I just got back from Chicago, where I went to the Podcast Movement conference for podcasters. (Have I mentioned that I have a podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin? Yes, I think I have.)
Beforehand, I had a funny conversation with a friend which made me realize that not everyone enjoys conferences as much as I do.
She's starting a podcast, and I was trying to convince her to go to this conference at the last minute. She said, "You're trying to entice me to go to a big, soulless corporate hotel, where I won't step outside all day, just drink bad coffee and listen to panels about one subject?"
And I said enthusiastically, "Yes, it will be so much fun!" No surprise, she didn't go.
Here's why I had a great time:
- At the last minute, my sister and co-host Elizabeth was able to come. We wore our matching T-shirts with our "Happier" logo that she made for us, we went to panels together, we ate all our meals together. It's so great when we get the chance to have a sisterly adventure -- which means we experienced novelty and challenge, two elements that boost happiness. And...
- We won an award! Best Health and Fitness Podcast 2016. Yay!
- Even better, my daughter Eliza did all those things with us, too. Eliza has her own terrific podcast, Eliza Starting at 16, and it was thrilling for me, as her mother, to see her act in a professional way. She spoke on a panel, she networked, she took notes on how to make her podcast better. It was new but terrific to be doing this with her. (Here we are at a party near Wrigley Field.)
- I got to talk shop. How I love to talk shop! Both as a podcaster and as a writer. In fact, when I was thinking about switching from law to writing, one clue that I should change careers was that all my fellow Supreme Court clerks loved to talk shop -- and I didn't. I did my work faithfully, but I didn't feel like talking about law in my free time. While people often decry shop talk, I've realized that in my experience, at least, a love of shop talk is a sign of a love for a task.
- I got to see and meet people from this area of my life. Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree that a key to a happy life -- perhaps the key -- is relationships with other people. A conference is a time both to deepen relationships and broaden relationships. I saw familiar faces in a new context; I met new people with whom I share an important interest. Added bonus: everyone wears a name tag (I wish we all wore name tags, all the time).
Do you enjoy conferences -- or are you more like my friend, who was absolutely flabbergasted by the notion that I was looking forward to attending a conference? Or maybe you've never been to a conference, at all. I'm still a little surprised by the fact that my career has evolved in a way that means that I regularly go to conferences.
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