Retro on booking back to back meetings at Devcon

Pretty good experience but not ideal

A short retro on process (not content) at DevCon.

What I did: filled all empty space in my calendar with 1:1s. This was three and a half straight days of mostly back to back 30 minute meetings.

What was good:

  • Broad exposure to what people were thinking, doing, and feeling

  • Very high quality conversations compared to random group conversations around the conference

  • Had meaty conversations with a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise met

  • Lots of useful leads and conversations towards deals

What was tough:

  • Quality of life suffered (busy, exhausted, scatter-brained)

  • Missed out on potentially valuable “water-cooler” type conversations

  • Was not very flexible to do things ad-hoc

Value of doing this

There are two reasons to take this approach.

  1. Efficiency: if you have 1:1s you want/ need to have with a group of people that are otherwise geographically separate but for a conference are all in the same place, scheduling them all together can save literal days of travel.

  2. Pulse check: by meeting with a lot of people 1:1 (and critically people you wouldn’t otherwise have met with), you get a real feel of what’s going on overall, what everybody else is thinking/ feeling/ working on. While I tend to think it’s more useful to develop independent perspectives, checking in like this a few times a year is very useful. And something you cannot really get from just twitter.

Cost of doing this

Besides what I mentioned about, the main cost was not seeing talks and more importantly not getting to participate or observe whiteboard sessions. In general, I like to skip talks and watch the recordings later. But working sessions with experts (ideally with whiteboards) are rare and being present to ask questions or contribute are in my experience the best experiences available at conferences. I missed all of them at DevCon and I consider that the greatest cost of this experiment.

Going forward

I’ll probably keep doing this but not every conference. And probably not every day of the conference. Which means I’ll probably shorten meetings from 30m to 15m unless there’s a clear agenda. And I’ll make room for more white-boarding sessions.

And as always if you want to connect please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ll be at San Francisco Blockchain week for at least Monday and Tuesday (the 28th and 29th). For work and for everything else respond here or hmu on twitter.