May 13, 2016

Development: It’s More Than Just Code

The importance of professional development in your workplace.

Mike Szyszka

I love going to conferences. I love the travel, the busy schedule, the networking, but most of all – I love learning from people smarter than I am. And while I try to get out to at least one or two conferences a year, it’s never enough. Plus, could you imagine the amount of conferences you would need to go to in order to cover all of the topics relevant to the owner of a digital agency? Let’s just say I would have no time to actually run my agency, or implement all the great stuff I would be learning.

Enter conference videos. Ever since I was in college I would listen to talks and watch videos online to learn about anything I was interested in. I was thirsty for insight from thought leaders and innovators that I (thought I) would never have the opportunity to see in person.

After I started Reaction in 2008, the subject matter of the topics shifted to the web, marketing, branding, and running a business. Naturally, I would always try to share what I had learned with my team, implementing whatever I could to improve the work we do and the workplace we are creating. As our team grew – specifically past that 14 or 15-person mark – I noticed that it was getting harder to share the tidbits of information I was learning. It also became more and more important that everyone was on the same page and sharing a similar level of understanding when it came to the bigger picture of what is happening in our industry as a whole.

In May of 2016, the Reaction ProDev lunch was born to address this very issue. It goes like this: once a month our team gets together over the lunch hour to watch a conference talk or video curated by yours truly. Then we hang around for a bit and chat about it. Sometimes these are talks that I have already watched and want to share with the team, other times I’ll come across a great video and save it for our next lunch so we can all watch it together.

After doing this for a few months, I thought it would be a good idea to summarize each talk and post it somewhere for employees to access. This way, new employees would be able to go back and see what they may have missed, and our existing team would have a place to refer back to if they wanted to revisit something down the road. And then it hit me – our clients are marketing people too. There is a lot of noise out there when it comes to guru’s giving advice online, so why not just share these on our blog? This way anyone watching them will know they have been selected and curated by me, personally, before wasting an hour watching some re-hash of the “be authentic and give your clients value” talk we have all heard a thousand times before. I hope you enjoy these talks as much as we do.