Nov 5 2009

Philly Startup Leaders Interviews.

John

Jeff tweeted about this, and I had to write a post about it.

I had no idea this group/organization existed, but Philly Startup Leaders has a video  series (6 deep at the moment)

Screen shot 2009-11-04 at 9.22.21 AM

I just started watching the videos, which I plan to rip and put on my iPod (sorry youtube, but these are gonna be gold mines I’ll want offline), but what’s nice it’s not your typical tech startup schmoes talking about how great they are, how hard it is, how cash flow something to worry about tomorrow, etc.

These videos talk about real entrepreneurship (IMO), not just the sexy tech startup stuff.

Great find Jeff!


Nov 4 2009

Because you can, doesn’t mean you should

John

I read this interesting interview with the twitter Co-Founders during Startup School.

The very first sentence is what struck me. “Biz Stone: We should start with Odeo, our older podcasting service. We realized we weren’t passionate about it. We were building it but we weren’t using it.

Tom and I have had discussions about this concept a lot, especially when looking at areas we thought bringing a community focused conference to would make sense. Sometimes we’ve ruled a community/industry out because while there were no events like ours (In our opinions) there were several events already, or even one big one, that weren’t worth fighting with for mind share. But more often than not it came down to, “Are we interested in that technology or community”

Stone: I remember earlier on when we were in Odeo, Ev went home and brainstormed for a weekend and thought about how we could make a successful business out of Odeo. And I thought it was genius. We were going to be the kings of podcasting. And then I slept on it. I told him I thought his plan was genius — but I asked him: do we want to be the kings of podcasting?

A perfect example was Microsoft Silverlight. It’s a growing community, much like Flex was when we started 360|Flex. We gave some really serious thought to a 360|Silverlight. The two main reasons we didn’t. Adobe would freak out, and it wasn’t worth the drama, but more importantly did we have an interest in Silverlight? Neither of us had plans to become Silverlight developers, nor did we even plan to tinker. Silverlight was out. I do hope someone steps up and does a Silverlight event like a 360|Conference. MS Devs need that.

This quote is funny, doesn’t really have anything to do with Conferences, but makes so much sense. “Early on people said Twitter is fun. It’s not useful. And Ev retorted, ‘So is ice cream. Should we ban ice cream?’ We realized we were engaged with it. It was right up our alley.

Williams: One of our biggest lessons time after time is to focus. Almost every time I meet with a startup and I give them feedback — it’s do fewer things.

I imagine one of the most common things i’ll write about on this blog is this. I hope that as a one man shop, focus isn’t as big a problem. Tom and I tended to feed off each other when it came to tinkering. Tom’s by far more easily distracted, but I’m easily sold on new ideas :) So we’re perfect for each other in the wrong way. We love to try new things, and in a tech startup there’s less issue (but I agree, control it buddy!) but trying out a new event, that’s risky. There’s a ton of investment (money and time, and brain cycles) in creating a new event, and if it doesn’t pan out, that’s that, you’re potentially really screwed, or just out some money and time, and possibly other events suffered a lack of attention.

The entire interview is a good read, i was really impressed. Startup School as an event looks really interesting as well.


Nov 2 2009

A Bird in the Hand…

John

Tom and I had an interesting discussion the other night.

In looking at past sales Tom noted that offering a Team price, resulted in about $10,000 more in profit at the end of the day (the last day of the event, for the sake of discussion), vs. our current model of offering 100 tickets at a reduced price, typically $100-$200 off the regular price.

It was interesting because while $10,000 is certainly nothing to scoff at, at this point in the business, early sales are more important. While I hate the concept of early bird ticketing to inflate early numbers, I do like offering those who want to save some money, the opportunity, AND I like having some early money to pay the bills

So is $10,000 down the road, worth no sales, and no income in the short term? Currently, my answer is no. In the longterm, I think the answer is different, obviously I want to do right by my customers, and make money, so I’m not sure it’s ‘either or’, but I do think things with change down the road.

You?


Oct 29 2009

migrating from 2 to 1 is not fun or easy

John

So Tom and I are moving on from 360|Conferences, well I’m moving forward with it, Tom is moving away from it.

The move has started, we’re transitioning things over to me, that he has been in charge of, up until now.

It’s not fun. My latest “It’s all yours moment” came when I opened quickbooks for the first time. If it’s possible to have a massive coronary, while awake and aware, that’s what I experienced.

