Did you ever have an experience that rocked you back on your heels and made you reevaluate things in your life? Short of life changing events, those kinds of experiences are hard to come by in the professional world. My recent trip to New York City though has me reevaluating aspects of my professional career.

That sounds pretty heavy, right? I mean what could I have experienced to leave me with such an experience that it would have me become so introspective? It was a conference of all things. A conference organized and held by one of the most influential companies on the planet. That company was NASDAQ, and the conference was the Pro Design Conference.

For those of you who know me personally, you can attest to the fact that I am never short on words. Whether it is speech or verbose blog posts, I can talk to anyone and everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I do more listening then talking by far and when I am captivated by a speaker or a topic, I become that audio sponge and soak everything in. At the Pro Design Conference, I became that audio sponge all day.

The Pro Design Conference was conceived by Chris Avore and Aaron Irizarry. They took stock on everything their team had accomplished over the last two years with the NASDAQ Product Design team. The successes, failures, and lessons they learned over the last two years culminated in a wealth of knowledge worth sharing with the greater design community. With the go ahead from their superiors, they planned and executed a product and interaction design conference that showcased their collective knowledge and strength as a team at NASDAQ as well has bringing in thought leaders from other companies as well. The end result was a highly engaging daylong conference at the MarketSite OMX location.

I work primarily as a visual designer but many times during my career I have been an UX and product designer, usually without really knowing it. While I was always concerned with the visual aspects of any project, I always took the user experience as my first priority, delving into research and testing various iterations of websites and applications while adhering to brand guidelines and standards. When I said earlier in the post about being able to talk with anyone, I met a few individuals at the conference whom I couldn’t get enough hearing about their work and experience. I was pretty quiet the entire conference, not out of fear or awkwardness…rather just the opposite. I sat in my row of seats along the windows overlooking Times Square and I was furiously taking notes each session. Never before have I seen such a passionate group of speakers talk about design. Chris and Aaron wanted to show that being pro design in your company and a larger community can have meaningful impact on the lives of your customer or audience, user or visitor.

I left the conference with a wholly renewed attitude towards the industry. For myself, this conference was that shot of adrenaline I needed to get me hustling once more. As I sat on the New Jersey Transit train back to Denville, I was reading through my notes on my Kindle and I was floored. I literally had to suppress my natural reaction to say “Fuck Yea!” as I read over notes that resonated with me and my professional outlook.

This was the first time they had held the conference and for the team at NASDAQ, it was an awesome to get together all in one place and revel together as a team. Honestly, they deserve it. They’ve accomplished a great deal. To be able to learn from them was a privilege.

So how has this affected me so much? My viewpoint and perspective has been greatly expanded. I’m going to question more, iterate more often, and delve into more data and research to open up more possibilities. That’s huge. I really appreciate all the hard work that Chris, Aaron and everyone involved did to create such a great conference.

Now I’ll go back to my office and have those “Fuck Yea!” moments more frequently.

February 6, 2015

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