Webstock 2015: Three takeaways on life, writing and equality

Webstock 2015 highlightsI don’t think I’ve ever attended a conference purely for the sake of attending. I’ve always gone wearing a media pass, keeping an ear cocked for tweetable quotes and story angles that might justify my presence, to be typed up furiously in the breaks in between.

Webstock – probably best described as the conference all the cool kids are at – was a pretty good intro to conference-going in regards to, y’know, being a regular member of the audience. I picked up some digital goodness that’ll be useful in my line of work, but also some nuggets of personal inspiration:

Elle Luna

There is dignity in all work. Doing something for money doesn’t make it dirty.

A job, a career, and a calling are all separate beasts.

I’m glad that we seem to have progressed past the simplistic DO WHAT YOU LOVE movement and toward something more realistic. Your passion may not be what you do for a living, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing –  or, conversely, that your 9-5 isn’t worthwhile, either.

And I loved her tip for tapping into your ‘must’: Think back to what you loved to do as a child. Ask your parents, if you can’t remember!

Kate Kiefer Lee

Say what you mean, and say it nicely.

Words to live by. As she pointed out, Maya Angelous famously said that the one thing people will never forget is how you made them feel. I am definitely guilty of letting my moods spill over into curtness in emails from time to time.

A handy tip for getting started writing when you’re stuck: Pose the topic to yourself as a question. Think of it as a conversation with someone. Write out what you would say as an answer. And then you’ve got a first draft!

And one for editing: Take out the boring parts, and the lies (courtesy of writer Anne Lamott).

Janet Crawford

A study found that mothers overestimate the crawling ability of male infants, and vice versa for female infants.

Talk about a punch to the gut – gender bias runs so deep in our society. Hers was a rousing call to action, a reminder that simply believing in gender equity isn’t enough – and women are fucking tired of carrying that mantle.

Tips? Check your job descriptions for gendered language – you might be surprised what you find upon closer inspection. Consider the types of social activities your workplace does. And think about your office setup/decor – this too can be pretty exclusionary.

Overall, I appreciated the mix of male and female speakers, and the fact that there were a few local as well as international talks. Designer Kris Sowersby’s self-effacing presentation (I still don’t quite get the technical, optical stuff, but I learned something about typography!) had us all in stitches, while  architect Nat Cheshire’s quietly devastating prose sent chills down many a spine and brought tears to my eyes (now we just need that kind of obsessive creative nature turned toward fixing the housing crisis). Oh, and learning about Banqer, a new startup that’s all about financial literacy – founded by a woman, to boot! May they be crazy successful.

What was the last conference you went to? Is there one you dream of attending? (Mine’s probably SxSW)

One thought on “Webstock 2015: Three takeaways on life, writing and equality

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank February 23, 2015 at 23:41

    I really want to meet Kate Kiefer Lee. She’s really good and I like her point of view. She knows what she’s talking, has a voice, and can make people know what they are missing not only in business but also in personal life.

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