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Summing Up SummitUp

Two Thumbs UpYesterday I got to celebrate my birthday by having my very own social media conference – SummitUp.  I highly recommend this as a way to celebrate your next birthday.  (actually this was purely coincidence, but a nice one none the less.)  The day was simply amazing.  To give you an idea of how well things went, at least from my perspective, my biggest gripe for the day was that the coffee cups were roughly the size of shot glasses.  Now, 15 years ago shot glasses would have been a big part of my celebration at the very same Wright State University where the event was held, but now I am older, wiser, and much more dependent on caffeine.  Next year I am voting for 64 oz tumblers for the coffee.  Still, the fact that I am yammering about something as trivial as small coffee cups is a great sign that the important parts of the day went very well.  What was so great about it you ask?  Well here is my little highlight reel from the day:

  • Kevin Dugan – This guy is a pro.  His great intro video did not load, no problem.  I have seen more than one presenter implode from such an event.  Not Kevin.  He simply laughed it off and went on to deliver an amazing presentation on the importance of story-telling in our digitally enabled world.  He covered topics like the role of earned and paid media, the importance combining fact with emotion, and the important role that stories play to humanity.   He went on to provide specific examples of companies doing this, including Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Sharpie, Starbucks, The United Way, and Best Buy.  He then closed with 12 action steps that anyone could use to apply the concept of story telling to social media.  This was a perfect lead in for the stories that would be told throughout the remainder of the day.
  • Artie Isaac –  Following Kevin Dugan is not an easy task, but one that Artie Isaac did masterfully.  In fact, Artie customized his opening slide on the fly to incorporate Kevin’s presentation as a set up for his own.  (They both cited Charles Dickens as well, which I did not know until today after viewing Kevin’s video.)  The presentations dove-tailed into one another perfectly with Kevin articulating the importance of story-telling and Artie then talking about how to use creativity to tell those stories.  Artie may have stolen the show for the whole day.  He addressed the need for us produce higher quality content by more frequently exercising our creativity.  His presentation had the audience laughing out loud and thinking deeply at the same time.  He is simply a masterful presenter – using a combination of great timing, compelling use of visuals, wonderful humor, simple advice, and rich wisdom to captivate 275 people for an hour of time.    Among Artie’s suggestions were, get sleep, breathe, feed the “creative pet”, make a to-don’t list to go with your to-do list, turn off the television, explore new domains of knowledge, know the difference between message and medium, understand generosity yields creativity, and make time for the things that are important to you.
  • Breakout Sessions – Because I was only able to attend part of one breakout due to emceeing and presenting duties, I have less to offer in the way of reviews in this area.  I saw about 1/2 of Brian LeCount’s presentation on blogging, and loved it.  He spoke of the important role that blogs play relative to search, and backed it up with tons of data points.  Well done Brian. That said, I would love to have some reviews of the break-outs.  If you attended SummitUp and went to the break-outs, share your reviews in the comments section.  From the feedback I got, people really loved all of them.  Thank you to Lara Kretler, Roger Bora & Kerianne Acra, Brian LeCount, David Esrati, Debba Haupert, Kendra RamirezAli Margello, Jennifer McClure, & Steve Phillips for offering up your time and talent.
  • Bob Garfield – Bob was provocative, insightful, snarky, and funny.  Admittedly I am not someone who is easily offended.  I did hear people express some dislike with some of the verbiage Bob used and slides he presented, but to me, it was spot on, funny, and relevant.  It wasn’t as if he was on stage doing an Andrew Dice Clay routine.  He was simply pushing the envelope a little to make a point – like putting a little Tabasco on eggs.  Overall, I felt he did a great job of framing up the dilemma facing marketing professionals today as a result of the collapse of old media channels.  They say that no one wants to be the bearer of bad news, but I thought Bob did a nice job filling such a role.  I also agreed with his prescription for solving the problem, which was rooted in doing a better job of listening to customers.   I am excited to read his book, The Chaos Scenario, and will be happy to accept his challenge to talk more about it in the future.
  • Lewis Howes – Lewis had fun presenting, and I had fun watching him.  He started his presentation by telling a story about his experience pole-vaulting in the decathlon in college for the chance to become an All American athelete.  He was totally into the story, and used it as a way to set up the idea of pushing yourself to do what it takes to realize your dreams.  He then went on to offer up some great suggestions on how to maximize the results you get through using LinkedIn.  He spent a good amount of time speaking about the ability to be found when someone searches for keywords or topics on the site – an SEO style approach that I have not heard before with regard to LinkedIn.  He offered up some very useful information in a very entertaining way – and did so coming off of a  wicked illness.  I picked up a number of tactical tips that I am going to incorporate into improving my LinkedIn profile.
  • Chris Brogan – Awesome!  Just Awesome!  In the same way that Kevin and Artie worked so well together, Bob Garfield and Chris Brogan seemed to be perfectly paired.  Bob’s presentation on the demise of the old way of doing business was the perfect lead in to Chris’ advice about the new way.  It was sort of like boot camp.  Bob broke us down, and then Chris built us back up anew.  Chris did not use any slides, but rather just hit go, started in, and occasionally referred to a little moleskine cahier notebook with “6 point font” scribblings to guide the show.  He opened with a story about a Japanese swordsman (whose name I will not attempt) and the need for experimentation and change relative to survival.  He spoke passionately from the heart about the importance of trust in a digitally networked world.  He talked about making your own game, and not waiting around for someone to save you.  He went on to discuss the fallacy of security, the resistance people have about change, and the difference between an audience and a community.  Chris was captivating throughout.  I must have written down 15 pages of notes and ideas from his presentation, all of which will likely surface here and elsewhere in the coming weeks.  I can’t imagine a better way to complete the day, than with Chris just bringing it for 90 minutes.  My thanks to him for closing the day out strong.

I can’t say enough about the many people who helped put SummitUp together and make the day run so smoothly.  It seemed like I got a lot of credit for work that a whole lot of other people did, so let me pass that on with my sincere thanks to planners, volunteers, promoters, sponsors, speakers and attendees.  You had everything to do with the event being so much fun.  I was just along for the ride.

Even better than SummitUp, was the fact that when I got home shortly afterward, I was greeted by my loving family who surprised me with a great dinner and the gift of a brand new bass guitar for my birthday.  Not only did SummitUp rock, but now I am more enabled to do the same.  (Condolences in advance to my neighbors.)

Again, thank you to all who made yesterday so much fun.  The happy birthday song was the icing on the cupcake.

What did you think of the event?