“Giant Steps is fertile networking ground. A few years back I saw Nancy Lyons speak on a panel, and knew I needed to rope her into speaking to the young women’s leadership group that I co-chair. She’s done it for three years in a row now, bless her heart. I connected with Zahra Aljabri the same year I met Nancy, and we’ve collaborated several times. I was able to feature her business, Mode-sty, in one of my Star Tribune articles and on my blog. This year, Zahra gave a keynote to my young women’s leadership group, and they adored her. I also connected with Levi Weinhagen two years in a row, which led to some writing work at Rewire for me and friendship of mutual respect. Giant Steps has introduced me to some of my favorite people in the world, and I know that attending connects me with some of the Twin Cities’ most talented, driven, innovative people.”
Sally McGraw-Author, Teacher, Communications Professional; Blogger/Owner, Already Pretty
• Have you made any connections at Giant Steps that have led to new projects, new opportunities, or enhanced your work in some way? Yes and Yes! I met so many new faces as Giant Steps 2014. I exchanged several business cards with creatives that spoke on several panels or break out workshops, and I was able to connect with a few other guests as well. Since then, a few GS panelists have hired me to help with PR initiatives for their projects or have asked me to collaborate with them. Ex: Desdamona, Pete Rhodes, Sherwood Herndon just to name a few
• Did you learn or hear something at Giant Steps that shifted your thinking? Absolutely. I learned that I am not alone in my business endeavors. It was great to hear stories from the panelists about their wins and challenges, and also how they tried to overcome moments of failure. I also loved hearing about the Legal insight from the breakout session, and also how to maximize social media and online platforms. I was able to take my mindset I had, and allow myself to open up for more ideas and think bigger picture rather than small steps. But also, some of the insight given mentioned to take it one step at a time and not get too overwhelmed with the bigger picture. One step, One day at a time 🙂
• Did you come away from Giant Steps with a new way of looking at what you do or a new way of looking at our community of creatives? So much so! It was very inspiring to be in a venue and room with others that are passionate about what they do, or passionate about supporting and learning of others. It was great to see a musician, television rep, donut shop owner, and others all have such different stories yet so much in common with the challenges they faced and overcame. It was great to see others that I know and also met share their stories because now I can help support them and I wouldn’t have learned of/about them any other way. Giant Steps was a great platform for inspiration on my personal and business endeavors, but also a great way to gain exposure to other like minded people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Since then I’ve attended a few of their events or subscribed to their channels/email lists, plus quite a few coffee/HHs set up 🙂 That’s always fun
I was invited to speak at Giant Steps 2011 on a panel with Kevin Beacham. Afterward, we talked in depth about how the music and film communities faced similar struggles and opportunities for audience-building and distribution, in light of our growing social media and web environment. That fortuitous meeting lead to future meetings and eventually a collaborative relationship. Kevin serves as the Music Supervisor for my episodic documentary web series, Risking Light, which will launch this summer. This web series is one of the first of its kind for documentary film in its construction and distribution strategy. As Music Supervisor, Kevin has sourced music from local musicians, as well as introduced me to Chris Strouth, who is writing original theme music for the series. This collaboration will introduce local musicians to an entirely new international audience through the release of Risking Light and strengthens the ties between the local music and film communities, which tend to work in silos. Anyone who has met Kevin knows that he’s a wonderful person and community-oriented collaborator. I feel so lucky to have met him through Giant Steps.
-Dawn Mikkelson Filmmaker, Founder of Emergence Pictures
I’ve been a part of 4 different years of Giant Steps, and I’ve walked away from 3 of them with job offers and new collaborators. Last year, through a connection I made at GS, McNally Smith College of Music invited me to perform, lecture, and compose with their students. This, in turn, introduced me to a singer who I went on to record an album with, a horn arranger who I wrote 2 new songs with, and a couple key staff members at 89.3 The Current. More than any work offer or useful connection though, what I’ve taken away from Giant Steps is an important lesson: “Networking” doesn’t need to feel forced or sleazy…it can simply mean recognizing that there are lessons to be learned from people no matter how similar or different their work is from yours, and opportunities can come from very unexpected places.”
