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.