New! Spark Ideas Channel



New! Spark Ideas Channel

Introducing our new Spark Ideas channel on Vimeo.  View the latest Sparks talks from IBM Connect 2013 and catch up on earlier talks from user groups around the world. We’re gradually getting all the historical ones uploaded and here is where we’ll keep adding new ones including upcoming Sparks from the Benelug User Group in March and IAMLug in May.

Big thanks to Spiked Studios as always for the video recording and management.  If you are interested in doing a Sparks talk and plan to be in Leuven or St Louis , or just are interested in doing a Sparks talk in general, please email and we’ll be in touch.  We’re always looking for new inspirational ideas!

Spark Ideas – The Line Up

IBM Connect 2013 is nearly  upon us and our Spark Ideas are ready to go.  We have some fantastic talks again this year and really hope to see you in Swan Mockingbird 1 & 2 on Tuesday morning at 11.15am.

Our host will be Francie Tanner.  Thank you to everyone who submitted, in the end it came down to having as broad a range of talks as possible but please submit again, we’ll be repeating this event at user groups all year.   Here are the topics – I think you’ll agree we’re covering a lot of ground and a lot of great ideas.

All our Sparks speakers get only 1 slide , 6 minutes and a microphone so they are walking out on a ledge, please show them some support

Susan Bulloch
Why I believe…. I never met Sally Ride

Susan Bulloch of the IBM Support Team has achieved a lot in her career, including being one of the first women engineers in 1980 at the country’s largest power company.  She will share  her idea that believing in something is the key to making it happen.  and how not believing stopped her from meeting Dr Sally Ride

Graham  Acres
Why I Ride My Bike

I have participated in the British Columbia Ride to Conquer Cancer for the past three years.  I’d like to do it another 22 times.  My wife has joined me on the last two rides.  The ride happens in June, over two days, starting in Vancouver and ending in Seattle.  We ride 250 km, or 150 miles over those two days.  Approximately 3,000 people participate in our ride alone.  There are similar rides all over the world.  Anyone may ride, but must raise a minimum of $2,500 each year.  My wife and I have raised $31,000 over the past three years.  Those who have cancer or have beaten it ride with a yellow flag on their bike.  We see lots of yellow flags along the way.   Without thinking about it in advance, my first ride became a healing journey, for both me and my family.  It also came with a side benefit of improved health and a smaller waist size!  The ride continues to be an inspiration for me and my family and I’d like to share a brief glimpse of it with you.

Andy Donaldson
Finding your camera

Work, home, sleep.  Work, home, sleep.  Work, home, sleep.  Oh ya, in between that, feed the kids, do the laundry, pay some bills.  Rinse repeat.  That was how my life had been going.  But then, something amazing happened.  A love from my earlier years came back to me and in the process, I found my quality of life increased and my outlook on the world changed for the best.  

Kathy Brown
How Twitter Helped Me Share My Voice

I was the only developer at my company in New Hampshire.  I didn’t know a soul in the Lotus/IBM community.    So how did I go from attending my first Lotusphere in 2008 to speaking at Lotusphere in 2010?  I discovered Twitter and through that met lots of people in our Community virtually.  By discovering social networks, I found a way to share my voice. From there I gained the confidence in my own skills and knowledge to share that knowledge on the stage.  I did and so can you.

Jenn Priske
Don’t Judge!

Before I had kids of my own when I saw an unruly, screaming child in a grocery store, I rolled my eyes and, frankly, judged the parents.  Clearly they were doing it all wrong!  Then I became a parent.  That in itself gave me more compassion.  Then about 5 years in, we discovered that our precious little angel had Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).   Although she appeared to be a ‘normal’ happy, healthy little girl, when faced with demands she couldn’t handle, our whole family’s world got turned upside down.  Join me as I tell the story of how we learned the lesson we thought we already knew.

Tim Clark
Why would you work for free?

I volunteered for the London 2012 Olympics and I had a great time doing a job that I would never have dreamt of doing normally. But it’s not the only thing I volunteer for. I play drums in my local church, I help with youth groups and I also teach judo. But why do I do it? There’s no money in it for me. It costs me a whole bunch of money, time and explaining to the good Mrs Clark why I’m not going to be there, again, for X, Y or Z. Come and find out what inspires someone to work for free.

Tim Davis
Don’t Be Afraid Of Big Ideas

Many people are intimidated by big ideas but we really shouldn’t be. Any seemingly difficult concept can be explained simply, allowing you to build from that simple explanation to more complex ideas. As an example, in this quick talk Tim will explain one of the biggest ideas of the twentieth century: Einstein’s special relativity.

Carl Tyler
There’s more to flying than $100 burgers.

Flying is often seen as a Rich mans hobby, but it may be more accessible than you think, and getting started may take nothing more than a phone call.  Hear about learning to fly and how to find the inspiration for your first flight.

