Best AM caffeine substitute

CreativeMornings

creativemornings.com/cities/chi, @Chicago_CM

The monthly breakfast-hour lecture series CreativeMornings began in New York City in 2008 and has since sprouted chapters worldwide through which professionals in diverse fields gather before the workday begins, hungry for inspiration and snacks. When I moved from Boston last year, the Chicago outpost offered a quick way to connect with fellow designers and other like-minded locals. Lecturers here have ranged from designer Maria Pinto and sign painter Ches Perry to IDEO Chicago brand-experience expert Sara Frisk and tattooist Stephanie Brown. Aside from insight into what drives others to do what they do, the 60-minute talks give you permission to peek at stunning work spaces around town. During recent CreativeMornings events I went inside Leo Burnett’s Department of Design and checked out payment solutions start-up Braintree’s awesome 26,000-square-foot digs in the Merchandise Mart. There is one problem: the free tickets become available online at 11 AM on the Monday before the event—and you have to be quick. One talk sold out in a record 52 seconds.