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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Get out of your neighborhood

Get out of your neighborhood

November 17th, 2008

You can get your best ideas when talking with people outside your business or area of expertise.

Career Opportunities podcast logoGet out of your neighborhood
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: Get out of your neighborhood

[audio:http://welchwrite.com/career/audio/2008/career-op-20081114.mp3]

I have spent the last four weekends speaking at conferences, and speaking with many people, in California and Arizona. Despite being a bit tired from the long drives and long hours, I am also energized. It is amazing how exciting and enlightening it can be to talk to people outside your normal area of expertise. Too often, we find ourselves in an echo chamber where we hear the same thoughts, the same advice, the same voices again and again. If you want to build your career, it is important to step outside your neighborhood and see what others may be doing.

126My first stop on this travel session was right here in my own backyard, BarCampLA-6. This freewheeling unconference covers amazingly wide-ranging topics. I heard talks on the Dunbar number, the history of the pixel, hosted an acoustic music jam and a meeting of my own technology group, New Media Interchange. While BarCampLA attracts technology folks, it also brings in experts from all areas of life. Every time I attend BarCampLA and rub shoulders with scientists, musicians, activists and entertainment industry folks it expands my thinking in some amazing ways.

PodCampAZ Opening Day 2Next on my agenda was PodCampAZ, a new media conference that is quickly becoming the premiere conference in the Southwest. While PodCampAZ is more focused on New Media, I still met people from all walks of life. They were all there to see how New Media can help them in their businesses and their lives. This included massage therapists, artists, programmers, writers, retail store and service owners and more. As I talked with each of them, new ideas began to form over how New Media might be used. I was constantly making notes which I hope to put into action, now that I am back home. I might not have ever captured these ideas had I not been exposed to all these different people and thoughts.

In San Jose for DevLearnEarly this week, I drove from my home in Los Angeles to San Jose to attend the Adobe Learning Summit and speak at DevLearn2008. These conferences were dedicated to e-Learning professionals, people who are responsible for creating training for small companies and large corporations. I haven’t previously had the opportunity to learn much about the e-learning world, even though it is heavily immersed in technology and education, two areas in which I am deeply involved. Once again, learning about the unique challenges and theories surrounding e-learning gave me a huge amount of new material to mull over. While your own work might be quite different, there are always lessons to be learned from other worlds.

New Media ID Seminar, Palm Springs, CAFinally, just a few days ago, I presented another New Media seminar along with my sister, a fellow computer consultant in the Palm Springs area. This New Media ID seminar is the commercial side of my New Media Interchange group which is designed to bring the power of New Media to everyone. Talking with these shop owners, hotel and B&B managers, restaurateurs and others challenged me to find ways to make New Media effective for them and their businesses. Speaking with them, adapting existing ideas and developing new strategies kicks my thinking into high gear and drives my thinking for days after.

From these examples, you can see how “getting out of my neighborhood” really helps to drive my thinking and helps me to develop new and hopefully great ideas. It can do exactly the same for you. Take every opportunity to attend conferences, meetings and other events that introduce you to new people, with new goals, new work and new thoughts. It can be the conferences that seem peripheral to your work or in entirely different areas that can actually be the most useful to you. While attending conferences in your area of expertise can be useful, in many cases you have already heard the messages and information being delivered. Expanding your view can help you develop entirely new ideas for your line of work that others may have missed.


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