Inspiration. Process. And tactical takeaways. That's what I am emerging with, after attending Prestige Conference this past weekend in Minneapolis.
When looking at the big name speakers on the list, I felt a wee bit out of my element. "Wordpress expert" was a common title, and frankly - I'm a novice at best, and not looking to get into it at all for my business. I thought, "Great. It's going to be a weekend of code talk, that ends in me crying in frustration over skills I don't have."
Boy, was I wrong. This had something for EVERYONE.
Yes, the speakers had a ton of accolades in the development world, but they weren't there to talk code. Common themes from these successful speakers were: culture, risk, and attitude. As someone who usually speaks at events, it was truly a much needed shot in the arm to get off my business butt and put some new processes into place. :)
Don't have time to read the entire post? Here is a quick video wrap up about my 2 favorite speakers:
The day started off with Lea Newman with "The Whole Person Concept: Finding Balance In Our Work, Our Lives, and Our Successes." Some really great tips about changing your mindset or "state" as she put it, at work - and finding balance. She walked us through a great exercise regarding a "circle of life" to test whether or not we were actually in balance. Good stuff. Tons of energy, too!
Next up, was Tony Perez. And wow, did the room sit up and take notice. Now we see why he was stretching, yes...stretching, on the ground - before his talk.
He touched on building solutions that solve problems and the nitty-gritty of running a multi-million dollar business (gulp, no pressure, right?). It's pretty impressive that his security company is mitigating 350 million attacks/year! Here is one of Tony's most talked about slides:
If you want more information on this amazing ball of energy, here is a great article.
Next up, the fearless dudes Nick and Travis from WestWerk (also hosts of our amazzzzzing after party, thanks guys) took the stage to talk about the value of having a business partner. One of the big takeaways (and hey, common sense that a lot of us may have overlooked) was to work with a potential partner first, before you decide to become business partners. Bring someone on in a working capacity, and see if you gel - because sometimes friends, aren't great business partners.
OH hey, then lunch was upon us...carbs, sweets, and socializing...oh, my!
But, enough about food...now we're back for an amazing afternoon.
With everyone in a bit of a lunch coma, it was going to take a heavy-hitter to keep us all awake and ready to rock, and boy did Prestige deliver. Nancy Lyons had folks rolling with laughter, and saw the biggest flurry of quotes on our twitter stream. She spoke about "Technology's Dirty Little Secret" and schooled us in company culture. Her team is obviously doing something right, since they were recently featured on the national evening news for that very thing! Congrats, Clockwork!
The rest of the afternoon flew by!
Next up was Vasken Hauri teaching the crowd about how to scale yourself. He also scored some bonus points with the X-Files fans in the audience. ;-) One of the quotes that stood out was, "Don't assume silence means people understand, when you are assigning work." Good call.
I had the pleasure of sitting next to Shane from Modern Tribe at the speaker dinner the night before (I helped with social media this weekend while I was there), and boy does this guy have a way with words and storytelling. It carried into his presentation, for sure! Concentrating on how to land big clients, I know personally - this session was really helpful for me. I'm not necessarily trying to land more "big" clients, but...hearing his thoughts on when it's time to throw in the towel, and when to keep the relationship going, was really valuable. I also loved his response when asked about responding to RFP's. "I only respond if we know someone in the decision making process in that company." Amen, Shane...amen!
We ended the day with Prestige Co-founder Kiko Doran taking the stage with Dre Armeda of WebDev Studios. The two walked through Dre's story, and even traded some Jiu Jitsu knowledge (we thought they were going to throw down on stage!).
"There is no 'losing.' There is just 'winning' and 'learning." -Dre
---- DAY 2 ----
OK, this workshop with Jennifer Bourn on branding was spot freakin' on, people! Simple. Clear. Concise. And this, coming from someone who's been working in the branding space for 10 years. Having a key workshop takeaway was a huge hit, and I even decided to change a bit of my positioning with Puke Rainbows. Gotta love it! Our photographer Mike caught this great shot of Jennifer in action.
Lisa Sabin Wilson was up next, and she gave us all the feels. It was so refreshing to see a conference encourage a titan in the industry to share her personal story of triumph over adversity, tragedy, and how to do it with grace. The folks at GoDaddy put it well:
Hearing Lisa talk about working as a nurse full time, creating her company at night, and raising two kids, all while dealing with death, was amazing. Her big tip when transitioning careers? When she consistently made, in her side biz, what she made for a monthly salary in her 9-5 job, for 6 months straight - she made the jump. Very very smart.
Ok, disclaimer here...I know this presenter, too! Eric Johnson and I used to work on the same floor back in my BringMeTheNews days. He is over at local innovator GoKart Labs. Touching on how to stay agile in process, and what to tell clients who are used to big agency approach, was really great to hear. He took us through building a product team, step by step. Uber valuable.
After meeting Jason Cohen at the speaker dinner and Westwerk party, I knew we were in for a treat to finish out the day. True story: while I was asking folks in candid conversation the question, "If candy were currency, which type would you choose?" Most of us just chose our favorite flavor, Reese's, kit kat, etc.....but, Jason? A true businessman and strategist. He asked right back, "Well, which candy can provide something that is a system of value? We could make something out of runts." Lol. So practical and smart. Kudos.
He walked us through where A/B testing fails, and what it actual "does"...which, I feel is something missing in our everyday conversations. Jason also wins the day for most jokes dealing with shooting or killing something. True talent. ;-) But, really...there were so many nuggets, I can't choose just a couple. Great job!
Overall, the weekend was awesome. I highly recommend this to anyone working on growing a small-medium sized business, and entrepreneurs of all sorts. You definitely did NOT have to have a wordpress background to attend. Also, I came away feeling like this community really took me in. So nice to an "outsider", and helpful in exchanging information. I really hope to run into many of the speakers, team, and attendees in the future!
Sidenote: shout out to Jen Jamar for being my partner in crime all weekend, and to Kiko Doran for bringing me on board to help here and there with social. Jen handled most of it and was the strategy brains of the operation, but it was a blast to help tweet here and there. :) Thanks, guys!