Finding Your Voice

#dareconfUSA speakers
Interesting lives are made of many types of experiences. Whenever I talk with people involved in the digital space, I am often surprised and delighted at the variety of backgrounds, experiences, and thus perspectives they bring to bear. It's visible in their work and palpable in the energy they put into it.

This is especially true of those involved with making product and creating experiences. When I submitted my proposal to speak at #dareconfUSA, I was also taking a step back into the past — the story and personal journey that brought me here — in order to take a giant leap forward.

Mastery does take time, and something else — I can do the commitment, and certainly I learned to deal with change. Things come at you and you deal with them. But somewhere in there, in between trying to manage through each iteration automating as much as possible to get to done, I had lost me.

People skills for digital workers

Dareconf comes with a strong value proposition — people skills for digital workers. Stronger still because of the diversity of backgrounds and job types people working in digital face. With technology constantly changing at a rapid clip and evolution being what it is, as humans we try to compensate however we can. Digital transformation happens, to all of us. And often we are a casualty without noticing.

Having a blog and social media accounts confuses the issue of voice further — because it is who you are and the decisions you make that determine how you are going to sound coherent out there. No buttoned up or ironclad content calendar and programmatic schedule is going to make up for lost connections due to the secret sauce missing the action — you.

My first challenge to myself was my talk on becoming a Conversation Agent at Inbound. I decided to have no slides, and knew I had only 12 minutes to say something coherent. I had a plan: prepare, prepare, prepare, and then practice some more. It worked. The feedback in the room was very positive and I have since had the opportunity to connect at a deeper level with a couple of like-minds as a result of that step.

This time, I am not alone. We are developing the talks together and I am learning through perceptual knowledge — working with the team. A rare treat in the last several years of working on the agency side where the pressure of billable hours sucks the life out of building the people who make the work possible in the first place.

When I worked on the corporate side I took vacation and paid out of my own pocket for programs I believed in (not strictly related to the day job, I got no budget.) I took myself to SxSWi for three years in a row — and that, my friends, is expensive. So give yourself a gift and come out to learn with us at #dareconfUSA

Finding your voice

What I mean when I think about finding my voice is working in a way that is true to me. Work is an expression of self, and if it is not true to it, there is no joy in it. Finding the child in you, letting curiosity guide you in solving problems, and tapping into love.

The inspiration for this bit of back stage on the process surrounding this talk and the rest of my personal digital transformation came via Michael Bierut [h/t 99U], who worked with Massimo Vignelli for many years and has worked on some of the most inspirational projects that surround us.

Michael Bierut: 5 Secrets from 86 Notebooks from 99U on Vimeo.

Four principles guide Bierut — a self-confessed non creative who in fact is quite resourceful in Sir Ken Robinson's definition of creativity* — in getting things done:

  1. Listen first, then design
  2. Don't avoid the obvious
  3. The problem contains the solution
  4. Indulge your obsessions

It applies beautifully to design of life, too. Take a look at the video for the projects he worked on and see for yourself. I love especially the last project he describes.


* in can creativity be taught? Sir Ken Robinson says: Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. It's a process, and not an event.