Samantha’s Note: This guest post was written by Amy Donohue, an Ignite Phoenix social media volunteer, and past presenter at both Ignite Phoenix, and its sister event Ignite Phoenix After Hours.


I had the pleasure of interviewing people who were either attending or presenting at Ignite Phoenix for the first time. By the end of the night, I was exhausted with their excitement! I knew in my heart that every one of them would be inspired by all the speakers, as I was a few years ago. While several came up to me before the show, only a few came back after the show for me to get their thoughts and feelings. Here they are:

Grace Marks was a first-time attendee at Ignite Phoenix 13. She was there with her friend, Isadora, who had already been to three past events. After viewing several of the YouTube videos of presentations, she was finally able to attend. What drew her in to coming to see it live? “I admire people who have the courage to speak about their passions!” I didn’t even have to put in that exclamation point. You could hear her enthusiasm and excitement in her voice. Her favorites? “I Chase Storms,” “Double-Fisting For Book Lovers,” and “Ultimate: When A Ball Dreams, It Dreams Of Being A Disc.” It’s the randomness of the subjects that “thoroughly entertained” her. Right on, Grace!

I was a bit puzzled when Abe Camargo (@abe_camargo) tweeted to me earlier in the evening that this would be his first Ignite Phoenix event. I swear, I see him EVERYWHERE! I laughed, though, when he told me he had been to the most recent IPAH, where yours truly presented. He wanted to see The Real Deal, though and finally showed up. Through Twitter, he loved the amount of buzz over Ignite, which he had seen for a couple of years. He even thought he may be inspired to present. After the show, the smile on his face was HUGE (see pic), and he gushed “It was BETTER than what I expected! Everyone is so into that they’re talking about!”

I’m pretty sure Kate Anderson (@Xoticdonkeymeat) skipped over to my table. How did she find Ignite? By searching for TedTalks and stumbling onto it! Other than that, she really didn’t do any research. Kate figured if it was anything like Ted, she’d enjoy it. She also happened to be a +1 for a presenter. I think the cool thing about her excitement was that she didn’t really research Ignite at all! When she came out after the show, and knew more about the presentations and how they move, she was surprised that each person’s five minutes didn’t just zip right past. “I had some pretty high expectations, and they were certainly met!” See you at the next Ignite, Kate! Don’t wrangle OUR unicorns, though.

I also caught up with two noobs to not only their first Ignite to attend, but to also PRESENT! That’s hardcore! They’d both heard all about Ignite, especially because of Twitter and their friends who talked incessantly about it.

I’d known Raoul Encinas (@RaoulEncinas) on Twitter for awhile, though we didn’t engage very often. His presentation was “Fantasy Football Saved My Life.” One of the things he said really got to me “It’s great to know something like this happens in Phoenix!” He wasn’t the first one to say that last Friday night. He’s known a lot of people, especially in the Twitterverse, who had been to several Ignite Phoenix events in the past. “Why didn’t you tell me about this before?” was what he has asked. I laughed at that, because I remember having the very same thought at my first one. “As good as the videos are, it is NOTHING like being there in person. People HAVE to see it live and get the energy from the room.” We couldn’t agree with you more, Raoul.

Another first time presenter and attendee was Bob Roman (@bobrox). His presentation, “Wanderlust,” was first that evening. Before the show started, he came up to me with the biggest grin on his face! After knowing about Ignite for a couple of years, and knowing several presenters personally, he finally took the time to stick around Phoenix long enough to talk about his gypsy soul. When I talked to him afterwards, he said he’d do it again in a heartbeat. “Ignite is such a cool event! I’d love to see them get it together when I move to Portland.” Let’s hope we can see him help that come to fruition. “Some of the talks had a theme: Life’s too short to worry about the small stuff. Live while you’re alive.” I’m not sure anyone else could have said that better.