Two weeks ago, I attended Brooklyn Beta for the first time. The energy and enthusiasm of attendees was awesome and inspiring. It was clearly evident that the organizers put a lot of time and attention to detail into the conference experience itself (the photo above shows just a tiny bit of the super fun decorations) and it was a great time. I’m still trying to find a way to process what I took away and move it into action, so I’m starting with a blog post on what I learned.
Connect to what you love
“Make something you love” seemed to be the slogan of the conference - printed on t-shirts, cups and banners. The speaker set were all actively doing something they fully loved, and many had clearly come to that through a process of trial and error. We learned from a non-profit startup founder that you may not automatically know what the “right” thing is - and your first project may not succeed. Experiment to find what you love. Other speakers, like Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, have connected to the passion of others (Etsy sellers) to support and encourage it. And Tim O’Reilly calls on us to find a way to create more value for society within what you already do. (Here’s a great article that I think clearly explains his philosophy.) I want to better prioritize time for personal projects, take better advantage of “20% time” offered at work, and just be more thoughtful about opportunities to infuse meaning into my work.
Accept your mistakes with grace
One of the parts of BB I really appreciated was a pre-conference discussion with the Facebook design team that worked on Facebook Home. It was a frank reflection about how projects don’t always work the way you think they might, and it’s rare that design teams are given the space to look back and evaluate the outcome of a design. “Fail faster” is a huge buzz phrase now, but the unspoken culture of many companies is that failure is not an option. It renews my commitment to try more ambitious things at work -- not necessarily bigger things, but things that don’t automatically default to the lowest common denominator.
Get inspired by others
A lot of energy gets created by having a group of passionate individuals in the same room. And I don’t mean passionate in a special way (the speaker set was amazing and intensely passionate) - I mean the every day passion that drives web workers to get out there and do their best each day. I work from home, and this event was a huge wake-up call to get back to in-person interactions with my design community.