Several months ago, I participated in a unconference in Santa Clara, California, called Overlap. I did it on my time as an investment in my growth. I came away with a renewed sense of purpose and energy that has improved my professional life. It also sparked a change in my awareness of what I do, professionally, and it inspired me to take different risks.
I never thought of myself as a designer before, but it’s so clear to me now that designing (not “instructional design”) is what I do. Of late, what I’ve done more and more of is experience design.
I’ve facilitated a few innovation sessions, problem solving discussions, “brainstorming,” etc — all of which have grown more and more successful and impactful (and more daring, maybe) as I gain confidence and learn from each experience as both a designer and a facilitator. I admit, there is some pleasure found in getting my hands a little dirty coaching people along — very similar to the best parts of when I was a teacher, but without the constraints of being “classroom teaching.”
There’s an entrepreneurial spirit set aflame at that June unconference, too. It’s why next week I’m taking a week+ off from work and organizing a unconference of my own in Sedona, Arizona. Something I’ve been moonlighting on, something I bootstrapped on my own. Along the way, I learned some really hard lessons about what it takes for a venture to be successful, and I found partners and incredibly supportive friends and mentor figures to help me, and help this unconference, be successful.
Towards the end of next week and over next weekend, I suspect there will be tweets and pictures from Up to All of Us. It’s a unconfernece about the overlaps among learning, social business and technology — but it’s a unconference, so it’s going to go wherever and however the participants take it. If you’re interested in following from afar, the hashtag is #UTAOU.
I couldn’t be more elated about the event. I set a bold goal, and we hit it. By traditional measures, as a first venture, we’re already successful. Still, I need more satisfaction that what we’re doing is a success.
I hope the experience inspires and resonates with the participants in some profound way — even just a touch of what I got out of my experience with Overlap would do. I’m hoping the ideas my friends play with become something they’re motivated and readied to do. I’ve thought about this in terms of creating perpetual virtuous cycles — people pumping inspiration and drive into everything they create which in terms propels those who meet with what they create to do the same. I’m happy to have success in the short-term, but it’s in that long tail I really want to find the evidence that this experience was a good one.
I’m rambling already — giddy up! I’ll talk to you all from the other side.