This past week was an incredible experience—I attended NSConference 5 in Leicester, UK (don't feel bad if you didn't read that city name as LESS-ter; two years ago while visiting London, I spent a week thinking I was walking through Lee-eye-cess-ter Square). If you're not familiar with this conference, it was started by Steve "Scotty" Scott a few years ago to build more community among Apple developers.
My buddy, Scotty, has an amazing team that cares deeply about the whole experience of attending a conference. They know how precious our time is and they don't waste any of it. The venue is well thought out, the food is delicious, and every detail is polished, including down to making sure there are three wines to match each course of dinner.
NSConference always has great speakers, but this year felt exceptionally high quality. Slides were professional, talks well rehearsed, content relevant, interesting, and entertaining—it could have been an Apple event. But that's not why the three days were so successful. The difference is Scotty's insistence that we spend time as a community and share experiences and ideas with each other.
More than half of the nearly 300 attendees were first-timers and I was able to talk with 20 to 30 of them due to the structure of this event. We switched tables at breaks, we talked at the parties and meals, and we were given a goal of meeting three new people. It worked. If you didn't come away knowing many more people than when you arrived, you have no one to blame but yourself.
This conference reminded me that we have some incredibly smart people in this community who are talented and diverse. I was delighted by the creativity streaming though the participants. Attendees shared software designs, hardware hobbies, business strategies, life experiences and much more. It was inspiring.
So inspiring that I wrote three blog entries on the flight home to Houston, which is more than I published in all of 2012.
As an added bonus, I got to spend time with Michael Fey, my friend and one of the reasons our company has cool products to sell like MoneyWell Express. Any time I get to spend with my Number One is priceless.
While WWDC fills your need for a technical conference and allows you to talk to Apple engineers and get introduced to the latest tools from Apple, NSConference feeds your emotional and spiritual needs. Writing software in isolation may produce technically solid apps, but connections with your community drive innovation and inspiration. We all need to recharge and reenergize so we can be at our most brilliant—this is a great place to do just that.
If you get a chance to go next year, I highly recommend you set aside a portion of your budget for NSConference. Just don't try to steal my ticket because I'll fight you for it. If you didn't make it this year, buy the videos (when they're posted). At least you'll get a small idea of how much you missed.