From overcoming distraction to dialing into your creativity, we’re sharing six key takeaways from Nir Eyal’s and Natalie Nixon’s keynote sessions at The Future of Event Experience.
The Future of Event Experience kicked off with an energetic dance performance, filmed in Central Park, New York City, followed by an inspiring keynote speech from our Co-Founder and CEO, Eran Ben-Shushan. Eran shared Bizzabo’s vision for where the events industry is going and how Event Experience Leaders can be successful in 2022 and beyond.
We also welcomed two more powerhouse speakers who shared their expertise on topics relating to both Event Orchestration and Moments Creation:
- Nir Eyal, best-selling writer, speaker, and investor, spoke about leveling up your Event Orchestration by becoming indistractable (a term he coined).
- Natalie Nixon, PhD, creative strategist, and President at Figure 8 Thinking, shared tips on driving Moments Creation by unlocking your creativity.
Read on for our six key takeaways from Eyal’s and Nixon’s sessions at The Future of Event Experience.
Indistractable: How To Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life With Nir Eyal
Event planners, meet your new superpower: being indistractable. No, “indistractable” is not technically in the dictionary. But take it from Eyal, the guy who wrote the book on becoming indistractable: You’re going to be hearing this word a lot more.
Being indistractable, what Nir calls, “The skill of the century,” centers on managing — and overcoming — ever-increasing work and life distractions. In this captivating keynote, Eyal shared the antidote to distraction.
1. The Opposite of Distraction Isn’t Focus — It’s Traction
The first step in becoming indistractable is understanding what distraction is and is not. Oftentimes, the key to overcoming an obstacle is to strive for the exact opposite. But that tactic is only helpful if you know exactly what the opposite is. Otherwise, you’re aiming for the wrong target.
In the case of distraction, the answer lies in the root of the word; if you take off the prefix dis-, you reveal its opposite: traction. Distraction and traction are both actions we take; neither happens to us. The difference is that distraction pulls you further away from your goals and traction pulls you closer to your goals.
Distraction can sometimes be difficult to spot. For example, just because something is work related doesn’t mean it’s not a distraction. If you set the intention to work on a big project, but first you check your email and scroll through Slack, Eyal said, that’s actually a more dangerous form of distraction because you don’t even recognize that it’s a distraction.
“We sometimes do easy and urgent work instead of important and hard work at the expense of our lives and career.”
Becoming indistractable starts with choosing acts of traction. When you do something you say you’re going to do, that’s an act of traction. Just as you can establish trust with others by sticking to your word, by showing up for yourself and being indistractable, you become more self-confident.
2. Distractions Start From the Desire To Escape an Uncomfortable Emotional State
Understanding what causes distraction is the second step in becoming indistractable. Let’s start by debunking the most popular myth: Distraction is caused by factors outside of our control.
The truth? External triggers are only responsible for distraction 10% of the time, according to Eyal. The other 90% of distractions are caused by our own internal desire to escape an uncomfortable emotional state.
Essentially, we distract ourselves to avoid feeling things we don’t want to feel, such as boredom, stress, and uncertainty. Although it can be difficult to face these feelings, Eyal said, it’s important to note that distraction is not a moral failing. Becoming indistractable is about removing blame from the equation and looking at the issue logically. We must understand what we are running away from in order to master our internal triggers.
“If you don’t master your internal triggers, they will master you.”
There are three steps to understanding and overcoming our internal triggers:
- Note the sensation: Pause for a moment and note the emotion that precedes distraction. Then, put pen to paper to understand and recognize the uncomfortable feelings.
- Get curious: Think deeply about how you want to respond to the feeling. There are often two routes people take: blaming and shaming. When they get distracted, blamers place responsibility on outside factors while shamers assume something is wrong with them, such as their attention span or time management skills. But neither of these is effective. The key to becoming indistractable is to be a claimer: someone who claims responsibility for these feelings as well as how they respond to them.
- Surf the urge: Acknowledge that your uncomfortable emotional state is exactly that — a state. Just like a wave, the sensation is transitory and will subside. Embrace the 10-minute rule and give in to distraction for 10 minutes. Sit with the sensation, get curious about it, and then get back to the task at hand.
“By telling yourself ‘not yet’ instead of ‘no,’ you practice self-compassion and teach yourself that you do have the self-efficacy to delay distraction.”
3. To-do Lists Are the Worst Thing You Can Do for Your Productivity
Do you find yourself starting your day with a few “to-dos” and ending the day with a laundry list of tasks you didn’t get around to? To-do lists are notorious for leaving you feeling bad about all the tasks you didn’t accomplish.
But the problem is not your motivation or time management, the problem is that to-do lists have no constraints; you can always add more. Rather, plan your day using timeboxing.
“If you don’t schedule your day, someone else will.”
