ben vandgrift · on living the dream

LessConf Redux

Conferences weigh down the mind; you know it's a thick conference if at the end of the day, you find yourself back in your hotel room letting your brain unpack everything new you've learned rather than being social at the after-party. Possibly writing a post, wishing you had a desk to sit at but I digress.

LessConf isn't a technology conference. It's a technologists' conference. Maybe. It avoided long sessions talking about particular tools and techniques, though the sponsors and friends of the hosts did pimp their products. Instead, LessConf invites its attendees to learn and share the business of the business. Product development and promotion. Not how to be a good programmer, how to run a good product business or startup, especially if that business' product is steeped in technology.

My favorite aspect will remain the questions that get asked of every speaker after they've presented. Good questions. Sometimes hard questions. All intend to be enlightening, and most are.

I'm still unpacking everything; that's why I'm here and not downstairs.

If not every speaker, at least most speakers were asked how much they made. How reluctant people are to talk about money, or maybe why companies don't encourage openness with their books surprises me. I understand that people are petty, jealous animals, but c'mon.

Amy Hoy's talk in particular was inspiring; startups with a target of acquisition are exciting, but product or service businesses are a very real way to make a decent living and enjoy doing it. She, and several of the other speakers had multiple eggs and even multiple baskets. That's the way to do it, if the product route is for you.

It made me want to continue making hubbubbly into a freemium service. I've built products before, but none have been successful; that is, none had more than a couple thousand users or made any money. I'm hoping for different outcomes this time.

On another level, these talks have made me wonder what I'm doing with myself.

"Ben, what are you doing with yourself?"

I don't know.

"Are you living life to the fullest?"

I don't even know what that means? I don't have the resources to live up to some absolute standard of 'the fullest'. I try and keep my life interesting, but I've been pretty lax about that over the past several weeks. Maybe that needs to change.

"Are you happy?"

Mostly, unless I think too much. I mean, is that it? I enjoy my day-to-day existence, I like my job and my fellow travelers. I see a lot of places in my life that could use some improving, and strive to improve them when I can.

written: Feb 24 2012