2019 INTERSECT Lightning Talks; a Retrospective

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2019 flew by. 

Not only have we learned so much this past year from our clients, the various industries we worked across, and the broader tech community, but we also learned a lot from our INTERSECT peers and colleagues about their interests and hobbies. 

Lightning Talks are an initiative we piloted in May 2018, initially to experiment with another format for us to share information with one another, but also as a way to practice our presentation skills and as a place to give back learnings. Since then, it has become a community of its own here at INTERSECT where we meet every two weeks to share and learn new things.

We have a diverse group of people that work here, which has led to a really diverse set of topics covered in our bi-weekly Lightning Talk sessions. Here are some categories we covered, along with some of our favourite topics in each category and a few fun facts we learned in 2019: 

Business & Professional Skills

  • Introduction to Wealth Management
  • Eye-Candy Architecture Diagrams
  • Success & Happiness at Work
  • Purpose
  • Powershell 101
  • Structuring Decisions with Weighted Scorecards
How to Start a Speech
Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash
  • How to Start a Speech
    • Fun fact; most speeches start by falling under three common traps:
      • the Parrot; the presenter who reads their slides,
      • the AV Club; the underprepared presenter who wrestles and blames the AV, or
      • the Student; the unrehearsed presenter who’s learning about their own slides as they present
    • And from there we learned that there are only three proper ways to start a speech:
      • A Question
      • A Fact
      • Once Upon a Time

Diversity & Inclusion

During a particular themed week for Lightning Talks around Diversity and Inclusion, we heard many inspirational stories from our colleagues about their journeys and life experiences around this topic, including:

  • Coming Out; A Bystander’s Perspective
  • Being Out at Work and Why That Matters
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race and Why That Matters
Photo by Levi Saunders on Unsplash

One talk that stood out to us was titled My Story & Rewording Your FAQs, a talk on how we can support each other simply via the way we speak common phrases and the little adjustments we can make to remove the opportunity of being offensive unintentionally, like:

  1. Instead of saying “Can you be my gay best friend?” just say “Can you be my best friend?” (It implies you only want someone as a best friend because they’re gay)
  2. Instead of saying “So who is the woman/man in the relationship”, Don’t. (It implies that a relationship requires both)
  3. Instead of saying “Do you know (name)? They’re gay too.” just ask if they know the person by name (It implies that all gay people know each other)

Entertainment & Lifestyle

  • How Writing Poetry Saves Me
  • Tell Me About Mellotrons
Last-Minute Predictions for Avengers End Game
Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash
  • Last-Minute Predictions for Avengers: End Game
    • For us movie fanatics, we were lucky enough to get some last-minute predictions before Avengers: End Game’s opening last year. During one of that week’s Lightning Talks, we learned that there are multiple references to time travel prior to the release of the movie, ex:
      • “The world has changed. None of us can go back. All we can do is our best and sometimes the best we can do is start over.” — X-Men: Days of Future Past
      • The Ancient One mentions in Doctor Strange that she “spent so many years peering through time [to] prevent countless terrible futures,” yet her vision always ends at the moment presumed to be her death.
    • Equipping us with some speculations, we were all able to walk into the film’s opening weekend well informed.

Health & Wellness

  • Psychotherapy and All Its Flavours
  • Weight Lifting 201 (Skipping 101)
  • My Other Job, a Day In the Life of T1D
  • Shortcuts to Tracking Food
  • My Painful Running Journey
  • Ergonomics, Part 1 & The Sequel
What to Put on Your Skin - a Practical Topic for Winter
Photo by Brandless on Unsplash
  • What to Put on Your Skin – a Practical Topic for Winter
    • Fun facts from this talk included:
      • Dry skin is a skin type whereas dehydrated skin is a skin condition
      • Hydration binds water into the skin whereas moisturization is the step after to prevent moisture from leaving the skin
      • A simple test to see if your skin is dehydrated is to pinch yourself and observe:
        • If it bounces immediately, it means your skin is well hydrated
        • If it takes some time to bounce back, it means your skin may suffer from dehydration
    • And we also learned:
      • For oily skin types, we only need lighter texture hydration because our skin is already good at trapping in water
        • ex. Lotion, moisturizing liquids
      • For combination skin types, we need targeted treatments
        • ex. Emulsion, lightweight creams
      • For dry skin types, we need a good emollient for better protection
        • ex. Multi-step hydration, heavier denser creams

