It’s 4am and can’t sleep, head full from 2 days of packed content and networking at Marty Rozmanith’s WordPress Direct University figured I’d share some of what’s going through my head on a personal level, and a few take away tips, but mostly the former, so consider yourself warned.
First up, it’s 4am. I’m sitting crosslegged in the sofa at the Hostel, with a hint of the cool san diego breeze coming rhouhg the 4 giant windows. The fun gaslamp district is a ghosttown, contrast this to 9pm-1:30pm when it feels like Mardi-Gras. The ONLY reason it stops at 2amish is city mandated that EVERTHING close round 2amish. I’m pretty sure that even the clubs at the hotel (e.g. the Hard Rock Hotel ) are subject to this curfew. Of course that just means the party moves to the rooms. I’m actually greatful for the silence as I can get quite hypersenstive to
To be honest conferences are a giant pain in the ass,
doesn’t matter how good the last one was, it’s hard for me to get out of the house, they almost always happen at the worst times.
First I have to drive which if you’re familiar at all with Los Angeles is generally more like synchronized braking. I structure my life so I don’ t have to drive as I’m convinced that next to TV that driving is the biggest time sink. Google maps with traffic does it’s best and recently got better by showing intown traffic, It typically takes about 45 minutes to even get to the freeway and that is plenty of time for the roadsystem to turn into a sea of life sucking red lights that mean your trip time may be doubled and your time sleeping halved.
Being the ace strategician, Generally between last minute preps and road dred, aim for 7pm and manage to put out of the house round 2am…
Of course once I’ve left the habit trail 😉 it’s easy to get commited and enjoy. Smooth Driving is very meditative, all sorts of thoughts percolate up that you don’t normally get to see.
Second, as is typical for most conferences I go to, I usually get about 8-12 hours of sleep spread across 3-4 nights, AND I have to use an alarm clock. WTF is this internet lifestyle?!? I don’t wear a watch, don’t have any clocks in my room other than those embedded into the device. For the most part I operate outside of time by design, as freedom is important to me and it’s just how I operate best. e.g. if the team is cracking or ideastorm, I work all night I do, if I have to sleep 15 hours I do.
Conferences are like mini job, you have to conform to a schedule, have to sit in the chair, pay attention (else why did you come), and get to and from lunch/break on time else miss something. WPDirect starts at 9am! Damn those east coaster boston peeps didn’t they see the sign “entering california?!” 🙂 But to augment caffiene, Marty has been the opening speaker both days and has a deeply knowledgeable brain and a gift for conveying complex information and is almost registers -10% hype and bullshit meter. Which makes it totally worth it.
What I like about these conferences that are organized around a real product/service is you get to put a face on the company in this case WordPressDirect and see the culture behind it. It’s easy when everything is through the web to imagine that these companies are giant vending machines with unlimited robots, with impersonal email with various tracking tickets to forget that behind that, every reply is answered by a real living person. n Companies like really everybody can fit into a single van. Briefly if you’re not familiar with them, WordPress Direct is a way to quickly build keyword optimized blogs they host and they start at free. They are decent sized and have over 30K users.
Back to the story, I work out of my home, and between automation and outsourcing, most of my team I’ve never met live, and some I don’t even know what they look like. We have great communication and reort Skype and Basecamp is MORE THAN AWESOME but it’s not the same flavor of seeing people light up, and the banter that happens when you least expect it. Basically at times I miss the live part.
One of the other consequences of this internet, even if you sandbox your work and personal identities as I do is that the lines between life and work blur. I’m always working, I’m also always on what others consider vacation. Just things are chopped up, an hour of 100% fun in the middle of the day, an hour of work when you should be sleeping. Like right now some major projects some brand new some months in and near completion are in critical phases with many unknowns, so I have to constantly guide it here and there and do things only I can do else I become the bottleneck. This is actually a great problem to have when your team is delivering christmas every day, it’s hard NOT to open your presents even if they are wrapped in email instead of wrapping paper, when they are asking you whether you want to get metaphorically a Million Dollars more in your business or a Year off, it’s impossible not to want to answer the questions, even if that means you are giving up sleep that will make it harder to pay attention tomorrow.
I’m not alone in this. One of my favorite speaker (and hella funny Texan) Keith Baxter is in the middle of the major “Epic Traffic” launch. I guess the point I was making is that most the successful people I meet have intense freedom, but there are times when they work their asses 16hours a day for weeks on end and end up far more burnt out than you see in a normal job because there are no boundaries placed there and so much drive.
But for even all that. What I at least gain in these conferences is totally worth the sacrifices. It’s counter intuitive, but honestly I think that for all the thousands of dollars of material I’ve bought, I get more far mroe from going to these conferences even when I have no idea what I’m going to get out of it. For one there is a force feeding of content, be honest how often have you bought a product and it just sat there on the shelf. In a conference in a locked room it’s a bit like drinking from a firehose. Second there is a dialog, you can ask critical questions directly, especially after. Thired you have to breath the same air .
After a year, I kinda feel like most infotraining is a perpetual industry to milk and sort of a hidden trick question, the only way to succeed is to counterintuitively stop learning especially from infobook. To be sure there are several awesome courses and you have to get your start somewhere, but I believe most pale in raw impact as some of these live conferences -even the pitchfests-, and this one classifies technically as one, as every speaker is pushing something, but generally every presentation was the equivalent of a $397 course or more so value is being delivered every hour, so times say 5 presentations per day x 2 days = 10 presentations * 400 == $4K of training value alone. Often the way that these speakers are coordinated on complimentary areas, some of that you’d never voluntarily buy as you don’t think you need it, or worse you don’t even know it exists so wouldn’t ever find it.
Conferences are a bit of a secret society, the door admission price is the secret passphrase. I’ve met some who know this and have spent $2k on product they have no intent of using just to get access to right people in the right place, because major deals happen here. Especially at smaller events like this, where else can you talk to the CEO and major gurus at length? share a beer with them, get candid answers?
Everytime I go I learn things that aren’t taught anyplace else, and probably won’t ever be. Again live conferences are a sort of graduation from conventional do it yourself training. Advanced levels are unlocked. Rightfully shouldn’t in some cases as they are either super powerful and likely to be abused, and some are super complicated and so far beyond that it would take a year or so of training to be able to fully understand the impact, or that if everybody did it would completely fail. Others are gems that are dropped in various conversations, either things you’re generally not supposed to know, or “common knowledge” they just don’t ever think to teach, things you didn’t know you REALLY need to know, like perhaps everything you are doing (that everybody else is doing) is either wrong or a poor use of time.
Damn the sun is coming up, I’m getting super sleepy and the Day3 (which I was VERY kindly comped on…again the power of attending these sorts of things) is starting in a 3 hours, so hopefully I’ll continue this later, so much to talk about, so much has happened.