Epicurrence No. 1

This past week I was fortunate enough to be one of the 50 odd folks from the design community to descend upon South lake Tahoe and the Heavenly Ski Resort for Epicurrence. The genesis of the event lies with Dann Petty. It had been an event he’d been dreaming of doing for several years now. Kudos to you for chasing your dream. I am better off because of it.

Dann giving the group the low-down about the stuffs.

If you follow or interact with anyone who attended (grab #epicurrence on the Twitters or IG), it’s pretty obvious the week had a significant impact on most. I know that I left feeling like I had participated in something very unique. I’m talking once in a lifetime kind of stuff. I know I’m not the only one. Phil wrote something on his blog, as did Matt.

I am reluctant to call the whole thing a conference because it didn’t conform to any of the common patterns we see within the design and tech scene at this point. Yes there were speakers, panels, topics, a schedule, way too much swag, etc. All marks of a traditional conference, but the shear size of the group (it was tiny!) and the fact we all stayed in such close proximity to one another (3 gigantic airbnb’s all within a mile of each other) turned all of that on its head. It felt nothing like a typical conference. It was more akin to going to summer camp as a kid.

Designer State of the Union with Meg, Katy, Marc, Phil, Adam and Goeff.
From left to right: Erwin, Josie, Meg Myself and Michaela all waiting to hit the mountain on the first day.
Sitting by the campfire the final night

At this point, I’d probably mention a few highlights from the few days we spent together (that’s how you do these recaps right?). But honestly, what I want to recount is really only relevant to those people I had the opportunity to interact with. Instead I want to talk about the biggest take-away I picked up on: being open and vulnerable.

I don’t think what I have to say about being open and vulnerable is very deep or profound. In fact, I know it’s been said before. I’ll say it again anyway.

The best way to build a bond and friendship with someone is to be real with them: failures and all.

A majority of the interactions I had during the time we spent together were marked by a willingness to be open and honest. From the moment I got in to the car to cruise from Reno to Tahoe, the discussion wasn’t about what cool products or apps we were working on. It was about marriage, family, having your world-view completely blown away — all the stuff you don’t share with someone you just shook hands with for the first time 30 minutes prior.

What made the whole event rare was that the willingness to be real went beyond the personal conversations and in to the talks and panels that happened each day. The folks leading the more formal conversations were opening up to a level that probably wasn’t 100% safe for them or their jobs. And that is what I truly enjoyed. Real. Talk.

I think we need more of that in our industry.

I think it’s easy for us to stick with the safe conversations. What colors, buttons, flow, tools, billing terms, etc, we use. And while that is the common ground many of us stand on, it’s healthy to remind ourselves that there is a vast world outside of the interfaces we work on.

Let’s find opportunities to build in that common ground. I think we’ll be better off for it. And not just as designers, as humans.

Don’t be afraid to share about what is or has been hard in your life. We often aren’t the only one’s fighting the battles we are in the midst of.

Thanks again Dann for making all this happen. Thank you to everyone I had conversations with. Those interactions are what I will remember the most. Also, thank you to Rigel who was an awesome number two and MC during everything, you probably don’t get enough credit for what you did.

The world needs more things like Epicurrence.


Dann Petty wrote about his perspective on the whole event. Definately worth the read.

Also, shout out to @ricocast for the amazing photos in this post. Dudes a champ.