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Biggerplate in Paris

I consider myself to be a very fortunate person for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is because my role at Biggerplate enables me to connect with and learn from fascinating people from all around the world who share our passion for mind mapping. Every now and then, I actually get to meet these people in person, and this is perhaps one of the best 'perks' of my job!

Recently, I had the absolute privilege to meet with several of our partners and members in Paris, and I thought it would be worth sharing a public thank you with these people for their time, as well as some of the overall themes that we discussed in our various discussions!

My first meeting was with the Frantz Saint-Vil from the Mindjet team in France. Suffice to say, anyone who can speak 5 languages immediately impresses me and my non-linguistic brain, but what impressed me more about Frantz was the energy, enthusiasm, and focus he and his team have on spreading the use of mapping throughout France! As a representative for their business, Mindjet could not ask for a better person!

Darting from one Parisian cafe to another (what a tough life...), I was delighted to meet for the first time Jerome Dard of "Cartes Sur Tables" - a great website that is making some fantastic contributions to the development of mind mapping expertise.
Jerome and his colleagues are working on some great ideas, and we're very excited to see what they get up to over the next few months!

I must confess to being a particuar fan of Jerome's "bistro mapping" concept, which seems to involve eating delicious French food, sampling nice wine, and scribbling a mind map as you do. It worked for me... I may conduct all my meetings in this way from now on!

My final meeting of the day was with long-time Biggerplate member and prolific map contributor Nicolas Stampf, who has shared numerous interesting and insightful maps on Biggerplate over the last three years. Nicolas is a real expert in the field of lean and systems thinking, and during our short time together, he not only gave me a fascinating insight into the links between his field of expertise and mind mapping, but also several ideas for some new features on Biggerplate that we have now started researching to build later in the year!

The following day, I took a short train ride out to meet with Mathieu Cottard from Signos, who have quickly established a fantastic reputation for quality map content, and genuine community engagement on Biggerplate.

Matthieu outlined a vision for Signos and the mind mapping world that is extremely ambitious and inspiring, and having seen and worked with Matt and his team for just a short time, I am 100% confident that they will deliver on their ambition! They are entrepreneurs in every sense of the word, and this is a small team working extremely hard to do things the right way - something I can really relate to, and something I admire in others!

Finally, it was my absolute pleasure to meet Frederic Veve for the first time, and the fact that our 'quick coffee' turned into a long lunch is a good indicator of how much I enjoyed his company and conversation!

Fred brings mind mapping to his clients with humour, originality, and a flair that is well... so very French!

Over many hours we discussed everything from the need for people to maintain real-world interaction (not just virtual) to the enduring stereotypes that entertain and misinform both the English and the French! His understanding of people and how they interact is perhaps his greatest skill, and I very much look forward to working closely with Fred on some exciting projects over the next year!

As I reflect on three extremely busy but highly productive days, I have come to a few simple conclusions that I'd like to share:

  1. The face-to-face meeting is not dead, nor should it be allowed to die at the hands of technology. Yes technology has made it easier for us to communicate from the comfort of our own home, but it should never lull us into thinking it can replace meeting in person. The learning, relationship building, and general enjoyment that can come from meeting like-minded and yet entirely unique people is absolutely huge, and simply cannot be replicated virtually, no matter how good the tech gets. It's that simple!

  2. The over-riding message that came from all my meetings is that France is experiencing very real growth in terms of mind mapping recognition and uptake, and this is likely to continue. If you are French speaker, then take a look at some of the excellent french language blogs listed in our web directory. There is some extremely good content from some of the most knowledgeable and forward-thinking experts in the mind mapping world.

  3. I need to personally improve my French speaking(!), and (more importantly) we need to improve how Biggerplate.com caters for non-english speakers. It is both naive and arrogant to assume everyone in the world speaks English well enough to use our site and get the full benefit from it, and if we are truly serious about becoming the best source of mind mapping content and community in the world, then we need to provide a better service to other languages. Biggerplate must be translated into other languages, and French is perhaps the top priority given the number of visitors we get from France. We are already working on this with some of our community members and partners, and it is a big undertaking, but it is something we are 100% committed to, and we hope to have a solution by the end of the year.

  4. Finally, there are incredible people working in the mind mapping world, and if you are not making the effort to engage with them, you really are missing out! There is a common collaborative mentality among mappers that means you will rarely be short of things to discuss, and I guarantee you will leave with fresh perspectives and new ideas! I'm convinced Biggerplate has a role to play in helping mappers meet in person more often and more easily, and if we can facilitate more real-world connections and meetings between mappers, I believe the entire mapping space will leap forward hugely. We've got a few things planned with this in mind, so keep an eye out. Our events directory is a good place to start, and you can expect to see some interesting development in this area over the next 12-18 months.

Finally, if you are a UK-based mapper and would like to get together for a coffee and a chat, just let me know! Our passion is understanding and accelerating the use of mind mapping software in business and education, and if you have any perspectives on this, then I would love to connect up.

As for mappers in other countries, I have a number of trips planned this year to meet with colleagues and partners all over the world, so if I'm coming to your part of the world and you'd like to meet - let's make it happen!

Thanks to all those who have taken time out of their busy lives to share their ideas with me, I very much appreciate it, and look forward to meeting many more of you soon!

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Liam is the founder of Biggerplate.com, and tries (with varying success) to write about key projects and progress at Biggerplate, as well as the wider world of mind mapping and our place within it.
London, UK Website