August 28, 2017

The Give and Take of Learning


SoDA Academy 2017

Learning in a face-to-face human community, as humans have evolved to do over hundreds of thousands of years, may always be the ideal - especially in an endeavor that is as relationship-driven as business.
— Warren Bennis

After attending a traditional industry conference, most people report that they learned more during the face-to-face interactions they had with colleagues in the foyers and at social functions than they did in the professional development sessions they attended. What is often referenced as “networking” is the most highly-valued conference element time and again across nearly every professional development event that measures the experience on multiple levels.

We believe this is true because networking is actually learning in clever disguise. We discuss our businesses, our lives, our challenges and our triumphs. And because we’re actively engaged with peers we respect, these rich conversations are the cornerstone of our experience, creating enduring memories, new connections and improved business practices that can be immediately applied. We and our firms are better as a result.

It’s in that spirt that the SoDA Academy was invented three years ago and, we believe, one of the major reasons it has thrived as an invitation only event. We eschew the traditional conference format in favor of something highly interactive, collaborative and engaging. We get the right people in the room and provide guided facilitation designed to solicit practical answers and perspectives for our most pressing issues – knowing that peer-to-peer dialogue and collaboration creates an authentic, high-velocity learning environment that can’t be delivered in a traditional “stand and deliver” presentation format.

It is most certainly a give and take process – one where you find a natural rhythm of leaning in to lead a conversation and leaning back to listen and learn. Whether you’re a faculty member or a delegate, you bring your experience, insights and expertise to the table to share with others. And, in the process, you learn from others who have done things differently, solved similar problems and grown their businesses.

The SoDA Academy experience is crafted for practice leaders in the digital agency community striving to balance their dual roles as makers and managers. The invitation process brings high-quality attendees who can relate to each other. And a carefully curated faculty knows how to impart wisdom and set up the great conversations that facilitate the “real” learning we all need.

Oh, and we also have some excellent networking opportunities. You gotta have a little fun while you’re at a conference, right? Just don’t be surprised if you learn something new along the way.

The 3rd annual SoDA Academy takes place April 9-10, 2018 at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. If you like the sound of give and take learning and are a senior practice leader at a digital agency, production company, product design studio or innovation consultancy, click below to apply for an invitation. We’d love to see you in November!


Tom Beck

Tom Beck is Executive Director of SoDA, a global network of digital business leaders, creative visionaries and technology disruptors. SoDA members help the world’s leading brand imagine and create the future of digital experiences.