As unsurprising as it may sound to those of you who know me, I spent the last week moving around and traveling from Mexico City to Manzanillo, where I was to attend the 2014 edition of MagmaConf. On the first leg of the trip, I made my way by bus to the city of León, Guanajuato, where I spent a few days with some very good friends going back and forth between that city and Guanajuato, in my opinion one of Mexico’s most fascinating and special towns (thanks Ismael & Gize for being excellent hosts). After having the fortune of working out of hip coffeeshops in Guanajuato, we left the Bajío region by car and drove to Guadalajara. Then onwards to Colima, the final stop before finally reaching the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful bay of Manzanillo.
You can probably tell by reading this description that it was hectic. You can now add to that 3 days non-stop of gripping technology conferences, of meeting great interesting people from all over Mexico and the world, and of fun and well-planned parties by the sponsor companies. Now it’s ending and I’m sitting at Manzanillo’s airport, ready to hop on a plane and head back home. I’m exhausted, but I’m also filled with thoughts and lessons learned from this year’s MagmaConf. I would like to share these with you.
Lesson/Thought 1: Be excellent to each other
Being a non-technical attendee of MagmaConf, there’s a lot of room for me to absorb new knowledge from all the talks and talented software developers around. This year that was certainly the case. However, I picked up a few other messages that I think went well beyond just talking good technology and skills: they universally addressed the central and core issue of being or becoming good human beings.
I can still listen to Sandi Metz speaking about how “grit surpasses talent” and how hard work and perseverance are key to succeeding in any human endeavor, be it professional or personal. Her penetrating words served me as a powerful reminder of things I sometimes begin to forget. Even if things get tough, we must not give up in pursuing the goals that we hold close and true to our hearts.
Then came PJ Hagerty, speaking very authentically about community and about helping each other out (I will go deeper into this in the next thought). Being an asshole to anyone is not an option, because being good and helpful to members of our community is so much exponentially better and beneficial to everyone. I felt responsible for living up to this by listening to PJ.
And then in grand closing fashion marched in Desi McAdam. This very nice and brilliant lady stood on that stage and opened herself up in a way that was beautifully human and honest. She described her experiences doing her best to do good to others and also of her privileged relationships with wise mentors who helped mold her into the great person she now inequivocally is.
There were many other good talks at MagmaConf, but this is the message I think was most powerful and important: we must be excellent to each other. Especially in a country such as Mexico, so badly hurt and scarred by rampant individualism and selfishness, we need to change our mind chips into “help each other succeed” mode. And then when we all collectively begin succeeding, our society will be so much more better off. Today, we can start that process by caring for the people in our local communities. Let’s start being excellent to each other this very instant.
Lesson/Thought 2: The importance of community
Attending MagmaConf this and last year, I have realized (along with many others) that the event’s greatest achievement is generating a feeling of community and friendship. The people who have been attending this conference have genuinely gone on to become close friends or collaborators in other projects. In my personal case, it is just undeniably and deeply satisfying to meet people who are as weird, crazy and passionate about doing new things in Mexico as I am. The speakers and attendees coming from abroad also fall into this category, sometimes serving as inspiration through their deeds and projects in their home countries.
We must stick together; tightly-knit communities hold the power to make a difference and to help us succeed in the ambitious endeavors we are pursuing. For that reason, there will never be such a thing as too much community. If on top of being excellent to each other, we learn to also coordinate as a bigger group being, we might become invincible.
Lesson/Thought 3: We all want a better Mexico (and a better world)
The reason why we are not working at a big multinational company or in a stable cushy job in the corporate world (nothing wrong with that) is because we are trying to build solutions that don’t quite exist to pressing problems in our local communities and countries. Many of us are sacrificing economic and life stability (and abundance) in the short term because we believe in achieving something big in the longer term.
When I say big, I’m not just talking about big money or big profits, but also about the huge mission of improving Mexico and our local communities. I think attendees of MagmaConf go there to meet up with other people who want to improve their communities through great software products. People coming from outside of Mexico become witnesses to this and end up realizing the enormous potential and talent present in Mexico that is key to lifting the country into more prosperity and progress. We’re all hungry to see our country (and the world) better off and that makes what we do everyday meaningful and worth the effort.
I want to finalize this post by expressing my sincere gratitude to the Crowd Interactive folks who took the time and effort to make MagmaConf happen. Just being around so many great people in such a great setting makes all of the traveling to Colima more than worth it. Keep creating this opportunity to share our amazing Mexico with our international peers and to showcase all of the potential present in it. Keep bringing us together to remember how important it is to be excellent to each other, to come together as a community and to keep pushing relentlessly hard for a better Mexico.