Last week I attended two very different conferences. Earlier in the week I was in Vancouver for the APCO Canada conference for public safety communicators. And later in the week (and weekend) I was in Austin for the AIN applied improvisation conference. RallyEngine had a tradeshow booth and a small speaking slot at the former and I had no idea what to expect at the latter; a wildcard.
Both were similarly-sized, well organized events but the contrast in going directly from one to the other couldn’t have been more striking. The Vancouver one was your standard annual industry gathering in a fancy hotel. The Austin one was an unconventional, multi-industry gathering in an old courthouse. One was a bit chilly for an outsider/newcomer to mingle in and the other was refreshingly easy and fun to meet others. One had a guard policing the food line at lunch while the other kept feeding you like you were visiting grandma’s. But what really stood out was how superior the AIN event was for both inspiration and networking. Besides games and the improv mindset being such powerful conversation-facilitators, diversity adds flavour to the topics.
It got me thinking back to some of the best events I’d attended: a couple ideaCitys in Toronto and BIFs in Providence – both somewhat similar to the ubiquitous TED Talks. Both highly inspiring congregations of smart, interesting people from a wide variety of backgrounds, countries, and fields. Both idea-exchange focused rather than card-exchange focused.
It reinforced for me the thoughts I’ve long championed with Creative Generalist, that mixing very different worlds is far more productive for ideas. It is also more fruitful for meeting and, importantly, connecting in a genuine way with those you meet – which is of course why one attends these things.