My SOBCon permission slip

A few weeks back, I was perusing upcoming conferences likely to expand my knowledge of all things blogging-related, when one in particular caught my eye: The renowned SOBCon would be taking place in Portland Oregon this fall.

An event that I’d long wanted to attend in a town I’d long wanted to visit.

How much more tempting could this be? But could I justify it?

I had no trouble coming up with reasons to take a pass: Who knew what my schedule would look like in September? What about the cost? Was I even far enough along with my ideas for the trip to be useful?

But while the cost-benefit analysis seemed anything but clear, I found myself recalling some words of advice from LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. In a career guide dubbed The Start-Up of You, Hoffman proposes setting up an “Interesting People” fund. The idea is to allocate a certain amount of money each year to cultivating relationships. That way, when a great opportunity comes along, you’re less likely to angst over whether to act on it. You’ve identified the priority. You’ve already made the commitment.

Why is this so important? Because the more conversations we have, the more people we meet, the more we expand our universe of possibilities. “You won’t encounter accidental good fortune – you won’t stumble upon opportunities that rocket your career forward – if you’re lying in bed,” Hoffman and his co-author Ben Casnocha note. “When you do something, you stir the pot and introduce the possibility that seemingly random ideas, people, and places will collide and form new combinations and opportunities.”

Rocketing images aside, this made total sense to me. My decision suddenly seemed far simpler. Reader, I registered.

Only some time later did it occur to me that I’d already known everything that Hoffman was telling me. I’d even written about it more than once not too long ago – about the magic of cause and effect and erring towards connection. It was then I realized that what I’d needed wasn’t guidance but a green light, permission to ignore the voices of doubt  and do what I knew felt right.