talented people, it’s exciting! This is my second year to be a part of it (my first year as an attendee and this year as a speaker), and I look forward to being involved with Awaken in the years to come.

Q: What is the nature of your presentation?

A: My presentation will cover parts from my latest book, Create in a Flash: A leader’s recipe for breakthrough innovation, which focuses on the convergence of leadership and creativity. As human beings, we’re all creative, and we all create in different and valuable ways. Leaders can create the environments and provide the necessary tools to make creativity happen in a deliberate manner within their organizations instead of leaving it to chance. My hope is that through my experiential and application-based presentation, attendees leave with a sense of recognition and ownership of their own creativity. Creativity is the spark that ignites innovation; there is no innovation without creativity.



Q: In your opinion, why is organizational culture important?

A: The role of the leader is so important, as they establish the feel for their organization. If the leader has a toxic nature, for example, it trickles down through the rest of the company, eventually leading to apathy, stagnation, and an unsuccessful business. People will watch the leader’s walk, so it’s crucial for leaders to embody a positive, healthy work environment. Additionally, leaders need to be creative and try out new techniques; our industry, we refer to “trial and error” as “trial and learning”. Leaders also need to struggle with new ideas and become as process-literate as possible regarding the techniques and methodologies used by the organization. Essentially, the success of the company rests on the leader’s shoulders, so it’s vital they know their direction, vision, and goals.

Q: What are you looking forward to at this year’s Awaken conference?

A: Because this is my second one, I’m looking forward to seeing growth, meeting some new people and making new connections. I’m also looking forward to learning new things from attendees, as well as these extraordinary presenters.

Q: Attendees will be learning a great deal from you and other presenters at Awaken 2020. What do you specifically hope to learn?

A: I hope to pick up some new tools and ideas. The essence of creativity is making unrelatable things somehow relate to one another, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to grow my creative muscle and learn some new things. Also, this conference brings folks together – not just from professional or creative businesses – but from all walks of life, which only helps us learn more about others.

You can see Roger and others at Awaken 2020 on March 19th! Buy your tickets here.