That is the thought that has been with me since yesterday morning around 830am. People had started to arrive to check in for CareerCampLA 2010. it was really going to happen! After 3 months of preparation we were coming down to the wire.
For those of you who haven’t heard. CareerCampLA is “A FREE, hybrid conference/unconference dedicated to “helping you build the career you deserve”. The day will include scheduled speakers, ad hoc presentations and breakout sessions on all aspects of building your career. CareerCamp is for anyone who wants to build and/or improve their career.”
What this really means is an amazing group of people came together for 8 hours to present, to talk, to think, to grow and otherwise “Build the Career They Deserve.” Throughout the day I was amazed at what I was seeing and hearing. Conversation never stopped. There was never a lull in the low roar of talking in the lobby area we had set up. The breakout sessions were passionate, energetic and thoughtful. The speakers were insightful and in one case I saw tears in the eyes of someone emerging from a session to tell me how wonderful the last speaker had been.
The effusive thanks I, and the other organizers, received threatened to overwhelm me. All I could do was thank them in return for coming and helping to make the day a success. The truth is, as with any unconference, the quality of the experience is directly related to the quality, energy, knowledge and openness of the attendees. No amount of planning or preparation can make up for that. While I may have set the wheels in motion, it was truly they who made it the success it was.
I tend to be a worrier, so I had a few butterflies about how the day would proceed. Still, everything had come together do well that there was really little for me to worry about. Looking back, I knew the day was going well when I realized I couldn’t stop smiling. I haven’t seen a lot of pictures yet, but I am sure that I look like a grinning fool in most of them. There was no stress, no crises, no worries — the day simply proceeded logically from one point to another.
After having been involved in many projects in the past, including events similar to CareerCampLA, I must say that this has been the most amazing event I have ever worked on. My co-chairs, Jennifer Oliver O’Connell, Danielle Gruen and Susan M. Baker were, by far, the best team I have ever worked with. It is rare to be on a team without at least one squabble over something, but this team seemed hyper-focused on the end product and this allowed every bit of energy to be focused on making CareerCampLA the best conference possible. I would work (and plan on working with them again) in a heartbeat.
CareerCampLA Co-Chairs (L-R): Susan M. Baker, Jennifer Oliver O’Connell, Douglas E. Welch, Danielle Gruen
You know an event is going well when you are asked, “When will you be holding the next one?” I must have been asked this 10 times over the course of the day. Myself, I hadn’t even thought about another event. I was still so wrapped up in this one that I couldn’t even contemplate another. Then, of course, I didn’t want to jinx myself by assuming this one would be such a success that it would require a sequel. You don’t want to tempt fate. Still, in the back of my mind, I saw a future CareerCampLA and what it might be like.
That said — yes — I think there will be another CareerCampLA and, perhaps, CareerCamps in other parts of the country. There were several people interested in hosting CareerCamps in their areas and an overview of CareerCamp is being pitched to some other conferences as a possible presentation, to spread the word even farther. If CareerCampLA has value to people, I would love to see it spread far and wide. That would be the biggest mark of success I could hope for.
Third time, “Wow!”
So, what’s next? Well, I think the unconference concept is an amazingly powerful way of engaging people in discussion and sharing their expertise with others. There is an inherent energy in and unconference that many traditional conferences lack. It is often said that the best part of any conference are the accidental meeting and conversations that happen in the hallways, and the bars, after hours. An unconference seeks to capitalize on this by providing as many people as possible, as many chances as possible, to talk about what interests them most.
I have scribbled thoughts in my journal for unconferences topics including New Media like YouTube, Facebook, Podcasting, etc., Music and Songwriting, Outdoors and Nature, Sustainability, and even Gardening. There are committed groups of people forming around all these topics and they all interest me greatly.
Watch this space for announcements about our next, big, unconference adventure!