Tag Archives: conferences

6 Ways to Rekindle the Passion in Your Freelance Work.


The other day I was having coffee with a colleague and she asked me how I kept my “saw sharp”.  Good question.  No matter how much we love our work, the day-to-day demands can eventually wear us down and make us dull.

I’ve been self-employed for over three decades and know what it’s like to lose my spark. Here are some ways  I’ve found to get it back.  Maybe they’ll work for you.

 1. Connection

Working solo can be an isolating experience. Being able to meet with colleagues is a great tonic.

I get energized meeting locally with fellow personal historians. As well, being connected online through my membership in the Association of Personal Historians is a wonderful source of support and information.

Make sure you’ve got a support group that can give you an added boost when your spirits are low.

2. Variety

I admit that I get bored doing the same thing over and over again.  Knowing this means  I look for ways to build variety into my work.

I started this blog in part because I wanted to try something new. I’ve also expanded my repertoire beyond  video productions to include print and audio projects.

Look for ways that you can add some new pieces to the work you do.

3. Continuous learning

I’m a perpetual student. I love to learn new things. Besides books, there are online workshops and courses that keep me up-to-date and fresh.

Another super way to keep learning is going to a professional conference. I’ve attended two Association of Personal Associations conferences.  These are jam-packed with workshops and talks. Each time I go, I come away feeling revitalized.

Plan to attend one professional conference this year. You won’t regret it.

4. Time out

No matter how much you love your work, if you never take a break from it, you run the real risk of losing your spark.

For this reason I’ve built into my days and weeks “play time”.  Whether it’s meditating, going for a walk, visiting with friends, or just goofing off, I get away from my work.

What kind of play time have you built into your work week?

5. Inspiration

I find that being around positive, inspiring people and reading or listening to inspiring stories does a lot to rekindle my enthusiasm.

I know I’m not alone. Over 15 million YouTube viewers have watched  Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.

Take the time to find inspiring stories that will recharge your batteries.

6. Acknowledgement

When I’m feeling flat and uninspired, I sometimes go to my “Thank You” folder. Here I keep all of the notes and letters sent to me by satisfied and grateful clients.

Reading through these brings a smile to my face and a reminder of why I love my work.

Make sure to put all your support letters in a file where you can find them. And periodically take them out and read them.

What are some of the ways you bring  zest back into your work?

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Photo Credit: mdezemery via Compfight cc

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian compatriots! This Monday’s Link Roundup has its usual eclectic mix of articles. One on my favorites is 7 Playful Activity Books for Grown-Ups. If you’re looking for something to lighten your day, then one of these books may just do the trick. Also don’t miss a fascinating story about Vintage Report Cards from the early 1900s and what they reveal about daily life.

  • The Benefits of Speaking Aloud. “Giving sound to what had been a silent process puts writers in the role of their readers. This extra step gives writers an objective view of their content. Bestselling author Nicholson Baker calls his version of the verbalizing process “speak-typing,” in which he dictates to himself and types as he speaks.”
  • 7 Playful Activity Books for Grown-Ups. “The intersection of childhood and adulthood is a frequent area of curiosity around here, from beloved children’s books with timeless philosophy for adults to quirky coloring books for the eternal kid. Today, we turn to seven wonderful activity books for grown-ups that inject a little more whimsy and playfulness into your daily grind.”
  • When a Dictionary Could Outrage. “…the furor over Webster’s Third [1961] also marked the end of an era. It’s a safe bet that no new dictionary will ever incite a similar uproar, whatever it contains. The dictionary simply doesn’t have the symbolic importance it did a half-­century ago, when critics saw the Third as a capitulation to the despised culture of middlebrow, what Dwight Macdonald called the “tepid ooze of Midcult.” That was probably the last great eructation of cultural snobbery in American public life.”
  • Five ways to work a conference. “It’s conference season, and the challenge for most attendees is how to turn the hothouse of ideas they are exposed to into marked improvement back in the office.” [Thanks to Philip Sherwood of Lifewriters for alerting me to this item.]
  • Vintage Report Cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls. “After discovering hundreds of early 1900s report cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls, Paul Lukas is publishing his findings online in a series called “Permanent Record” on Slate. The written assessments are historical artifacts as well as ephemeral relics of daily life, describing some students as “slow,” and others as “very ambitious,” “irritable at times,” or a “nice type.”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Encore!16 Tips That’ll Make The Most of Your Next Conference.

16 Tips That'll Make The Most of Your Next Conference. Going to a conference is a major commitment of time and money. You want to make the most of it. Here are some tips that will help… Read More

Encore! The Introvert’s Survival Guide to Conferences.

The Introvert's Survival Guide to Conferences. I love people, but I must admit I can’t be around them continually. It drains me. Hello, my name is Dan and I’m an introvert. I previously wrote  “Attention Introverts! You Can Market Successfully.”  Now I’d like to turn my attention to another challenge for introverts – conferences. If the thought of spending days  submerged in a sea of people is daunting, don’t despair. This article is for you… Read More

16 Tips That’ll Make The Most of Your Next Conference.

Going to a conference is a major commitment of time and money. You want to make the most of it. Here are some tips that will help.

Pre conference planning.

