Don't Follow Directions. Go Off-Piste
What I advise you to do is to actually go off-piste, and find ways to interact with people outside of your field.
Jack D. Hidary built his career as an entrepreneur in the finance and technology sectors and is currently focused on clean energy technology and policy. In New York City, Hidary was a leading proponent of switching over the taxi fleet to high mileage hybrids. Hidary serves as Chairman of SmartTransportation.org, a non-profit dedicated to promoting clean energy and transportation policy in the US.
Hidary studied philosophy and neuroscience at Columbia University and was then awarded a Stanley Fellowship in Clinical Neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Under the fellowship, Hidary conducted research in functional neuroimaging using techniques such as
positron emission tomography (PET) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study brain and disease states.
Hidary serves on several boards including BT Global Services and Trickle Up. A frequent keynote speaker, Hidary has presented at venues including the business schools of Yale and Columbia.
Committed to community and philanthropic causes, Hidary has received several industry and community awards as well as being recognized as a Global Leader of Tomorrow at the WEF, Davos. Hidary is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the Clinton Global Initiative.
When going to a conference most people follow directions. They see the agenda. They attend panel after panel, session after session, keynote after keynote. My advice to you is don't follow directions. My advice to you is when you go to a conference most the panels are going to be pretty much worthless because if it's particularly a public forum you can't really say much on a public panel. We all kind of know what's going to happen with the folks who are on that panel.
What I advise you to do is to actually go off-piste, and find ways to interact with people outside of those sessions. In fact, what I personally do is I find out who is going to be at that conference, and set up four to six different coffees a day, different little meetings a day, so that I know that I'm going to sit down for 15 or 20 minutes each with people that are outside my realm, people that I may not see on a regular basis. It doesn't have to be a full meeting. It just could be grabbing a cup of coffee in a lounge of the conference. That's going to be time much better spent than just being in the panel session.
If there is a conference that you attended that has work-shopping, that actually has the idea of working in small groups, then definitely attend those parts of the conference. Whenever I help folks construct conferences, and I've now had the opportunity to help construct several of them, work-shopping is always going to be more interesting to people than panel sessions and keynotes and things like that.
When there is an opportunity for work-shopping, definitely do that. In terms of the big panel sessions and the big keynotes, these days you can always watch it later on video. The fact is that those one-to-one interactions, small group interactions, that's really what you want.
In Their Own Words is recorded at Big Think's studio.
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