Inviting Change and Growth

Magdalina Atanassova, creative director digital at Kenes Group, and an alumni member of 20 in Their Twenties, traveled from Bulgaria to New Orleans to attend EduCon. Here she shares her experiences as a first-timer to the city and the event.

Author: Magdalina Atanassova       

Ryan Leak

After Ryan Leak’s keynote, Magdalina Atanassova wondered how many EduCon attendees would be moved to make immediate changes in their lives and careers. (Jacob Slaton Photography)

This trip to EduCon 2022 has been very much about trying out new things, staying curious, and letting the good times roll (Laissez le bon temps rouler — the perfectly fitting slogan of the city of New Orleans).

Ryan Leak’s keynote was the perfect kick-off. He shared a philosophy that is near and dear to my heart, like “just do it” and “don’t be afraid to fail.” Not novel concepts, yet so powerful and often overlooked. And while the audience left the room all charged up and excited, I couldn’t help but wonder — how many people will indeed leave the room and say, “Okay, I am making this change today, not tomorrow?”

PCMA 20 in Their Twenties alumni

Magdalina Atanassova

I imagine a world where people chase their dreams, not settling for second best. Right before Leak’s session, I was sitting at the NextUp Breakfast with my fellow 20 in Their Twenties alumni, and everyone around the table shared their passions — passions they planned to pursue only once they retire. I hope everyone who sat around that table feels more confident to re-think their choices and will just take action today.

That’s the power of events: sparking that fire and giving the audience the tools to make the desired change. However, each of us in the audience has to decide: How engaged do I want to be today? How much do I care of the experience of others? Can I stay curious and approach everything with an open heart and mind? Because the event is buzzing with possibilities, just waiting for an open mind to plant a seed.

To this point I have truly enjoyed the intimacy of EduCon, and that so many sessions tap into the experience of those in the room. I am grateful to the people who opened up and shared their learnings and allowed us all to grow with them. I enjoyed the quirky activations and ideas, such as the profiles Storycraft Lab put together, as well as painting and getting my palm read while listening to local musicians play live music. Those moments gave me a connection to New Orleans, and made the in-between sessions fun, keeping me fully present, opening me to more serendipitous moments and people to connect with.

“What’s next?” would be my question to all participants. As for me, it is to make sure the learnings don’t stay in my notes, but I take action today. Just a 1-percent change needed, after all, to make that big leap in the right direction.

RELATED: 20 in Their Twenties Class of 2015: Where Are They Now?