When I heard that there was an Unconference going to take place in Goa, I was curious to know what an unconference was? I had never taken part in an unconference and I genuinely had no idea what it was; but just the sound of the word was great!
UNconference - It is conference, which it is not!
So with a great deal of curiosity and no idea what to expect, I landed up in Goa. From the beginning it was very clear that this event was different. When you normally go to a conference or a meet, you tend to expect to find a particular species of people there. You go to an Entrepreneur Summit, you expect to find entrepreneurs; even if you find someone who is not an entrepreneur he/she would have something to do with entrepreneurship. It was impossible to gauge what the next person you meet would be into, when it came to The Goa Project (TGP). I met mountaineers, film makers, photographers, musicians, nutritionists, bloggers, design ninjas, and many many more.
The great thing about meeting such a wide assortment of individuals, who come from such varied fields, is that you get to learn from their experiences. Experiences, that you may never be able to have yourself (Like climbing Mount Everest!). You get to see the world from such a wider perspective, without the blinders which normally restrict you.
You also get an opportunity to see people through different lenses.
Did you know Vishal Gondal of the Indiagames fame is also into walking, particularly doing 100 Km hikes. He taught us how you go from being a 100 Kg couch potato to being one, who can do 100 Km in 48 hours. This is the kind of learning that I would have never had at any other forum.
The nature of discussions are also very open. One gets to participate, question, object, share insights and discuss about the subject at the centre of each session. Not to mention that the sessions themselves are picked extremely democratically. Anyone who has something to talk about can put up their idea for people to vote on, much before the event; based on the interest of the participants, the sessions are decided.
This is a degree of freedom which I have rarely seen at any event that I have attended in the past.
I am sure that behind the scene, there is a great deal of pain and effort that is taken by the organisers to make sure that they bring in a highly curated set of individuals to the event. Having worn the organisers hat myself for our events, I know what a difficult role this must be. On the one hand you wish to sell as many tickets as possible and on the other, you just cannot let everyone in. You need to make sure that the attendees would add value.
TGP is an example of how to bring the best of both worlds. I have no idea how they pull it off! There were a 170 participants and each of them were extremely interesting people to meet. Of course I could not meet all of them, but the ones I did meet, I am happy I did.
I enjoyed the session on bread baking by Nandita Iyer the most. I love to cook and I do not get to attend such sessions often, given the kind of work that I am involved in.
All in all, TGP was a great experience and I am sure to be there next year to meet many more amazing people. Three cheers to Vijay Anand and his team!!