Dan Hough

How to open yourself up to more opportunities

Published 27 November 2013 in London, UK

A week ago, I was sitting around in my office (also known as my living room) when I recieved a panicked email from Charlotte Spencer of Event Handler fame. I was due to be co-DJing the after-party of their upcoming GeekyConf. This conference was actually happening the very next day, which earned me, apart from a fantastically fun experience and a licence to dance like a twat on a stage, a free ticket to attend.

I’d previously delivered a talk about Music for Gamers at one of the smaller Geeky Meetups, where speakers get to ramble on about whatever subject they are passionate about for the information, education and entertainment of the audience. Geeky is great, and since I’m into games and music, and writing music about games, it seemed like a good idea for me to talk about these things.

GeekyConf is a larger, day-long version of the Geeky Meetups, filled with much more fun and opportunities for learning. The food, by the way, was incredible. More on that later.

Clearly, Charlotte must’ve enjoyed my original talk or at least thought that somebody in the crowd did, because the aforementioned panicked email was about a last-minute dropout from one of their speakers. Would I be willing to fill in, and redeliver my talk?

Definitely, yes: I would. And I was. So, I did, despite being pretty unprepared and in the midst of work and meetings. It went down well and gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Plus, one of the musicians I included in my whistlestop tour of Music for Gamers actually found out thanks to the wonderful Helen Arney and seemed chuffed about it. So, that was nice.

All of that aside, though, I was in my opinion the worst of a whole host of good speakers - and that is no insult to me, because the other speakers really were excellent.

After the conference I did my DJ set, thanks to the guiding hands of Luke and Adam, and it went down pretty well.

Before this whole thing, I’d never DJed before at anything, ever. But it was a lot of fun, and I realise now why DJs like to dance around behind the decks - it helps with timing. But thanks to DJing, I gained a new experience and a free ticket to this conference. I’ve also now had a genuine enquiry about DJing at another event - it’s a paid gig, too.

Before this whole thing, I’d never spoken at a conference before, ever. But that was a lot of fun too, and I realise now why people like to deliver talks more often than once - you get better at it! More importantly, I met a lot of really interesting folks that I’m looking forward to seeing, hanging out with and chatting to again.

Before this whole thing, I’d never eaten deep-fried Oreos before, ever. That, too, was a huge amount of fun. I’d highly recommend trying one or two if you ever get the chance.

Before this whole thing - before I started towards the new, more independent life I set out to have a few months ago, I agreed with myself that I’d take more opportunities with the time I’d gain. I agreed that I would say yes to more things - in fact, unless I had a very good reason not to do something I figured I’d do it. “It doesn’t sound like something I’d be very good at” is not a good excuse. Fear is not a good reason to avoid most things.

Thanks to this mindset, I’ve opened up more opportunities and introduced myself to new and interesting people and things. Naturally, there has to be a limit - but try to mindful of whether the thing putting you off doing something is based on rational thought, or irrational reflex. Next time an interesting-sounding opportunity comes your way, genuinely think about it. You might just enjoy yourself.

P.S.: Rather than ending this blog post on that note, I wanted to quickly say thank you to everybody who commented, emailed me and argued over my previous blog post about quitting my job. It was hugely inspiring and really touching that so many people got where I was coming from and wished me all the best. To those of you whom I’ve met with since, thanks for your time, and if you’re in London and would like to grab a coffee or a beer and talk about computers or music or whatever, get in touch.

Heckle me on Twitter @basicallydan.