Imagine Imagination: The Ultimate Instrument Of Change

by Sean Krainert
Posted On: 5/20/2019

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   Sean Krainert
The 2019 Imagine conference at Colorado Spring’s Broadmoor Resort was a true testament to their promise to provide a collaborative and engaging environment where all attendees are asked to be open to outcome, form relationships and are inspired to share their wisdom and insights in an effort to make all FECs relevant, sustainable, more profitable and memorable. Yet this was only what happened in the physical realm of Imagine.    

Once again, this three-day journey designed with intention and detail built a sensory environment that was set into motion far before the event began (some would even say years before!). Inspirational soundtracks served as thoughtful sensory cues, soul-driven videos captivated attendees’ hearts and minds, and an undeniable anticipatory momentum kept the attention of all in attendance who were eager to consume an unparalleled takeaway. 

This year, Imagine took attendees far beyond the importance of sharing knowledge. The Three Amigos, a trio of fierce, thoughtful entrepreneurs, asked participants to tap into their boundless imagination and set their rational, “been there, done that” minds on hold. Building on the past F2FEC events (Change or Die, 10X Better, Differentiate and Soul), the 2019 Imagine conference ignited the need for the community to look further out into the future, to reimagine their place in the industry in order to grow with purpose, and to act with intent.

The Stepping Stones to Imagine Whether it was someone’s first visit to an F2FEC, or they were with the Amigos from day one, Imagine revisited all of the stepping stones they laid on their path to creating Imagine. The 2019 experience was created to focus on what’s next for every business in the FEC industry. To do so, attendees took part in conversations that led them to reflect, rethink and reimagine not only their business, but the industry as a whole.

The journey for F2FEC was unveiled in 2015 with “Change or Die.” which introduced the industry to the Amigos and a unique best-in-class conference experience with topics that circled around making changes to remain relevant. 2016 brought in “10X Better” to help business owners with methods and action tools to get them steps above, while “Differentiate” in 2017 helped businesses set themselves apart. Seamlessly leading up to Imagine, participants “In the Room” in 2018 were privileged to take their business to the next level with three days of conversations highlighting soul as the humanity of every organization. This was the perfect cue for Imagination to enter the room.

Imagination and Knowledge There’s no question that the lynchpin of the family entertainment industry is to create spaces and attractions that hold the attention and interest of their consumers. These physical places aim to intrigue customers, to delight them and to provide them with an enjoyable escape from the status quo of life. It only makes sense that to transform these buildings into ultimately happy places, it begins with one person, imagining one idea, that gains an almost fantastical momentum as it unfolds in the form of an FEC.

One of the greatest scientific minds in all of history brought forth as an example by the creators of the event is a person from whom we glean knowledge in school books as well as in how things work in the real world. This person, Albert Einstein, best known for his work with relativity, seems to have had it all figured out decades before the first FEC opened its doors. Einstein has been famously quoted time and time again from a 1929 Saturday Evening Post interview:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution."

Coming from one of the best scientific minds in all of time, his outlook on life and imagination was all Imagine needed to spark more than a little bit of interest when it comes to innovation and entertainment. And Einstein wasn’t the only one who had it all figured out; all the best scientific minds, past and present, and the most innovative tech giants did not change the world with knowledge. A key component of the F2FEC conferences is forming relationships to share knowledge, but to first imagine is where every idea is born.

Speakers throughout the conference shared how imagination was the spark of their successful business. When Jeff Benson from Cinergy Entertainment took the stage to share, his story began with imagination, and grew from there.

“Cinergy began because we wanted to imagine a new way of life for ourselves. We started with grandiose ideas and reimagined the entire movie theatre business! If we hadn’t taken the time to imagine a different way to give a better customer experience, we wouldn’t be a here today,” said Benson.

Strategy vs. Vision The bar is indeed already set high when attending an F2FEC event. The Imagine conference carefully laid layer after layer of topics that allowed for thought-provoking conversations from conference tables into casual moments throughout the three days. A trusted promise of the Amigos is to provide a collaborative, engaging environment where everyone’s voice matters. And with 2019 Imagine, they met, and then exceeded, their promise. As knowledge and numbers and bottom lines were transparently shared, the underlying theme that imagination is what propels a business forward began to bubble. And it began with the first speaker, Paul Saginaw from Zingerman’s. 

“If you start out imagining what you can do with your business, just with your mind and not with your heart, it isn't going to be as robust as it can. When you start out thinking about imagining your business in five or 10 years from now, you have to let it be as expansive as possible and not ask how you’re going to get there,” said Saginaw.

So how do we balance knowledge with understanding? Strategy with vision? Rational thinking with dreaming? The list could go on and on, and it was a thought that occupied the minds of every F2FEC attendee. This event has been revered as one of the most premier conferences moving from best-in-class to best-in-the-industry. The reputation has held its own as a unique and dynamic annual event that allows leading people and businesses both within and complementing the industry to share information that can help FEC businesses evolve. 

Imagine did more. It broke boundaries by introducing a topic that businesses owners across all sectors of the world put on the back burner: imagination. Yet somehow, the Amigos introduced the topic perfectly, like a puzzle piece that was waiting to be placed.

Reimagining is Reinvesting. While all businesses begin from an idea that manifests into structure, the Amigos began to challenge attendees to reimagine their business. Directly building on Change or Die with an equally powerful corollary, invest to live, to reimagine means to establish a course for the future, to continue growing with purpose through planning and investment. Reinvest can mean many things, including taking a profit and putting it back into your business. As an FEC, we reinvest in attractions, games, staff, square footage. Yet attendees were reminded that to reinvest also means to revive and renew by looking inward at one's self for professional development and personal growth. As business owners, it is a hard fact that without investing and reinvesting in all forms, with an understanding of “different times, different results,” a business will not grow.  

With this in mind, energetic speakers took the stage to introduce a variety of topics that all led back to imagination and investing. Every topic from Chloe Divita's social media message on being social to Melissa Hughes' insights on human bias’ strengthened the big picture for the audience. Simon Mainwaring from We First Branding motivated the room to develop a brand anchored by first imagining who they wanted to be. 

The final speakers of the 2019 F2FEC Imagine conference were the Three Amigos themselves. Interviewed by journalist Robert Sax, Rick Iceberg, Ben Jones and George Smith revealed their relationship with reimagining their own brand.

"The seed of all great things is to first imagine something. For us, to pause represents the true spirit of Imagine and takes the three of us all the way back to our beginning and the beginning of the F2F journey, Change or Die,” said Amigo Ben Jones. “We are hitting pause because we are at that point where we too must reflect, rethink and reimagine what the next F2 experience looks like, feels like, and could be. Just as we said that Soul is the humanity of your organization, Imagine is the lens that we all must use to remain relevant.”

Re-Imagine Imagination has been a part of producing and presenting every F2F experience. Taking to heart the idea behind Imagine, the Amigos presented the biggest takeaway which came in the form of a five-year growing challenge beyond the room to build better relationships, embrace change, invest for the long term, get better holistically, differentiate to stand out, and embrace the whole of humanity. 

Imagine asked every person In the Room to take inventory from their soul and to move forward with purpose and be the stewards of the magical, brilliant,and inspiring industry of family entertainment.

»» Sean Krainert is a freelance writer located in Oakland, CA providing services to clients across the nation through his business, Bay Area Copywriting. He specializes in creating customized content that attracts attention, increases brand awareness, engages target audiences and inspires action.

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