Timeboxing focuses on planning your time — not your tasks. Time and attention are inputs and tasks are outputs, and you can only truly control the input. By planning your day with timeboxing, you lower the likelihood of external sources, such as your boss, your kids, social media, email, and more, taking control of your time.
“Plan the time — not the output”
According to Eyal, studies show that people who measure themselves on the single metric of doing exactly what they said they were going to do, for as long as they said they would do it, without distraction actually accomplish more in a day. Replace your to-do list with timeboxing and you will be well on your way to becoming indistractable.
The Creative Core of Event Experiences With Natalie Nixon
We know that creativity is a powerful skill to have, but, oftentimes, event planners feel like they don’t have the time, space, or guidance to truly tap into their creative potential. But the most meaningful event experiences embed creativity at their core. So how can organizers become more in tune with their creative side to design more compelling event experiences?
In this engaging talk, Nixon shared her own definition of creativity and specific tips to help Event Experience Leaders start with creativity and innovation.
4. Creativity Is Our Ability To Toggle Between Wonder and Rigor To Solve Problems and Create Novel Value
For Nixon, creativity is our ability to toggle between wonder and rigor to solve problems and create novel value. The key word is toggle. The ability to toggle really means being in a constant state of flexibility, which Event Experience Leaders are already great at.
If creativity is simply being able to move between the states of wonder and rigor, then organizers are, by nature, creative people and only need the time and space to tap into this creativity they already have.
Wonder relates to curiosity, questioning, and inquisitiveness. According to Socrates, “Wisdom begins in wonder.” Knowledge doesn’t start with answers, it starts with questions. However, it’s human nature to seek out answers. Our brains drive us to look for resolutions. We like suspense and surprise because we enjoy the closure that comes after. To unleash your creative potential, try valuing questions over answers and look for wonder before rushing to conclusions.
Rigor, on the other hand, relates to commitment and discipline. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Every obstacle is destroyed through rigor.” In a state of rigor, we become unrelenting in achieving whatever it is we set out to achieve — or whatever problem we aim to solve.
By constantly moving between curiosity and wonder and a relentless pursuit of answers, we can better solve problems and create valuable event experiences that amplify purpose, delight, and “aha!” moments for participants.
5. Creativity Is the Throughline Between Productivity, Technology, and Experience
Creativity happens when productivity, technology, and experience are aligned.
- Productivity: Nixon said that creativity is a productivity play, meaning creativity and productivity are two parts of a whole. Just like any other skill, creativity is a core competency that can be continuously refined by being productive. As Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
- Technology: Technology allows us to do things we never thought possible and has limitless applications. Creativity is amplified by technology, which arms people with the tools and means to bring any vision to life. Creativity and technology are symbiotic because creativity plays a big part in the ideation and execution of new technologies.
- Experience: If creativity is a muscle that can be trained and strengthened, then the more we exercise our creativity, the better we’ll get. Therefore, experience is an essential precondition for creativity. Experience can come from many different places, and the more differentiated your experiences, the more inspiration you have to draw from.
6. There Are 3 Major Shifts We Must Make To Become More Creative
Most difficult things can be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces. The same goes for becoming more creative. To make it easier to tap into creativity, there are three major shifts we must make.
The first shift is going from certainty to inquiry and curiosity. The reason curiosity is so important, Nixon said, is because it’s the precursor to empathy. Empathy is a valuable human skill and it’s going to become increasingly crucial to success. In fact, according to Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist Frederik Pferdt, “Empathy is the skill of the future.”
But before we can empathize, we need to be curious. Curiosity primes us to seek questions, rather than answers, and, according to Ray Dalio at investment management firm Bridgewater Associates, “Great questions are a much better indicator of future success than great answers.”
The second shift requires moving from planning to improvisation, which probably seems counterintuitive to an Event Experience Leader. After all, you’re not an event improviser, you’re an event planner. But the fact is that plans are fiction because they have yet to happen. By realizing this, organizers can be more adaptive.
Improv is something we all do every day without realizing it. Children create forts out of pillows and blankets, and adults hack their dinner by improvising with what’s in the pantry. The best way to make the shift to improv is by embracing prototyping and being okay with being a “clumsy student” who is ready to build, test, learn, and iterate.
The third shift is from rationale to intuition. Contrary to popular belief, intuition is not an unexplainable ability to guess well; it’s actually rooted in patterns. Rather than using reasoning or logic to come to a rational choice, leaning into intuition will produce even better results.
The good news is that intuition is not something you either have or don’t have; it’s a skill that we can refine through practice. Start documenting times when you followed your “intuition” or gut feeling, and over time you’ll see patterns emerge that will help you become more intuitive.
Get Started: Learn How To Be Indistractably Creative
Natalie Nixon and Nir Eyal brought powerful insights to The Future of Event Experience. These takeaways are just the beginning of the powerful message they have to share. Learn to harness the power of indistractability and master the art of creative thinking by watching the recordings on-demand.