Attending a conference is a surefire way to make important connections, meet creative thinkers and explore new ideas. That being said, not all conferences are created equal. That's why I decided to go to a diverse group of events this year to uncover the most innovative and powerful experiences.
Here are the ten best.
1) PSFK 2016: Ideas that Transform
With its collaborative atmosphere and illustrious list of keynote speakers, it's no surprise that the PSFK conference series is one of the hottest events out there. Now in its tenth year, PSFK's flagship event is a creativity think-tank where top minds come together to pore over emerging trends in media, art, design and technology. PSFK fosters more participation than your average conference, and with its constant flow of fresh ideas, you're guaranteed to learn something new.
Some of this year's speakers included Gatorade's Global Innovation Director Xavi Cortadellas, Casper Co-Founder and COO Neil Parikh, Microsoft's Chief Storyteller & EIC Steve Clayton and Katie Manderfield, and Denise Burrell-Stinson of The New York Times.
2) Business Innovation Factory Summit
The BIF Summit adds a twist to traditional storytelling. Thirty-two heavy hitters from myriad industries gather each year to share 15-minute stories about personal growth, overcoming hardships, and laying the groundwork for future opportunities. This self-proclaimed community of "innovation junkies" provides a space to make connections, tap into unrealized potential, and build meaningful relationships through a shared sense of struggle.
3) Shared Value Leadership Summit
When it comes to driving social change, the folks behind the Shared Value Leadership Summit are on top of their game. Over 400 leaders in a variety of fields unite to design innovative business strategies that can make big money and positively impact the world. This conference provides unique opportunities to connect with influential people, build new partnerships, and take on projects with social purpose.
4) The Consulting Summit
Not only is this the sole conference specifically designed for the consulting industry, its organizers and attendees make up one of the most insightful communities around when it comes to predicting digital trends and adopting which technologies will be most meaningful to information-driven businesses. Here you can soak up some valuable industry pointers and rub elbows with distinguished thought leaders.
5) TechCrunch Disrupt
Famous for its in-depth interviews and high energy, thousands flock to TechCrunch Disrupt every year for a sneak peek of groundbreaking technologies and promising startups. Its 24-hour Hackathon and Startup Battlefield competition are among the coolest events in the entire tech world. Believe the hype -- this conference has creativity on tap, and offers unparalleled access to investors, industry leaders and celebrities...and it throws one hell of an after party.
The Office's B.J. Novak, theSkimm Co-Founders Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and Facebook's Stan Chudnovsky were among this year's guest speakers and judges.
6) NeuroLeadership Summit
Neuroscience and leadership innovation intersect at this fascinating conference. Here you can uncover "brain-based" methods for fostering leadership, empowering a workforce, and promoting creativity. This year's theme -- Rethink the Organization -- was all about ditching conventional business practices and discovering new ways to foster talent. If you're looking to talk shop and with top researchers and leaders or want data-driven approaches to improve work performance, this is the conference for you.
7) Social Innovation Summit
Everyone from the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley to White House Staffers to NASA astronauts make an appearance at this conference. Lovingly referring to themselves as "black swans" and "wayward thinkers," these interesting people join forces to revolutionize a wide range of industries. SIS is all about putting ideas into action, and its eclectic mix of personalities makes for an engaging and enlightening experience.
8) Blockchain and Digital Currencies Conference
Blockchain technology may be in its early stages, but it has the potential to bring the entire financial infrastructure to its knees. Featuring an incredible group of strategists, mathematicians, and tech stars, this conference is the only place to get the naked truth behind this game-changing technology.
9) The Future of StoryTelling Summit
This conference is innovation personified. FoST has everything from immersive multimedia experiences to comedy workshops to roundtable discussions with celebrities. Attendees are far more than spectators, and are encouraged to mingle with the event's burgeoning artists, television icons, tech mavens, poets, musicians and esteemed speakers. If you're lucky enough to score an invitation, prepare to be captivated by everything this event has to offer.
10) S.H.E. Summit
Founded by Claudia Chan (CEO and Founder of S.H.E. Global Media Inc.) this conference has a unique, 3-fold approach to tackling leadership and women's empowerment -- connection, education, and activation. This event can transform anyone into a risk-taker, connector, empowered leader and, more importantly, a happier human being. Come for incomparable positive energy, an inspirational atmosphere, and the long list of accomplished guest speakers.