5 Things I Learned at CAMP
I just got home from CAMP. Yes! As in summer CAMP! But for grownups with a penchant for creativity, group dancing, and rejection of cynicism. A way cooler and more joyous version of the business conference, CAMP is a creative conference that takes away your cell phones for four days so you can truly network and collaborate in the woods of Big Bear, California. And the speakers don’t jet off after their keynote is finished. They stay to play, learn, and share cabins with the attendees. I knew CAMP would be awesome. I knew it would exceed my expectations. What I didn’t know was that the most important things I would learn would have nothing to do with the workshops I took.
The Five Things I Learned At CAMP
- Millennials don’t give a crap about the cynicism surrounding millennials. Know why? Because we’re creative, and scrappy, and building real-life, money-making businesses from following our bliss. Why not make macramé your life’s work and travel the globe leading thousands in workshops? Why not blend your passions of architecture and dessert and make architect-inspired ice cream sandwiches in a food truck, and then distribute to Whole Foods? It might not be your style, old fart, but it’s an economy in itself, albeit based on an ideology of “twee.” Us millennials love us some twee.
- You can give yourself permission to be good at what you do. I know this because I watch my sidekick do it every day. There are little seeds of doubt within me that make me wonder about my own smarts, and worse, my own self-worth. I can be smarter and bossier if and when I tell myself that it’s OK to do it. And at work, it’s always OK. It’s the one place where you can be a smarty pants all day long, every day.*
- You have more to offer than you think you do. OK, so I don’t have a product and I don’t own my own company. But I do have a trade – I have an expertise in subjects (like media, like publishing, like plain old writing a coherent pitch) that so many people at CAMP did not. And that came from having years of unsexy, non-autonomous corporate jobs. I thought my skills were universal, not unique or special. Doesn’t everyone understand the difference between editorial and advertising? What’s so great about knowing timing for advertisers to get their products in market? Turns out – pretty special. And it’s not just me with a special expertise – everyone at CAMP had their own unique skill sets, too. Which brings me to my next point:
- Collaboration makes your job easier. Like a good relationship (…so I hear…), collaboration eases your burden. But you can’t do it without admitting what you don’t know. You can’t do it without being vulnerable. You know what you know, but what you don’t know is SO MUCH BIGGER. You need the help of other people’s collaborative, vulnerable brains. And for god’s sakes, you just can’t do it if you’re not willing to delegate, so ease up on your chokehold. I’m trying – incessantly unsuccessfully – to do this.
- Be quiet and listen. Close your eyes and envision yourself in a beautiful landscape that you particularly love. Find a small house there and walk towards it. Knock on the door, and wait for you 50 years in the future to answer it. There you are. Do you like her? Has she had an interesting life? Is she fulfilled or is she going to lecture you about changing your life today? Does she want to be friends with you? (This might make you cry. I did.) Listen to yourself, and you may just discover that the goals you thought you had don’t match up with your value system at all. Listen to others, and it turns out your tears and fears are just so damn universal.**