It is said by many that attending conferences and meet-ups is an important part of developing oneself in a particular industry, and of developing one’s skills set. Surrounding oneself with knowledgable and experienced individuals can go a long way towards developing skills and a knowledge base.
At many such conferences, I’ve heard successful businessmen and entrepreneurs impart valuable tips such as “the value of your fax machine is determined by how many others have fax machines” and “surround yourself with others who know more than you in certain areas of your business”. Both of these are valuable tid-bits of knowledge that I have taken to heart.
When listening to a speaker at a conference, I feel it is important to take in every word and process it (rather than just sitting and listening while tweeting a quote from their talk). I feel it is also important to ask questions and spark discussion from these talking points.
To the above two quotes, I find myself asking, “what of those who are just as skilled as you in your area of expertise?” and “but what if I don’t actually use the fax machine?”. This leads me to the topic of this post; growth through discussion.
A fax machine (metaphorically or literally) is useless if not used, regardless of how many others have fax machines. If I am the only person in my surroundings with the particular skill I specialise in, who am I to discuss things with?
Working with the developers that I do is an experience second to none, if I may put it that way. Just by sitting next to the gentlemen that I do, I’ve learned so much… and we hardly show each other any code.
Through discussion of concepts, ideas and approaches to problem-solving in code, we help each other to create a better end result, and trust in one-another that the result produced will be to each of our liking.
Therefore, what I’ve learned through listening, taking in, processing and re-interpreting the above two quotes is, do that they suggest, and also make sure that you have people around you who are like-minded individuals and discuss ideas with them, rather than just putting headphones on and zoning in on your tasks at hand. That way, you are able to discuss your ideas and, through discussion, come to a better (or different) approach that could take your product or idea to the next level.
Stop. Listen. Discuss. Grow. 🙂