~ Brendan Kelly Producer, DJ
“My first Giant Steps was as an attendee, very close in time to when I started my own firm and was still wondering if I could make it work. I found a community at Giant Steps that made me realize I could, and that there were also a LOT of folks I’d really love to work with, including my son’s mom, who was a panelist and who I had recently separated from. Giant Steps was the first event we attended together again, and it was the perfect place for us to realize how many similarities we still had, and how we still wanted to support each other. The following year I became involved as a presenter and sponsor, and have been happy to support Giant Steps and bring others into the family each year.”
~ Davis Senseman Lawyer
Question #1 – I made an amazing connection that led to a wonderful summer project with a group of artist. I was the photographer for the project. It was a program for young people of color and introducing them to the arts at the Ordway and visiting McNally. The students created a program to show their various talents. They worked with local, national and international artist. I had just lost my job, the position was terminated. I was freaking out, but my wonderful friend Lisa Brimmer thought of me and the pictures I took at Giant Steps and hired me to cover her wonderful program. I got to work with Chasity Brown, Toki Wright and Chad Helsup. It was great, we were friends prior but never got a moment to work together. I am so grateful for Susan Campion for introducing me to Giant Steps it not only allowed me to make connection with new people but also allowed me to reconnect with others whom I never had the chance to work with.
Question #2 – One of the biggest and important things that I have learned at Giant Steps is that you can forge your own path, you don’t have to stick to what society says for your career and business life. I was always wondering how in the heck would I be able to put my art and business life together and Giant Steps helped with their panel discussion and workshops on different ways you can live your dreams. Another huge thing was always always keep an open mind and see how you can use your art to connect with businesses looking to market in different ways. We all have hobbies and things we LOVE to do even if our business life is the total opposite.
Question #3 – I definitely left with new ways of looking at our unique community of creatives. I met an artist that literally has his work embedded in the sidewalks around the Twin Cities!! Everytime I see one of his poems on the sidewalk, I get re-inspired and reminds me that the world will make room for your dreams and it could be right under your feet! LOL!!!
~ Bianca Rhodes (don’t have her title) and format of her testimonial too????
-Yes!! I connected with one of the panelist and I am in one of her projects. I heard Joan Vorderbruggen speak about how she got her current job and when she stepped into the office saw the dimension on the project and decided to say she needed a raise and full time to be able to do it. Getting that strength to ask for what you need even while its your dream come true stuck with me.
I approached her later since I follow closely the Made Here Series and love her projects as well as her work ethic and now I feel honored to be part of Made Here 2015.
-Everything shifted! It gave me a sense of acceptance that beginning’s may not look as much, may take longer than expected or be discouraged at the time. I just remember so vividly the story Sherwood Herndon told about his meeting in New York and how he came up with the idea and ironed his shirt at 4 am because he could not sleep anymore, he was ready. It just made me feel I am on the right track when I feel that urge to move forward. I have been encouraging my gut instincts for this past year and my resume is proof.
-Yes. You can ask community creatives who attend Giant Steps out for coffee and all most all of them will say yes!!! (biggest secret ever kept and Nancy Lyons made me notice it)
LOL. I sometimes visualize those conversations in my head, it helps to develop a creative discourse worth while when encountering admirable community creators like the ones who speak at Giant Steps. It’s nice to be alert of the projects that are going around and be able to participate when possible even as a spectator. Just loove Giant Steps!!
~ Carolina Borja
What I love most about Giant Steps and what I think sets it a part from so many other conferences aimed at “creatives,” is that it takes the word “creative” and makes it attainable and own-able for everyone. My first year at Giant Steps I met musicians, artists, business owners, accountants, and teachers ALL trying to collaborate for the sake of creativity. That’s what makes the connections I’ve made there authentic; you’re connecting by influencing one another.
~ Courtney Kupsch
I’ve attended two Giant Steps conferences including last year’s conference. The speakers motivated me to follow my dream in using my skills, experience and education in the corporate world to launch an arts-based, for profit, social benefit company called Glorious Hugs. We curate care themed packages of local handmade art, commissioned poetry, design discussion questions on the art and poetry and add food and other items to alleviate loneliness and encourage social interaction in senior citizens.
Thank you for the shot of courage!
Mary MacCarthy (her title?)