Six tips for getting “enough” out of tech events

As I prep for three tech conferences over six days in Austin, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, exhale and open my eyes. “Enough” seems to be hard to identify. In a world of abundance and ubiquitous tech, we constantly seek the optimal balance. I prepare my work and life, clearing out the non-essential to leave room for inspiration. Inspiration comes in the form of people, things and experiences. Each must have time, space and attention in order to fully appreciate their value. So here are a few thoughts on how to prioritize “enough” so that you bring your best self forward and come away with new ideas, friends and an action plan.

  • The human side is really quite simple, like my friend Ted Rubin says, “be good to people.” There will be many new faces and ideas mixed with the old. I thrive on connecting the dots between them all to make the experience all the more rich.
  • Schedule time to pause and reflect, either alone or with someone else. Walk and talks are an easy way to incorporate movement, connection and reflection.
  • Write down your main takeaway(s), tag with context and share (if it would be of value to others). My motto, “knowledge is power, sharing is powerful” definitely applies here.
  • Eliminate the digital distraction of unused apps on your phone. Make sure you know the passwords in case you want to load them back on later.
  • Manage your contacts. When you make a new contact make sure your record it, tag it and follow-up. Loads of apps can make this easy, but do it while you still have context. If you collect a card, write the event and something memorable about the interaction on the back so you can do it “later” (but while it is still fresh). Bring business cards, but also have a picture of yours on your phone to easily share.
  • Pack light. Mix & Match clothes and bring only the chargers you need. Don’t forget an extra battery!

My bag feels remarkably light. No extra papers, books or devices nor flyers or give-aways to leave a lasting impression will accompany me this time. I admit, as a global nomad, one learns the art of packing efficiently. That combined with the incentive of ever decreasing baggage allowance. Nevertheless, my bag seems considerably lighter than in years past when heading to Austin. With smart phone, tablet, watch and noise reduction headphones, I am set. A few mix and match outfits fit for the climate, walking shoes and I am good to go in a carry-on. My backpack is nearly empty, leaving space for a few select goodies to bring home with me.

Although this list is is compiled with conferences in mind, the practice of enough can be applied in many aspects of our lives. I hope you find this list helpful, and welcome your input, sharing and even invitation to walk & talk in Austin to discuss digital life balance.

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Sketchnotes/Reflections Day One at WebSummit 2014

Link to flickr album for Sketchnotes from Web Summit 2014 in Dublin

More to come, as this is just Day One. I was particularly impressed and excited by Sara Robb O’Hagan’s call for turning insights into action and understanding behavioral change. Lo and behold, she even put in a push for mindfulness. Great stuff from the Equinox. Met some great characters today in the startup booths with passion and innovation burning strong. I just wish they would take Sonny Vu’s advice and design for more the market beyond men in tech. There is some pretty ugly gear out there. Ah, well, there is room for improvement, innovation and creativity. So that is exciting.

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Web Summit booked!

Web SummitI am honored by the invitation to blog for the coming Web Summit in Dublin in November.  There are several simultaneous summits.  I intend to spend much of my time at the Machine Summit focusing on Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices.  There is so much happening in this space.  I hope the dialog goes beyond utility and function.  There is a far greater potential here.  My hope it is to catch a moment with some of the great minds in this area to find out what is driving their vision and passion.

How do these devices and their founders’ visions connect to the greater social web? What is their potential for impact on the greater global system?  How do they fit in the organizational context? Designing for the other 50% (No more ugly devices, please!! Thank you Sonny Vu for the beautiful Shine.) These topics will be a subjects for many a pub chat. (A visit to a real Dublin pub for some delicious cider and good music will be required while in town.)  Just because I am doing scholarly research in a tech-based world, doesn’t mean we can’t make room for some real authentic engagement.

My dissertation research continues on the relationship between wearable technologies and presence of mind.  By November, I should have some preliminary data to support lively dialog at the Summit (as well as the pub chats).  It is from this lens I will be writing, and hope to extract some interesting food for thought.


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Reflections from MINECON2012

Education Panel Minecon 2012

Education Panel Minecon 2012

Jeb signs for HMJeb, Oskar and HMDelegatesIn Minecraft2012-11-24 17.22.15Notch signs for OSkar & HM
Oskar, Notch and HMHM and Lydia Winters2012-11-24 17.46.17Oskar and SethBlingOskar and Seth Bling - autographSeth Bling and HM at MINECON
Paris pre-MINECONEducationPanelMineconNotch+Minecon2012

MINECON2012, a set on Flickr.

We are now back from a great weekend in Paris at MINECON, the annual Minecraft event.  I had the pleasure of sharing a panel on Minecraft in Education. The panel was moderated by Joel Levin, whose passion for the two lead him to developing the mod for Minecraft EDU. Marnix “Cubehamster” Licht brought the perspective of using Minecraft to teach physics and math. Stephen Reid has been introducing Minecraft into schools all over Scotland in a wide variety of learning areas. Leo Adberg told us about his experience becoming a student teacher of Minecraft at his school in LA. I spoke on the value of global collaboration and team building, as well as shared some of what I had witnesses in my son’s learning development through playing Minecraft.

The whole experience was inspiring. In the green room we continued the discussion about how to bring Minecraft into corporate training for dispersed teams. I look forward to collaborating with Stephen on this.  Taking the LEGO exercise to the next level will be fun and, I believe, quite powerful.

What started as my son’s latest game interest, has become a family event. We attended panels, in which the kids engaged the speakers by providing suggestions and asking questions. Being a panelist, we had the pleasure of meeting the Mojang team. They were all great and seemed pleased with the turnout.

Job well done MOJANG!

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