Podcamp Boston 6 Day 1
Another year, another Podcamp Boston! Although I hadn’t planned on attending this year, I’ve been on a mission to get out of the basement office and start socializing! I used to get intimidated by these kind of conferences, but over the years I’ve been able to put aside the anxiety of not being “cool” or “outgoing”. Now, I just go to see what happens, letting relationships build naturally over the years. It helps that I also know a few more people in the local scene.
Social Media has never been a top-of-mind topic for me, and so I was fully prepared to spend the the day hanging out in the lounge to work and chat. However, I sensed that the Social Media scene has also backed away from the magic-bullet approach of recent years to embrace one of 2011′s ongoing themes: do the work. I ended up attending a session for every slot during the day:
As I have been thinking a lot about business, I thought I would attend Business 101 for Nerds with Whitney Hoffman. It was a little more basic than what I was looking for, so I invoked the law of two feet and checked out The 7 Deadly Sins of Digital Business Innovation hosted by David Wieneke. I caught the tail end of a discussion of social media adoption by old-school business leaders, and I was impressed by the timbre of Wieneke’s reasoned observations. He has a session on Sunday as well, so I think I’ll watch that one from the beginning.
Next, I dropped in on Selling Out with David Cutler. This was a good general overview of the mentality and focus one needs for making sales from a positive perspective. Much of this I was already familiar with, and toward the end I asked a question about how people who didn’t share a positive outlook toward sales could get over it. My tone was, perhaps, a bit negative. To his credit, Cutler suggested that I find something that I could get excited about, but also called me on my just not wanting to deal with it. This is true! The larger issue, I think, is that there is a disparity in attitude between people who love to sell and people who would rather be making, and I suspect it is a disconnect of personality and motivation. Packaging the sales mentality with maker philosophy would be, I think, a wonderful thing to figure out. I believe he mentioned something about a book for “right-brained business”, which might be The Right Brain Business Plan. I’ve not read it, but I’ll add it to my pile. (UPDATE: @adjtech commented me today that she had mentioned this book during our conversation in the networking/cookie hour afterwards. It looks like a cool book!)
I got a bit of the answer to the “maker vs salesman” motivation conundrum in the next session, Breaking the Bell Curve: Standing out in a Sea of Same, which I attended because I saw a slide from The Bachelor from the outside of the room that promised something funny. I’m glad I went; this was a highly-engaging and entertaining presentation by Tamsen McMahon, that filled in the emotional gap I still had from the previous session. My takeaway was that perhaps I was wrong to NOT consider my existing audience that would, I had thought, lock me into a role that limited my freedom of expression. After listening to McMahon’s talk, my takeaway was that being myself, expressed in the terms other people understand was an acceptable balance. Understanding isn’t necessarily categorization or labeling or parameter setting. It reminded me of what my Wave buddy Colleen has described as You, Amplified, boiled down into something that would fit tersely inside a fortune cookie.
After lunch, I checked out Smarter Social Media Monitoring with Tom Webster. This was an eye-opening presentation on the possibilities of using Social Media monitoring to discover and ask substantive questions. He presented a continuum of evolution, from monkey-like click counting to more evolved methods of determining direct/indirect behaviors. This was a highly insightful and engaging presentation, and managed to be funny and irreverent in just the right places.
Closing out the day, I attended Chris Penn’s session Designing Social Media Influence, which presented a structured look at the various elements that comprise “influence” in social media. This was an informative overview, and he mentioned a book called Influence that to explains the various means by which we are persuaded. I love that kind of stuff, so I immediately Kindled it. Apparently Penn is something of a gun and MMORPG enthusiast too. Intriguing!
Overall, it was a thought-provoking day. I also met a few people and caught up with friends while surviving one of the most humid days I’ve ever experienced in Boston. And personally speaking, it was good to be reminded that there are intelligent, nerdy, insightful peeps all around me. I just gotta reach out and give a little more.
Looking forward to Day 2!