Gabriella Davis
Jacuzzi Time

What is Jacuzzi time? Everyone should have their own version but it’s the pocket of time when you are too isolated, too disconnected, too exhausted to give your brain work to do.  Jacuzzi time is when your brain gets to recharge to stretch its legs and to do its best work. We spend a lot of time and money looking after our physical self and our outer image but many of us take our brain for granted, assuming it will cope with whatever we ask of it.  In our permanently connected, global and social world, what happens when you forget to give your brain any time off .

Update on Nerd Girls at IBM Connect 2013


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Lotusphere is almost here!  (Yes, I’m still calling it that.  I know it’s IBM Connect now, but that doesn’t rhyme).

Once again, the Nerd Girls will be hosting Spark Ideas –

Spark Ideas is a chance to bring together a group of our colleagues to discuss what inspires us. We’ll share our experiences, inspiration, challenges, etc., during this compilation of five minute talks. Talks could range from how you were inspired by your math teacher to go into computing, how you juggle your busy job and coaching little league soccer, dealing with stress, or describing a hobby or family project. Previous talks are available on Youtube – Join us for this always inspiring session!
That’s Tuesday, Jan 29 at 11:15 AM in Swan Mockingbird 1 & 2

Then Tuesday night, it’s the Great Geek Challenge!  You can read all about it here.

Wednesday morning come to the BOF to talk about all the great things that inspired you at Spark Ideas.

Come discuss the ideas presented by the speakers at the Spark Ideas session. Ideas that make us think, wonder or simply be inspired. If you didn’t get a chance to speak at Sparks and want to talk we’d love to have you too. Sparks is the beginning , this is where those ideas grow and take root.

That is Wednesday morning, 7AM (bring coffee!) in the Swan, Toucan 2.

Don’t forget while you are IBM Connect to find us and get your Nerd Girl button!  And before the event, check out our Zazzle shop to show your Nerd Girl pride!

Nerd Girls At Connect 2013


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Well that went quickly.  2012 is almost over and we have a lot of activity to squeeze in already for 2013.  Connect 2013 is fast approaching and this year there are more new Nerd Girl speakers than ever, from Social to Development to Training and Administration – we’ll be there on stage and up with the Gurus at Gurupalooza.  Come and say hi.

Hopefully we’ve had a chance to meet some of you this year and maybe you’ve made it to one of our Sparks sessions at user groups around the world.  We have our own youtube channel of Sparks sessions now and we’re really proud of how well they are received.  So we want to start 2013 with more Sparks! Yes we’re very pleased to announce that Spark Ideas brought to you by Nerd Girls is coming to Connect 2013.

For those of you who don’t know about Sparks, in the space of an hour we ask 6 or 7 people who are prepared to talk for 6 minutes with only a microphone and a single slide for backup.  The rule, male or female, is that your story should be inspirational.  From the feedback we get after each session people love to hear from you and if you think you’d like to submit a Sparks abstract to speak for 6 mins at Connect 2013 and maybe make a difference to someone’s life (or just make them think / laugh / happy) then we want to hear from you and will asking you to email your ideas into  We are also hoping to have an accompanying Birds of a Feather session after Sparks where we can discuss the ideas that come up.  If you can’t make it to Connect , then thanks to Chris Miller we should have all the content available in our youtube channel soon after the conference.

If you have been to the previous three Lotusphere’s then you know us Nerd Girls love our badges, and not just us, we’ve handed badges out to hotel staff, Disney cast members, flight attendants and our colleagues back home.  This year we have a whole new set of badges coming as well as a few old favourites so if you want some just come and find us.  If you are holding a user group or another event in 2013 and would like some badges for that, please let us know so we can be sure to put some aside for you.  Oh and the badge slogans aren’t set in stone yet so if you have some good ideas, again our email is

Finally, we’re really excited to be bringing back the hugely successful Great Geek Challenge for the 3rd year running.  Being held once more in the Fountain restaurant in the Dolphin from 8pm – 10pm on Tuesday night this quiz to find the mightiest of all geeks is fun and loud and not to be missed.  There are nerd as well as geek questions, lots of prizes and a fair amount of competitiveness.  The restaurant only holds 80 people so get there early to get a table.  For those of you who can’t make it to Connect, the uber Xpages Nerd Girl developer Kathy Brown has updated our online Great Geek Challenge quiz.  We’ll be having a weekly quiz with prizes online starting next week and, after the conference, we’ll be posting the questions and answers online too.  There’s no excuse, not even a restricted travel budget, not to make it.

So that’s what 2013 has in store, we hope to see you at Connect or one of the user groups around the world.    If you’re organising or part of a user group and you want to set up a Sparks session or just talk Nerd Girls, please get in touch. The rest of you, get your Sparks ideas ready, grab a badge and pull up a table at the Great Geek Challenge.

See you soon