All Posts in Table Talks

April 29, 2014 - No Comments!

Using Technology for Social Good: April Table Talks

TableTalks-Tech for Social Good posterLast week we hosted one of our best Table Talks series yet, focusing on the topic of "Technology for Social Good." Given our long history working with nonprofits, we were excited to hear other designers, developers, and technologists talk about how they've used their powers for good.

Overall, a running theme seemed to be that technology for technology's sake cannot make the world a better place—but in the hands of smart, thoughtful, mindful people, it can be the agent for meaningful invention. Think: a quickly deployed web app that allowed Boston marathon runners to call their families after last year's bombing, when cell towers were overloaded; or a text helpline designed to aid and track down kidnapping victims.

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April 17, 2014 - No Comments!

Technology for Social Good: April Table Talks

Technology for Social Good: April Table Talks

Technology has afforded us innumerable perks, improvements, and efficiencies that have changed our professional and personal lives for the better (and, sometimes, for the worse). But how can we move past our own self-serving application of technology and use it to enact positive social change?

Table Talks, our quarterly speaking series, returns next week with the topic "Technology for Social Good." Our incredible lineup this month features Obama for America's Michael Slaby, the University of Chicago's Matt Gee, user experience designer Carolyn Chandler, and Twilio's (and former TXI-er) Greg Baugues. They'll be discussing the ways in which they use technology to make positive impacts.

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June 17, 2013 - No Comments!

Data Visualization in Excel: A Table Talk

Turning data into something that people can understand, appreciate, and act on is a critical skill, but it's a challenging one for many who don't consider themselves traditional designers. When it comes to data visualization, it's common practice to use the tools we already have at hand (and are relatively familiar with) to get the job done—hence the ubiquitous use of Microsoft Excel in this area.

Unfortunately, Excel is far from the best or easiest data visualization tool out there, but people's comfort level with it—and its acceptance as industry standard—keeps it chugging along. Last month, for our Table Talks series Data by Design, Excel Whisperer Mark Rickmeier gave his tips for making the most out of Excel's data features.

Take note—Mark doesn't necessarily recommend Excel for data visualization, but if you're going to use it, he says, follow these rules.

"Make it so," says Picard.

To view other PechaKucha presentations from our Table Talks series, visit the Table XI PechaKucha channel. If you’re interested in attending a future Table Talks, request an invite through our website. You can also follow along at #tabletalks.

June 11, 2013 - No Comments!

Telling Technical Stories: A Table Talk

Telling Technical StoriesThink technical writing is boring? "Not so!" says our senior developer and Agile coach, Noel Rappin. Rather, young devs learning Ruby experience as much of a hero's journey as Luke Skywalker taking on Darth Vader or Bilbo heading off to fight dragons. As such, writing technical books requires telling a story and taking your readers through interactive exercises that make them feel like the heroes of your tale. With enough learning and experience under their belts, they too can go from code novices to programming Jedis.

Below, watch Noel's Table Talk on "Telling Technical Stories," and see how drawing on timeless narrative techniques can help you craft meaningful and engaging technical pieces.

Our next Table Talks will be Thursday, June 13, and focus on Developer Education. If you're interested in attending, request an invite through our website. For past PechaKucha presentations from our Table Talks series, visit the Table XI PechaKucha channel. You can also follow along at #tabletalks.

June 6, 2013 - No Comments!

Developer Education: June Table Talks

Software development is one of the fastest growing industries in the country, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 30% increase in jobs by 2020, more than double the average growth rate for all occupations. We’ve certainly seen a rebirth in Chicago’s tech scene over the past several years, as companies like Groupon, Career Builder, and Braintree have settled here.

Hand in hand with this explosion in the tech sector goes the issue of education. Who is going to train this next wave of developers, and what are the best teaching tools? How can we use mentorship to promote continued learning and improvement internally, and ensure current devs stay on top of the latest technologies and innovations? How will we reach groups typically under-represented in the dev world, like lower income individuals, certain ethnic minorities, and women?

At Table XI we’ve been thinking a lot about the role of education and mentorship in this community, and several of our team members are involved with organizations like Dev Bootcamp, Girl Develop It, I.C. Stars, and The Starter League, all of which are dedicated to teaching tech’s next crop of talent. For our June Table Talks: Developer Education, we’ll be hearing PechaKucha-style presentations from some of Chicago’s best: Ray Hightower, organizer of ChicagoRuby and WindyCityRails; Paul Pagel, CEO and Co-founder of 8th Light; Vince Cabansag, Director of Operations at The Starter League; Michael D. Hall, Founder of UGtastic; Mike Busch, Instructor at Dev Bootcamp; and Isaac Sanders, our very own summer development intern and mentor at Dev Bootcamp.

What: June Table Talks | Developer Education
When: Thurs, June 13 | 12 – 1:30 pm
Where: Table XI | 328 S Jefferson St | Suite 670

Interested in joining Table Talks as a guest? Request an invitation through our website, or keep up at #tabletalks. For past presentations, including May’s Data by Design, please visit the Table XI PechaKucha channel.

June Table Talks Poster: Developer Education

May 20, 2013 - No Comments!

Sprinkling Pixie Dust, by Greg Baugues: A Table Talk on Customer Service

Our Director of Client Services, Greg Baugues, was in Scotland last week to present at Scottish Ruby Conf, but last month he presented closer to home. During our April Table Talks on "Things My Customers Taught Me," Greg treated us to a PechaKucha on customer service called "Sprinkling Pixie Dust."

