Another amazing Northern Voice conference, this time at the HR MacMillan Space Centre. An excellent venue, and conference-goers got to visit the Museum of Vancouver for free! As a bonus, a really cool avant-garde play, which I will totally be blogging about.
Just like last year I’m writing several Northern Voice posts, each grouping related talks together.
Mark Blevis and Bob Goyetche: Podcasters Across Borders
It was a fascinating story. I’d never heard of PAB before, not knowing anything about the podcasting scene, but I could see the parallels between it and Northern Voice. The first few years—aka the “Podeozoic Era” were apparently focused on the technology. Producing audio, editing, all the nitty-gritty details. 2009 was the transition year, named the “Jowisic Era” after Jowi Taylor, creator of the Six String Nation guitar; from then on (the “Creatious Era”, 2010–2012) the focus was much more on creativity and building community. (I’ve noticed this trend in NV as well.)
It was a great look at two very passionate people who created “a conference about journeys”, and the lessons they learned along the way:
- About values: you must have values and be committed to them. They’re much more than goals; goals will tell you what you’re trying to achieve, but not why, nor how you got to where you are in the first place.
- How to nurture creative spaces: for instance, having only a single track, to strengthen bonds between attendees. And they experimented with room layouts, to make the talks a bit more intimate. In 2010 they moved the conference to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa from Kingston, which apparently gave the creatives the upper hand and scared off all the marketing people.
- Choose to grow. “Look beyond the fishbowl” and don’t be afraid to experiment. You may lose attendees who expect the same things year after year, but you’ll pick up others who will grow with you.
- Trust yourself, your instinct and your passions. A strong and safe creative space needs curators, and this was something you couldn’t organise by committee. Apparently in any arguments they had, whoever was most passionate won.
And then PAB ended, because they wanted to move forward to other projects; to do that, they had to close that chapter of their lives.
Mike Vardy: Life Changing Blogging
Okay, so this is the second slot, and already another talk about journeys? I’m sensing a theme…
Not that I’m complaining. I love listening to Mike Vardy, his nerdy shout-outs, the inspirational story of his life. From Costco employee out east, to Costco employee in PoCo, to comic, podcaster, writer and productivyist, which is totally a word now.
- You have to do, not try. Yes, I know Yoda said if first, but it bears repeating. If you’re going to go for something, you have to really commit to it, not just half-ass it and tell yourself that was good enough when/if it fails.
- You have to work to live, not live to work. The much more laid-back West Coast lifestyle was a bit of a culture shock to him, where employees would call in sick because the weather was too nice to work. Your job is there to let you lead a fulfilling life.
- Sometimes you have to move on. See the PAB story above. There were some projects he had to let go, in order to start something else. Because there’s no such thing as multitasking. The important thing for creatives is to be open to these kinds of shifts.
- But if you focus, you can achieve amazing things.
- You have to keep your integrity and care about your reputation. He doesn’t do infomercials, doesn’t shill, and in the past he quit a lifehacking site (I forget which) because his boss wanted him to write about recipes. Something about how to arrange the lettuce and the buns in a hamburger? It sounded pretty inane, anyway.
John Biehler: How Blogging Changed My Life
This is the story of John Biehler’s adventures in the last couple years since he blogged for the 2010 Olympics and then the Paralympics: he took 6 weeks off work and blogged the hell out the events. Then got invited up to the Yukon. Then Chevy offered him an electric car to drive to SXSW in; then, a trip to Alaska…
The focus here was different than Mike’s speech. It’s not so much about a lifelong journey from here to there, but more about choices that changed his life very quickly.
The main take-away for me is: seize the day. I haven’t done enough of that so far, and I need to step up my game. And also, that personal integrity doesn’t have to stop you from having fun.
Last take-away: 3D printing is fucking awesome. That’s his latest interest, and he brought a couple of his creations for us to gawk at. The future is here!