Portable picks: our sources of inspiration

Let's face it, the year is almost over. With the holiday season on our doorsteps, now is a great time to plan ahead and put in place steps to keep you inspired and motivated throughout the new year. To make this easier our team has put our heads together and written an article about the events this year that have inspired us and that we are already looking forward to next year.

Would you call yourself an inspired employee? It can be a hard question to answer, and for many people the level to which you feel inspired changes throughout the year. And inspiration doesn't only need to come from your work, it can also be gained through attending events that challenge you, prompt you to think differently and are simply enjoyable.

It may seem like a pointless question to ask why it is important to be an inspired employee. Unless you've had truly meaningful opportunities since you first started in the workforce, then it's likely you know how difficult it is to get work done when it feels unfulfilling. But the impact this demotivation has on your productivity is significant. In a study conducted by Harvard Law Review, they surveyed over 300 executives worldwide to assess the relative productivity of dissatisfied, satisfied, engaged and inspired employees. Their findings showed that if satisfied employees are considered 100% productive, then engaged employees are 144% productive and inspired employees would sit well above this at 225% — that means that an inspired employee is more than twice as productive as one who is just satisfied with their job.

But finding sources of inspiration to get to these high levels of productivity can be difficult. The busy nature of the modern workplace doesn't leave much room for finding new and exciting events to attend. That is why, with the hope of making things a little easier, our team at Portable have put their heads together to come up with a list of events we attended in 2019 and explain what it was about them that inspired us.

The election and inaugural meeting of The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria

It's been a long road and one that is not at its end yet, but in February this year the Aboriginal Representative Body was named the First People's Assembly of Victoria and on the 11th and 12th of December the inaugural first meeting of the Assembly in Victorian Parliament was held.

If you are looking for inspiration, the work of the First Nations People to gain self-determination and advance the Treaty process cannot be overlooked.

Where to find them in 2020: The best way to find out more and keep up to date with events that support the First Nations People is to go to the First Peoples Vic website or their facebook page.

'After 230 years of strength and resistance, Victorian Aboriginal communities are the first to enter into Treaty discussions. Our work at Portable focuses heavily on justice, and there is no justice without First Nations justice' — Peter Roper

The Melbourne Business Analytics Conference

This is an annual conference that takes place in Melbourne and offers the opportunity for you to learn from leading Australian and global Analytics academics, leaders and practitioners. Being challenged and made to think about things differently is a great source of inspiration and you're likely to find this here. With over 900+ board members, senior executives, and industry professionals coming together to discuss the transformation of decision making through advanced analytics, Data Science, Big Data, Machine Learning, AI and leadership in Data and Analytics, you are sure to learn something new by engaging with this community.

Where to find them in 2020: The Melbourne Business Analytics Conference will take place on the 16th of July 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.

'There were about 2000 people at the conference in 2019 which shows that there's a strong community across Melbourne when it comes to data and design. On top of the that, the Recode Conferences (watch them online) are always a key part of my calendar' — Andrew Apostola

Worldwide Student-led Climate Strikes

This movement started with a single child, Greta Thunberg, taking a stand against government inaction to stop climate change with her 'Fridays for Future' protests in Sweden. It became a worldwide movement, with over 800 protests planned across the US, over 200 events in the UK, and here in Australia it was reported that 300,000 people had gathered at rallies throughout the country.

These events were hard to miss, and for good reason. Having students stand up and lead the charge in calling out the inaction against climate change was inspiring. For many this was their first time participating in a strike of any kind, and the peaceful protest about safeguarding the planet's future was definitely a sight to see.

Where to find them in 2020:  With inaction against climate change still an issue it is unlikely these protests will end. Events can be seen on the Global Climate Strike website, which also contains suggestions for keeping up the fight in other ways.

'It was really inspiring to see people from different walks of life coming together for a common cause... it reiterated to me the passion I have for getting behind causes that do good, and how design is one of the primary tools we can use to create change' — Lauren Manning

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

It's likely you've heard of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra if you're in Australia. As one of the country's leading orchestras with a myriad of performances throughout the year, they continue towards their vision: to enrich people’s lives through meaningful musical experiences.

Music is a source of inspiration for so many people, and has even been shown to facilitate divergent thinking. It's also such an easy thing to bring into your life. Whether you get to a concert or just increase your exposure to different musical genres, your creative side will thank you for giving it some extra encouragement.

Where to find them in 2020: The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra have events on constantly throughout the year — whether you would like to hear them recreate the score of your favourite movie, play a traditional recital or listen to them while outdoors with a picnic, they have an option for you.

'Classical music is great for tripping out on cosmic ideas. Just a reminder that music is a powerful way to push along our thinking' — Max Kalis

MelbJS Meet-up

MelbJS (Melbourne Java Script) are a group that holds regular meet-ups to discuss all things javascript. If you haven't got a toe in the coding world then these names might be a bit new to you, but in the past they have held meet-ups for subjects like 'Ember and the Future of the web', 'Building web apps with ClojureScript' and 'Networking in Chrome'.

Whether you can find the time to get to one of their meet-ups in person or want to watch their past talks online, there is plenty to explore from this group. And whether you know much about code or not, having a closer insight into something that our everyday life relies on so heavily is always a great way to look at things from a new perspective.

Where to find them in 2020: The best place to find out about MelbJS Meet-ups is by following their twitter account.

'I attended a talk they held on how to consider the environment when making software development decisions. This was very insightful and made me think about software in a different way' — Debra Cupitt


Altacon is the premier legaltech conference for Australia, bringing together thought leaders from across the industry as well as the latest and greatest in legaltech. Hosted by the Australian Legal Technology Association, the 2019 program was filled with presentations, from their TED-style rapid talks to the pitch competition which saw legal innovators take the stage.

Whether or not your work is involved with the law or technology, finding out what kinds of innovation we are on the cusp of and interacting with experienced lawyers, educators and technologists is worth doing— and with far-reaching subjects like law and technology, you are sure to find a connection to your knowledge base that will help to inspire you.

Where to find them in 2020: Altacon will be taking place again in 2020, on the 29th of May in Sydney, Australia.

'At Altacon I got to hear about what's new in legal technology, see live demos from new services like Josef and Anika, and watch new startups pitch their proposals live' — Luke Thomas


Now this is an event that has value for a whole range of people. Covering design, strategy, ethics and futures there is no shortage of things to talk about at this conference and SDNOW tackles these subjects head on. As an Asia-Pacific conference, they brought an impressive lineup of speakers to their 2019 event and definitely met the brief of pushing the boundaries of Service Design, Strategic Design and other emerging practices.

We recently released an article on our involvement in this conference running a break out session at the Portable office, but don't let that take away from our recommendation. Beyond our company's involvement, many of our team are repeat attenders and were happy to recommend this conference as a source of inspiration.

Where to find them in 2020: the conference dates for 2020 are yet to be announced, but keep an eye on their website and you won't miss out.

'SDNOW4 was a wake up call for the seriousness of the problems facing designers in today’s world, and the weight of ethical responsibility on our shoulders as we work towards solving them' — Adam Corcoran

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