by Daniel Deutsch
What I’ve learned hosting Meetups in 2017 — and why I’m looking forward to 2018.
As 2017 comes to an end, it’s time to reflect on the non-profit work I have done.
As soon as I learned the basics of programming with the help of freeCodeCamp, I was eager to give something back. I figured out that I could probably do the most by strengthening the local group of the organization. I wanted to help individuals on the same path, and provide a framework of exchange for these groups of people.
Even though I am doing more than just organizing meetups, I want to focus on the freeCodeCamp Local Meetup in Vienna in this article.
“Consuming culture is never as rewarding as producing it.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
A short introduction to our meetup
Robert Axelsen had the courage and took the initiative to start the local group in Vienna. Robert is an amazing human being and we immediately connected. Since the start of this year, we’ve both organized the meetup and enjoyed all highs and lows of organizing.
The meetup itself currently focuses around collaborative coding. We talk about programming, the presentation of projects, and updates and news from the development world.
Why organizing events is great
I believe that managing an organization is one of the most rewarding you can do. Not because of the feedback you receive, but rather because of the complexity of the task itself.
When organizing meetups and events, one must not only handle event-specific tasks such as preparing locations, sponsors, talks, and content. You must also stay in contact with all the people involved in the process and get yourself into the discussed topics as well.
The complexity itself demands a lot from the organizer and schools him on many aspects of life. As I see it, it is the perfect preparation for starting a business. Although it can be hard to fit into the day-to-day schedule, it is perfectly doable when the basics of time management are applied.
Another reason organizing events is great is because it forces you to increase your self-awareness, which is key in life in general. Knowing who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how other people perceive you is very important to develop a better self.
Because how can you improve yourself if you are delusional about yourself?
A take on non-profit systems and entities
During the journey, it seemed necessary to formalize the work through a non-profit entity. We made this decision after careful due diligence. Setting up a business-like structure involves many new aspects in organizing, such as correspondence with local authorities, being aware of legal pitfalls (especially regarding tax law and competition law), and being liable to certain actions.
It introduces and demands a new field of competence and expertise but also allows for additional rewards. Some of them are:
- Tax exemptions
- Free use of various software, products, and services
- The possibility of official subsidies
- After the setup: a much more organized way of handling business-like transactions
The takeaway here is to carefully audit the possible advantages and disadvantages and always calculate the hidden costs.
What I have learned on the social side, and some thoughts on group work
I have learned that people are really different. We have a variety of different people from different countries, different fields of expertise, different social backgrounds, and of course with different personalities.
That said, I think one of the most important abilities someone can have is to be flexible and adaptable to any situation. And that’s another reason why organizing meetups is great — because you learn to be more and more flexible with people.
I really started to understand this during a coding workshop we did. We wanted to keep it as flexible as possible to provide a good experience for all attendees. And even though we expected it could be difficult, we witnessed astonishing results.
In the workshop, we decided to divide the attendees into three different groups and encouraged them to develop a project in a collaborative effort. Only one group was able to form a coherent unit with the ability to get into a flow and build a great project.
I think what makes a good leader is being able to identify strengths and give people social boundaries to allow them to unfold their potential. Every time a group is not able to get a workflow going it is either because:
- there is no leading authority in the group, or
- the leading authority is not competent enough.
Randomly forming groups of people neglects the personality traits of each individual and is therefore prone to failure. There has to be an individual who is capable of taking on the lead, who is also competent enough to do it successfully.
In a collection of random people, the only way to increase the possibility of a successful outcome is to try to arrange the inhomogeneity of the group as high as possible, so that natural grouping can occur freely.
Stats and impressions
Photography by Slaven Fanfani
The future of events I organize
I am very excited for the future. There are many ways to contribute to society. When organizing events and meetups, is not really about showing off skills or projects or providing entertainment. For me it as a way to discover the skills and potential of people and empower them. It is amazing how many people aren’t aware of their own potential.
So the goal for 2018 would be to increase self-awareness in people and help them harness their own power.
I believe that in the future there will be a very large demand for people who know how to code. The future belongs to those who can control the machines which will ultimately direct our lives.
More about the events and organization
- freeCodeCamp Vienna on meetup
- freeCodeCamp Vienna on Github and its homepage
- DevelopersRising on Github and its homepage
Thanks for reading my article! Feel free to leave any feedback you may have.