It’s not Tom’s fault, when we got started, i made it known I didn’t want to run the books. I’ve never liked “the books”. My wife runs the household books, and I barely manage at running my own bank acct and Discover card. Not for a lack of skill but more for a lack of interest.

I won’t lie the books were in a sad state. Without getting into specifics, I’ll be spending more time than I imagined getting them to a cleaned up place where I can get our new acct involved in them.

My advice, run your books yourself, you’ll be better off and it’s something every business person should learn. This is now in the “Lesson Learned” column for me.

On the upside, I think I’m taking a liking to quickbooks, as i work thru it. Who knew!


Sep 17 2009

Ups and Downs and Downs and the need for paper

John

So it’s been announced that Tom is leaving 360|Conferences after our 360|Flex Conference March 2010.

It’s definitely a sad week.

unfortunately it highlights a glaring omission in our business, a lack of written agreements and/or even mutually agreed upon definitions of things.

Sure we have the actual incorporation papers, our ownership split, but that’s it. I won’t lie and say it never occurred to me, it did, several times, and each time I either back burnered it or prioritized another expense over it (lawyers ain’t cheap). And like all things put off, it’s biting us in the butt.

I don’t foresee any Calcanis/Arrington style online bitch matches, but I’m not gonna kid myself, the next few months will be messy as Tom and I figure out what it means to work 1 partner out of the company; assets (what few there are), debts, responsibilities, etc all have to be figured out.

On my end of things I have to figure out where I’m going from here. I mean the company is going to continue to bring Flex and iPhone developers the best community conferences around, but will I do it alone? It’s no secret money is tough for Tom and I because we have 2 people to pay, and doing an event 2x a year doubles expenses, but doesn’t double income. It might make sense for 360|Conferences to be a one man show, at least for a while.

It should make for some interesting blog posts :)


Sep 2 2009

Motivation is hard

John

This is another blog post that has been sitting as an open tab in Firefox a long time. It’s a fairly important topic, at least for me. Having had motivation troubles as a consultant looking for new projects and now as a business owner trying to keep a good noise level going for my events.

Motivation is hard. I mean, it’s really hard sometimes to sit at your desk and think up your next blog post, or tweet, or phone call or whatever. It’s especially hard when you’re in a funk or not where you wan to be (in our case) sponsorship wise or attendee wise.

I’ll paste all of the points here and talk about them, but definitely hit up the original post, give them some traffic love for sure!

Let Fear Take Hold
Fear is one of the strongest motivators we have. The “fight or flight” response is dependent on feeling fear as its source. So, let fear work for you. If you’re genuinely concerned about what’s going to happen now that you’ve lost your job, and you don’t know where the money is coming from to pay the rent, you’re going to do whatever needs to be done. Issues that seemed to be obstacles before are going to fade to the background.

I learned this one from Friends actually. I don’t remember who said what to whom, but the jist was “quit your job, you’re not gonna get a better one or do what you want to do if you’re nice and safe in your current job” I totally agree. Sure you should save up, be prepared for the poorness and hardship, but nothing motivates you to succeed like having a mortgage payment due. A friend of mine pointed out that “people will live up to their obligations” so those companies that don’t offer high salaries because the can’t afford to hire the best, are creating a self-fullfilling prophecy. If you’ve got bills to pay you’ll do your damndest to pay them.

Keep the Finish Line In Sight

A lot of folks have a tendency to look at the next step, rather than the big picture. While this technique has its merits, it’s important to look up at the finish line occasionally. If you don’t, and you’re constantly focused on the day-to-day minutiae, you’ll eventually wonder why it is that you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s important to remember the payoff, because that’s what got you excited in the first place.

This one is a bit of a misleader as far as I’m concerned. Often i feel we’re not focused enough on small things, returning emails, calls, following up when we should etc. It’s great to not get bogged down, but don’t focus so much on the “business at large” that you don’t do what you need to do to keep it running.

Make It a Game
This one works wonders with little kids! If your goal is to clean up toys before bedtime, you parents know that it’s often beneficial to race your kids to see who can pick up the most toys in the shortest amount of time. The same thing works with yourself. If you’re training for a marathon, you can continually try to improve on your overall time, or your split times, or whatever. Find ways to measure yourself, and constantly try to set personal bests.

