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Meet Joel Daly.

Joel is the Washington, DC host of CreativeMornings, a monthly morning talk aimed to gather creative folks for good coffee and good conversation. The free series began in New York by Tina Roth Eisenberg and has now been expanded to cities throughout the world.

Speakers are selected by each city chapter based on a global theme, and this month’s theme is Bravery. All of the available seats have already been distributed for this month’s talk with guest speaker Jason Steinhauer. Tickets go quickly due to the huge success of the series, but the series’ Twitter is a sure fire way to get the most useful information to secure a seat in the future.

FamousDC was able to chat with Joel about his role as DC’s host and learn what goes in to planning these highly anticipated monthly sessions.

1. How did you become the host of CreativeMornings in DC?

About a year ago, I was talking with some friends and colleagues about this idea for an event that could bring together people from different professions and pursuits under the banner of creativity and inspiration. As we spoke, I realized we were essentially describing CreativeMornings, which I was familiar with from following the blog of Tina Roth Eisenberg (the creator of CreativeMornings) over the years. We did a little homework to find out that, while CreativeMornings had expanded to more than 50 cities around the world, DC was not yet on the map. We decided we had to do something about it, went through the application process and were eventually given the opportunity to open a chapter. I consider myself very lucky the way it all came together and for the people who helped make it happen.

2. Can you explain the process of organizing each month’s series?

The process has evolved as we have grown, but it always revolves around finding the right speaker, venue and sponsor for each event. Every month, each chapter around the world bases their event in one way or another on a common theme. The global theme can be a great starting point, and we also have a short list of inspirational people around DC that we’d just love to have speak. Sometimes it’s about matching the theme with someone on the wish list and other times it’s about searching for the right person for the theme from scratch. The other chapter teams around the world are a wealth of information on different approaches and perspectives – each tends to do things a little differently.  What’s really fun is at the beginning of each month when we share our plans for the theme with others around the world. Our team has never held ourselves to strict roles, so we’re constantly taking ideas from friends and professional connections, from past speakers and people at our favorite venues as well as from our audience members. Our “Director of Morning People,” Jackie Titus, makes sure everything comes to fruition, and we are similarly dependent on a great group of volunteers who staff each event and partners who provide the great coffee, food as well as sound, video and photography.

3. Has hosting in DC challenged you creatively?

We like to push ourselves to interpret the themes through the lens of what DC has to offer and what makes it unique. If we do this right, we believe it will always be engaging and relevant to our audience here. When we were given the theme of “Space,” for example, we knew we had to bring in someone from NASA to talk about how creativity plays a role in solving the serious problems of studying galaxies, stars and planets. The challenges come because the perfect match is not always immediately clear. Additionally, we are also challenging ourselves to showcase all of the different forms creativity takes in DC, so we are constantly weighing how we can make sure our events overall give a taste of the full spectrum of creativity including design, fine, conceptual and performance art, communications, music, technology and even unconventional places – from politics to data to astrophysics.

4. According to stereotypes, creativity and DC aren’t usually bunched together. In DC, how do you get your creative juices flowing?

While I have always known the stereotype of DC was unfair, I have become even more convinced of how inaccurate it is as I’ve met more and more amazing, inspiring people through our CreativeMornings/DC efforts. We started out with a mission to disprove the stereotype that DC is not creative, and our dedication to that has only grown. I’m hesitant to single out specific venues or artists that inspire me since there are so many who deserve recognition, but I like to think that our speakers and events are actively challenging the stereotype. I will say that one of my favorite things about DC is that we’re surrounded by dozens of world-class museums, many of which you can simply walk into on a whim for free to spend even a short time to look at a single masterpiece and then go about your day. The potential for everyday inspiration is huge.

5. Have you hit any road blocks while organizing the sessions in DC?

I wouldn’t say that we’ve hit road blocks, but there are certainly challenges that we encounter. Thankfully, we haven’t suffered from lack of interest. We have had great interest and support from the DC creative community from the very beginning due in no small part to a combination of the work done by our counterparts in other cities to build the brand and the fact that DC had an amazing existing creative community already. Finding the right speakers has always been a little bit of a challenge but not for lack of options. We always have a list of great candidates for each event, but sometimes we struggle with the pressure to make sure we select the right person, and there is always the issue of trying to align busy schedules. Consistently finding sponsors has been more work than I had hoped, but we’ve been lucky to find great early sponsor support thus far and hope that as CreativeMornings/DC builds more awareness, this will become smoother. Each event is different, and each one challenges us in a slightly different way.