The Post-Summit Blues, or IA Dissociative Identity Disorder

The IA Summit’s come and gone. Now that I’m fully awake (after close to 36 hours of travelling, and therefore little sleep), I can reflect a bit on what I saw / heard, and how I can carry some of it into my day-to-day work.

First off, how wonderful it is to see my good friends in this community. These are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met; it is a privilege to be able to interact and learn from them. It always saddens me to only be able to engage them in person only once or twice a year. (The mailing lists are such a poor substitute to a nice dinner!)

Last year I returned from the Summit physically ill, and simultaneously ecstatic and demoralized. As with this year’s gathering, last year’s Summit gave me more intellectual stimulation than the aggregate of all my other professional interactions throughout the year. I wanted more, yet was painfully aware that life demanded that I get back to business ASAP.

You see, there are two Jorges. The first one is passionate about IA, tries to participate in the international IA community via mailing lists, blog posts, summits, retreats, etc., and learns from some of the smartest people working in this profession. (This Jorge’s mother tongue is English.)

The second Jorge runs a web shop in a small developing country, and struggles to apply Jorge #1’s skills in a Spanish-speaking market where for the most part customers don’t understand, want—and perhaps even need—most of this stuff. (I do get to sneak a lot of it in; I try to avoid the term “guerilla IA” for fear of being held up at the US border. 😉 )

Intellectually and spiritually, I like Jorge #1 better. However, it is Jorge #2 that puts bread on the table and pays for Jorge #1 to be able to visit places like Vancouver and (hopefully) Las Vegas. Hence, the post-Summit blues: I go back to playing Jorge #2 full-time after a week of being Jorge #1 in person! (“I’m not a real IA—but I play one on TV!”) The challenge is having Jorge #1 help Jorge #2 grow as a professional in an environment that is not as challenging—and where perhaps he can’t contribute as much—as he would like.

That said, this year’s Summit was different. For one thing, I found out that I’m not the only one who’s facing this situation. For another, I’ve realized that it’s possible my current milieu provides opportunities and challenges yet unknown to folks working in other, more developed, parts of the world. My post-Summit challenge this year: to have both Jorges stretch, perhaps to meet somewhere in the middle.