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Conference Coma (We are all smarter than we think)

The end of last year I attended the Future of Web Design conference here in New York City. The opening speaker was Joshua Davis and anyone who has ever seen him speak knows that his presentation style usually appears to be a battle between a mild jet lag induced dementia and a the greatest Red Bull rush you will ever see. It was a good start to the day as I enjoy his personal style as well as his work. As the day ended I realized that I had spent more time surfing my iPhone than learning anything new about the future of web design and it wasn’t the first time I had felt that way after leaving a conference. That realization has been rolling around in the back of the head and I found myself mentally reviewing these types of events in my head and the conclusion I came to made me laugh. Maybe I am smarter than I think. Maybe we are all smarter than we think and we don’t gibe ourselves enough credit for it. What is driving us to goto these events and think that sitting in a room with a few hundred people will cause inspiration to strike?

For me, and I think for a lot of us, since I am asked to take a blank canvas and create something it’s a very personal undertaking and when it is finished you want to find recognition and validation for that work. I think it’s why we go to these conferences because we want to know that what we are doing is as good as the designers who someone has deemed as “the best” and we look for similarities between their work and ours. The problem comes because recognition and validation are emotions that face to the past and work we have already done and we must face and shape the future with new ideas to be successful.

Try this. Think of the artists who’s work you love the most. Do you think they got the inspiration or idea for that work sitting in a conference listen to someone else or working in their studio? Keep it in mind next time you get the urge to validate the past and not work on the future.

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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