Now that I’m a couple weeks out from the conference, I can finally see my way clear to tell you how it went. In a word, it was “overwhelmingly inspiring” – I know, that’s two words. In fact, it was so overwhelming that it took me several days just to clear my brain enough to actually begin to process the inspiring and amazing experience itself. I was in zombie-land for the week after I got home and I felt like I was walking around with brain fog for several days. There was SO much value at this conference and all the conversations and connections surrounding the conference that I was in awe of the entire experience. I still am.
Typically when I attend a conference I’m really focused on the value that I get from the actual conference itself – the speakers, workshops, breakout sessions or the actual “planned” parts of the conference. It’s also common for a conference to be “mostly” good with about half of the speakers being top notch or exceeding my expectations and the other half just being filler. Because of my personality type – INFP – I tend to retreat to the back of the room and keep to myself. I’d rather sit quietly and soak up all that’s happening around me rather than interject myself into the middle of any type of action.
But that’s not what happened this time. I forced myself out of my comfort zone and got involved. And the speakers… oh my, the speakers!
Every speaker and every planned activity at seanwes conference 2016 exceeded my expectations and completely blew my mind. Yes. Every single speaker. Every single activity. But it wasn’t just the conference itself – it was all the stuff that happened before, during and after the conference too.
Let’s Do Lunch!
The day before the conference I met up with a dozen or so attendees for lunch… then frozen yogurt… then afternoon appetizers and refreshments. What started as a single lunchtime meetup turned into meetup after meetup after meetup. We just migrated as a group from one place to the next, picking up stragglers along the way. Inside the seanwes community there was a chatroom dedicated to conference attendees with a topic around mealtime meetups. That topic was hopping! There was also a lot of conversation on Twitter (search for hashtag #seanwes1016) where we were able to keep in touch with each other.
Then we all went over to dinner at The Shady Grove where we had planned on a crowd of about 30 conference attendees the night before the conference. We kept pulling in tables throughout the night and ended up with about 40-45 people by the time the night was done. Considering the conference attendance list was a small crowd of 100 people, we did pretty good with a pre-conference dinner party, huh?
That type of common mealtime gathering continued throughout the entire weekend. From the moment I met up with that group for lunch on Wednesday all the way through the end of the conference on Saturday at noon… straight through to dinnertime, I was with a group of people from the conference. I made it back to my AirBNB by midnight every night just in time to drop into bed for some rest.
You’re Among Friends
Sounds like a big party, right? It was definitely fun, but it was less about a party atmosphere and more about reunion and connection. I had never met these people in person before. But I knew them from the online business community we all belong to, so it felt like I was reuniting with old friends who knew me. It felt like family. In fact, many people described it as exactly that – A Family Reunion. We speak the same language, we have the same mindset, we prescribe to the same type of goal-achieving mentality, so it truly felt like I was meeting up with brothers, sisters, cousins and long lost friends. In fact, my friend John at Loudon Design say very much the same thing in his recap of the conference.
Even though there were about 100 people at this conference, I didn’t get to meet everyone. But I was able to make several deep and true connections. People who are special that I think you should know too:
- Jake Rainis is a web developer by day and a calligraphy artist all the rest of the time. His work is amazing and I’d like to have one of his pieces hanging on my wall one day. Jake and I connected so well that we’re now accountability partners – it’s great to have someone who will kick you in the butt if you’re not making progress on your goals.
- John Loudon is a designer who focuses on his clients’ business conversion stats, but he’s also in the midst of creating some amazing software that could change the way small businesses teach online. He’s from Scotland and had a tough time with the Texas heat … he earned the nickname Meltin’ John (see 3:24)
- Kelly Lockett is a food and product photographer near New York City. She’s the sweetest lady and is so funny … plus she took some stunning photos of several conference attendees.
- Mat Woodworth is a t-shirt designer – and wow! his designs are amazing. He focuses his design work on helping schools create swag for their students. It was awe-inspiring to watch his transformation over the week of the conference. We talked about his business on the first day and then a few times throughout the conference – but to hear the clarity he discovered by the end was really inspiring to me. I can’t wait to see his business grow this coming year.
- Nacho Caballero is originally from Brazile but is living in Boston while he studies under a Fullbright Scholarship. Yes, his name is really Nacho and yes he can tell you the actual history for how nachos (the food) got its name. Nacho teaches people to speak Spanish but not in a boring classroom kind of way. One day I’d love to visit him in Brazile and take one of his full day boot camps, Spanish emersion classes so I can learn the language. Maybe you can’t see his website name, but it’s worth peeking at it just so you can experience the URL – It’s Nacho Time!
- Adina Segal is a hand lettering artist who makes unique stationary using letterpress and custom mixed inks. I have a couple of her greeting cards and plan to frame them for my wall. Adina also has some great breakthroughs on her business model during the conference and it was exciting to watch that transformation. One day she’ll have her stationery line in a store near you!
- Garrett Mickley is a video game entrepreneur. Did you even know that you could play video games for a living? Not only will he teach you how you can play games for “fun and profit” but he’s also a game developer. Great guy with a big heart. He was the only person I ran into who didn’t over-indulge in Tex-Mex food all week, he mostly just ordered salads while out to eat (it’s OK, we checked to see if he was sane and he’ll be fine).
- Gabby Chipeur is a designer in Canada helping entrepreneurs who create online courses – she’ll design all your course materials, website landing page and courseware pages to align with your business brand and give your students the best possible experience ever. She’s also an amazing watercolor artist.
