A few weeks ago my colleague Alex and I attended a one day conference in Sydney. As we arrived there was a throng of faces in the lobby greeting each other, and us, old acquaintances catching up over a pre-conference morning coffee.

Surprisingly for a fairly high level event the coffee was urn juice, that brown liquid that has neither the texture nor the aroma or taste of actual coffee. I regretted that I had not had a proper coffee before arriving.

The first session went well, but was followed by someone who was using a PowerPoint presentation to communicate the latest data, except that the newest of the data was 2 years old and I am sure the presentation was also two years old, dredged up from the archives for the occasion. At this point my mind wondered and I sat there in the dark thinking unhurried thoughts undisturbed by external impulses. I began to write notes to myself as thoughts started to emerge.

At morning coffee there was no real coffee either, so as everyone trundled back to the auditorium the truant schoolboy in me surfaced and I left the building for a little café just outside the building to get a decent coffee. I am not having a Bob Carr moment here, but I do think a lot of people these days want and perhaps even need a good barista coffee before they can kick into gear of a morning.

The coffee was excellent, the birds were signing, the sun was shining and I could feel creative juices starting to flow. ‘Where are you?’ texted Alex, ‘I’ve saved a seat’. A few minutes later we were both enjoying coffee, the sunshine, the bird song and discussing a few work conundrums that we had been unable to resolve over the past several months. This morning, however, solutions came thick and fast. It was easy.

The conference abandoned, we explored the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens and came up with a brand new idea for an event that was so unique, simple and fresh and yet ticks every box we could throw at it.

As a result of this impromptu brainstorming session negotiations are now taking place in Hollywood that we think will be our next ‘big project’.

My learnings from this are:

  • Attend conferences because they take you out of your daily routine and allow you to see the world more holistically;
  • Always seize the moment you feel a creative mood coming on;
  • If you are running a conference, serve decent coffee else you will lose delegates;
  • Coffee never tastes better than with a sprinkling of guilt. A truant’s coffee is truly exceptional.