Highlights from Hybrid Conf.


Hybrid is a conference for creatives from all backgrounds and job roles. It doesn’t focus on a particular industry or job role. My favourite aspect of the conference is that it embraces inspiration from outside sources, asks you to connect the dots yourself, and encourages you to share your feelings with the other attendees.

Hybrid feels more like a community than an event. A community in the same place at the same time growing together.

Watching the themes flow throughout the talks was amazing, it’s a sign of the effort and curation Zach Inglis and Laura Sanders put into the event. Here’re just some of my highlights from HybridConf and Berlin.

Doc Waller: All up in the feels

Doc Waller spoke to us about emotions and why they’re so underrated. As we grow up, we’re conditioned to hide our emotions, that they are harmful and they need to be suppressed. Have you ever felt so emotional that you had to leave the office incase someone sees you explode? Why are emotions considered unprofessional?

We should keeps our emotions closer to our work, your feelings matter, and they are what make you who you are.

Remember that sense of wonder and curiosity you had as a child? Instead of talking about growing up, we should be talking about hanging on to our childhood.

Stewart Scott-Curran: Designing how we design

“I’m wondering how many designers work on making the life of the comfortable be more comfortable?”

Stewart spoke to us about the power of design and the responsibilities of designers. Design has been elevated to a seat at the table where important decisions get made. Instead of working on the next hot startup with loads of VC funding, designers should be solving important problems. We should work on products that have an impact on the world.

Designers should be responsible for a diverse and collaborative design process. Don’t just design for people like you. Design with empathy, rationalise every decision you make.

Jess Brown: “The Creative” and other design myths

“Mastering t̶o̶o̶l̶s̶ communication is how to get good”

Jess presented a powerful argument against several design myths. There’s no such thing as a creative genius who has all the ideas, we’re all creative in different ways. The key as a designer is to involve more people in the design process, even people who don’t consider themselves creative.

You can’t just judge a design just by how it looks. If you don’t understand the context it was created under then you don’t understand the problem it’s solving.

Watch Jess and I discuss design workshops, creativity, and collaborative design processes.

Steve Colgan: Why did the policeman cross the road?

“I was the kid in school who asked too many questions”

Steve took us on a hilarious and fascinating journey through his 30-year career as a policeman in London. He founded Scotland Yard’s experimental Problem Solving Unit with the brief: to solve problems of crime and disorder that wouldn’t respond to traditional policing. They were told they could try anything as long as it wasn’t illegal, wasn’t immoral, wouldn’t bring the police into disrepute, and didn’t cost very much. It was an interesting insight into how you can use creative thinking and behavioural economics to solve common problems and make a real difference.

My favourite anecdote: The Problem Solving Unit were brought in to help reduce stabbings on a council estate in London. It took about a year of trying to be able to interview some of the kids because they didn’t trust the police one bit.

They needed to find a way to bring the community of the estate closer together. The only thing they could find everyone had in common; dogs. Everyone had a dog, so they organised a dog show. Just by bringing people together and giving them something in common to bond over they saw crime reduce drastically.

Joel Califa: Full Stack Anxiety

“Am I doing the right thing?”

Joel gave an in-depth presentation into Full Stack Anxiety: the pressure, and constant worry, as a generalist to learn everything relevant to your role. As someone who has moved between design, UX, and front-end development throughout my career, this talk punched me right in the stomach.

Some of this pressure is internal, there’s a natural tendency to chase trends. The pressure can also be external. Companies are eager to recruit someone who knows how to do everything, but it takes years to become an expert in something, and there’s only so much time to spend learning.

I’ve been spending this year trying to figure out my own direction and how to move forward, it was great to see Joel’s process for dealing with this compared to my own. He first took a big step back; and listed and organised everything he could possibly learn. It feels a bit like standing on the edge of a tall building looking down!


From here, you need to narrow down what you want to learn. Joel’s advice: ignore tools, they come and go. Look at what makes you happy. Don’t chase trends. You could spend your time learning the most recent Javascript framework or design tool but how long will they be of use before they are replaced by something else? Learn skills that are timeless, like great communication.

The after party

I’m not usually excited by conference after parties. Usually they’re in a dark, crowded bar with loud music and nothing to do but run down the bar tab.

The Hybrid after-party was a great example of how to cater for the needs of a diverse audience. There was a table with a box Lego inviting people to sit next to each other and build something.

There was table football, a table for card games, and a dance for if/when it was required. It’s another example of how much thought Zach and Laura put into the Hybrid experience 😄


The Bird

Ok. So this burger place was recommended on the Hybrid website, but being a little bit out of the way meant we almost didn’t get round to it. When I was speaking to some of the attendees on the second day, they said they had already been twice it was so good.

So we went before we flew back. Dear god it was amazing. I’ve been officially non-vegetarian/an active meat eater for a little over a year now. I think I get burgers now. I get it.

Also, they had decent craft beer including a Berlin-based brewery called BRLO.


Thanks Hybrid

Thanks again to Zach and Laura for creating such an unforgettable event. Thanks to all the speakers who really brought their A-game. Thanks to all the attendees for being smart, friendly, and fun!