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5 Chicago Ideas Talks to Watch During the Coronavirus Shutdown

By Kevin Beerman / March 23, 2020

With businesses and restaurants around the state shutdown and millions across Illinois advised to shelter in place until at least April 7, for better or for worse, people have plenty of extra time on their hands.

Even after getting a jumpstart on spring cleaning, working meditation into your new routine, or cooking elaborate meals with renewed intensity, the roster of activities to keep you occupied can dwindle down to a nub rather quickly.

That’s why we’re putting together a series our favorite talks from 10 years of Chicago Ideas Weeks. Talks meant to pique your curiosity, talks that will inspire you to action, talks that will spark a new idea to keep your mind active even during these challenging times.

These five talks are our heaviest hitters—the most viewed on the Chicago Ideas YouTube channel—and run the gamut of ideas, from the changing forms of belief to the characteristics that make a champion.

Lisa Niemi Swayze: Worth Fighting For

In this heartfelt talk, actor Patrick Swayze’s wife, Lisa Niemi Swayze, share her experience with her husband as he waged a fierce battle against terminal pancreatic cancer. As she walks through moments from their journey—from facing a harsh diagnosis to deciding to let go—she reminds us how to love and live bravely, cherishing each moment like it may be our last.

Shahid Khan: The American Dream Personified

On his first night in America, Shahid Khan washed dishes at a YMCA in Urbana, IL, where he earned more than 99 percent of individuals would have in his native Pakistan. Today, as owner of the 14th-largest automotive supplier in the U.S. and the first non-white owner of an NFL team, he has achieved his version of the American Dream. In this conversation with EY’s Kim Simios, Khan discusses the secrets behind his entrepreneurial success.

Julia Sweeney: The Gifts of Not Believing in God

Comedian, author, and atheist Julia Sweeney was raised Catholic, with a God who, in her mind, “was like a really loving uncle.” Since letting go of God, she has found new meaning and inspiration in the simplicity of just being human, even as she wrestles with what atheism means for her, and most importantly, for her family.

Peter Thiel: Going from Zero to One

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel believes that history, at least when it comes to businesses, never repeats itself. As a member of the so-called PayPal Mafia, the first outside investor in Facebook, and founder of the Thiel Fellowship, Thiel has built a career founding one-of-a-kind enterprises. And here, he shares the “contrarian truths” that led to his biggest successes.

Bob Bowman: The Characteristics of Champions

As a Hall of Fame Coach, five-time ASCA Coach of the Year, and a three-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team, Bob Bowman has cultivated champions for decades, including experience as the renowned coach of Michael Phelps. These are the characteristics that he thinks make champions.

Want more content like this? Check out the Chicago Ideas YouTube channels for hundreds of hours of inspiring content meant to spark action and expand horizons for everyone.