History & The World

  • Tooth Traditions Around The World
  • The Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt
  • Conspiracy Theories, Part 1 & Part 2
  • The Dyatlov Pass Incident
  • The History of Winter War
  • The Middle East Demystified
  • The Great Salmon Run
  • Climate Change: How and Why
  • Vangcouver Slang
  • The History and Evolution of eSports
  • The Evolution of Puppets
  • Women and Beer
Fast-Fashion and It’s Socio-Economic-Environmental Impacts
Photo by Lauren Fleischmann on Unsplash
  • Fast-Fashion and It’s Socio-Economic/Environmental Impacts
    • Alarming facts about fast fashion:
      • Promotes inhumane working conditions as labour is outsourced to third-world countries, paying workers below what the UN would classify as a living wage in those respective countries
      • Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of clean water globally, after agriculture, where 10% of our global carbon footprint is due to the clothes we dump.
      • Donating clothes doesn’t help the issue as most of the donated clothes still end up dumped in third world countries
    • We learned that the only known solution is ethical shopping, meaning we should:
    • Buy clothes with a longer closet life
    • Buyback at least one piece of clothing regularly from second-hand/vintage stores

Life Hacks

  • Travelling with a Baby, a Toddler, and a Broken Arm
  • How to Win at Tinder Next Valentine’s Day
  • Beginner vs Competitive Color Matching (Intro to Speedcubing)
  • Duplicate Bridge (Bridge Rules)
  • Why I Lost At Fantasy Football
  • Tips for the Summer
  • All About Horses, From a Lowkey Horse Girl
  • Houseplants Propagation 101
  • Tips to Avoid a Renovation Disaster!
  • Best Cafes in the INTERSECT Neighbourhood
  • Succulents Demystified
  • Self-Defense 101, Fun With Joints
  • The Joy of Using a Sharp Knife
Oyster Shucking 101
Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
  • Oyster Shucking 101
    • Fun fact, there are five species of oysters:
      • The Pacific Oyster
      • The Kumamoto
      • The Atlantic Oyster
      • The Olympia
      • The European Flat/Belon
    • And we learned how to identify a well versus a poorly shucked oyster:
      • Poorly shucked oysters may have broken shells in the meat or the meat looks like they are scrambled or cut up
      • Properly shucked oysters look like the meat is undisturbed and intact, where the shell just got lifted off

Science & Technology

  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
  • The Mind Blowing Applications of Quantum Entanglement
  • Prosopagnosia
You’re Lying to Yourself - an Overview of Our Memory
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash
  • You’re Lying to Yourself (an Overview of Our Memory)
    • Some possible and common lies we may believe or have heard about our memory:
      • Our brain works like a video recording
      • Recalling information is like hitting “play”
      • Our memory is accurate
    • But it turns out that none of those were true. So we learned instead that:
      • Information coming into your brain is immediately split into fragments
      • Our brain is guessing an alarming majority of the time when it’s recalling information, where
        • Short term memory can be compared to a Library Model, where we can browse and retrieve
        • Long term memory can be compared to a Sherlock Model, where our subconscious examines partial evidence, and based on inference and guesswork, invents a reconstruction of what is actually stored
      • We are only given an approximate view of reality at all times


We’re extremely fortunate to have a fun culture here at INTERSECT where we embrace everyone’s uniqueness and have the opportunity to learn from each other. We can’t wait to see what kinds of interesting, educational, and fun topics our team has to share in 2020!