This I’ve never tried but it might be worth looking at. One of the biggest problems (to me) that Tom and I have is our distance, we rarely know what the other is doing, which either leads to duplication of effort or “are you pulling your weight” both are bad. But with a measurable goal and a time frame it might alleviate some stress. Of course there’s not much repercussion for failure, but we could figure something out.

Remove All Other Options
Hernán Cortés landed in Mexico in 1519 in order to secure lands for the Spanish crown. One of his first orders to his men was to burn the ships that they had arrived on. This was to remove any thoughts of retreat from their minds. When things were going poorly, the men didn’t have the option of thinking, “well, we can always go home”. This is a scary step, but sometimes it’s the only one that will work. For a person who wants to work for themselves, even if they have developed a substantial business on the side of their full-time employment, quitting that secure day job is a “burn the ships” moment. There isn’t anything to fall back on, and they have to succeed.

This kinda fits in with the fear thing. It’s tough, but I truly believe you’ve gotta be fully invested. I haven’t written a line of code in over a year, well that’s a lie, I’ve written a few here and there, but I’m certainly not the active coder I was. I’m fully invested; heart, soul and money into making 360|Conferences something I can draw money from. It’s a struggle, to say the least, and failure looms large, but I’ve done the part time entrepreneur thing, and know the perils

Tell Someone Else
If you have a goal you want to reach, don’t keep it to yourself. Be sure to share it with people you respect. Once you’ve publicly acknowledged it, it becomes harder to give it up. You’ve made a verbal contract in a sense with people whose opinion you care about. If you were to give up on your dream, you would lose face with them. Most folks don’t want this to happen, but because they’re scared of failure, they keep their dream to themselves. However, if you want to succeed, you’ll tell as many people as you can.

I’ve never really thought about this one. I’m not really a “This by X person” I’m much to now now now, so my goals (in my head) are usually set to just outside the time frame it took to think the idea up. I guess the one place I’ve done this is the business. When I did consulting I never really thought about it and didn’t have a goal that consulting would be my “Thing” or that I’d have other folks to source, etc. But I’ve said to many that I want 360|Conferences, to be my “job”. I want to draw salary, get up every morning and spend the next waking 10-12+ hours making it a success.

Tell Yourself Daily
Make an affirmation to yourself about your goal. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of daily affirmations, it goes a little something like this. You write down a sentence or two that specifically details what it is you’re going to achieve. You need to make it specific, and you need to keep it short. Then, just before going to bed, first thing when you wake up, and at various set points during the day, you read your affirmation aloud to yourself.

This sounds a bit hokey to some, but it serves to keep your mind focused on what it is you’re working toward. It keeps your mind on the task at hand, even when there are many other things that are demanding your attention.

My wife once told me about the “Chicken Soup for your Soul” author taping a Million dollar bill to his ceiling, so that the first thing he saw in the morning and the last thing he saw at night was that goal. That’s awesome. I’ve know that story for a few years, and never tried anything like it. Thinking it’s time.

Recruit a Group
In the course of telling people around you about your goal, you may run into a few of them that are excited about what you’re doing. They may be so excited that they want to do something like it. If you talk to enough people, you’ll find some that have goals just like you. You can take the initiative to lead these folks into a group that supports each other in reaching each of your destinations.

By having an accountability group, you put yourself in a situation where you’re not only afraid of losing face with the other members, but you also have people available to provide ideas and brainstorm ways to keep going when you get stuck. It’s amazing the things that members of an accountability group can accomplish together.

That I’m more or less doing when and where I can. I’m being as active as possible in other groups around Denver, from Refresh, to the Adobe User Groups, and the new Cocoaheads group, and even less techy events. I think it’s important that since my focus is events, that I be involved as either an attendee or an organizer on as much as I can. I don’t however have an ‘accountability group’ as it were. I’m not sure how to get one…

Break It Up
While I said that you need to keep your eye on the prize back up in step #2, there’s nothing wrong with breaking up your big, huge, audacious goal into smaller goals along the way. If your goal is so big that it scares you, or you worry about not being able to achieve it no matter how hard you try or how many people you tell about it, this may be a good tip for you. Just break it up into chunks. The sub-goals you set for yourself should still be something you can be proud of on their own, but they should also advance you toward the main objective. By taking things in smaller doses, you won’t get easily frustrated.

