The Five Things I Learned at Blog Indiana 2012
I’m starting this post with a warning: you will not find anything particularly new or inspiring in the following 500 words. Especially if this was your fourth or fifth Blog Indiana conference, or you don’t particularly care about conferences in general. I am going to reflect on an experience shared with a few hundred other like-minded individuals, who have likely already shared this experience on a blog (because it was a conference called Blog Indiana). I’ve even read one or two good recap posts already.
Warnings set aside, however, I feel compelled to share some of what I learned at this year’s conference because I was there in a rather unique position as both a first time attendee and a first time speaker. I had a blast wearing both hats, and I left the conference reinvigorated to go out there and command the web like an angry tyrannosaurus commands a tiny little electric jeep outside a powered down electric fence. Here’s why:
5. Everyone Loves a Cat Meme
I went to ten sessions at Blog Indiana, and a vast majority of those involved cats in some way. Doug Karr talked about breading cats. Allison Carter and Lorraine Ball made sure to reference their office cats. Muhammad Yasin compared the attendees’ employers to the Office Cat. Hell, cats were a major pillar of my own presentation. I’m not sure there’s a hugely valuable lesson here, but it’s encouraging to me to know I’m not the only one wasting time with lolcats at work.
4. Learning is Fun When You Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
…Along those lines, it should come as no surprise that the best presentations I attended were those given by people who were having fun with what they were doing. I went into my first year speaking at this conference absolutely terrified – that I wouldn’t be serious or insightful enough, that other presenters would make me look like the child I am. Then Robby Slaughter made up a nonsense keyword for his talk. Kevin Mullett declared himself an industry expert on banana milkshakes. Erik Deckers shared crude jokes about death and the hokey pokey. The amazing part of all this? I learned more from these three sessions than any number of blog posts I’ve read in the last year combined.
3. Honesty Goes a Long Way
Before Blog Indiana, I was fortunate enough to be a part of one of Randy Clark‘s famous friend ups, so I went into his session expecting to see a few familiar faces. It blew my mind to realize that in the year or so since I first met these people, many of them have become familiar faces, trusted friends, and invaluable mentors. In the session, we did a practice run of a friend up, in which my table wrestled with looking each other in the eye and just simply and honestly communicating what we needed help with. Guess what? I’ve got a few meetings set up as a result of that conversation. Honesty rules, and Randy is a genius.
2. Indianapolis is a Super Supportive Community
In that same vein, perhaps the most powerful bit of knowledge I walked away with was this: Indy is full of amazing, supportive people. Randy‘s friend up model works because the people in this community are seriously interested in helping each other out and making this city a great place to live and do business. I was in awe of the support the conference gave to Allison as she gave the first keynote presentation. I was humbled by the people who came out to my session and encouraged me and helped me have a blast with it. I was encouraged to meet so many people who love what they do and want to connect with others who feel the same. Indianapolis, you’re a dear.
1. It’s Time to Be Me
As a writer and an entrepreneur, one of the hardest parts of my job is defining (and separating) my company and myself. The fact that my company is named Metonymy Media only makes matters worse. I spend a lot of time apologizing for the long, weird name, and I often consider changing it. After listening to Lorraine‘s presentation about her struggles with this same issue, and after connecting with so many people who knew my geeky past and why Metonymy is the perfect name for me, I left with a mission: Stop apologizing for this name and start defining it.
I suppose the best way to close this post is with a massive “thank you” to everyone who taught me, encouraged me, inspired me, and worked hard to make this conference an amazing time (that includes you, Noah and Shawn). If you haven’t been in the past, I can’t stress how much you need to change that next year. In the meantime, I’ll invite others to add to this list: