MADE festival is back for 2015 and is embracing Sheffield’s student population by offering concession tickets for just £15 (usually £50). That’s a pretty good deal and here’s four reasons why you should think about taking it, whether you’re a student or not.
1. Learn from success… and failure
Conferences like MADE pull together speakers from around the world who have stories to tell about how they made it. But, more importantly, the best speakers will also tell stories about all the ways they failed and messed up along the way. These insights can often feel as though that person is speaking directly to you. As well as the learning you’ll be getting from making all your own mistakes (don’t be upset… we all make mistakes, I’m not saying you’re a crappy entrepreneur or anything), you get the benefit of learning from other people’s mistakes too.
2. Network… you never know who you’re sitting next to
No, wait wait wait, don’t go! I know, I know… networking is a dirty word. It implies a bunch of people turning up with an agenda, each trying to sell themselves to everyone else at the event and not really taking a genuine interest in anything anyone else is saying to them. I can’t guarantee to you that this won’t happen. It probably will to a certain extent. But networking that happens as a by-product of watching an interesting talk together or standing next to each-other at the bar during a break doesn’t have to seem so inauthentic.
For the introverted among us, having a topic (such as the speaker you both just saw) as a conversation-starter can be a blessing. ‘Hey, what did you make of her?’ while ordering a pint post-seminar is a lot less cringe-worthy than awkwardly approaching that person who’s stood equally awkwardly on her own and opening with ‘Er… what do you do?’
3. Break the routine… and rediscover your creative
Your startup is your baby. More than that, it’s your life*. But I’ve seen a number of entrepreneurs hit a brick wall when it comes to their startup. They’ve been spending 237584649 hours per week, 46379293 weeks per year completely focused on the success of their business and they’re 7543894657% wiped out. Well, they say a change can be as good as a holiday and I personally think inspiration and motivation are two of the main reasons I continue to attend conferences, summits, and meetups. Just breaking the routine and getting out of your own head for a couple of days can be just the break your brain needs to start those synapses firing in a more creative way again.
4. Re-motivate and re-inject some energy
This sort of follows on from the last point. Sorry to those of you who were expecting four very precise and independent reasons to attend conferences and are now bitterly disappointed that you’ve been mis-sold this blog post and are actually only really getting 3.5 reasons to attend conferences. I imagine there’s a deluge of hate mail flooding my way at this very instant.
I’ll illustrate reason 4/3.5 with a personal anecdote. Every year, I organise two Startup Weekends in Sheffield. Each takes three months to organise and example tasks include recruiting co-organisers, volunteers, coaches, judges, speakers, finding sponsors, selling tickets, booking venues, booking catering, organising prizes, organising an after-party… and much, much more. The Startup Weekends themselves are intense, high-energy, and equal parts exhilarating and emotionally draining. I love them. But when the high wears off and I’m in throes of Startup Weekend come-down, part of me thinks ‘can I really do all this again in just a couple of month’s time?’
Now there are lots of things that motivate me to keep going – the feedback, the difference it makes, the addiction – but one of the most motivating events of the year for me is the Startup Weekend organiser summit. Every year, Startup Weekend organisers and facilitators from across the world get together to tell stories and share what’s worked, what’s not, what we’ve all learned. Hearing how other startup communities in other cities have grown is inspiring and reconnects me with why we do what we do. In fact, going to a Startup Weekend organiser summit can keep me raring to go for an entire year afterwards.
What are your reasons for attending conferences/summits, etc. Will you be going to MADE this year? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!
I’ll be going to MADE Festival myself this year so if you’re around, reach out! We’ll go for coffee or something or approach each other awkwardly, drink a few pints and become life-long friends.
*That was a really awkward couple of sentences to write. I don’t have children so it’s difficult for me to say whether ‘life’ is actually more than ‘baby’. Perhaps you can enlighten me in the comments… or abuse me on Twitter. Either way.