This one is tricky, mainly because of the distance between Tom and I. Most days we only have about 4 hours of time when we can chat, and I never know what’s going on the other 20 hours, sometimes even those 4. So it’s hard to break things up since there’s a fundamental “If I don’t do this it won’t get done” thing. Which sucks ass. I’d rather it not be hanging over us, but it does, and there’s rarely a day goes by that something doesn’t get done that shoulda; some email never replied, some email never sent, etc. so it’s hard to break tasks up in general let alone between us.

So those are the 8 points to fight motivation troubles. I agree with most, and need to try the others, and make some work better, but i agree in general that keeping your motivation level high is hard. It’s not surprising that it’s even harder when things aren’t going well, but that’s when it’s the most important.

Do you have anything to add to this list? What tips or tricks do you have for maintaining motivation?


Jul 8 2009

How to Fail

John

I’ve been sitting on this for a bit now, meaning to write up my thoughts. I’d never heard of Tayler Davidson prior to this post, but it SO resonated with me, I downloaded the PDF, and Kindle-ized it so I could have it all the time, with notes. I’m just gonna post my thoughts on this topic, go to Taylor’s post and read all 25 lessons yourself!

Almost all 25 topics are pretty spot on.

1. Dither, dither, dither; plan, plan, plan.
Instead: Fail fast. Fire, aim, repeat.

So, so easy to do. It’s brain crack to plan and analyze and never act.

6. Focus on the long-term.
Instead: Focus on the short-term.

By virtue of our having no startup capital beyond what we brought to the table, Tom and I are pretty good at keeping the focus on the near term. It’s often said, and 100% true that without near term planning, the long term won’t ever happen.

7. Build prototypes, mockups and samples.
Instead: Start building in a format and medium as close to the finished product as possible, and iterate, iterate, iterate.

Tom and I tend to differ on this one a bit. I’m very much a throw it out there person, he’s more a plan, review, plan type. We usually meet on the middle, which works well. I totally think that it’s not who launches with the best most solid plan that matters, but who launches, listens, and learns.

10. “New, New, New!”
Instead: F*** new. What’s different? What’s better?

Yeah totally. “New, new new” is so sexy, but is a venus fly trap. It doesn’t have to be sexy, it has to be better, add value. Tom and I have seen this in the reviews we get over other events in the same space, that cater to 5k people, have massive expo areas and SWAG galore.

13. Over-promise, over-sell, under-deliver.
Instead: Over-promise, over-sell, over-deliver.

I think we do ok at this, there’s room for improvement at least in my own mind. I think we actually do more promise, under-sell, over-deliver. LOL

14. Be stubborn in the face of failure.
Instead: Be determined in the face of disbelief.

This a tough one. Failure is hard to swallow, disbelief just as much so. Sometimes it’s disbelief internal to us, sometimes it from external sources. We still think it’s possible to have a conference company that can support more than one person Full Time, and not rape attendees and sponsors. We’ve got the value down, now we just need to find the sweet spot for attendees and sponsors. Attendees get us, sponsors don’t mostly. Some do. Some really do, and see that our attendees are the core of who they’d like to talk to. Others still can’t get past “It’s just the two of you?”

17. “I know more than anyone else.”
Instead: If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re the fool.

18. A unanimous decision means we’re all right.
Instead: If everybody agrees, you’re probably all wrong.

We’re really good at never agreeing.

23. Work under “understandings”.
Instead: Create legal agreements as soon as possible.

Possibly our biggest FAIL to date (and ongoing).

24. Everything matters.
Instead: Recognize the difference between “penny-wise” and “pound-foolish”.

This one bites us a lot. Not as much as it used to, but we still focus on things that seem huge to one of us, but once complete, no one cares. It sucks to waste time like that.


Jul 6 2009

How do you compare to free?

John

This topic applies to many spaces, and it’s one that has come up for 360|Conferences a few times. Our events are  often compared to barcamp style events, which are more often than not, free, because we’re usually far less expensive than most events, that charge.

I suppose on one hand it’s a compliment, since often those events are 100% community and usually entertaining and fun, if not informative. On the other hand though, it’s not a very fair comparison.

  • Barcamps aren’t usually 3-4 days long
  • They rarely include meals and/or parties
  • They don’t often have SWAG (of varying importance for sure)
  • They don’t cover any speaker expense

We recently had someone complain that we should still be charging $100 dollars for 360|Flex, our Flex Developer conference, because that was what we charged the first time.

That’s all well and good, except we lost money. $100 for 3 days, without it being completely a marketing event, with fun parties, good content, etc, is as we’ve found, unrealistic.

