Having missed Veronica Erb's presentation at the IA Summit because of a scheduling conflict I was determined not to miss it a second time. My persistence was rewarded with a fantastic overview of how user researchers can use the tools learned on the job to look inwards and better themselves. Walking out of the auditorium I wanted to immediately put many of the ideas into practice.
A practical talk focused more on actionable things that we can do to develop our own careers. Loosely gathered into three categories - gather, experiment, and customize - Veronica provided several personal examples of how she tries to improve her own listening and research skills.
"Gathering" looks at ways in which we can learn from our mistakes and those of others. The key to success lies in avoiding judgement. Everyone has a different approach; we should respect that even as we try to understand how it can help us. "Experiment" enumerated several methods for practicing. The most important to me was to remember to run a pilot. Get the bugs out before you bring in your actual users or the first person will wind up being a pilot anyways.
A talk like this is too good to be given only once. If you are lucky enough to catch it again I would recommend making time. If not then at the very least set aside 20 minutes to watch the video during some downtime. It will be time well invested.