The 99% Conference: A Recap

99 Percent

Yesterday I attended the 99% Conference at the Times Center. Curated and organized by Bēhance and Cool Hunting, the conference focused not on generating ideas but on making them a reality. (The name comes from the famous quote by Thomas Edison, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration!”)

Here’s a quick recap of the things I enjoyed. (swissmiss has some recaps up as well right here.)

  • Cheryl Dorsey, of Echoing Green, an organization that invests in socially-based start-ups, talked about their idea of Social Entrepreneurial Intelligence. This model encompasses traits that are consistently found in successful social entrepeneurs. She didn’t have time to get through all of them, but a few of the ways this successful group is described include focused and the ability to execute with alacrity, solutions-oriented, resource magnet, asset-based thinking, and a deep and unshakable obligation to a cause.
  • Ji Lee talked about how his personal and professional projects compliment each other, and noted that contrary to popular belief, sharing your ideas with a larger community, before they are developed, is rewarding.
  • Jason Randall was fascinating. An expert in a ridiculous amount of disciplines (check out the link for a brief bio), I wish he could have spoken for longer. He was a little manic, but I would love to really understand how someone like him gets so much accomplished, when I’m the type of person always complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day.
  • Jill Greenberg talked more about her work than actually making ideas happen. But I wasn’t extremely familiar with everything she does before her talk, so it was cool to get a more extensive look at her projects.
  • Michael Beirut was the last speaker of the day, and shared 5 secrets from 86 notebooks. Many of you might be familiar with the notebooks he’s collected ideas in for over 20 years, since they’ve been publicized in quite a few places lately. So Michael shared 5 lessons gleaned from the collection and showed projects to illustrate each one. The last secret, Love is the answer, was illustrated with his ongoing mural project for the Library Initiative.

One of the common themes I noticed were that all of these inspiring people were just extremely hard workers. In order to get to where they are now, each one of them has spent countless hours working to accomplish their goals. Not one of them experienced overnight success. They all also seemed to emphasize surrounding yourself with people who motivate and push you. And perhaps most simply, advised to just write everything down and check off to-do’s.

Overall they put together an amazing group of speakers, and I left feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to make things happen. I’ll definitely be there next year.


Courtney is the founder of Design Work Life and Seamless Creative, a small design studio she runs with her husband Brian. She now splits her time between developing brand identities for small businesses and soaking up (and passing along) as much inspiration as she possibly can.

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