I know, I know, you didn't ask but I have some advice for you. Before you attend the conference or join the organization--think about who is being served by your attendance or membership. Are you "picking yourself?" as Seth Godin would say or are you part of someone else's narrative? I have joined organizations like the American Medical Writers Association but got very little in return. You become the product as they sell your data for a profit--I know--who doesn't anymore.
My pivot toward value and independence came when I found the right organizations. Most of them are focused in journalism so the art of storytelling and data literacy began to emerge.
I learned this lesson a single pain point at a time. When I didn't pick me, I ended up writing client biased content orchestrated by agency x, pharma company y, or medical education company z.
Earning press credentials provides access to medical and industry conferences--for free. When I was forced to tell sponsors what I was going to write about--I informed them I had no idea. Until I enter the space and have conversations, listen to the lectures or keynotes, or participate in the Q&A how can I possibly know what to write about? But that is how most journalism platforms work. You pitch or get pitched and then get to work. I reject this bias. I pick me. Or better yet, I pick you.
I reflected on this recently at a "meet and greet" for new members of the National Press Club in DC. After recent years of finally picking myself, I was invited to become a member. I think of the familiar creed among journalists,
Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted
I now write about healthcare and all the different moving parts. Think of the piles of information and sort them by health policy, health economics, health law, clinical research, or whatever web that wipes across your mind.
We are taught to follow algorithms. Write the manuscript, book, article, or report as instructed. For a while, we comply, until we don't. We finally realize that you can't win by being more average than your competition. Better at following the blueprint. Think about your education or perhaps you have children navigating the educational system.
Watch them dutifully follow rubrics, guidelines, outlines, and doing what they are told. Our educational system is obsolete. We don't need these skills in modern society. We need creators, inventors, innovators--we need insights. If you have an idea of something you want to see in this world--listen to the short podcast by Seth Godin. Tag. You ARE it...
Well-meaning colleagues at the Press Club were excited to introduce me to members, experts in their fields, communicators, all to network--because I mentioned that I work for me. But it was weird. They were guiding me toward mentors. I reminded them that not all who wander are lost. I don't want a job. I am the job.
Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn't believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going into work?
Where I am headed next...and hope to see you!
Or reach out @datamongerbonny for scalable talks on data literacy, data sourcing, governance, or building your own data pipeline...
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”