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Last Thursday I found myself off on a journey to the unfamiliar for me by attending the Microsoft “You’re In Control” Launch in Boston. My decision to attend was based upon the fact that I can honestly say that I’ve never gone to an event where there would be other IT people and not gained “something” out of it … and I expected this event to be no different than previous experiences. I was not disappointed. However, what I did get out of the time invested (…it is an investment isn’t it??) looked nothing like what I thought it might. Actually, I found very early on that the event really was not going to provide me with enough valuable information to stay through the entire event — so I left after the first presentation, as did the IT manager with whom I shared a table. What I gained had nothing to do with the event itself.
Now, I suddenly found myself in mid-morning, in downtown Boston, “all dressed up with nowhere to go!” Time for plan “B” — what next?. It would be almost 2 hours before a train out of the city would be heading in my direction — so it was Starbucks next! I had left my home at 6 AM for the train scheduled to leave its end-of-the-line start at 6:35. I find that using the train to go to events in Boston works very well for me, in part because I get onto an almost empty train, I can usually get to sit at a table (I wear less of my early morning coffee that way :-), and I also have room to use my laptop or comfortably read.
I chose on Thursday to not bring my laptop, but rather to take the opportunity to break from the rigors of detailed programming for the time, and read from magazines I don’t normally read — they were Entrepreneur and Inc. I’d like to share a couple of thoughts that came from my reading.
In my very first post to this blog I wrote about the need as a developer to “listen” to the users needs, and to also listen for the “by-the-way” that may be the jewel in describing what they really need. I was struck in my reading by an Inc. reader response from Barry Lipsett, President and CEO of Charles River Apparel who was responding to a July Inc. article “Ask and You Shall Be Misled“. In the response “Don’t Always Listen” Mr. Lipsett agrees that “…focusing only on what customers request can cause a company to miss that bright new idea…” Isn’t it the same for us who are technology oriented when we are talking with the technologically challenged? I believe we DO need to hear, AND we DO need to educate as well. Often my clients have no idea what can be made available to them — that is where education comes in.
The second thing that I want to share came from an article in Entrepreneur Magazine, and it too relates to listening. The topic is “schmoozing” — and I quote “…If you don’t schmooze, you lose…” . The article quotes Darcy Rezac as giving the world’s best definition of schmoozing: “Discovering what you can do for someone else.” This has provided a whole new perspective for me, and explains why I can say as I did at the beginning of this post that I always gain “something” from attending events.