Do you ever get that strange set of mixed emotions at a high profile conference, where you are listening to industry experts when your mind starts to wander… and you start to think about how you know much of this stuff? When you start to think, yes, well, that is exactly right, but I think I knew that already. They know their stuff; but so do you. Conferences generally have a broad mix of speakers, but specialist conferences less so. Speakers aim for the coveted, never mentioned, ‘best speaker’ position. They speak calmly, the odd light joke, don’t give too much away, adopt the professional approach. I find myself drawn to the witty, amusing, slightly whacky speakers. The flip chart scribblers; the stage marchers, with no notes; the mad passionate arm wavers; the ran-over-but-just-kept-on-going speakers! They are (usually) the pros that know this stuff inside out and have no risk aversion strategy in place. They don’t need to protect their intellectual property, or their tricks of the trade. They are the trade. They live and breathe their industry, and their enthusiasm carries you along until you start to believe that you can do anything – that you, too, are capable and driven and you can make a difference. Passion for their work and a real knowledge of their trade gives these people the confidence to stand up and share freely. They love what they do and you can see it. This is why. They embody this quote:
The art of self esteem; do what makes you happy.
I read this quite today on Twitter and it really struck a chord. Because today I did what I love and what makes me happy; I spent the day at a conference entirely dedicated to content. A whole day of talking about magazines and web content and digital content and the difference, the similarities, the words, the micro the big picture. All of it. I considered the erudite, inspirational ones, alongside those not quite enjoying the same wave of euphoria. I realised that yes, indeed, I do know this stuff already. Of course I do. I love this stuff already. The confidence boosts arising from a nudge with a colleague, a smile or chuckle with a client all underpin that self esteem. Occasionally immersing yourself fully and wholeheartedly into the middle of your industry, with knowledgeable experts and passionate storytellers, can only remind you that what you are doing is right. And recognising that you do indeed know this stuff already, is both reassuring and liberating.
Natalie Johnson 28/11/2012