“Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.”
– Soren Kierkegaard
One of the six core values that we celebrate here at InfoTrust is to “Grow Every Day” and one great mode of growth is to attend conferences! Here at InfoTrust, leadership is a big supporter and proponent of sending our people to conferences far and wide in order to learn about the latest and greatest trends that are happening out in the industry, and to bring that knowledge back home. Additionally, conferences are a great opportunity to network with new folks, as well as meet up with contacts with whom you may know well virtually, but may have never physically met. And so in that spirit, this year InfoTrust sent a small coterie of us from Cincinnati, Ohio to Columbus, Ohio in order to participate in this year’s Ohio DevFest 2023 conference at The Ohio Union, part of the beautiful Ohio State University campus.
To make matters even more interesting, several of us from InfoTrust also spoke at the conference, too! For me, while I’d previously given talks and presentations at smaller meetup groups, I’d never before been featured on a conference speaking schedule, so this opportunity was super-thrilling and I was excited. To me, growth isn’t just sitting down to read books, watch videos, or get certificates; but it is also heavily experiential. To grow means to throw yourself into brand new situations like public speaking in new places to new people. I generally like to think that I give everything a fair shake: before we heavily judge something, don’t we owe it to ourselves to at least give it a shot? And so while I was apprehensive, I figured if I passed up this opportunity, I’d likely regret it, forever. As always, Jeff Bezos’s “Regret Minimization Framework” loomed large in my mind and so I went for it. The worst that could happen was that I’d look like a fool in front of total strangers. But at least I’d never regret not giving it a shot!
And as it turns out, I loved it! My 45-minute talk (“Why I fled a lucrative career of software development and engineering”—admittedly, a peculiar topic for one to pontificate upon at a software development conference) went well, and it was a total ego trip for me the rest of the afternoon to have total strangers approach me to compliment me on my talk. I was over the moon the entire day! One pro-tip, by the way, if you are ever considering to be a first-time speaker at a conference and are struggling with nerves or “imposter syndrome”: Give your first conference talk on something highly personal and subjective (like your own experience doing X). This way you won’t have to fear that one heckler in the crowd calling you out on some factual error you make or whatnot. That’s the convenient thing about sharing your truth—no one can challenge you on it!
The conference itself was fantastic and filled with interesting topics that covered tech trends currently en vogue like ChatGPT and I even got to meet Frank van Puffelen (Puf) of Google Firebase fame! That was certainly surreal to meet a celebrity in-person—someone whom I’d learned so much about Firebase from!—and obviously, I got the obligatory selfie:
Afterwards, there was then also the famed “afterparty” tradition (at Ethyl & Tank, this year) that ran late into the night. Other InfoTrusters in Columbus showed up and over Jamesons, beers, chips, and salsa, we all had a grand time; it was definitely well after midnight before some InfoTrusters stumbled their way back to the hotel.
In closing, as I’ve written before, I genuinely feel in my heart of hearts that where you choose to spend eight hours a day, every weekday, shouldn’t just be a job. You will spend at least a third of your adult life at work with your coworkers and so the experience should embody the totality of you as a human being. What do you wish to learn? What experiences do you want to have? What new challenges do you wish to try? Who do you want to meet? All of these questions—and more!—you owe your future-self to ask! Because looking back, when everything’s all said and done, all you’re going to have are the lived experiences and the memories.
So why not make them grand?