Barcamps are great, but they’re not a business. Barcamp style events are typically organized by local community members who want to do an event. The barcamp style event is very easy to get setup and has very few, if any requirements on the organizer. Barcamps rely on sponsors to provide things, like lunch, badges, parties etc. and if that doesn’t happen, that’s just too bad. “You didn’t pay to come, or you paid very little, what do you expect?” is often heard.

The organizer is most likely employed, and not relying on the conference to pay his phone bill let alone mortgage. His goal was to bring people together, which is awesome and applause worthy, but not a business.

Barcamps (like MashupCamp, startupCamp, etc.) don’t have defined speakers, and rely on people coming prepared to speak/present, and finding enough people to do so, the day of.

It’s hard to stack up against a free event, when the free event isn’t intended to be a business. Tom and I would love to do free events, but unless everyone wants to be schilled at 100% of the time by the sponsors we’d need to subsidize the event, it’s unrealistic.

I think comparing one event to another (regardless of whether they’re similar or not) is a bad practice to get into (and I often do it myself, I admit), when the real comparison is the value and ROI to the attendee.  Compare what attendees take away, compare what they get from the event. After all that’s the important thing. It’s not a ‘who gives more SWAG, or has the best parties’ contest, it’s who gives their attendees the most bang for their buck, that’s what counts.

It’s tough sometimes to keep that in mind, I admit.


Jun 15 2009

Setting your price

Andrew

One of the most difficult decisions a startup company will face is how to price their product or service.  Price it too low, and your business may become unsustainable.  It also may be seen as having little value if your price point is too low.  Price it too high and you could drive away potential customers.

The first thing to realize when pricing your product or service is that there is no such thing as an “actual” value of a product or service.  Everything deals with perceived value.  As a vendor, you have a perception of the value of your good or service.  The customer will also have a perception of the value of the product that plays a role in whether they buy or not.

Before moving on, let’s take a step back and talk about the US system of ethical capitalism.  Capitalism is by far the best system we have going on the planet for improving the quality of life for people on earth.  Unfortunately, capitalism in its purest form will not work if unethical people are involved.  In a capitalistic transaction, each party brings to the table something the other one wants.  In modern society, where we no longer have a barter system, one party brings money, and the other brings a good or service.  The beauty of this system is that the game is set up so that BOTH the buyer and the seller win in the transaction. The seller receives money which they want, and the buyer receives the good or service that they want.  If one of the parties starts to act in an unethical manner, both will end up losing in the end.  The seller will lose because people will stop buying from him if he’s perceived to have “cheated” people in the past.  The buyer will lose because he’s either been cheated, or because the good or service is no longer available.  Any business transaction is built upon the trust between the buyer and seller.  In the US, we don’t have a capitalistic economy, but rather a mixed economy.  We take the priciples of capitalism we like, but also add some government regulations such as anti-trust, and price-gouging laws to the mix because we inherently know that not everybody will behave in a purely ethical manner.

So, how does a seller make the decision of where to price a product?  In the seller’s mind, the thing they’re selling has some set value to them.  In the buyer’s mind, they also have a perceived value.

Some startups make the mistake of pricing their product at the level of customer perceived value.  They put themselves in the customer’s shoes and say something like… Ok, if the customer uses my product, they’ll save 4 days of effort on their side as opposed to doing it themselves.  Therefore, I should price my product at 4 days of the buyer’s salary.  This approach completely misses the subtle fact that a buyer will not buy a product unless the price is somewhere BELOW their perceived value.  The buyer NEEDS to feel like they’re getting a deal.  This also misses the fact that the buyer may not care about buying additional days.  They might be buying “cool” or “useful”, not necessarily something practical like “days of effort”.  They also might be buying something intangible like “prestige” as is the case when you buy a Ferrari, BMW, or Lexus.

Assume you’re the buyer for a second.  If the price of something is exactly at or above what your perceived value is, you won’t buy because you don’t win in the transaction.  You either come out behind or exactly where you started out.  The default position for a buyer is to do nothing.  A buyer won’t be moved to act unless there is a strong feeling that they win in the transaction.  A buyer will perceive value in a product when they feel like they’re getting a deal.

