Invitation Only

super star domo
Credit: Flickr / Takashi Hososhima

When I set my speaking goals for 2016, I set a limit of 6 talks. As someone asked, “did you just give them all in a two week period?” – actually I decided that 1 meet-up, 3 workshops, and MC-ing did not count (this is the thing about unclear goals).

When I set my goals I didn’t say anything about invitation vs CfP, and my plan had been to submit to some CfPs. In practise, I did not submit to any CfPs. I decided to eliminate this source of stress early in the year. But I never talked about this publicly for two reasons. One it seemed like bragging. And two, I was worried that it undermined Technically Speaking.

But I don’t think this is uncommon to move to a point of invitation only, and really I need fewer external commitments, not more. A CfP submission is like, Schrödinger’s commitment. It may or may not be happening. If I’m enthused enough about something to submit a CfP, that means keeping that uncertainty in my schedule in the form of space to fulfil it for weeks or months until I hear back. I decided this was a stress-vector that it was easier not to deal with.

And then Technically Speaking – part of being public about this meant accepting that maybe Chiu-Ki and I are not the right people to run Technically Speaking forever, and that’s OK.

What were the benefits?

  • Reduced stress.
  • Reduced uncertainty.
  • More time to decide what I was going to talk about.
  • Fewer surprises for Future-Cate.

What were the downsides?

  • Missing out on events that I would loved to have been part of.

I’m OK with the downside. It’s not that big in the scheme of things. It’s possible next year I get fewer invitations, and I either need to decide to start submitting again or I just give fewer talks.

The other benefit was that I was more comfortable asking for things. Straightforwardly, travel and accomodation. But less straightforwardly some things that I ended up asking for this year included things related to harassment. These were pretty horrible conversations to have to have, but that would have been even scarier to do as someone who was picked out of a CfP. Because people invited me because they knew me, they were also already generally aware that I was someone who experienced some level of harassment. I would have hated to be trying to explain that as I sold myself as a good speaker.

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