Mnovation panel 8
Mnovation panel 7

 MNOVATION 4.0 – OCT 12, 2017

at the Brave New Workshop

The new MNovation Seminar Series is a unique opportunity for professionals at all levels to spark innovative thinking and behaviors by participating in interactive sessions with some of Minnesota’s top innovators in a full-day session at the Brave New Workshop’s Experimental Thinking Centre (ETC).

Attendees will learn and practice five behaviors proven to spark innovation, and increase the amount of time we spend in a mindset of discovery. This series is the first of its kind, combining the resources of innovation behavioralist, author and trainer John Sweeney and the Brave New Workshop’s Creative Outreach and some of Minnesota’s most innovative people and organizations.


We are inviting leading innovative thinkers and doers from diverse and interesting fields to share their insights with you and help you craft your own innovation fitness plan and journey. Our panelists play in large corporate environments, small companies, social enterprises, academia, government, non-profits, media and arts organizations. We pride ourselves on the divergent points of view present on our panels and look forward to the unexpected connections and moments of brilliance that will inevitably enrich your experience. Confirmed panelists are below and we are adding more every day. View a list of past panelists.

John Alberts, Executive Director of Educational Services, Austin Public Schools

John Alberts is the Executive Director of Educational Services for Austin Public Schools in Austin, MN. In this role, he is responsible for oversight of teaching and learning, staff development, gifted programs, English learner programs, integration programming, and federal funds. Additionally, John is a trained Baldrige evaluator and has served on several evaluation teams through Performance Excellence Network (PEN), and is on the Southeastern MN Board of PEN. John is the co-chair of an annual Gifted and Talented Education Symposium that brings in speakers and attendees from around the world to Austin each summer. John was named the Austin Education Association teacher of the Year in 2005, was named to the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) 23, representing 23 rising alumni, and named the Minnesota Educators of the Gifted and Talented Friend of the Gifted in 2015. John received his BA in English and psychology from the University of MN, Morris, and a MA in curriculum and instruction from the University of MN. Twitter handle: @alberts_john


Lisa Steffes, CEO and President,brightpeak financial

As CEO and President of Brightpeak Financial, Lisa Steffes sets the strategy and direction of the company. She has been instrumental in building and leading a culture of innovation, agility and discipline, driving results while creating and scaling the business. Lisa is leading a rising digital financial services company at a time when innovation is detrimental to staying in business, making incremental change to transform and reframe the legacy business of selling financial products face-to-face into a digital business that attracts a younger generation who prefer purchasing these products through apps and on the Internet. Lisa frequently speaks at industry events giving presentations on topic of women in leadership, STEM, finance, digital technology, digital transformation and millennials. Lisa has a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Sciences & Quantitative Methods and Business Management from the University of Saint Thomas School of Business. Twitter handle: @brightpeak


Zach Robins, Attorney, Winthrop & Weinstine

Zach Robins is a securities attorney in the Corporate and Transactions practice group at Winthrop and Weinstine. He counsels clients in the areas of general corporate, M&A, private equity raises and debt financing. Zach co-drafted Minnesota’s intrastate investment crowdfunding law, MNvest, and counsels issuers, portal operators, investors, banks, and service providers on the nuances of state and federal crowdfunding laws, as well as other securities issues. Twitter handle: @zjrobins


8:30 AM – 9 AM Registration and light breakfast

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Keynote and Warm Up: John Sweeney and Elena Imaretska on the Mindset of Discovery

10:45 AM – 11:30 AM Panel 1

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM Panel 2

12:15 – 12:45 PM Lunch

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Innovation Fitness Sessions: Big Five Workout Breakouts facilitated by BNW instructors: Bobby Gardner, Caleb McEwen, Jenni Lilledahl, Lauren Anderson, Lizzie Gardner, Margi Simmons

3:15 PM – 4:00 PM Panel 3

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM Panel 4

4:45 PM – 5:00 PM Wrap Up/Comedy

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Happy Hour Squared (HH2)
Attendees are invited to take part in fun and relaxing happy hour after a full day of learning! This happy hour will be like no other as we’ll be making sandwiches to be distributed to the hungry by Mr. Law’s MRD 363 Days Food Program.


All MNovation attendees will receive John Sweeney’s groundbreaking new book The Innovative Mindset, which helps you identify what you need to do in order to become more innovative and less fearful, and assists in creating a regimen that transforms how you act. Whether personally or in a business setting, this text provides a fresh, practical understanding of innovation can revolutionize the way you think about work. | More about THE BOOK HERE!