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The First Ever Idea Slam: A Journey Of Risk And Reward

Contributed by Idea Collective Member:

Picture of Pat Miller

Pat Miller

Founder of the Idea Collective Small Business Incubator

I recently shared a picture on Small Business Mornings that instantly transported me back to 2015.

In the snapshot, I found myself with my back to the camera, surrounded by a group of radio professionals who appeared intensely focused on our discussion.

This was no ordinary gathering; it was the inaugural Idea Slam. If you’re not familiar, we do something in the Idea Collective called the Idea Slam, a brainstorming session where we all get together and tackle problems, explore opportunities, and generate innovative ideas. As the facilitator, I cherish these moments as they are both productive and enjoyable.

The image in question hails from my days working in radio at WTMJ in Milwaukee. My role as Director of Marketing and Innovation demanded that I devise ideas to empower our sales team and attract more listeners to the station. Additionally, WTMJ was the proud flagship broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers, transmitting their games to stations across the state.

The photograph captures a room brimming with the station’s top brass; company executives and network leaders. An interesting observation is that they’re all seated on one side of the table, while I sit alone on the opposite side. Why? Because this gathering marked the inception of our first-ever Idea Slam, and our mission was clear: Find a way to generate $1,000,000 in new revenue for the network.


Well, I thought you might appreciate witnessing the birth of the Idea Slam concept, back when I was still immersed in the world of radio.

This gathering taught me an invaluable lesson about taking risks. Every significant achievement in life lies beyond the threshold of fear. As I walked into that room, I was filled with trepidation.

The thought of hosting a meeting of this magnitude with all the radio industry heavyweights was daunting. What would they think of me? Would I come across as odd?

However, I Persevered, And The Results Were Astonishing.

We not only accomplished our goal of boosting network revenue, but this meeting also set in motion a series of events that have led to where I am today. I wouldn’t be running the Idea Collective, helping others solve problems, or organizing events like the Idea Slam-a-thon to raise funds for the Islands of Brilliance if it weren’t for that pivotal meeting in 2015.

So, I want to extend a heartfelt shout-out to all those individuals in that photograph, especially Tom, Wex, Brooks, Carl, and my dear mentor, Mark Halverson. Their collaborative efforts during that historic Idea Slam paved the way for a world of innovation and problem-solving that continues to thrive today. It’s a testament to the power of taking risks and pursuing opportunities that lie just beyond your comfort zone.

Contributed by

Pat Miller

Founder Of The Idea Collective Small Business Incubator

Pat spent two decades in broadcasting management and hosting. After leaving the radio industry, he spent time consulting small businesses and realized the support system for entrepreneurs was broken. Where could you find help for improving small businesses and building real connections with other like-minded people. In June of 2020, the Idea Collective Small Business Incubator was born.