There are more amazing people but I probably shouldn’t list all 100 of them. But just this small list shows you the extreme diversity in the attendees at this conference. It was a conference for creative professionals, after all. So many people walked away from the conference with huge breakthroughs in their business. New plans, fresh ideas, newfound clarity and new lofty goals – that was a common thread throughout the chatter during and after the conference.
For me, it was a bit different. Each day of the conference, the value shared by the speakers and individual conversations got compacted into my brain and then the next day, more of that value was compacted on top of the previous day’s value… before I knew it I had 4.5 days of extreme value layered one on top of the other inside my brain, packed in so tightly that I couldn’t even see a way to dump it out and dig through to find the nuggets. So for the next 4 or 5 days, I lived in a fog. I actually ended up with a raging headache that wouldn’t go away for several days.
But finally, I stopped feeling like a zombie and started processing some of the information, conversations, incredible value and insight that I’d gotten in Texas. New ideas for my business are forming and you’ll get to see how that evolves in the coming months. I don’t have enough clarity yet to share any details, but for now, I’ll just say that I’m writing again and I’ve got some new goals in the works.
The speakers were amazing!
What I DO want to share with you is some incredible takeaways from the speakers at the conference. Others have shared their favorite nuggets from each speaker, and I wanted to collect a list of my own.
Did I mention how incredible the speaker line-up was? Sean McCabe and his team were brilliant in the planning of this conference. They left plenty of time for the speakers to present their talk and then left lots and lots of time for Q&A afterward. Then between speakers, we had long breaks to chat and connect with each other or two-hour lunch breaks to continue the conversations while we ate. I loved that about this conference. Lots of intentional margin built into the schedule so that we could connect with other attendees.
I’ll stop rambling now…. here are my favorite nuggets of value from each of the speakers:
Shawn Blanc | shawnblanc.net | @shawnblanc
Combining focus and writing to do your best work.
- What is the most important thing you can do every day? Do the work. Show up every day.
- Your time is finite but the demands on your time are infinity – don’t let what’s incoming dictate your priorities. Don’t work nonstop. Take a break. Take a nap.
- Encourage others. Recognize others. Lift up others so you can both succeed. Your sincerity and generosity will set you apart. You are unique. Be you. If you feel like an imposter, you’re probably on the right track.
Katie Hunt | tradeshowcamp.com | @tradeshowcamp
Find your Tribe
- You’re probably spending too much time trying to be a part of too many different groups and communities. Go all in on one or two and stay focused on those people and get as much value as you can. TIME is precious. Be smart about where you spend your time.
- Together we thrive. Give as much as you’re getting. We each have our own unique level of experience or expertise.
- Sometimes, as our business grows we forget what it was like at the very beginning. We know that stuff now. But when you’re teaching someone else, that’s all new stuff. You have a ton of knowledge so share it.
Kyle Adams | kyleadams.me | @itskyleadams
Positioning Yourself as an Expert
- It’s hard to be known as an expert if you don’t teach.
- Expertise can’t be declared, it has to be proven.
- Teach EVERYTHING you know about your niche. Don’t hold back.
- People don’t keep up with every single thing you say, so by teaching everything, you become a leader. Don’t wait to teach. Do it now.
Charli Prangley | charlimarie.com | @charlieprangley
Producing high-quality videos on a consistent schedule
- Motivation is a habit formed by working hard.
- Consistency is a choice. You control it.
- What good choices can you make every day?
- Consistency is key to building an audience. What does that mean? Things are ordered and regular.
- Consistency makes you seem reliable and builds trust. It helps you build a loyal audience.
Sarah Dayan | sarahdayan.com
Maintaining professionalism in the creative world
- Being a professional is always taking responsibility.
- Everything you’re doing now is already shaping your next five, ten, twenty years. It feels more comfortable to fight change and leave things the way they are. It’s easy to think things aren’t that bad. It’s very hard to start and stick to a new standard. It’s hard. But try to see it that you’re contributing to a new standard.
- The innovators of the world started somewhere too.
- Being a pioneer always starts by being an underdog.
Nathan Barry | convertkit.com | @nathanbarry
Growing from $10k to $100k in product revenue
- Pursue People. There are people in our community who are doing great things. Look for these people in a deliberate way and get to know them.
- Teach Everything You Know.
- You need to create systems to create content. Just like the seanwes podcast creation has a system for creation, editing, chopping up for platforms, publishing, etc. Just show up and create every single day.
- Create from a mindset of enough.
Ben Toalson | familyonpurpose.net | @bentoalson
Balancing work and family life with a creative pursuit
- You will lose ground in the areas of your life where you haven’t defined goals
- WORK – Day job. Passion projects. Housework. Raising a family.
- RELATIONSHIPS – Family. Friends. Varying degrees of closeness with people outside yourself.
- SELF – Physical. Emotional. Spiritual. Leisure. Entertainment. Passion you’re pursuing.
- Time is limited therefore I am limited.
- Believe in the ability to achieve balance in all the key areas of life. Sometimes you have to hope it’s true and take action as if it’s true before abundance can actually follow.
- Balance is realized when you set goals for each area of your life and take action on those goals.
Sean McCabe | seanwes.com | @seanwes
- It is your ethical duty to fulfill your potential. The degree to which you believe that it’s your duty is the degree to which you will achieve that goal.
- Being an introvert is not an excuse. Being an introvert is not a license to hide and remain unknown.
- Listen to each other:
- Introverts – sometimes you need to be around people
- Extroverts – sometimes you just need to be quiet
- Every single person in the room is a world-changer and a movement maker. You have potential. Help people. The world needs you to want more FOR THEM.
- Think Bigger.