Author’s note: This article is really about creative thinking. At www.billgood.com/creative, I have put some links to articles and books you may find of interest.
How to attend a conference: Seems like a ridiculous topic, doesn’t it?
You have a conference to attend. You go. You come back, hopefully with a to-do list.
Question: Why do you need to read this article on how to attend one?
Answer: What if there is a decent chance you could come away with one or two major life and/or business changing ideas? What if all of the ingredients that foster creative thinking are at that conference? Because you are forced to attend, you go with a sour attitude. Sad.
Barron’s Teams Summit
Early this year, I did something I had not done in too long—I attended a conference as a participant, not as a presenter. Don’t get me wrong, I love attending conferences. I love the energy, the connections, and I’ve known for a long time conferences often produce major, if not life-changing, ideas. I really didn’t understand how.
Wearing a speaker’s hat, my focus is entirely different than when attending as a participant. I go to enough of the events to get a feeling for the audience, for the room, the acoustics, lighting and all those other things speakers need to take into account. I will generally sit in the back and then slip out.
However, an opportunity to attend as a participant popped up. I was introduced to Sterling Shea, managing director at Barron’s, who runs the “Barron’s 1000.” Sterling invited me to attend the Barron’s Top Advisory Teams Summit as his guest. I jiggled my schedule and showed up in Orlando when it was sub-zero everywhere else. What’s not to like?
Plus, the roster was a blend of inspirational and “how to” speakers. But a source of great ideas?
When I attend a conference, I am, like you, looking for takeaways. These are the “I can improve this, do a better job with that.” These are important. But most of all, I am hoping for a visit from “Serendipity.” Over the years, it has happened enough for me to hope for a visit.
The dictionaries tell us that serendipity is “fortuitous happenstance” or “pleasant surprise.” On a grand scale, serendipity frequently occurs in science, as in Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin. It was all over the place during the “Enlightenment,” which seems largely to have happened in English coffee houses. It happens in the Theater District in New York, in Hollywood, in Silicon Valley.
Today, with universal connectivity, is there really a reason why there has to be a section of New York devoted to fashion? To diamonds? Can’t we just disperse the cities and let everyone live on little self-sustaining farms in the countryside?
What about conferences? Can’t we just attend electronically? They are expensive. There is time away from families. Let’s replace all that with webinars, OK?
Hold everything. You see there is a very good reason not to live in the countryside. It’s the same reason to not convert conferences to webinars.