The speaker series Ignite Seattle has built a brand around 5-minute talks designed, as their tagline says, to “enlighten us, but make it quick.” But now through the newly launched “Ignite Seattle Podcast,” listeners can tune in to hear more from select speakers.
Ignite, a production of the Seattle-based cultural center and performance space Town Hall, hosts events in which 12 talks cover a broad range of topics. The podcast circles back on speakers and their topics, and episodes include the original talk along with a deeper discussion.
Ignite’s Daniel Baird serves as host of the podcast and in a blog post on Monday, he wrote about why he wanted to bring the talks to a new platform.
“I’ve often sat in the audience at Ignite events wanting to know more about the speakers, and their topics,” Baird said. “Unfortunately I’m far too socially anxious and introverted to visit the after party to meet the speakers and talk to them. I’m also not the type of person that would Tweet a total stranger about their Ignite talk. So literally the only option left was for me to spends hours of my life creating a podcast. Now I get to talk to all of my favorite Ignite speakers and learn all about them, and you get to benefit from it!”
The series has launched with three episodes, one of which is a discussion with Rovina Broomfield, who delivered her talk titled “So, You’re Black in Tech” during Ignite 37.
Broomfield moved to Seattle 6 1/2 years ago (at the time of her talk) from Chicago. She works at Amazon as a senior product manager and her 5-minute talk and podcast appearance focused on everything from becoming part of a community, wearing Air Jordans, understanding what a unicorn is, and whether she’s ever had a Seattle Dog.
“Something that’s super important to being new to a city and being a transplant is getting to know people, trying to get connected,” Broomfield said. “When you do that, there’s always two questions: Where are you from? Where do you work?”
Broomfield also sought to answer what it’s like being black in tech. And while that distinction may be unique in an industry dominated by white men, she bristles at those in her position who embrace and refer to themselves as “unicorns.” Broomfield stresses that she is not a make-believe entity.
“There are some commonalities that can bring us together, if we remain curious about each other from a point of trying to learn rather than curious because you’re fantasy or magical,” Broomfield said. “Take a chance and say, ‘Hey, why are we here in the same space together? How can we benefit? How can we do things and move forward in a way that’s best for all of us?'”
Broomfield told Baird in the podcast that when she first moved to Seattle, she found it harder than she imagined to make connections with people. She had to relearn how to make friends, and she reverted to ways that have worked for her in the past — she joined a basketball league, found a local church, and looked for co-workers who she liked.
The unicorn talk among black people in tech — a desire to present as a unique individual — felt exhausting and misplaced, and can be counter productive, Broomfield said. She ended up serving for 2 1/ 2 years as the president of the Black Employee Network at Amazon.
“Once you recognize that blackness is a constant, then it becomes less of a descriptor for your accomplishments,” she said, adding that “at some point there’s going to be the next you in the same room. How do you react to that? … We’re all unique, but we’re all better together.”
To listen to the full podcast and other episodes, visit any links at iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or search for “Ignite Seattle Podcast” in your podcasting app. New episodes will be released every 2 weeks, on Mondays. Ignite Seattle 39 takes place June 6 and tickets are on sale.