Impressions: Freelance Camp Vancouver

I took the weekend to reflect on a number of things, one of which was Saturday’s Freelance Camp Vancouver. Held at The Network Hub’s newly-minted office in New Westminster’s River Market, the event saw 200 freelancers from the Lower Mainland (and beyond) gather to share ideas, connect with each other and be inspired by the energy that was present.
And I’m pretty sure that all of that happened.

I went to this event last year when it was held in The Network Hub’s downtown campus, and I had every intention of going again this year along with my good friend and fellow freelancer Jason Finnerty. Intent turned to “absolutitude” when Minna Van contacted me a few weeks back to present a keynote address at the event. I was flattered and grateful to have been asked, and took the opportunity to discuss what had happened in the year since last attending Freelance Camp Vancouver, and how my philosophy on productivity had played a huge role in shaping that year.

One of the things about going to these types of events is the moment that happen both during and in between sessions. I confess that I didn’t take in very many of them (the morning was my time to get into the right mindset – this was my first keynote, after all) and the afternoon was spent doing more of the “in between” connecting with folks I had never met offline and those I hadn’t seen in ages. The atmosphere was radiant throughout the day, as I hung out in the common area and overheard chatter that only comes from people who are not only open to new ideas, tactics and opportunities for growth, but from people who had already had some of those things weave their way into them. I’m a bit of a people-watcher, and there certainly was a lot of positive things that I “watched” on Saturday.

How’d my talk go? Well, admittedly, I’m my own worst critic. There’s definitely room for improvement and committing time to doing so is a priority. I’ve added this particular talk to my arsenal, and for good reason. I sensed that those who were there “got” was I was trying to get across, and many came up afterward to discuss some of the things that they do to combat problem with their own productivity and others asking about tips and tricks that I use.1

Connecting with those I’d not seen in a while like Corwin Hiebert (who is one of the most intelligent and astute people I’ve ever met), Kemp Edmonds (who has become a fast friend), Raul Pacheco-Vega (a friend and community-builder in every sense of the word) and Jeanne Eng (how far we’ve both come from our days at Costco) was one of the great outcomes of this event.

There’s those whom I’d only briefly talked with before – or shared common ground in other aspects of my work – that also levelled up the event for me:

  • Jeff Arsenault – Here’s a guy who is as smart and insightful as he is driven. That’s a killer combo.
  • Jeremy Lim – I’ve seen him several times before taking photos, and beyond the “what” and “why” involved with taking great photos, he also has the how he got to the what and why pretty much nailed down.
  • Brooks Duncan – Fellow World Domination summit attendee…that I didn’t actually meet until this event.
  • Cristi Cooke – One of the most captivating conversations I’ve had with anyone about passion in work I had with Cristi. I’m all the better for meeting her and look forward to connecting with her again sooner rather than later.
  • Alisha Mann – I can’t wait to read the book she’s going to work on.
  • Cathy Browne – We’ve met in passing before, with very little conversation. That changed this time around, and I’m sure glad it did.

And then there’s loyal Dyscultured listener Bruce Campbell. I met him at Freelance Camp Vancouver last year – where we “bumped” contact info while talking about authors like Gladwell and Godin – who is always willing to offer advice and constructive criticism whenever I ask.

Meeting someone like Greg Kettner is also a big reason why I go to these things. Here’s a guy who tackles humour in the workplace in a vein that is similar to what I do with Eventualism. I felt in step with him as soon as I watched him close out the day with a well-placed set that kept the audience engaged but didn’t keep them for too long. That feeling was solidified when we chatted afterward, both in the common area – and then at the downstairs drinking establishment.2

An event like Freelance Camp Vancouver is one where you can’t help but leave feeling recharged, refocused and realizing why it is that you’re doing what it is that you’re doing. Everyone involved with putting it together deserves a huge pat on the back and a lasting gratitude that carries over year after year. Because it needs to happen annually in order to keep the community alive and achieving at a higher level with every passing year. Freelance Camp Vancouver serves as a shot of adrenaline for some, a booster shot for others and a great cup of coffee with a like-minded friend for all who take part.

I’ll be back next year so I can drink with all of you again.

1 I’ll get some of those in a future article here. What I offer may surprise you.
2 And the stories we shared also solidified how small the world of comedy is in Canada.