To be more innovative in your business life, you need to go outside your normal boundaries.  You need to go to where the newest of the “new” is actively being revealed and discussed, where experimentation and a willingness to learn runs rampant, where vision is focused on the edges and intersections of everything. Get thee to an innovation conference!

There is nothing more exhilarating than seeing how a small group of dedicated and passionate “amateurs” can do what major corporations, NGOs and governments can’t or won’t. Listen to Joi Ito, director of MIT Media Lab, discuss, in his recent TED talk, how they created SafeCast -- one of the most successful citizen science projects ever -- in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Japanese government’s unresponsiveness in providing information. It begs the question: if they can do that, what could you do for your clients and your community?

There is nothing more amazing than actually hearing and talking to the leaders of massive positive change, learning exactly how they are accomplishing the incredible or impossible, and realizing the true extent of how much and how fast our world is really changing. It is proof positive of author William Gibson’s statement that, “The future is here. It is just not evenly distributed.”

For a detailed example of the topics and discussions in a major innovation conference, click here to see an executive summary of the past 3 day 2014 Front End of Innovation Conference in Boston.

Innovation conferences exist in their own unique sector of the world. They recall Douglas Adams’ novel title The Restaurant at the Edge of the Universe, or more down to earth, as described in The Medici Effect, one thinks of Peter’s Café in the port city of Horta in the Azores. Peter’s Café is a meeting place, like the coffee houses of yore, in the middle Atlantic, where world-traveling sailors stop between Europe and the Americas. These are the places of random connection, diverse viewpoints and cultural convergence, where ideas intermingle and collide. They become nexus points in the world of new ideas.

In my forays into these bastions of extreme creativity and courage, I have found incredible energy from so many proactive and inquisitive minds -- across all industries -- with a genuine desire to connect, share and learn. They gather to celebrate their passion about solving big problems, leading change, and making innovation real and more prevalent in their businesses and their communities. They refuse to be blind-sided by the hyper-rate of change happening all around them, and wisely, are positioning themselves to start leading it.

Julie Anixter, an innovation dynamo that is actively involved in numerous major innovation organizations like, Disruptor Foundation, Think Remarkable and Maga Design Group, wrote a great blog post a few years ago entitled “7 Ways Conferences Cause you to Innovate.” She states, unequivocally, if you are serious about being more innovative in your work and life, then innovation conferences must become “a strategic choice about how and where to invest your discretionary time.” They can be foundational for your creative confidence and courage in taking the steps and risks necessary to create and offer new ideas, business models and services to your clients and community. They can “inspire and nurture your work, your imagination and your willingness to push beyond your comfort  zone. They are fuel.”

Her list of seven ways innovation conferences can help:

1. You may discover your tribe (i.e. innovation network), and tribes help you grow.

2. They validate what’s possible by seeing it in others.

3. They provide exposure to people’s life work across a very broad front of experience.

4. Your wildest creative nature gets a shove in the right direction.

5. Your standards get challenged and raised.

6. You meet life-changing people - passionate innovators who can become friends and more.

7.  You learn from your innovation role models live and in person.

The Institute will continue to search out and alert you to upcoming innovation events on our news page of our Web site and endeavor to negotiate discounts for our financial services members.

Here are a number of innovation events coming up. An institute 20 perccent discount is provided where applicable:

Front End of Innovation Toronto (9/29-10/1)
discount code: FEIT14IID

Market Research for Product Innovation (9/29-10/1, Chicago) 
discount code:  MK_IDD

Back End of Innovation (Oct 6-8, Las Vegas) 
discount code: BEI14IID

InnovationExcellence Innovation Cities Tour (10/29, Chicago)

Open Innovation Summit  (Chicago 10/30-31)
discount code: IID20

Chief Innovation Officer Summit (12/3-4, New York City) 
discount code: IID20

Going to an innovation conference is good for your creative heart and soul, and provides you with ideas and tools for building unique relationships with your clients and community. They can be an essential part of your annual creative process, allowing you to see what matters right now; help you uncover what is missing in your world of business, technology and marketing; and allow you to build an innovation network of people that can help motivate the innovator inside you.

The Institute for Innovation Development is an educational and business development catalyst for growth-oriented financial services firms. We position our members with the necessary ongoing innovation resources and coaching to drive and facilitate their growth, differentiation and unique community engagement strategies. The institute was launched with the support and foresight of our founding sponsors -- Innovation Equity Partners, Pershing, Ultimus Fund Solutions, Fidelity, MeridianIQ/AdviceIQ & Charter Financial Publishing (publisher of Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines). For more information or to join, click here.