I feel inspired, creative, happy, stimulated, fired up. No, I haven’t ingested any illegal substances. The Airsquare team has just returned from Webstock, a yearly conference in Wellington, NZ, featuring some of the superstars of the web industry. Being a non-geek, I had reservations about attending: would I drown in a sea of code? At least there would be free ice-cream.
Webstock was anything but technical and boring. The whole experience was about inspiration and creativity. The speakers were diverse and there were lessons in there for everyone. And so, I'm sharing my happy pills and pearls of wisdom...
Help your clients to be amazing!
Kathy Sierra stated that our aim should be for our clients to feel 'Badass'. Focus on encouraging clients to be great and to achieve something. Encourage and empower. Our clients should feel "animated by purpose" (Dana Chisnell, Independent researcher, Webstock 2012)
Work to live, don't live to work
In business, it’s easy for your work/life balance to get well, imbalanced. Matt Haughey (founder of Metafilter) encouraged us to take a long term view and to think about how your plan for your business interacts with your aspirations for life.
"9 out of 10 start ups fail. When you get the funding that's when the real work starts - it's not lottery day"
(Matt Haughey, Webstock 2012)
Scott Hanselman (Principal Community Architect for Web Platform and Tools) gave some valuable tips.
- Don’t check and reply to your emails first thing in the morning - they'll just reply, and the cycle will continue!
- Keep emails brief - imagine that you have a finite number of keystrokes before you die.
- Set yourself three outcomes for the day, for the week, for the month, for the year.
- Have a Monday vision and Friday reflection
Don’t do it for the money
If you aim to get meaning and purpose from your work, you'll always be rewarded.
"Never do it for the money; do it for the work and the money will come"
(Adam Lisagor, Webstock 2012)
Focus on building a product/service that people like
It's easy to get in the pattern of trying to push forward and make monetary gains, without thinking about what you're striving for in the first place - business is a service; build a business that works well and serves well and the customers will come.
"Don’t ask for 'likes' - be likable"
(Matthew Inman, Illustrator, The Oatmeal, Webstock 2012)
Thanks for the laughs, Matthew Inman; check out his comic, 'The Oatmeal', if you don't believe how funny he is!
Don't fret over the details too soon
Erin Kissane is a content strategist who, in dulcet tones, spoke to us of the challenges of big projects.
"Work large to small, but ship small to large"
(Erin Kissane, Webstock 2012)
Focus on the big picture and your core purpose first. Then fill in the details later.
Look after your team
Having a cohesive team is crucial.
"Great teams have great morale, even in the face of constant criticism"
(Michael B. Johnson, leader of the Moving Pictures Group at Pixar Animation Studios, Webstock 2012)
Take a long term view
Jeremy Keith (Web developer and author) challenged and inspired, with his thoughts on how the human measurement of time has evolved. His comment
"The dinosaurs died out because they never had a space program"
made us chuckle. He’s a fan of ‘The Long Now Foundation’, which encourages long term thinking and responsibility. Food for thought.
Great craftsmen take the time needed for their craft; focus on the purpose of what you do and allow yourself the time and focus to do it. This was further illustrated by Michael B. Johnson, leader of the Moving Pictures Group at Pixar Animation Studios, who gave us a peek inside the amazing world of Pixar and the intricate processes involved in telling their stories.
"Make things you wish existed"
(Jessica Hische, Illustrator, Webstock 2012 - check out her awesome flowchart)
Jennifer Brook, user experience designer, designer and self-confessed introvert, enthralled us with the story of her evolution from a tree-house dwelling book maker to being the interaction designer for several of the New York Times mobile products. Her story highlighted, not only the importance of craftsmanship and taking time, but also how forms change naturally over time; the key is to build a bridge between what is familiar and what is new.
Don't let fear rule your world
Danah Boyd, senior researcher at Microsoft Research, examined the culture of fear, social media and radical transparency. Think about how easily fear gets our attention (particularly in the media) and how this growing culture of fear is being used to regulate and censor the internet and elsewhere.
"Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity"
(Danah Boyd, Webstock 2012)
Be a futurist
It's so easy to get caught up in day to day routines and to lose sight of the bigger picture: Derek Handley (entrepeneur) implored us to be futurists - to "live on purpose" and to think of the legacy that we will leave behind.
"Those who cannot imagine the future are doomed to f*** it up...The world is made flexible through story; we must tell as many stories as we can”
(Lauren Beukes, Novelist, Webstock, 2012).
De-clutter your life; sort the signal from the noise (Scott Hanselman, Webstock 2012). We have access to a lot of information on a daily basis. It's OK to let some information wash over you and focus on what grabs your attention.
"Recognise the psychic weight of your to-dos"
(Scott Hanselman, Webstock 2012)
Believe in Yourself
Don't listen to the "invisible rules" (Amy Hoy, Webstock 2012) You know - the unspoken don'ts: "you must do it this way", "you can’t do that", "that won’t work" etc... Don't let the 'haters' stop you from trying, and don't let the detractors make you turn back. Poeple like to hear themselves talk.
Be true to yourself; your aspirations; your ideas.