While we’re pretending, let’s say that I’m in the market for a basejumping wingsuit.  I have some perceived value in my head of the fun I’m going to have while basejumping with that wingsuit and what amount of money that is worth to me.  Let’s say that the experience is worth about $2000 to me.  What’s important to note is that I won’t buy anything at or over $2000.  If I were, then my perceived value is actually higher than $2000.  In this scenario, the basejumping wingsuit store first looks at their hard costs for time, materials, and labor.  Let’s say they can build a nice wingsuit for around $500.  Their perceived value for the wingsuit is actually a bit higher than that, since they wouldn’t have undertaken the effort to begin with if it wasn’t worthwhile for them. The seller then has some flexibility in pricing their product from $500 up to $2000.  I probably won’t buy at the low end because the product will feel too “cheap” for me.  Since I’m taking my own life in my hands, I don’t want to buy a “cheap” wingsuit. I also probably won’t buy at the high end because I’m not getting a good enough deal.  In the end, I go with a $1500 wingsuit because I feel like I got a deal and I got a higher-end wingsuit so there’s some intangible prestige value to me there.  The seller also walks away happy from the deal since they just made a nice profit of $1000 from me.

This principle of buyer perceived value vs. seller perceived value can be seen starkly on display when you watch a TV infomercial.  In an infomercial, they usually try to tell the buyer what their perceived value should be.  They say something like, “All of these items…A $60 value, all for $19.95”.  They try to put a perceived value of $60 into the head of the buyer, but sell the items for their own perceived value of $19.95.  The buyer may or may not actually perceive the value to be $60 dollars, but that doesn’t stop the infomercial people from trying to put that idea into the buyer’s head.

I’ll leave you with a little bit of inspiration:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xlQdx9nCeM&feature=fvsr


Jun 5 2009

My Cluetrain at 10

John

Eric posted his “Cluetrain at 10” and I wanted to follow suit. Doc posted that in observation of the 10th anniversay of the Cluetrain Manifesto, a new edition is being released.

So this is my “Cluetrain changed my life post” by all means follow suit!

I’ve just now, as I write this realized I have no idea when the Cluetrain entered my life. I searched through my entire amazon.com order history (I highly recommend that to everyone, just for the sake of seeing the things you’ve purchased over the years, eye opening to say the least), i thumbed through my well worn copy looking at every boarding pass and stub in it (books are time capsules so boarding passes etc get stuck into them when I travel with a book).  My copy has been to Italy, Japan, and many, many states in the US, but nothing told me when I bought it (or where since it wasn’t Amazon).

I’m reasonably certain it was either Directfit or Ameriquest mortgage, both long dead companies. At both I was a code monkey with aspirations of something more. I knew from the moment I started writing code that I didn’t want to be 40 or 50 and still writing code, I just didn’t know what else I wanted. Anyhoo!

I read Cluetrain and so much of it clicked.  Everywhere I worked from that point forward I tried my best to bring forth Cluetrain-esque aspects. Sadly I failed more often than not, thanks to corporate structures that weren’t interested in changing the status quo of top down. Such is life.

Fast forward a few years, I’m an indie developer subbing out to companies here and there. For my part, my company was fairly transparent, I shared my time, etc so there was never any doubt what I was doing, my website was pretty straightforward and invited people to contact me vs. read about what i did. I even created a blog before there were easy tools, writing my posts in word, and creating pages and updating the sidebar links.

Jumping forward a bit more, I’m running my own business, organizing conferences whos main focus is conversation. Everything about our (Tom might write his own Cluetrain at 10 post) business was based on our readings of the Cluetrain. During our wednesday (last day) keynote, we opened the doors of the business, showing everyone what we made, what we spent, what we’re taking home (positive and negative). Our events centered on people connecting, like the markets of old. Our expo areas are where lunch is served, our sessions are long enough for the presenter to present, and then for actual discussion to take place. There’s no rushing to get to the next room, etc.

We’ve never wanted to be JavaOne with 10,000 poeple or whatever. We aim for 500 or so, and pick venues that enable everyone to hang out and meet, We encourage talking, we drag people over to introduce them to others, we want the event to be more than just 4 days of sitting. We want them to be 4 days of communicating and meeting people.

At our second event, as a gift to attendees we gave them all (450 people) a copy of Cluetrain, we emailed doc, but never heard back, nor surprising, he’s busy. At 20k a speaking engagement we didn’t have the budget to try to hire him to speak, but had hoped he’d come by just to see his impact on our business.

We still give cluetrains to anyone who’d like one.

I read a lot, no other book has so moved and inspired me. It’s in my laptop bag all the time.