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Commonwealth Club San Francisco

Professional Development: How I Grew My Brain in 1 Hour

Professional development is all about learning about yourself and the world around you. I decided that a trip to The Commonwealth Club would definitely be fitting for my goal of growing professionally.

The nonprofit organization brings together the greatest minds for the purpose of educating the public, and there's always something for everyone. For example, upcoming speakers include people from all walks of life — from Hillary Clinton to a prison staff member who assesses whether a criminal is a psychopath to Bay Area food bloggers.

When I entered the club, I walked into a room splashed in navy blue. The off-white marble walls and oak bookshelves lent a very distinguished air to the place — perfectly suited for an intellectual forum. I felt like I was gaining privileged access to a secret society, and I was very pumped.

To find out what I learned and whether I'll be back, read on.

Last night's guest speaker, Mary Houghton, the cofounder of a community development bank called ShoreBank, talked at length about microfinancing, a very hot topic right now. Microfinancing basically provides the underprivileged with financial services such as loans and savings accounts. The belief is that it is a way to lift their customers out from poverty. During her talk, it was nice to notice that I wasn't the only one eagerly soaking up Mary's insights like a sponge. There were a ton of fellow "nerds" around me, all ears and eyes glued to the stage.

I would say one of the best parts of these talks are the Q and A sessions. They are a chance for you to tap into the brains of those you won't normally get access to. When I walked out the door, my head was buzzing with new knowledge of environmental banks and big banks dabbling in microfinancing. On my way out, a friendly volunteer asked if I enjoyed it. I replied with an enthusiastic yes and added that I was in fact going to come back again the following week. Evan and Biz from Twitter are going to speak next Monday, and that one's definitely going to be a doozy!

Like my stories so far? Why not join me on my journey of professional development! To keep it fun and mix things up for you readers, I'm going to attempt to do a different activity every week.

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