In The News

2011 Imagine Solutions Conference, Inspiring Minds For Change

January 07, 2011

What if…40+ world class thinkers and doers + 500 leaders got together for two days?

You would:
• Learn from the best minds on our most relevant issues
• Be Inspired
• Opportunities for one-on-one conversations with these speakers, and this engaged audience
• Network

Create knowledge that is actionable
NAPLES, FL., January 7, 2011 — Would you like to join in a discussion of today’s most pressing issues with the country’s greatest thinkers and doers, and 500 like-minded Southwest Florida leaders?  Would you like to be part of creating solutions for those problems?  Then the Imagine Solutions Conference was designed just for you.

A thought-leader conference with a difference
Imagine Solutions, which is hosted by the non-profit Searching for Solutions Institute, debuted last year in Naples.  Its founders, Tom Everist and Randy Antik, based their initiative on a confluence of issues.  First, they recognized the critical need for private sector leadership – from the local to the national level.  At the same time, they were aware of the exceptional talent within current and former executives in the Southwest Florida area.

After completing significant research on the market and extensive consultation with educational institutions, foundations, and other world-caliber organizations, they clearly saw the potential to catalyze solutions to today’s social problems by linking learning and leadership – and, along the way, to brand Southwest Florida as an intellectual destination.

And so they decided to create a thought leader conference with a difference, a program that would inspire minds for change.  Similar to TED and the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival, the Southwest Florida event was based on bringing thought-provoking ideas across a range of issues to a curious and sophisticated audience.  Then, the attendees would be encouraged to network with the speakers and one another, and to discover ways to affect change, in their own community and beyond.

Over two days that included breakfast, lunch and dinner, four dozen prominent presenters took 17 minutes each to inform an audience of 450 on the crucial issues of the economy, energy, medicine, environment and other topics.  One attendee called the Conference “a sonic boom for Naples.”  Another reported it to be “the best thing I have done in Naples.”  “Mind-opening, encouraging, and inspiring,” said another.  Clearly, the Conference itself was a hit.  But its impact did not stop there.

Initiatives to create change
About one-third of the 2010 attendees, bolstered with important thinking and new connections, are working to convert their learning to leadership.  Some have chosen individual support – providing financial and human resources to programs they discovered at the conference.  Several are, for example, providing counsel to a young social entrepreneur who is expanding his concept of private schools for inner city children.  One has recommended a Conference program to a national board on which he serves.  Others have provided funding for speaker programs.

Some attendees have chosen to join Initiative Teams, joining together with like-minded attendees to pursue important goals such as reduction in healthcare costs through the use of living wills, or promoting fitness participation throughout Southwest Florida.

And one 8th grade Language Arts teacher undertook the task of developing an entire curriculum around a portion of the Conference, using speaker videos as a stimulus for learning, classwork and projects; teachers throughout Collier County, and even from other markets, now have access to her work.

2011 Conference planning nearing completion
The 2011 Imagine Solutions Conference, scheduled for March 21 and 22 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, promises to build on the success of the inaugural Conference. More than forty of the country’s most important thought leaders have already been booked to bring their big ideas to Southwest Florida.  They include experts who every day appear on national media, publish authoritative books, testify in Congressional hearings, appear at thought leader conferences worldwide, consult with public and private sector leadership – and impact millions of lives.

Included are a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, a NASA Chief Scientist, the Creator of “Planet Earth,” Fortune Magazine’s “Mr. Gene,” the Founder of “Teach for America,” author of “top ten medical research trends to watch in 2010,  several from TIME’s 100 most influential people, executive director (emeritus) of UNICEF,  and National Geographic Explorers-In-Residence. These remarkable speakers will address seven pressing topic areas, as outlined below:

ECONOMY:  Can America compete?
Prosperity in the global economy requires re-thinking of standard priorities.  CNBC Anchor Tyler Mathisen will moderate a panel of distinguished journalists affiliated with The Fiscal Timesaddressing this issue.

EDUCATION:  Breakthrough ideas
Innovation is critical to an education system in crisis.  Speakers Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America,    and Mike Feinberg, founder of the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Charter Schools will be joined by experts presenting three other breakthrough ideas.

ENERGY:  A  new way forward
Energy independence relies on identifying sustainable resources.   Chief NASA Scientist, Langley Research Center Dennis Bushnell and others will discuss both realities of and possibilities for this quest.

INSIGHT:  Unexpected wisdom
Humans crave learning, from the inexplicable to the incredible.   Speakers sharing extraordinary experiences will include the executive producer of “Planet Earth,” Mike Gunter and Discovery Explorer Oliver Steeds, together with the leading authority of Innovation as a Competitive Advantage.

LEADERSHIP:  Pace-setting women
Women are re-defining effective leadership.  From the world’s leading voice against human trafficking and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Somaly Mam, to the world’s leading expert on women in Islam, Isobel Coleman, speakers will offer important perspective.

MEDICINE:   Game-changing Genomics
Genomics holds hope of preventing, treating and curing disease on an individualized basis.   Addressing the potential and the challenges are Juan Enriquez, who Fortune has termed “Mr. Gene,” National Geographic Genographic Project Director Spencer Wells, and several others.

Among those representing a new class of leaders taking an entrepreneurial approach to resolving social problems are Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and JB Schramm, whose “College Summit” initiative helps economically disadvantaged students enter college.

Limited seating still available
The 2011 Conference will be limited to 500 attendees in the main hall, in order to assure attendee access to speakers and one another during the numerous conversation and meal breaks.  Based on a strong renewal rate from 2010 attendees and a growing awareness of the Conference, more than 300 of those seats already have been committed.

At the same time, efforts are underway to support not only the continuation of attendee initiatives begun in 2010, but also the development of new initiatives based on the 2011 conference.

For those who want to experience intellectual networking with purpose, the Imagine Solutions Conference and Initiatives provide an important and unusual opportunity.  Additional information on the Imagine Solutions Conference and Initiatives, together with videos of 2010 speakers, is available at, or by calling Beth Oliver, Membership Relations Director, at 239.216.4227.