Our guest speaker for February is Marian Cook, a kickass woman who is a voice in emerging technology and innovation. Currently, Marian is a Principal at Slalom Consulting and she also leads a gubernatorial advisory board composed of heads of innovation from large corporations in the State of Illinois. 

Checkout my interview with Marian and learn how she invests in herself and why she got started in tech. Hope to see you at our #CMinvest event on Friday, February 21 at Fjord Chicago.

1. February’s theme is Invest, how do you invest in yourself? There are many ways, such as focusing on what’s next on a macro level (future trends, technology convergence, etc.), taking on new and challenging work, actively working on my thinking skills, reading, and surrounding myself with people I admire and can learn from. Foundationally, though, I invest in protecting the sovereignty of my mind.  I block off time for deep thinking, deep work and daydreaming about what’s possible in the world of ideas. 

2. What initially drew you to the tech industry? I always want to know what’s next. My father, as a mathematician and physicist, set a great example of deeply desiring to understand the universe. As a little kid I remember playing in the halls of Argonne National Laboratory, where my dad worked, so I was always surrounded by men and women who were insatiably curious..

3. Creatives often draw from life experiences, identities, communities, interests. How have your experiences or the like have shaped how you approach technology? My philosophy has always been to seek what’s next. We’re a fascinating and inventive species living in an astonishing time! Take a step back and look around you. It is thrilling. Yes, scary, but also thrilling. The world is a rich buffet of ideas, options and opportunities. I want to know what’s next!   

4. How do we create more equity for underrepresented communities to be represented in the tech industry? This is a tenacious and complex problem. One of the ways to solve this problem is by being aware of who is in the room and making sure that we invite others in. Always bring others along.

5. How do you manage your time? Science shows that handwriting makes you process information differently and remember better. I hand write my to do list daily. I don’t cut and paste it day to day. I want to think about and prioritize each item on that list and how it relates to my bigger goals. Strategically and proactively managing task lists and aligning your tactics with your strategy is perhaps the most important task you have.

6. What is your secret superpower? My curiosity! I am curious about how my brain works. I actively study how to learn and how to think.

7. Who is another creative person / organization in Chicago that we need to know about? Eva Maddox, an interior designer who is the pioneer of branded environments.

8. Where do you find creativity in Chicago? In the neighborhoods of Chicago, I enjoy photography and capturing street art such as murals and graffiti. Such powerful inspiration unleashed!

9. Lastly, what’s a dream project/ collaboration for you? I would love to put together a team for the Learning Global Grand Challenge organized by Singularity University and tackle social justice issues.

Blog post by Social Media Manager, Brenda Uribe