  1. Do your homework. Select the names of those that you’d like to meet. Use Twitter, Facebook, and Google to get some background information on the speakers and workshop presenters. E-mail those you want to connect with and  set up  times when you can get together. A word of advice. Don’t try to talk to keynote speakers after their presentation because you’ll only end up in a throng of other attendees.
  2. Choose your workshops. It make sense to select sessions that you absolutely don’t want to miss. What I’ve found though is that it’s also fun to stretch yourself and attend a workshop that exposes you to some different content and ideas. Be open to possibilities.
  3. Pack clothes for layering. Conference venues can be notoriously too hot or too cold so have clothes that can be easily pulled on or shed.
  4. Pack an extra light bag. You’ll inevitably pick up stuff and you’ll need space to haul it home.
  5. Pack your business essentials. This includes business cards, pens, your laptop, and a notebook. Don’t forget to bring a sample of your work. You may meet a potential client.
  6. Find out about your conference destination. Take time to learn something about the host city.

At the conference.

  1. Arrive early or stay late. If possible, extend your visit by a day. You’ve spent hard earned money and traveled some distance to get to your conference. Don’t waste the opportunity to explore your host city and environs. You may not get there again.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the conference center. Nothing wastes more time than floundering around the first day trying to find where you’re going. Before the conference starts, take  your conference map and  locate the venues for the workshops you’ll be attending. Make a note of washrooms, bookstores, and coffee break locations.
  3. Don’t miss the keynote presentations. These are designed to be stimulating and thought-provoking. You’ll also have something in common to share with other attendees.
  4. Stay healthy. It’s easy to indulge in too much food and drink, not to mention the hours spent sitting. This saps your energy and lowers your immune system. Take time to go for a run or walk.  Conferences, especially in the winter, are a breeding ground for germs. Make sure to wash your hands frequently and  carry some antiseptic towelettes.
  5. Network. For my fellow introverts this can sometimes be  a challenge. I wrote about this in a previous article The Introvert’s Survival Guide to Conferences. And yet one of the best reasons for going to a conference is to meet others. So if you haven’t, read my Survival article and then step up to the plate. You’ll make lasting friendships, develop invaluable business connections, and learn a whole bunch of useful stuff.
  6. Leave a session that doesn’t have value for you. If after 15 minutes you feel your time is not being well spent, get up and leave. That’s why I like to sit near the door so I can make a speedy exit. Always have another session in mind that you can drop into… late.  I know it’s hard not to feel like you’re being rude. But remember you’re not at the conference to make presenters happy.
  7. Keep a conference diary. Every day prepare notes on people, ideas, action steps, and insights. It’s hard to remember everything if you leave it until you get home.
  8. Have fun. Make sure to attend social functions and planned outings. Take in some local sites by yourself or with a conference buddy. Do yourself a favor and make these “non-business” outings. Don’t see this as yet another opportunity to network.
  9. Ask questions. Speak up. If you don’t understand something in a session or want more information, don’t be afraid to blurt out your questions. No question is silly or unimportant. Repeat this mantra many times. ;-)
  10. Consider shipping home your conference “acquisitions”. Rather than haul extra books, conference manuals, and gifts back with you, make arrangements to have them couriered. It’ll save your back and make your return trip more enjoyable.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Photo by TR Roberts

The Introvert’s Survival Guide to Conferences.

I love people, but I must admit I can’t be around them continually. It drains me. Hello, my name is Dan and I’m an introvert.

I previously wrote  Attention Introverts! You Can Market Successfully.  Now I’d like to turn my attention to another challenge for introverts – conferences. If the thought of spending days  submerged in a sea of people is daunting, don’t despair. This article is for you.

  • Make space for downtime. By all means, attend all the workshops and keynote events that look interesting. But don’t fill your day with wall-to-wall events. Escape to your hotel room for an hour to read, nap, or just stare into space. I find going for a walk outside helps recharge my batteries.
  • Avoid a hotel roommate. The last thing you need is to have the stress of dealing with a roommate when you just want to relax. If you’re budget minded and plan to share, here’s my advice. Make every effort to find a fellow introvert. Or failing that, at least someone you know who can respect your need for quiet.
  • Exit conversations gracefully. It might be at a coffee break, meal, or in the hallway,  but there’ll be times you need to escape from yet another conversation. Make sure you have a few handy exit lines to draw on such as “I’m sorry, but I need some time to freshen up before the next workshop.” “I’m sorry, but I have a call I need to make.” “I promised to meet up with someone and I need to find them. You’ll have to excuse me.”
  • Make meaningful connections. I find I’m at my best one-on-one.  I make it a point to prepare a list of a few key people I want to see at a conference. Then I set up appointments with those individuals to meet over a coffee or drinks.
  • Have a conference “extrovert” buddy. This can be a friend, colleague, or someone you meet at the conference. Extroverts love meeting new people and can be the perfect partner at mixers and parties. They’ll introduce you to all kinds of people. No need to stand in the shadows!
  • Consider an “off site” spot or room service for a meal. I’m not one to enjoy my breakfast with a cast of hundreds. When I can, I look for a nearby cheap and cheerful café to get away from the crowds. Treat yourself to the occasional meal out or room service. It’ll do wonders for your soul.

Photo by Luke Stearns

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.