Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend the SEED conference here in Chicago. What is this SEED conference you ask?
"A One-Day Conference on Design, Entrepreneurship & Inspiration, by 37signals, Segura Inc. & Coudal Partners."
First off, the conference was inside the Rem Koolhass designed Tribune Student Center -- which is an amazing building itself, nestled in the middle of an entire campus designed by Mies van der Rohe. So, the fact that my attention was diverted from drooling over that much beauty is testament to the value of the conference. But I definitely used the breaks to walk the halls with my jaw on the floor. If you live in or around Chicago, or are just visiting, it's definitely worth the trip in the cold.
If you want my minute to minute thoughts of the conference, go check out my twitter feed. (dive down to Jan 18th tweets)
Here are my top 5 take-aways:
- Small decisions are the way to go. Jason Fried of 37 Signals talked a lot about how his team focuses on breaking any task into tiny decisions to make their work more manageable and also to remain agile. That beats my method, turn your back until the decision is the size of Godzilla and work to create some kind of mecha-godzilla or Mothra solution to combat it -- which usually leaves Tokyo destroyed.
- Be blunt up-front. Carlos talked a good deal about always telling the absolute truth to your client, especially in the initial stages of the relationship. "Tell the truth when you're still friends. An enemy is just a friend that you told the truth to too late." If you know me personally, you know blunt honesty isn't something I lack -- this presentation just supported my stance.
- Meetings suck. Literally. An hour meeting isn't just an hour meeting, it's a billable hour per person stuck there. Jason also talked about how when you schedule a 30 minute meeting, even if you're only covering 8 minutes of material, it will stretch itself out to cover the full 30 minutes. Also, when you know you have a meeting in 20 minutes, you're less likely to start up a new task. The solution isn't to cancel all your meetings, just make fewer of them, and make them count. Or, send in your stunt double.
- ADHD is your friend, not your enemy. Jim walked us through his business and how a failed television series lead to a series of sometimes profitable, always engaging business ventures. To me, it speaks to the need that you have to be intellectually agile and curious, not just focused on pushing out product. Ramp up your trials and errors.
- Property rights are still a hot topic. Jason, Carlos and Jim opened up the floor for a free forum at the end of the day and it was largely overtaken by discussions about the thin line between copying and stealing. Jason builds experiences, Carlos sells tangible products, and Jim trades on ideas -- but all were easily annoyed/angered over past run ins with unscrupulous people.