Scott Berkun

Pantsless in Seattle: A Few Words With Scott Berkun

With our first shows of the year fast approaching, we took a few minutes to put a few questions to one of our speakers, Seattle’s own Scott Berkun. Scott is a bestselling book author, a noted media contributor, and a veteran of both Microsoft and WordPress.


You’re a pretty in-demand guy, writing for major outlets and speaking all over the world. How did that come to pass?

Never do important things by half. That’s good advice. If you bet everything on something, your focus improves your odds of success. I quit my job to try and become a writer and speaker a decade ago and since then I’ve written five books, 1500 blog posts, and, have given hundreds of lectures. Whatever talent I have is focused on this one set of activities, and if I had to pick one advantage, that’s it. I’m all in.

According to your latest book, you went a Year Without Pants. What was that like? Breezy?

I can say wardrobe shopping was much simpler. WordPress.com embodies so much of what we all know work should be like, and I’m happy the book has helped many organizations question their flawed assumptions about productivity and the role of management.

You’ll be speaking at AEA Seattle, which is your home town. What do you love most about living in Seattle?

I’m working on a film about my fair city called We Make Seattle and it’s about the amazing creative community we have here. From musicians, to entrepreneurs, to chefs, to writers, there is no place in the world as vibrant and collaborative. It’s an amazing city for anyone with ideas and passion for making them real.

Your talk is all about bringing ideas you learn back to the office. What keeps people from using the skills that they learn at conferences?

Leaving a conference is like jumping out of an airplane: no one at your office was there and you’re all alone with all of these new ideas and feelings. You have to be an evangelist and few people have any training or coaching in how to do that without pissing people off. My talk is about giving people a parachute for how to glide back to work and bring some of their new ideas with them.

How can designers and front-end developers feel more empowered to do their jobs?

Take responsibility. Organize the meeting. Lead the discussion. Own the process. Be the first to be generous and make an ally. Many people are on the sidelines simply because they haven’t chosen to get in the game. If you truly feel your environment prevents you from being empowered, respect yourself enough to find a job in a place where empowerment is given generously.

Scott Berkun will present his hour-long talk “How To Champion Ideas Back At Work” at An Event Apart in Seattle, Boston, and several other events throughout 2014. Every show will feature twelve top-notch speakers like Scott in two concentrated days of web greatness. Don’t wait to claim a spot—register today!