Using Intelligent Debates To Drive Innovation With Clea Conner, Intelligence Squared US Debates

Using Intelligent Debates To Drive Innovation With Clea Conner, Intelligence Squared US Debates

October 27, 2021

Why are intelligent debates essential for you in life and business?

Today, Clea Conner, CEO of Open to Debate formerly known as Intelligence Squared US Debates, joins A.J. to discuss what makes an intelligent debate and how it offers a structured format for your ideas and arguments. In addition, they discuss beginner’s mindset and incremental experimentation as skills to continually lead and grow your company and see why debates are an excellent means to drive innovation in business.

Tune in to this episode to learn about the power of intelligent debating. 

About Clea Conner:

Clea Conner is the first and current CEO of Open to Debate, a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy debates in the media today. She developed “Up For Debate” and “That’s Debatable” as television programs on Bloomberg, PBS, and Newsy and produced the first debate between artificial intelligence and a human debater in partnership with IBM’s historic Project Debater. Clea also holds multiple awards for her outstanding achievements, including eight Telly Awards, seven Clarion Awards for Women in Communications, serial New York Festival awards for Best Public Affairs Programming, and one of Crain’s New York “40 Under 40”.

How a beginner’s mindset help you grow?

A beginner’s mindset can greatly benefit a business by fostering a culture of continuous learning, innovation, adaptability, collaboration, and resilience. People within the organization are inspired to seek knowledge, use intelligent debates, question presumptions, and consider creative solutions by embracing curiosity and being open to new ideas.

This way of thinking encourages a learning orientation within the business, enabling continuous development and adaptation to shifting market dynamics.

Additionally, it promotes innovation and the development of original ideas, which results in ground-breaking thinking that supports business expansion. Businesses can make the required adjustments to better meet customer needs and increase customer happiness by embracing feedback and iteration.

Moreover, a beginner’s mindset also encourages flexibility and adaptation, empowering businesses to accept change, keep on top of trends, and take advantage of new opportunities.

Lastly, a beginner’s mindset fosters resilience and tenacity, empowering businesses to see setbacks as learning opportunities and persist in their pursuit of success.

In general, having a beginner’s attitude allows a company to continuously grow and succeed by encouraging innovation, learning, and adaptation.

On today’s episode:

  • Meet Clea Conner, CEO at Intelligence Squared US Debates – 00:44
  • How a beginner’s mindset could help you in your entrepreneurial journey (and how it allows Clea to feel 20 years new in her career) – 02:42
  • Clea on how Intelligence Squared promotes structured, healthy debates and opinions – 04:41
  • Clea on why it’s hard to make people stick to a debate structure when they have the freedom of belief – 08:58
  • How to use distribution partners for broader debates – 12:13
  • How to grow yourself as an entrepreneur leading a small, tight-knit team – 17:49
  • What is incremental experimentation? How did it help Clea reach 50 million people through direct mail marketing? – 22:12
  • How Intelligence Squared keeps away provocative debating and provides a structured format to the debaters’ ideas and arguments – 25:12
  • The role of advocacy groups and invested audiences in positively amplifying a cause or subject – 34:23
  • How Intelligence Squared uses motion language, framing, and research to prevent debates from becoming aggressive or unhealthy – 36:11
  • How to view success as delivering quality performance (and how Clea achieves the same) – 38:54
  • How debating helps entrepreneurs develop open-mindedness and drive innovation – 43:55

Key Takeaways:

  • Having a beginner’s mindset can help you continually adapt to changes and fuel your company’s growth. It also nurtures learning and keeps innovation alive.
  • It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. Debates are, in fact, a way of listening to both sides of a topic and evaluating your agreements and disagreements.
  • Amplification of opinions occurs when people are the most curious about a subject and open to hearing something new. To help your message reach larger audiences, engage with audiences most suitably and efficiently.
  • Incremental experimentation can significantly increase your chances of success as a marketing professional. You start with what you know and continue developing and building on using channels that generate a response from newer audiences.
  • Debates are a healthy way to broaden your views, collect and evaluate public opinions, and give a structured format to ideas and arguments. It helps you learn new perspectives and rethink where you stand as an individual.


Is there a right way to amplify opinions?

[14:00] “Amplification is really about capturing people when they are most open to hearing something new, and when they’re most interested and curious, and that’s not a formula that any media company has perfected.”

What are your views on intelligent debating? Let us know what role debates play in your business and how you make sure that all opinions are heard, and don’t forget to say hello if you would like to share your entrepreneurship story on our podcast. 

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