Level Up 2014: Day One Reflections

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This Wednesday and Thursday (aka today and tomorrow) is the first ever Level Up Conference, a “creative tech conference” put on by my friends and yours, the folks at Mad Glory. I mentioned this crazy week a while back, since it is not just the first ever Level Up, but also the first ever WordCamp Saratoga (on Saturday, tickets still available!)

(Yes, Mad Glory and Sharatoga share a street. Maybe we should start a collaborative project with us and the ever-relevant Hatties Fried Chicken – Phila Phriends? One can dream)

First, let me address how wonderfully this conference has been organized. It does not feel like their first run through: it’s polished, it’s seamless, and it really feels like the Mad Glory team are old pros at this. I’m sure they’re putting out fires backstage silently, but from the perspective of an attendee, it really seems and feels flawless. They even provided umbrellas. Umbrellas!

Second, and this may be because I’m primed with visions of Jodorowsky and fearless positive forward movement, but this first day for me has been all about facing and defeating fear – your own fear as well as the fears of your coworkers and clients. I hope to write some more in-depth pieces on some of the presentations more specifically, but right now, I’m trying to find a bigger sense of synthesis.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect about Level Up – I knew that I had (still have!) tremendous respect for the Mad Glory team, and that whatever the event turned out to be it would be interesting and certainly worth attending, but I didn’t expect the sort of macro, high-level sort of discussions that are taking place. I expected plain lessons on creation and ideation and shipping, but what we’re having are conversations about human psychology and the nature of fear in The Work and the way that we think about ourselves, as well as the way that we think about The Product as a bigger, abstract idea, not just as a piece of finished or unfinished code.

It’s heady stuff, blurring the line between leadership and design and philosophy – but that’s where I live. It’s where we all live, after all, and to be surrounded by folks who share that experience and who are excited to chaw on it is a really excellent experience.

And it’s in Upstate New York. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

 

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