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6 Compelling Reasons why Thinking Digital should be an ‘absolute must’ in your calendar [Guest Post]


Only a few weeks to go to Thinking Digital 2013 and I can’t wait for my annual fix of new ideas and creativity. If you haven’t heard of Thinking Digital you can find out more at www.thinkingdigital.co.uk I am a big fan and I wanted to share with you, from my perspective as a leadership coach, what Thinking Digital offers ‘non techies’ like me.

A Trip into the Future – technology is pretty much central to most of our lives nowadays and Thinking Digital offers an amazing window on the future, a taster of the amazing new stuff that we will all have access to not far into the future. This opportunity to do a bit of time travelling is invaluable for prompting dialogue about the world of unlimited potential we live in – but often don’t notice. It’s also great to spend some time in the company of a bunch of people who live and breathe technology and have embedded it seamlessly into their work and social lives. I’ve learned loads from this and just to share one example – I’ve seen how the Conference community collaborates to massively extend the reach of the event through blogging, twitter and lots of other online activity.

Ideas – I had no concept of how much it was possible to learn in a day until I went to Thinking Digital. Herb and the Codeworks team do an incredible job of putting together a fantastic line up of speakers that will take you on a creative journey through an amazing range of subjects. There is so much to absorb that my head is buzzing with ideas for weeks afterwards. It’s a bit unfair to single out specific talks but particular highlights for me were Dan Pink’s session on whole brain thinking, Nancy Duarte’s session on storytelling in presentations and Tara Hunt’s whuffie factor presentation on social networking. Both have been hugely influential in my coaching and development work over the last couple of years.

Networking – these days we all operate in a global economy which is driven by networks, partnerships and collaboration. Friendly, trusting relationships are at the heart of making these connections work – as Stephen M R Covey says ‘nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.’  And Thinking Digital is the place to be if you want to add more creative, inspirational, thought leaders to your network. There is an amazing buzz about the conference from start to finish and it is the place to be if you want to increase your social capital.

Presentation Styles – content aside it would still be worthwhile attending Thinking Digital as a presentation masterclass. I love the informal, conversational style of the speakers and the confidence people have to do it their way. They aren’t worried about breaking ‘the rules’ taught on lots of presentation courses, which are responsible for making much of what we sit and listen to in business so dire. They are also brilliant role models for simplifying incredibly complex ideas, making them accessible, understandable and entertaining. I discovered Prezi (www.prezi.com) from one of the TD 2010 talks which has since become my default presentation software and I got some inspiring ideas on presenting from Nancy Duarte’s brilliant session in 2011. 

The Sage – there is no doubt that The Sage plays a massive part in enhancing the Thinking Digital experience. The auditorium is perfect for the event, big enough to accommodate everyone but small enough to maintain an intimate, personal connection between the speakers and the audience. And the public areas provide the ideal space for networking, as well as being visually stunning and providing a drop dead gorgeous panorama of the Quayside and the city, day or night. (I love Newcastle – despite being a plastic Geordie). The Codeworks Connect team also do a fantastic job in selecting lots of brilliant complementary venues for the other events that take place during Thinking Digital, including the Conference Dinner and Closing Party.

Culture of the Digital Industry – for me this has been an added and unexpected bonus of attending Thinking Digital. I have discovered a huge collective passion within the digital community, not just for technology itself, but for what we can do with technology. People are driven by a belief that technology is an immensely empowering, democratising force for good, which can be used to shape a better future for the world. You only have to look at the part twitter and mobile communications have played in mobilising and uniting popular uprisings in Egypt, Oman, Syria, Yemen and Libya to see the potential of technology to liberate people from oppression. This is associated with a generosity and openness to share discoveries, making them freely available for people to use to accelerate the pace of development. This is such a refreshing contrast to the world of copyright, protection and competition that we are emerging from. And finally I’ve noticed how positive, forward looking and optimistic the digital community is. In 2009 and 2010 when the world outside was wallowing in the depths of depression over the credit crunch and cutbacks, Thinking Digital was an amazing oasis of hope and confidence about the future.

Go learn and enjoy.

Mike Cockburn
Sogno