Conference + City Livin’ in Sweet Home Chicago

I’m back! I had quite a busy week with work, workshops & a conference in downtown Chicago.

Last Wednesday, I headed to Chicago to attend the WebVisions conference for work.

“WebVisions exposes designers, programmers and strategists to the new ideas and trends that are revolutionizing business and the world.”

As part of my job as a web designer, it’s pretty critical I stay up to date on what’s going on in the world of web design and development, since it’s such a fast-moving and ever-changing medium, and this conference didn’t disappoint. There were so many eye-opening things I got out of it. I’m excited to go back to work this week and discuss ideas, and work out a game plan to put them into action.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways, which I think really transcend any job field, and get to the core of communication and everyday life:

Find good people doing good things, and work with them.
Whether it be at work or not—believing in what you do and who you work with is so important. [talk given by Jason Kunesh, @jdkunesh]

Stop Complaining and Do Something

Stop complaining and do something. 
So easy to say, yet sometimes, so hard to do. Where to start “doing something” is sometimes the toughest question to answer yourself. So talk to others and think positively on what you can do to create change for the better. [talk given by Jason Kunesh, @jdkunesh]

Sketch!
Even though we work on the web and computers all day, sometimes pen & paper are our best and most valuable tools to get ideas out of our heads.

Avoid the “swoop-n-poop.”
(Ha.) Involve important stakeholders in decision-making up front, so they don’t come into the picture at the end of the road and ask “what if,” virtually swooping in and pooping on all the ideas and work you’ve already done. Okay, sounds funny and not professional I know, but as a design professional, this is an all too familiar situation! [collaboration & critique workshop given by Adam Connor from MadPow]

Find your “north star” and make your game plan to get there.
In work & personal life, it’s important to figure out what’s most important to you and how you want to get there (and when)—especially to keep them both balanced. Having a plan keeps you focused and helps you stay on track. [talk given by Jason Ulaszek]

Beyond the conference, it was fun pretending to live and work in the city for a few days.

Hi there, Chicago river!

Hi there, Chicago river!

But, a few days is all it takes to remind me how much I’m NOT made for city living. I mean, the only picture I took of the city while there was of this river–not the million buildings surrounding it! I missed the peace & quiet of my house, my yard, and the laid-back nature of my town. Constantly looking at train schedules, maps, rushing around, and bustling through crowds of people everywhere isn’t exactly relaxing.

It was fun to stay with my sister & brother-in-law in Ravenswood (just a 15-minute train ride outside of downtown), and spend a little time with them. One night, my sister and I went to Acre and noshed on some delicious cheese, shrimp, mushroom tart, and pork tacos. (I was too busy stuffing my face to take photos, sorry.) They have a great wine and beer selection, which we also enjoyed. 😉 I would definitely recommend the restaurant, whether for dinner, or just a couple small plates for a snack.

The only down side to my time in the city: I never got a chance to run.  I foresaw that happening, with getting up early and staying up late every night to answer emails and get some work done, and conference-ing all day. It was a whirlwind.

I was happy to arrive home (exhausted!) on Friday night, to the fiancé waiting at the train station for me. I was in bed by 9:30 and slept nearly 12 hours! I guess that’s a sign of a long, but great, week.

What do you think of my conference takeaways? Does it spark any advice that you’ve heard, or your own? Are you a city or country person?

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