“It’s not what you know. It’s what you do that defines you.”
—Todd Henry, speaker at QC Merge 2013
Whenever I travel somewhere new, I make a list of three things I want to do or experience while there. Even though I live in Cincinnati, I technically “traveled” downtown and stayed in the 21c Hotel there (a first, therefore new) and so here was my list of three things before attending QC Merge:
- Reclaim joy and freedom by leaving the confines of my office.
- Gain some professional and personal motivation.
- Have an interesting conversation with someone I don’t know.
With this in mind, I merged in our Queen City for the first time last week. Because there are few things I love more than being dramatic and making lists, I’m combining the two below to share a little bit of my QC Merge experience. You will note the list ranges from UX to death. Enjoy.
Photo by Thadd Fiala
Five things on my to-do list after attending Queen City Merge
- Create more.
I’m an awesome producer at my day job, but when it comes to the projects I really want to do (i.e. actually launch socialbusinesstoday.org) it always seems to come last in the long list of stuff to do in life. After hearing advice at QC Merge on topics like how to pitch stories, create a good UX, and fight creative block - I’m moving creating stuff I care about closer to the top of the list.
- Email Sara Morgan.
Sara Morgan rocks. Her energy is amazing, her advice was grounded and real. I loved her tips on pitching stories, creating a brand voice, designing for emotion, and the importance of being persistent (and by persistent I’m pretty sure she meant annoying - which was really great news for me). Also, Sara can curse like a sailor in a somewhat southern accent which makes her sound like a bad-ass-southern-belle.
Plus, from what I could tell, Sara is a dream chaser - and I’m always looking for inspiring people to share their dreams as part of our Dream Chasers campaign.
- Do more of my part in Cincinnati.
I admire what Gaslight and the people behind QC Merge are doing in our city. I should do more to see who I can help in Cincinnati with branding and communication strategy and implementation.
- Conduct UX research internally.
Probably the most practical takeaway for me was the workshop by Jessica Ivins on user experience. My day job is working at a university on a marketing team with a limited budget and little to no time for external research. Jessica opened my eyes to the possibility of doing user research internally through the Affinity Diagram (disclosure: Affinity Diagram is a fancy term for brainstorming - love it). I love the idea of getting together with our IT, web developers, marketing and recruitment teams to brainstorm our users (students) experience both on our website as well as on campus in the building.
- Die empty.
Todd Henry, who wrote Accidental Creative was the most inspiring talk for me. I keep recounting in my head the story Todd shared on how graveyards are the most valuable pieces of lands on earth - because this is where great ideas that were never executed are buried. Such a great point, and I made a silent pledge not to take my great ideas with me when I go!