This last two weeks have been amongst the most intense two weeks of my life. I’ve either been busy, drinking or asleep. Here’s a checklist of what I’ve done.
• Delivered a talk in front of 100+ mostly strangers on my specialist subject of User Experience at Manchester’s User Experience and Conversion Conference.
• Had 3 coaching sessions from a world class coaching and presentation Guru.
• Watched Morgan and West’s incredible and funny magic show at the Frazer theatre Knaresborough
• Flew to San Francisco
• Followed Bay to Breakers foot race
• Shot two rolls of film with a LOMO LC-A
• Delivered another talk in front of 100+ mostly strangers on the subject of User Experience at Walmart’s Global Design Summit
• Had an intense cold
• Went on a boat cruise under Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz island
• Attended numerous talks on design and user experience
• Attended numerous workshops to hone my craft
• Took part in a participatory design exercise where I worked with two real Walmart customers to design a new future
• Saw a big reveal of the first draft of Walmart’s new website design
• Took part in a design make-athon
• Sat around a fire-pit with a bunch of world class designers
• Shopped the city
• Sat in a bar and watch a game of baseball
• Went to the all new SF MOMA (Museum of Modern Art)
• Got stuck in California, thanks to BA’s IT system failure grounding all flights
• Got filmed and subsequently broadcast by abc7 News
• Flew home
Highlights for me are often marked by where I’ve acquired new knowledge or skills. My public speaking escapades area probably the thing I’m the proudest of. I learned about getting the start of my talk spot on, about how to use slides to trigger a series of stories. I learned about not having ‘um’s and err’s’ in my delivery, and learned about having ‘the point I’m making here is…’ instead. The best way I found to combat nerves was that the emotion ‘nervous’ is very similar to the emotion ‘excited’. It’s possible to psychologically shift this from one thing to the other which makes the experience actually great fun. Getting great feedback was an added bonus.
Seeing new things is a highlight – the Friday night where we went to watch Morgan & West was amazing. I didn’t have any expectation for but the comedian / magicians parlour tricksters and time travellers, were awesome and brilliant.
Travel is always a highlight. Flying out to San Francisco is such a treat. Having a day off in the city was something I’ve done before but to be immersed in a unique event made it ultra special. The event was ‘Bay to Breakers’ where thousands of folk dress up, get drunk and ‘run’ from downtown, through Golden Gate Park up to the beach. Pretty much the opposite of the walk I did last time I was in SF. Red hot day, great people watching and acclimatising to the space oddity of San Fransisco.
The big treat event, as part of the Summit was on Tuesday night. We had a cruise on a luxury yacht for the night. From Pier 40, under Bay Bridge, under Golden Gate Bridge and back again, via the back of Alcatraz. Seeing this infamous island close up, a dusk was quite chilling. You could really feel the isolation of the pace, despite it’s proximity to the shores of San Francisco. Quite a haunting experience. At one point I was the only person out on deck – I had a one to one encounter with the Island. The tourists had long left the island, it’s lights were on though – possibly looking exactly the same as it did all those years ago when it was a prison.
Another treat was free tickets into the new Museum of Modern Art in SF. This was cool – they currently have a excellently curated exhibition which explored the profound inspirations that Diebenkor found in Matisse. Tickets should have cost us over $50. I’ve got so used to museums and galleries being free in the UK. Last time I was here I accidentally started walking around a museum without paying before I realised. I don’t like it when galleries are so expensive. It means that art is only accessible by the rich.
Getting stopped by an ABC7 News and asked how I’d feel if I wasn’t allowed to travel with a laptop was interesting. I made it to the news! My mate kindly recorded it for me.. YouTube link – 1m25s in
Getting stranded in California for an unexpected extra 24 hours was not a highlight. It was Memorial Weekend in the States last weekend, so the net result was that all hotels were rammed. I literally tried 20+ hotels before I found accommodations. A surprise highlight was finding a British themed pub (actually nothing like any British pub I’ve ever been in) called the Swingin’ Door just south of San Mateo, CA. Warm hearted locals, nice food, good beers.
Getting home was the nicest part though. Seeing my lovely fam.