Why I attend every PM Footprints Session
... Because you don't know what you don't know.
-Nibu Thomas, PMP
That's at the top of the list. And I'll tell you why. I'm a certified PMP, so the PDUs are important. But I don't really need to attend every PM Footprints session. Between PM Footprints sessions and other learning programs I attend, I usually accumulate the necessary PDUs in the first year itself. (I carry over 20, so it's just 40 PDU that I need to accumulate.) And as you may realise later - I'm not even into core Project Management!
So why do I do it?
I've always believed that innovation lies at the intersection of different sciences, technology, professions, processes, and even opinions. Which means I need to step outside what I usually do, and look at other arenas that could interlay with mine. Getting an outside perspective on different things keeps you well informed and gives you food to chew on. These in turn become ideas.
I'm in the information business. I do whatever it takes to gather as much as is possibly available. I may not remember everything all the time. But I've noticed that when the need arises, the fascinating thing that's between our ears will make some of what I learned - available. And this information helps solve specific problems. Problems I could not solve had it not been for an open mind.
A title and an abstract could often be misleading.
Many sessions are much better than what they are made out to be. Even the speaker is often unable to market her session adequately. Thus, the only way to find out if it will be relevant and useful, is to attend them all. Just going by a title, or an abstract is not enough. Of course, there will be a few sessions that you may have already listened to. But believe me, the Easter eggs that you find along the way, more than make up for it.
The speaker is better than she knows she is.
Sometimes it's the topic. At other times, it's the speaker. If you are constantly trying to learn more than what's being taught/discussed, the chances of that happening goes up – sometimes in leaps and bounds. There's a lot you can learn from sessions where the information is not new. If you are alert, you can improve your observation and presentation skills. And this is not only from Good speakers. When the 'wrong' speaker is invited, you actually learn even more!
To make learning a habit.
You've committed to spending an hour (plus two in traffic!) to learning. I've promised myself that if I am in town, be it rain or more rain (the sun's usually down by this time), I will be a participant. And those two hours in traffic? Capitalize on it. Listen to podcasts. (Ask me, if you bump into me at a session, and I can recommend a few to you). They may not change your life. But they'll certainly make the traffic less irritating, and the ride/drive, more meaningful.
Before you wear someone else's shoes, check if the footprint matches.
We get a variety of speakers from different domains and companies and even from academics. I'm a big admirer of the way the Chapter picks its speakers. There's usually some takeaway from every session. This helps understand things from different perspectives. You get a chance to listen and even talk to different people from different domains and industries. If you are looking to change jobs, domains, industries, this is probably a watering hole to validate your footprints.
Over time, they become familiar to you. Which is when you -
Get connected with people. Every now and then, even introverts like me will meet another interesting attendee. You never know who will come forward to help, during the rains. And of course, who it is that you can help. So, if I'm in town when there's a Footprints session, I'm usually among the first few to register. I seldom read the content of the topic, or see who the speaker is. It saves me time. I simply register as soon as I see the email. My calendar is blocked on every other Thursday. This not only reminds me of the session, but also lets the folks I work with know that I'm unavailable during those few hours.
Most attendees are PMI members. And as you know, these sessions are free for Chapter members. You needn't be an economist or an accountant to know that if you aren't attending, you are leaving money behind on the table.
And yeah, those vegetable spring rolls that are often served at the venue as snacks – they can be considered good bait as well!