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At the BIF Summit, you can leave your language at the door and just talk. – Lois Kelly

“We want our Collaborative Innovation Summit filled from stage to seats with people sharing transformation ideas and stories,” says BIF Creative Catalyst Saul Kaplan.

After all, it was out of the Summit that the hashtag #RCUS was coined — Random Collisions of Unusual Suspects. And from now until the Summit takes place in September, we’ll run a series of short interviews with former Summit attendees who’ll tell us in their own words why the BIF Summit is a must-go event and how #RCUS has changed their lives. Next up, longtime friend-of-BIF Lois Kelly of Foghound, a “guide, facilitator, and thought-provoker” who helps organizations and their people change and grow. Lois is a co-author, Along with BIF6 and BIF9 storyteller Carmen Medina, of the upcoming book Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within.

Here’s her answer to the question: Why go to the BIF summit?

In our work, we get in these silos, whether the silos are in companies or in industries. So if you’re in healthcare you say to people, “Do you have healthcare experience? No? Oh well, no.” And then we fall into our comfort zones. We start hanging around with people just like us. Even on social media, people start following people who think just like they do. So you don’t often get the opportunity to be with people who are different. But the BIF Summit is a safe environment where you can talk about everything or nothing. I love talking about everything and nothing! Sometimes when you talk about nothing with certain people, it turns into something.

We all have our work, we have our jobs, which takes up a huge amount of time. We have our neighborhoods of people we feel comfortable with. We live in the suburbs so it’s not like you’re waiting at the bus stop with a bunch of different people. When I grew up I would see many different people  everyone walked down to the bus stop. On our street we had housepainters, MIT professors, truck drivers, engineers, and they would all walk down to the bus stop together. They would talk about sports, what they were doing. The interesting conversations are among people who have different perspectives.

And even if you don’t share the same ideas, there’s something about when you get to know someone as a person, you might not agree with them, but it’s fun to converse with them. Whereas I think with our politics and media and social media, it’s like, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong.’ Win or lose. I think if you know people as people, you actually think about the ideas more. If you don’t know them as people, if it’s just a tweet, you just miss it.

The other thing I like about the BIF Summit is really hearing ideas. It’s a bullshit filter. At some industry conferences, you just hear the “party line” and you have to be “on” all the time. At the Summit, you don’t have to be “on” and other people aren’t “on,” either. There’s no bullshit, no jargon, no industry-specific language that siloes you. You can leave your language at the door and just talk.