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“You never know what BIF storytellers are going to talk about, and you can’t foresee how someone’s story will affect you.”

Here at BIF, we can hardly wait for September, when the annual BIF Collaborative Summit happens — and if we, who put on the Summit every year, are excited about it, imagine how excited the Summit-goers are! We’ve asked some past participants, and a few first-time attendees, to describe this excitement. Up now: Doug Williams, who has attended two previous BIF Summits. Doug is Director of Research at StratCommRX and Chief Research Officer at Innovation Excellence.

We asked Doug one question: What is it about the BIF Summit that excites you the most? Here’s his answer:

“I love the sense of anticipation I feel when stepping into the Trinity Theater. At other conferences, I find myself reading through the schedule, identifying the sessions I want to attend based on who the speaker is, where they are from, or the subject. But that doesn’t apply at BIF. Don’t get me wrong: the list of BIF storytellers is often peppered with plenty of bold-face names, as well as senior people from big-name brands. What’s different is that you never know what they are going to talk about, and you can’t foresee how someone’s story will affect you. There’s an element of surprise with every storyteller who takes the stage, and that makes BIF fun and engaging in a way that is different from any other conference I’ve attended.

“My first BIF Summit was shocking. I went into it completely blind, without expectations. By the first break on Day 1, I was overwhelmed by what I had seen and heard. Four people all had done something really cool in their lives, something significant, something that made a difference. Was I inspired? To be honest, the answer was no. I felt inadequate. What had I done that was worthy of sharing with the masses? Nothing that could compare with the four stories I had just heard.

“But over the course of the day, my attitude changed. And by the end of Day 2, I realized something. The reason I didn’t have a story to tell is because my story isn’t finished yet. And two years later, it’s still not finished. And that’s okay.

“I attended my second Summit last year, as part of the #RCUS crew. (That was my first clue that I had done something right in my rookie year.) I saw lots of familiar faces, shared hugs and smiles with friends I hadn’t seen since the prior year, sat in my same seat in the theater, and was similarly blown away by the stories I heard from the stage. My familiarity with the event did not overshadow the sense of anticipation I had for what was happening on the stage.

“What was different in my second year was that I started feeling anticipation before breaks, lunch, and cocktails. At BIF, people network  but what I’ve found is that they network for YOU, not for THEM. This is not a “what’s in it for me” crowd. This is an enabling crowd full of people who think about what you tell them and find ways to help, whether by offering a kind word, a quick brainstorming session, an introduction to someone else, or a deep conversation about What Really Matters.

“My third BIF Summit is less than two months away. That sense of anticipation that I love is starting to build. I’m looking forward to all the things I know will happen, and I can’t wait to find out the unknowns that will unfold before me.”