This past week, I was in the first edition of the Amazon's re:MARS conference.
To be honest, I was expecting lots of tech selling. Use Alexa. Use our Machine Learning stuff. Use our Artificial Intelligence breakthrough new service. Use it all!
Surprised, I started navigating through the keynotes and talks and I found myself listening to pretty interesting topics.
Why is the moon a gift to us, and why logistically is very cheap to go there? What's the best way to transfer renewable energy, and why the future will need lots of automation? What are the top 3 areas AI (artificial intelligence) will impact more in 2030?
These are very futuristic questions, with still uncertain answers. I realized also there are so many branches for one specific topic, and that technology is at its peak with a great window (or many windows) of opportunity.
Thinking again about last week, it was an awesome break to get ideas, expand my knowledge and question some authoritative truths (and don't get me started with WWDC and SwiftUI 🤩).
Over the past years, I've been purposely getting more and more of these breaks. Not only conferences but things that can refresh and get me new ideas.
I guess the frequency of these breaks depend a lot on each person and the job. These can be on a daily basis, during a certain season or completely random and unexpected.
Some thoughts on getting new ideas.
I've changed my mind many times about reading and how to approach it. Though, currently it's my best source to get new ideas.
What are you reading these days? Social feed? Magazine? Book? Your tax return statement?
There's a trendy Joe Rogan podcast these days with Naval Ravikant, where some awesome tips are being shared. I tend to think people read in different ways, and what matters really is the quality.
Ryan Holiday writes about getting the best books ever written (especially old ones).
Naval Ravikant says he reads many books in parallel and just the best parts.
I've been reading lots of fiction (mystery and fantasy), business and history books. It's hard for me to think which ones tend to give the best ideas. If I'm reading fiction, for example, I don't get ideas at all times from the storyline but from the state of wonder and train of thought the books create in my mind.
If you were to ask me, what are the books that have influenced me the most, I can say:
- Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio.
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
- Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.
(and many more, but those are right on top of my head)
I wish I could have more to say here. I'm still figuring out what's the best way to get new ideas from writing. To be continued.
Conferences and meetups
These ones can be great but you need to invest lots of time. It's almost as if you're planning a vacation.
There's a bit of investment in planning your experience. What are you trying to get from a conference? Is it new content or connections? Both will eventually get you new ideas.
But again, there's a lot of work from the social side of things. If you're an introvert and you want to get the most out of it: 1) take a deep breath 2) breath out 3) take a deeper breath 4) start connecting with others! (there are plenty of breaks in a conference to recover from this titanic effort).
My preference these days are conferences that provide some extra value, aside from the technical or hard skill side. Work/life balance, productivity, health improvements, you name it.
Trendy stuff again, are podcasts. So what actually are good podcasts to follow? That's a hard one, but I really like this thread with some great suggestions.
For many people who don't feel to read a book, there are also audiobooks (💡). This has been a good opportunity to understand stuff that is usually hard for me to process in a book. If the audiobook is really good, I might buy the book as well.
I find history to be highly digestible over an audiobook. I find language history a pleasure to listen if the professor tells stories like no one else. And human psychology guidebooks material quite understandable.
To me, it's just amazing how much rich material can be "right around the corner", while spending time when you're in transit or just talking a walk.
What's behind the inspiration for this post? In Digital Minimalism, one of the stories is from Henry David Thoreau, a crazy person who lived in the wilderness and had a strong connection with nature. Thoreau wrote a lot about the importance of breaks and how society distracts us while finding our own purposes.