How organizing a meetup changed my life.
January 29, 2018 • 4 min read
For me, it all started in 2014. I entered ASKfm office kitchen and saw him. As usual, staying in the middle of the room, with shining eyes, chatting with someone about some cool stuff I usually didn’t even understand.
As usual, I tried to maneuver between people, just willing to grab some water and go back to my desk, trying not to draw attention and avoiding chitchats — the last thing I desire in my life.
“We need a new quality meetup about software craftsmanship! What do you think?” — he said.
“Oh gosh, not today. I just want that ducking cup filled with water and be out of here…” — I thought.
“Sounds cool.” — I said with my usual “yeah-great-but-I’m-kinda-in-the-middle-of-my-important-water-grabbing-mission” poker face.
And so my wish to be with my own thoughts has been granted. But it seems that I went back from that kitchen a bit different person that day. There was a thought in my head. Something I couldn’t process for a week or so. Background thread has spawned there, trying to understand what has changed inside.
Then, it hit me. I felt that this will be something big. Something I don’t want to miss. Something I want to be a part of. So I went to him and said
“I want to be in. Do you need help?”.
This is how my tranformation journey has begun. That guy was Eduards Sizovs, and he helped me to see the world from another perspective, shifting my mind away from the consumer-based path to something else. I couldn’t understand yet, but the feeling was good.
“New quality meetup about software craftsmanship” grew into LatCraft, that had full 3 years of successful events. It became more than software craftsmanship, of course. We covered lots of great topics — including development, management, cryptocurrencies, health. We even had a massive meditation session all together! I’m still amazed how it was possible to find such a huge amount of talented people in such a small city on a regular basis to share something interesting and useful.
Team grew. Some people left, some joined — natural process of evolving team and community around it. I stayed. I became addicted. It’s hard to tell that I did the most important jobs all the time, or I was the most active member on a regular basis — life is life, we all have to distribute and manage our energy levels all the time — but I was totally addicted. To that satisfaction feeling I had after each event. Tired, but full of inner energy. Being both proud and happy that something I’m a part of is changing people. I’m not just a consumer anymore! I do something that matters! It’s safe to say that I became a junkie of some sort. But I didn’t know what was coming then.
“We should make a conference!” — he said in a few months after first huge LatCraft meetup event kicked off.
“Oh no, these crazy ideas again…” — I thought.
“Sounds cool.” — I said.
And then it hits me again — of course, we should!
Months passed, and I’m standing at the main stage at LNB, in front of a huge audience, at the end of the first DevTernity conference, which went insanely well for the first-timer. I’m afraid of being public, I don’t like that people are staring at me, but I don’t care. Most probably this is the only day in a year I don’t care.
It’s hard to describe this feeling with words, it truly is. You get injected with energy booster somehow, even though your body is depleted from running, talking with people, and solving problems. You can feel it when you try to sleep that night — but you can’t. And the next day it’s still there. And in a month.
And then the next year comes. Conference becomes bigger. Two days, more people. More stuff to do. More responsibilities, more tasks. Maybe even a bit more wine in the day before The Day to stop being so nervous. And I am on the main stage again at the closing ceremony. Barely standing, but still there. We did it again!
The third year was a blast as well — we beat our record again with 700 attendees, got mentions in conference tops around the world. Word is spreading. Team became twice as large. We are big, we have an awesome set of diverse people with great minds. Nothing can stop us now!
Why are you doing this?
During the third conference someone asked me — “Why are you doing this? What’s your interest here?”. It made me think. Not because I didn’t know why — it was obvious to me. But because I decided that I have to formalize it somehow, so that I never forget why I’m doing this. Why am I spending my time and energy on this, when lots of people were wondering — is it worth it and what you get in return?
I’m doing this because this makes an impact. It helps people to grow. What I’m part of is against stagnation and boringness. Against routine and unprofessional behavior. I want people to learn more, read more, know more. I want us to stop being just a consumers.
And to achieve this, I had to start with myself first. To shift my mindset, to stand up, put away my headphones and say “I want to be in!”. This started a series of changes I went through to become a different person in the end.
Participating in LatCraft and then DevTernity organization process gave me this chance… And maybe also I can’t live without that high feeling I get after successful events anymore.
Bottom line here is simple and straightforward. Do something. Start small. Make change inside you, then try to change something around you. It can be something tiny. It might grow into something big one day. Who knows. You will be proud anyway in the end. So why skip it?