I am sitting in the Halifax airport waiting to board my plane to New York. I'm going to a different kind of conference, er... course, er... workshop. In fact I don't really know what to call it. Maybe it is a class. A three-day class for getting stuff done, for getting moving.
Myself and 60 other participants will be spending a three-day session with Seth Godin. Seth is an entrepreneur, a best-selling author of 14 books, and a self-proclaimed agent of change. Matt and I are both avid daily readers of his blog, which, judging by its immense popularity, you might be too (to find it you need only type 'seth' into Google). I am surprised by how often his writing and his teaching feels relevant to what Matt and I are trying to do at Agile*. Relevant to professionalism, to spreading ideas, to doing necessary work.
I cannot contain my excitement... and I am a little scared. It's strange meeting someone who I know a bit about, whose words I read every day, but who knows nothing about me. I was told that about 500 people applied to attend this event, but fewer than 70 got the chance to buy a ticket. As sort of a personal manifesto, I decided to share my application here. If nothing else, it is a proclamation of how I have come to see myself, and where I wish to head. Admittedly, Seth probably doesn't care too much about the details of my technical expertise, but I thought he certainly would care about our approach to business, communication, and connecting. This is what I shared with him to get in, so might as well share it here. In his characteristically cut-to-the-chase vein, he asked only two questions:
What do you do? (in 100 words or less)
I am a consultant who does geology, geophysics, and 3D computer modeling for energy companies. I am partnered with another guy and we have formed a renegade start-up, bootstrapping a business venture together. We both work remotely from small towns in Nova Scotia and are experimenting with new media approaches for connecting our industry.
My work is a blend of billable contract work and open knowledge sharing.
We blog about things that interest us in science, geology, and the energy industry. We make science apps for mobile devices for knowledge sharing and spreading ideas. We also curate an all-access wiki for underground science. We are also compiling a book that will be crowd sourced from industry experts.
Where are you headed? (Most important question, what can I help you do?)
Mine is an industry where innovation happens slowly, yet it is one of the most technologically and computationally advanced fields. Change is discouraged by corporate hierarchies getting in the way of progress.
I want to better understand my role in this revolution. I have the freedom and flexibility to implement ideas, and I am building the courage and insight to be positively disruptive.
I am an advocate of openness and sharing, especially when it comes to applied science. I want to explore how deep our market is, because knowledge sharing should be done by scientists, not by IT departments.
We've been hacking away for about 10 months with many projects on the go. Some of them will be revenue generating, some of them will be attention generating, some of them will fail. You can help by giving perspectives, spotting points of resistance with my projects, how to know when I am stretching too thin, and how my work can be even more creative.
Being a technology geek and consultant it is humbling to read the bios of some of the other people starting a movement, actualizing inspiration. I am certainly going to be the only petroleum geophysicist there. Other attendees include a physicist studying organization behaviour at Google, an economist at the US national defence fund, a women's rights social entrepreneur, and one of the founders of Tom's shoes. People, strangers from different businesses and different niche’s coming together to create something. Breathe the same air, share the same joys and fears of a precious opportunity that lay ahead. What a crazy idea. I love it. Exposing what we are good at to the world.
I have no idea what to expect, it is already surreal, and I can hardly wait.