I recently attended Circles 2019—my first conference ever! Since I’m an outgoing person, I was really looking forward to it…almost as much as I look forward to getting a new tattoo. Because more than 300 strangers all getting together to talk about design has got to be a good thing, right?

It definitely was, and because design is my biggest passion in life, I got a ton out of it. The experience was one I’ll never forget, and the people I met, things I learned, and the sheer number of available bagels inspired me to be the best designer I can possibly be.

So, what was Circles 2019?

As one of the best design conferences in the country, Circles is a chance for lots of like-minded designers to get together to attend workshops, speaking engagements, and social events focused on the world of design. Topics ranged from brand creation to illustration to mastering creative workflow, and there was definitely something for everyone. I also appreciated how they focused on health and fitness with 5k runs and yoga sessions for participants, too. All in all, it helped me rejuvenate while getting me excited about new design trends and innovative ways of approaching my work.

The valuable lessons I learned.

Open communication is key. Something that was really emphasized was that the key to creating a great culture at work starts with open communication. Larry Hubatka, General Manager at Tiny Horse, talked about creating a beneficial culture in the work environment. He told us to ask a few questions to get communication started when reviewing our work culture. These questions included:

  • What do you want to create?
  • Where are you right now?
  • How are you going to respond when things get tough?

While they might seem simple, these questions spark many notable conversations when talking about work culture. That’s important because creating a great culture at work triggers creativity, brings people together, and makes it easier to tackle problems. These questions can help push you in the right direction.

No idea is a bad idea. This key takeaway stuck with me the most. Have you ever been sitting in a meeting and a brilliant idea pops in your head but you’re afraid others might not agree? Chances are good that it’s an idea worth sharing, so go ahead and take the risk and talk about it. Ultimately, who cares what others think about one idea? Even if they don’t like it, it might spark another thought for someone else. Sharing ideas is how we come up with concepts that are truly unique, which is important, because as Slim Shady once said: “Normal life is boring.”

Embrace your niche. Jeremy Mitchell, founder of Mitchell Bat Co., spoke about finding your niche and not waiting for the right time to embrace it. His exact words were, “There is no such thing as a perfect time.” You have to live in the now: Find what you’re good at and embrace it. That means you simply won’t have time to do everything—because if you try, you’ll quickly get burned out. So, find and embrace your passion, and once you do, focus on pushing it as far as you can while minimizing distractions.

Attending the Circles Conference was a great choice for me. I never thought I’d be able to get so much out of just a couple days, but I learned a ton that will make me a better designer. My experience was well worth it and I brought back so many significant lessons, like open communication and embracing your niche, to incorporate in to Well Done Marketing as well.