Disney is world-renowned for its deeply customer-centric approach. While doing a stint in college as a "custodial engineer" at the Magic Kingdom, Greg learned the Disney way firsthand: He was encouraged to treat customers as guests and find small ways to make their visits magical.

Watch Greg's PechaKucha presentation to find out what else cleaning up candy wrappers and protein spills at Walt Disney World can teach you about improving customer service and experience, and creating relationships that last a lifetime.

This Thursday, May 23, we'll be hosting our lunchtime May Table Talks: Data by Design. Follow along on Twitter at #tabletalks, or, if you're interested in joining us as a guest, you can request an invitation through our website. For past Table Talks about customer service and other topics, visit the Table XI PechaKucha channel.

May 16, 2013 - No Comments!

Data by Design: May Table Talks

For years the term "Big Data" has buzzed on the lips of CEOs and executives and bounced off board room walls. Companies understand the opportunity their data represents to customize products and services to their customers, streamline operational efficiency, and unearth market insights that provide a competitive advantage. But knowing how best to apply data is one thing—telling a story through data in a way that illuminates is an art unto itself.

CNN Money recently published an insightful piece on this subject. Author Olof Schybergson says, "It's about turning information into meaningful insights people can use, giving data a human shape and a connection with the messy real world that we live in... Designers have it ingrained to focus on simplicity and bring a singular focus to delighting the end user—regardless of whether they are a business user or consumer. Designers know how to take complex or disparate information and make it tangible, understandable, and importantly, more human."

We'll be tackling this with the experts for our May Table Talks: Data by Design. Joining us for lunch on Thursday, May 23 will be Datascope Analytics partner Aaron Wolf, designer Sharlene King, DataMade founder Derek Eder, Chicago Data Visualization Meetup organizer Josh Doyle, and Table XI COO Mark Rickmeier, each of whom will treat us to a PechaKucha-style presentation on the topic.

Follow along at #tabletalks, and make sure to check out past Table Talks at Table XI's PechaKucha channel.

If you're interested in joining Table Talks as a guest just request an invitation through our website here.

May Table Talks: Data by Design

April 18, 2013 - 1 comment.

Iterating to Excellence: A Look Back on 11 Years

perksTable XI recently celebrated its 11th anniversary, which has been the source of both celebration and reflection. We certainly couldn't have made it here without the help of some of our first clients, like The Spice House, Dickson Data, and Chicago Dryer. But we also couldn't have accomplished what we set out to achieve without the team, many of whom have been with us since our early days.

Last month's Table Talks centered around the theme of "Innovation." I used the opportunity to deliver a presentation on business hacks using company perks. Sure, some things like company retreats to Costa Rica and freshly prepared lunches make Table XI a great place to work, but what many people don’t understand is that they also help solve real business problems.

But it’s taken a lot of tinkering to get where we are today. We’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t work—ask anyone here about the noisy ping pong table we once introduced—but we expect some things to fail and some to stick. When we build software, we never presume we'll deliver the final product on the first go. Rather, we deliver in increments, get feedback, and continue to iterate. Why should building a business be any different? We’ve just applied these same agile methodologies to management.

If you’re curious to know what did stick, take a look at my presentation below (and check out the rest of the Table Talks on Innovation on our PechaKucha channel).

April 15, 2013 - No Comments!

Things My Customers Taught Me: April Table Talks

No company exists in a vacuum. Sure, customers are important because they buy our products and services and (hopefully) pass our names onto their friends, but customers can also teach us a thing or two about our own businesses. We just have to ask the right questions and listen to what they have to say.

With this in mind, April's Table Talks tackles the theme "Things my Customers Taught Me." We've invited some excellent speakers to share how customers have helped shaped their approach to business. We'll be joined by one of our own clients, DicksonOne's Matt McNamara, Lightspan Digital President Mana Ionescu, Bike a Bee and Doddlebooth's Founder Jana Klinsman, CoSupport's Founder Sarah Hatter, and Table XI's Director of Client Services, Greg Baugues.


Interested in joining us for Table Talks? Learn more about the event and request an invitation on our website here.

March 13, 2013 - No Comments!

5 Ways to Get Innovative: March Table Talks

Tomorrow is Table Talks time, which means we're gearing up another thought-provoking lunch at the Table XI office.

Each month we invite a small group of entrepreneurs, technologists, designers, and storytellers to present their ideas at our office. In honor of one of our clients (and to keep things moving quickly) we follow a PechaKucha style format: each speaker is limited to 20 slides, and the slides auto-advance every 20 seconds.

The theme of tomorrow's event is "Workplace Innovation," and we have a great lineup of presenters. We'll be joined by Dawn Hancock, Managing Director at Firebelly Design; Steve Christopher, Creative Director from Minimal; and Burton Rast, Interactive Designer at IDEO. We'll also be hearing from our CEO Josh Golden who will talk about "Process Hacks", and our office chef, Aram Reed, will talk about his culinary explorations.

Interested in grabbing a seat at the Table? We have room for two more. Email Kate Garmey at for a spot, or to put your name on the guest list for the next Table Talks event which will be held April 18.

If you're not able to join us but are interested to hear what these speakers have to say, follow us on Twitter. We'll let you know when the presentations to go live on the newly-launched Table XI PechaKucha Channel.

Table Talks March Event Poster