I’ve spent the weekend at the True North conference, it has been one of my favourite conferences so far. Here I will try to explain why.
The conference takes place at a Japanese spa outside of Stockholm. The spa is surrounded by nature, both sea and forest. It’s an all inclusive conference and you are allowed to use the spa all through the conference. This gives you a lot of time to relax and wind down. You can collect your thoughts and ideas and remember more from the conference. It also gave me a great chance to find my long lost creativity again.
Lots of chances to talk to the other attendees
This conference acknowledges the fact that a big part of the conference is not in the talks, but in the meetings with other attendees. So after every 30 minute talk there was at least a 30 minute break. This let you interact with the other attendees, you could ask the speakers questions, get a lot of new ideas and have interesting discussions.
The 30 minute talks also made sure that you managed to stay focused the whole talk, something I have a problem with if I keep still for too long.
The all inclusive part makes sure you spend a great deal of time together with the other attendees, not only at breaks but also at dinner and in the hot springs and sauna. Since most of the people are wearing the Japanese yukata you get a feeling of being more equal.
Focus on motivation and what drives you
From being a tech conference (then named Nordic Ruby) it has turned it’s focus to being more about motivation. It is meant to be an experience and just not listening to great people talk. Hearing about other peoples hardships and fortunes really makes me think about my life and what I really want to do.
Really well organised
Everything just works, you can simply relax and follow the flow.
At check in to the spa you collect your goody bag, with the key to your room, a note book and the conference t-shirt in it. Getting welcomed by the organizers; CJ, in his yukata, and his wife Lilly makes you feel properly welcomed.
Even though the conference officially started on Friday, we got a “light dinner” on Thursday. For me as an multi-allergic it meant a great meal with lots of tasty stuff I could eat without risk of falling ill. The Friday dinner was cooked and served at the Teppanyaki restaurant. So we all got to see the chef make our dinner in front of us and then set it ablaze.
Saturdays dinner was a barbecue, because of the rain outside we had to eat indoors, but it was really nice. Overall the food was great, and I really appreciate the fact that I didn't have to find a place to eat.
The conference started at 9.45, when CJ wished us all welcome and presented the schedule. This conference was different from the ones he organized before as CJ himself had invited speakers he thought to have done interesting things, followed their own believes or just had a motivating story to tell.
The mix of speakers all talking about things that motivated and droved them was amazing. Day one started of with one of the creators of the game “Cards against humanity” who gave a great talk about values and how you should use your values for strategy and tactics. He gave some great examples of what his company had done (like raising the price with $5 on Black Friday and still selling a lot of cards). He also emphasised that you should follow your own believes and not be afraid of strong opinions, as they give the strongest fans.
After that followed talks on yoga, motivation and the value of not only doing what you love, but doing it with a plan. A couple of the talks tried to make you answer questions like what is the biggest lie you've ever told and what do you really dream of. We got to know that we are all chaotic beautiful snowflakes, and that we all have cracks, and those cracks are where the light comes out. We got to experience how to use visualisation to reach our goals and recognise the gap between your real life and the life you want to live. How we should be weary of the answer “fine” when asked how’s work, or life or whatever. The meaning of life came up and different mindsets and how they affect you. A very inspiring talk on how to handle things when they don’t go as planned including something about swimming an open water contest of 5 km with a broken leg. One speaker emphasised that the best ideas happen when you don't think about it and that you need to give yourself time to discover.
All in all I’ve had a great experience and conference, it made me think, ponder and question the choices I’ve made in my life so far. I’ve spent time in a hot spring thinking about my goals and my motivations, what is it really that drives ME? Where do I want to go, how will it look there? I’ve spent time in the pool swimming back and forth trying to set up a plan for myself. I’ve wandered the halls of the spa like a ghost, with a bucket on my head, trying to find the feeling of being in the here and now.
Lastly I would just like to say thanks to CJ and Lilly for taking the time to organise this wonderful conference. I am sorely going to miss it and really hope we can get together for a reunion next summer.