MidwestUX 2018: Opening Keynote

The full keynote and live audience Q&A; all talks from the event put online for free from MWUX

I was invited to give the opening keynote at this year’s MidwestUX conference in Chicago, which was held last month. My talk, Creative Culture: Human-Centered Interaction, Design, & Inspiration,” revolved around the human-centered connection being at the core of our design process as well as the cultural interactions at the office. From the event page:

Mobile First? In reality, it’s *humans* first. This same mentality, turned inward, forms the cornerstone of something amazing: a creative culture. And while our livelihoods exist within the digital realm, inspiration has no such contextual boundaries; there is an entire world of design and inspiration beyond the context the digital world affords us.
Join Justin as he demonstrates how putting humans first — in our design process *and* at the workplace — yields a successful end product and an endless fountain of inspiration. Across quality of work, quality of culture, and quality of life, the result is nothing short of industry transformation.

‘Inspiration’ comprised the backbone of the talk: from ascertaining its origin the first day a new team member walks through door, to ensuring its ever-present availability at the office, to processing it as fuel from the tangible world into our digital work.


The program featured brilliant creators from a myriad of disciplines, which I was incredibly stoked to be a part of. And, delivering the other keynotes were Tamar Manasseh and Tanarra Schneider, Dana Chisnell, and Kim Goodwin.

While presenting, Cultivating a Creative Culture and the Creative Culture Hummingbird awaited Book Fair goers

Inclusive of the talks, workshops, and excursions over the 3-day conference, there was a Book Fair on premises at the Athenaeum Theatre. Cultivating a Creative Culture and the Creative Culture Hummingbird were both on-hand, selling out each of the Fair’s 2 days! 100% of the proceeds of the sales of both went to the Chicago Foundation for Women.

Human-Centered Connection

I can’t say enough about the event’s organizers, and the opportunities they provided for the speakers to connect with guests. For example, after wrapping up my keynote, I had the chance to do a live Q&A session with the audience via Slido. As questions were entered into the software, the hierarchy was adjusted based on upvoting. I got through a handful of questions before my hour block expired; you can see the Q&A in the keynote video at the top of this article.

In tandem, “Presenter Office Hours” afforded me the opportunity to set up shop in the Athenaeum Café for an hour to talk to attendees one-on-one. They approached me about how to approach leadership for cultural change. How to expand their roles. How to seek new opportunities that are their best fit. Due to not being able to speak with everyone who wanted to, I put out an open solicitation in the conference Slack to chat with more people. The dialogues were, again, passionate and constructive.

MidwestUX is a phenomenal conference, run by an equally phenomenal team. I can’t recommend it enough for attendees, or hopeful speakers.