I first attended the Design Automation Conference (DAC), an annual trade show for electrical engineers, in the late 1980s. DAC is to engineers as Comicon is to cosplay fanatics. At that time, few people had PCs, fewer had Internet access, and the concept of a portable device involved putting an extra long cord onto your wall-mounted kitchen phone. DAC attendees have had front row seats to the information revolution–getting to see the birth of the semiconductor technologies that ultimately led to the devices that we use everyday.



Life is cyclical. Every year has twelve months and four seasons. We celebrate certain days like New Years, Valentines, Memorial, 4th of July, Labor, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We mirror that cycle in our professional lives with product life cycles, quarterly results, and weekly reports.

Storytellers use recurring events (StoryHow PitchDeck Card #18) to anchor stories. They’re used to establish patterns that storytellers can use either to set-up future problems or offer ways to solve them. They establish a historical foundation that can shape a story’s future. The best part is that audiences relate with recurring events, even bonding with them on an emotional level (Memorial Day) or a professional level (annual conferences).

The strength of recurring events comes from the fact that although they appear identical, the situation never is. No matter how many New Year’s Days we celebrate or quarterly earnings calls we attend, we enter each occurrence as a different person. We’re one year older or one quarter wiser, and thus we experience the event in a different way.



2018 marks DAC’s 55th anniversary. If I attend this year, it will be very different than when I attended in my thirties, forties, and now in my fifties. DAC is a constant recurring event in a rapidly changing world–a life preserver if you will, in in a turbulent ocean of change.

What are some of the recurring events in your industry? Do they lend themselves to being a story starting point? An ending point? A time to reflect? Perhaps you can build your next story around one?



Photo Credit: Delano, Jack, photographer. The merry-go-round at the Rutland Fair, Vermont. Rutland Vermont, 1941. Sept. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/fsa1998009101/PP/.