The Virtues of Getting Out there…
This March 28, I had the amazing opportunity to participate at Develop3D Live’s conference in Warwick, UK.
It was great.
I spoke there once before in the 2015 product design track when I was still working with The Foundry. I remember being really impressed with the overall vibe of the event and the quality and diversity of content delivered by speakers and exhibitors. As a product design, manufacturing and technology pub, it naturally draws the engineering, technical design, and hardware/software types, but as a free-to-register event it welcomes a broader variety of enthusiacic attendees including students, educators, small businesses and freelancers (people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend shows of this nature).
I, like most people, don’t love public speaking, but over the years I have developed a respectful and pretty close relationship with it… Lots of practise and with many formats, circumstances, and often under intense pressure, you find your way. What I do love about it in particular is how it cresendos to a single-point climax and, suddenly, is over. It is a ‘product design’ problem in itself and the live performance quality lend itself to a relatively instant feedback loop of reward or punishment for a respective job-well-done or crash’n burn.
This was one of the aspects in my post-corporate life that I wasn’t sure I would be able to maintain and revisit. It is one thing to deliver pitches, client reviews, or sales presentations, but there is something special about building and delivery a performance. As part of a large organization, the demand for spokespeople and public-facing communication is high… events organizers need relevant content and they need the sponsor dollars to get off the ground. As a young business without a notable success story or yet to launch some cool sexy thing, I didn’t assume I’d be able to get on a stage anytime soon.
And yet, I did.
In many respects, for the reasons mentioned above, I probably didn’t deserve to speak or help out with their tracks, but conversely, I made the deliberate effort and commitment to contribute to their agenda. It also didn’t hurt knowing Al and Martyn from previous lives and we had vaguely concocted such schemes over drinks last November in Las Vegas. But scratch that, I was genuinely determined to supported them.
With over 2000 registrants and 44 speakers on the day, it was the biggest and most ambitious D3DLive to date. The stars aligned on their need and and also with my proposed topic. I was really happy when they asked me to host the Startup track as it was very much related to my talk as I intended to share my observations and insights on running a business and the dynamics of working with others. It was an added treat because the Startup track speakers were just an awesome bunch:
- Heather Corcoran of Kickstarter
- Richard Ling & Kaye Symington, cofounders of Paved With Gold
- Mat Hunter, Managing Director of CRL in London and
- John Mathers, Director of the British Design Fund
I thought it might be a bit challenging with the track butting right up right before my time slot, but it was a blessing because I would have otherwise been left to my own devices which, I find, seldom benefits my performance.
So, I’m happy to report that the decision to make the haul to the UK was priceless. Develop3D Live as brilliant and I got to meet many new faces and connect with many familiar ones too that I wasn’t expecting. From a business development perspective, meeting people is never a bad thing. From a personal perspective, total victory:
- Talk motivated me to brainstorm and talk about pretty deep shit with my friends, peers, and partners.
- It motivated me to pull together awesome original content by artists like Nimit Malavia, Skottie Young, Tom Lopez, Jessie Lam, and Mark Torres.
- I got back on a stage again, satisfying my desire to challenge myself and exercise (exorcise) that muscle (fear). I think my fly was up and it felt like it went off well… but when the video is live on D3D, we’ll know for sure on both accounts.
- I learned a whack of new things at the conference.
- Met up with a lot of friends I haven’t seen in a while… And met a whole new set of people that I really won’t mind seeing again (that’s the low bar), if not totally willing to collaborate with in the future (that’s a high bar!)
For sure, it can be a role of the dice when you go out to any conference or social event… particularly when you are introverted (which no one seems to believe me on that anymore), but getting out there is an essential part of any well balanced diet.
P.S. For a full articalized version of my talk, go to mightydynamo.com… Enjoy!