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Where Do Big Ideas for Greater Good Come From? Humanitarians Tell All

Brian Southwell at SwitchPoint 2017

Brian's sound booth at SwitchPoint 2017. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.


Brian Southwell asks some big questions. And these SwitchPoint speakers answer.


Ideas are to SwitchPoint what wind is to a hurricane. The conference swirls with innovative approaches, unexpected methods, and brilliant inventions.

Even the information is presented in unconventional ways, including through networking events and microlabs where attendees interact with presenters in intimate settings.

If you’re anything like me, though, when the winds happen to carry you over to someone you really admire, you’re too starstruck to ask the question that slices through pleasantries and gets to the heart of the matter: why do you do what you do?

Listening to this series is both inspiring and unnerving.

Not Brian Southwell. He’s the host of The Measure of Everyday Life, a weekly radio show sponsored by RTI International. Brian sat down with SwitchPoint 2017 speakers to extract the origins of their inspiration, the source of stimulation, the foundation for motivation.

Where do good ideas come from? he asks. How are they developed? And how are they shared?

You can hear what he found in this three-part podcasts series:

What I love most about these podcasts is that we get to hear about a side of the SwitchPoint speakers that we didn’t see during their presentations. And although the questions Brian asks are universal, the answers convey a poignancy unique to each presenter and the challenges they seek to address.

Brian doesn’t just want to hear about good ideas. He’s interested in the process—where do the whispers of inspiration originate? What conditions are necessary for ideas to be whipped into maturity?

For me, listening to this series is both inspiring and unnerving. As an organizer of SwitchPoint, it’s a relief to know that, even if I never come up with the next great invention, I can at least create a platform where ideas can be shared and where collaborations can swirl.

On the other hand, SwitchPoint showcases just a tiny eddy of the ideas for greater social good that are out there—many of which will never make it beyond the rainstorm phase. But little by little, we can help create impact and progress.

So save the date for SwitchPoint 2018. Together we’ll storm the Haw River Ballroom as we conceive, develop, and deliver a tidal wave of ideas.

SwitchPoint 2018: April 26 & 27, Saxapahaw, North Carolina

Listen to the podcasts here:

SwitchPoint is hosted every year in North Carolina by IntraHealth International. It’s where humanitarian innovation, global health, and technology collide. 

Photos

Often ideas arise out of opportunity and necessity. “As soon as I started following the Ebola epidemic, I realized the need for modification of the suits. We reduced the [donning] process from a 17-minute process that required 2 people down to about 5 minutes and 1 person.” <i>—<a href=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW8SKlxzgPU>Jill Andrews</a>, wedding gown/Ebola suit designer</i>. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.

Often ideas arise out of opportunity and necessity. “As soon as I started following the Ebola epidemic, I realized the need for modification of the suits. We reduced the [donning] process from a 17-minute process that required 2 people down to about 5 minutes and 1 person.” Jill Andrews, wedding gown/Ebola suit designer. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.

But once ideas are born, how do they grow? Enter: SwitchPoint. “There are people who have great ideas all over the world. Sadly, we’ll never know many of those ideas and many solutions to giant world problems could be in someone’s head that never has a platform, or support, or funding. Part of why we bring people to SwitchPoint is to connect those dots and get past the great idea and into action and impact.” <i>—<a href=https://event.switchpointideas.com/heather-lagarde>Heather LaGarde</a>, SwitchPoint producer</i>. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.

But once ideas are born, how do they grow? Enter: SwitchPoint. “There are people who have great ideas all over the world. Sadly, we’ll never know many of those ideas and many solutions to giant world problems could be in someone’s head that never has a platform, or support, or funding. Part of why we bring people to SwitchPoint is to connect those dots and get past the great idea and into action and impact.” Heather LaGarde, SwitchPoint producer. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.

“A lot of my personal success is due to coming across champions who can recognize a good idea and then remove hurdles for me so I can get it done.” <i>—<a href=https://event.switchpointideas.com/phaedra-boinodiris>Phaedra Boinodiris</a>, IBM gaming guru</i>. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.

“A lot of my personal success is due to coming across champions who can recognize a good idea and then remove hurdles for me so I can get it done.” Phaedra Boinodiris, IBM gaming guru. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.

Once an idea is formed and tested, the third and final stage looms: delivery. This can be the most exhilarating and nerve-wracking stage. “I’m passionate about what I do so that part, I’m not nervous about. As long as I can talk from my heart I think I’ll be fine. I just don’t want to sound like an idiot.” <i>—<a href=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg9cKzLTxQA>Shawn McKinney</a>, frontline health worker</i>.
Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.

Once an idea is formed and tested, the third and final stage looms: delivery. This can be the most exhilarating and nerve-wracking stage. “I’m passionate about what I do so that part, I’m not nervous about. As long as I can talk from my heart I think I’ll be fine. I just don’t want to sound like an idiot.” Shawn McKinney, frontline health worker. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.

“SwitchPoint is a meeting of lots of ideas and different ways of doing things. I’m really excited about telling my story, but also about hearing other stories that I can take back to my country and change the reality of our communities.” <i>—<a href=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF-yie1O-O8>Vânia Soares de Oliveira e Almeida Pinto</a>, frontline health worker</i>. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.

“SwitchPoint is a meeting of lots of ideas and different ways of doing things. I’m really excited about telling my story, but also about hearing other stories that I can take back to my country and change the reality of our communities.” Vânia Soares de Oliveira e Almeida Pinto, frontline health worker. Photo by Ted Richardson for IntraHealth International.