There's a reason why conferences are so popular: everyone wants to be in the same room as today's forward-thinkers.

One of the most well-known leaders in this space has been TED, which has brought limitless ideas to the masses from every industry, exemplifying that innovation is not restricted to any one particular space. From its major TED conferences to its local TEDx spin-offs, the brand has given the world endless ideas to get excited about.

But TED is really only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other conferences out there sharing insightful information and provoking valuable discussions that every forward-thinker should make a priority of attending. After all, when else are you going to find yourself in the same room as so many other brilliant minds?

Here are a handful of other highly regarded conferences that are coming up, and you should consider attending as a means to keep your creative juices flowing.

1. The Summit Series: November 3-6, 2017. Los Angeles, CA

The Summit Series is extremely well known for taking the tried-and-true concept of what a conference "should be" and flipping it on its head. What started as a simple idea to connect bright minds together to build a better world, has since turned into an assortment of conferences for entrepreneurs, artists and activists looking to leave a lasting impact. With events offered locally, nationally, and globally, attending a Summit Series event will leave you "...making a 3D printed bird nest one minute, and taking a breathing class taught by an Olympian the next." Summit Series is designed to bring influential thought leaders together, mix them up, and combine knowledge and skill sets in unique and creative ways, opening the door for creative collaboration--or at the very least, meaningful conversations.

If you have the opportunity to attend (as they are somewhat exclusive), you absolutely should. But get in early, because even though this is still six months out, they fill up fast. Summit Series attendees have included Bill Clinton, Richard Branson, and more.

2. TechCrunch Disrupt: May 15-17, 2017. New York City

What's more fun than an event full of tech stars, entrepreneurs, investors, brilliant developers, hot startups, and hungry journalists? TechCrunch Disrupt is the place to be if you are working on, or still dreaming up the next big idea. Best known for their Startup Alley showcase, and their Startup Battlefield, TechCrunch Disrupt brings early stage startups together to compete for the Disrupt Cup, a $50,000 prize on top of massive media and investor attention. Those that have survived the Battlefield have collectively raised over $6.9 billion, with past winners including Dropbox, Mint, and more. Even if you're not participating at the event, being an audience member is equally as entertaining, and will no doubt leave you inspired as ever to get home and build something meaningful.

3. BrainFutures: September 6-7, 2017. Washington, D.C.

What is the single most valuable part of the human body, when it comes to innovation?

The brain.

Today, over 50 million American adults experience brain diseases and disorders. Put that beside the rampant rise of technology and its influence upon human behavior, and now more than ever is the time to start talking about brain health. BrainFutures is leading the way, bringing forth esteemed thought leaders and innovators who are advancing solutions resulting from the new science of neuroplasticity for treatment as well as brain fitness: the novel concept that the fitness of our brains is as important in our lives as physical fitness.

BrainFutures began in 2015 as a conference designed to catalyze researchers, entrepreneurs, clinicians and individuals seeking to be at the forefront of effective brain health. The organization has devoted itself to spreading awareness of the latest evidence-based advancements in brain fitness and treatment technologies through its conferences, and has exciting plans in the works to reach even larger audiences in the coming years.

If you want to understand the research and applications that are changing outcomes for students, reducing the risk of Alzheimer's and helping athletes and executives improve their cognitive functioning, BrainFutures 2017 is the place to be.

4. Chicago Ideas Week: October 17-23, 2017. Chicago, IL

Chicago Ideas Week is a seven-day innovation extravaganza, featuring over 200 global thought leaders. Topics cover everything from neuroscience to leadership, technology, all the way over to creativity and what drives big business and entertainment. Previous speakers have included Bill Clinton, Lupe Fiasco, Deepak Chopra, Sean Combs, Malcolm Gladwell, Mike Bloomberg, and more.

As a Chicago native, what I have always loved about Ideas Week is the access to such a wide array of events, each of which leaves you thinking hard about something you might not have even known you were interested in to begin with. I remember listening to Dan Gilbert, Chairman of Quicken Loans, speak on the revitalization of Detroit a few years ago. That was one of the first conferences I attended where I felt like I really saw the impact big business could have on communities, cities, and even entire regions. As a recent college graduate, it was enthralling.

5. Techweek: June 19-23, 2017. Chicago, IL

What started as an entrepreneurial event in Chicago has since expanded its mission to cities such as New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington D.C., Kansas City, and even Toronto. Techweek lasts a week, and is geared specifically toward investors, entrepreneurs, and "Hero Companies." Hero Companies are high-growth businesses, and Techweek's 100 year mission is to bring so many of the right people together, have them interact and meet each other, collaborate, and ultimately incubate new talent and ideas for sustainable and impactful businesses.

You never know who you may run into at one of these events. There's a reason creative gatherings like these tend to sell out quickly, and it's because aside from the obvious benefits of being exposed to such great work happening in various industries, these events are a sublime way to network and rub shoulders with the right people.

So put these dates on your calendar.

Published on: May 1, 2017
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