Why I Didn’t Show Up to Work Friday (Plus My Idea Worth Spreading)

by rc


As a creative writer, my habit is to scope out inspiration by attending storytelling workshops and writing courses, picking up a good book, or visiting an art museum. Just a couple weeks ago, I took a Meditation and Writing class at StoryStudio Chicago, which taught me about the connection between good writing and a clear mind.

But it wasn’t until I attended the 2015 TEDxNaperville conference that I realized I haven’t been looking for inspiration in enough different places.

Imagine the lessons you could learn by being in the same room as a physicist who may have a solution to an ecological disaster, a 15-year-old young woman determined to stop cyberbullying at the source, and a man who first jumped out of an airplane at the age of four.

TEDxNaperville was an all-day event with 11 fascinating speakers who are significantly shaping the world we live in.

New Environment. New People. New Ideas.

These speakers came from all sorts of backgrounds, including criminal justice, biology, and psychology — none related directly to my career. But it didn’t matter; new ideas evolve in the most unpredictable places.

It was a great opportunity to learn from those who are extremely different from me. Each talk had something I could take home and apply in my own life.

Here are three out of the 11 stories I heard during TEDxNaperville and what I learned from them:

Story 1

Jeff Wallace is a man who was sentenced to jail when he was a juvenile. Now, he is working towards a PhD and making huge strides in our juvenile justice system by reevaluating how we work with young men and women to help get them back on the right track.

What this talk taught me …

Sometimes, the wrong path can also lead us towards a bright future, and it is always possible to change things around for the better.

Story 2 

Ice skater and Olympic Champion Meryl Davis’s journey towards success wasn’t easy. Her severe dyslexia felt like a burden, but she found the courage to chase her dream anyway.

What this talk taught me …

No matter what, there will always be setbacks; it’s how we deal with them that impacts our future.

Story 3

Jack Gilbert, Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evaluation, shared how we may be killing too much good bacteria when obsessively killing the bad.

What this talk taught me …

Always reevaluate what we think we already know. Every day, there is a new finding, new evidence, and a gap between knowledge and facts. And it’s okay to question things. That’s what keeps our world interesting.

Just for Fun, Here’s my “Idea Worth Spreading”

Want to spark some inspiration in your employees? Take two completely different people, with unique sets of skills, who tend to think very differently, and have them work on a project together. It can even be more than two employees, maybe three, maybe even ten. Just pretend it’s like the MTV reality show, Real World, and throw insanely different types of people in a room and watch what happens. You may be shocked by what they come up with.

My Challenge to You:

Haven’t fallen into the TED Talks craze? You’re in for a treat. Simply visit and search [TED Talks – {topic of choice}]. You will come across dozens and dozens of inspirational talks from people from different industries and backgrounds. The TED Talks rightly given tagline, “Ideas Worth Spreading,” is on point. All of these talks are worth sharing with your personal network. And yes! This is the event that forced me to shut down my work computer (and even turn my phone off during the talks). One of the many perks of working at Red Caffeine is our dedication to making time for events like these. Our company values education, learning, and new experiences. It’s our secret to keeping our team productive, creative, and smart.