I had a blast today at the Orlando BIG Summit at Full Sail University. The day was packed with excitement and had innovation & inspiration in the air. The day started off with a motivating speech from Full Sail president Garry Jones. During his presentation he shared the story of how Full Sail was founded…very entrepreneurial. Jones encountered many of the challenges that many entrepreneurs face including cash flow issues, uncertainty and lack of ROI on advertising spends. One big take away I took from his presentation was his tip for success:
Relentlessly evolve…change with what changes around you and put people first.
Following Garry Jones Kevin Harrington a world-renowned direct response marketer, infomercial genius and investor on the Shark Tank spoke. After speaking several other judges (Investors) were brought onto the stage and a mock “shark tank” was held where several entrepreneurs pitched their business venture in the hopes of raising capital. Really cool! This was a flash back to when I pitched in the UCF Business plan competition- the Joust, which I won two years in a row, and later judged twice.
Incidentally, Tom from Bongobox, a company that “Makes Moving Less Sucky” won. Following this Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer spoke and discussed Orlando’s entrepreneurial economy and plans. Dyer mentioned that Orlando is #1 in the nation for job creation in companies with less than 100 people. Awesome stat!
The co-founder & CTO of Grooveshark Josh Greenberg also spoke discussing the challenges that his team had when growing their business and how they overcame them.
Later in the day after lunch, which was catered by Arthurs- who catered my wedding the awards for the Big Awards were given.
Props to my good friends at GroundFlights who won the Orlando Inc 2011 Business Innovation and Growth award at the Big Summit today. Check out their awesome commercial when you get a chance. Very well done!
Finally Gary Vaynerchuck gave the keynote and as expected… Crushed it! He spoke about his life story…immigrating into the US from the Soviet Union, franchising a lemonade stand business at 5 and picking up his money on his big wheel…lol , selling baseball cards making $2k+ a weekend and then taking his family business, a wine company, from $3M to $70M by leveraging the power of social media. True American dream story…pure hustle and passion!
Another big thing Gary talked about was building relationships as opposed to push marketing and the importance of building relationships with individual customers, listening to them and doing random acts of kindness. I know first hand that this is very challenging and time consuming, but can pay dividends if you’re willing to make the investment.
Gary discussed traditional media versus engaging through social media and the fact that consumers have more power than ever before because they have instant access to the wisdom of their social circle of influence. This causes the good brands and products to rise to the top and the bad to get exposed. If you’re not listening to what’s being said about your brand or industry you are really setting yourself up for failure. The truth is participating and alone is not enough…you actually have to be better. In a capitalist society the market will indicate what is the best and the fact that everyone is so connected with enable the good (and the bad) to travel very quickly.
If you haven’t checked out Gary Vaynerchuck definitely follow him on twitter: @garyvee and check out his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/gary . He also video blogs often at Wine Library.
I just returned to Orlando yesterday evening from the SMX conference in Nyc. All in all it was a great trip. The conference went very well and a lot of people expressed interest in what we are doing and were eager to learn more about how Social Media can grow their business. On Monday night Ted,Ashley, Randy and I met up with Brett from Mashable and had some awesome dinner at Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant. After that we went to the tweet-up (twitter party) at the Angels & kings club.
On Tuesday night Ashley and I had dinner with Chrissie Brodagan, VP of Plum TV, thenwent to Time Square. Now I’ve been to Time Square several times and I’ve enjoyed it, however I always said that being there was a bit of a sensory overload. Chrissie said it best: “Being in Time Square is like Your Being Raped by Marketing Messages”.
If Social Media as a whole was to compare itself to Time Square they would be at complete opposite sides of the spectrum.
There’s a “Pop-up Ad” equivalent on every corner in Time Square (most likely multiple ones on each block). Hey take this flyer? Purses here $10…Hey want your picture taken? There’s also traditional forms of advertising as far as you can see…Digital billboards on sky scrapers, Posters on store windows, display ads on cabs, and people flaunting their favorite name brand gear, in essence becoming walking advertisements. Ads are everywhere, people are shouting, every corner has a vendor with food that tempts you as you pass by…it’s a complete sensory overload!
No real engagement, just loud marketing messages being shouted at you from all angles. I think all the hype & marketing messages every where is a major part of what makes Time Square so special and I think most people would agree. But I wonder how Time Square will change over the next 10 years…Will Time Square 2.0 be any different…if so how?
If you have any thoughts on this issue please share them
Ok…This is a re-cap of Blog World Expo and my Las Vegas trip. What’s funny is I didn’t even know I was going to the event until a day before. Here’s how it all went down. Last Thursday I had a meeting with Ted Murphy at our IZEA office in Orlando. We were discussing one of my projects at IZEA and then the conversation went something like this:
Ted: Hey..What are you doing this weekend?
Me: No plans really, why?
Ted: Want to go to Vegas with me tomorrow for a Conference?
Me: Hell Yeah!
I had to be up at 4:45 the next morning and our flight was at 6:50. When we got to Vegas they didn’t waste any time. There were slot machines ready to be played right after we stepped out from our gate.
We then headed to our hotel- The HardRock. Because we had no car we took cabs every where we went during our trip. I can honestly say either you love your cab driver or are totally annoyed by them. They either can’t understand english and don’t follow directions or they are really cool and have very interesting stories to tell. One cab driver we had was telling us that he always picks up hoes and that he hates it because they are so cheap. He said these hoes out here will “Crack a dude for 2 G’s ($2,000) then leave you a dollar tip.” Right after that he said “Yeah, I’ve seen all kind of crazy shit in this cab. People always get it on in the back there and I don’t even clean it up.” –> It’s a good thing he told us that just as we were getting out because we prob would have waited for another cab, even though all cabs are probably like that…Ignorance is bliss…lol
The conference was really cool. I got to see some great key notes and discussion panels on social media, SEO, monetizing your blog etc. I would say that one of my favorite speeches was done by Gary Vaynerchuk, of Wine Library TV. The best thing about attending events like this one, and IZEAFest is the networking, during the conference and after. Ted and I went to some great after party’s and got to hand out with Brian Clark, Michael Brito, Loren Feldman, Gary V, Chris Brogan, Shoe Money, Brian Solis, Pete Cashmore and many more. It was really an awesome experience and I feel some great things will come from it for IZEA.
After all of our preparation, the IzeaFest Conference this past weekend went extremely well. The event had some of the worlds top bloggers, marketing experts and internet moguls in attendance. Below is a brief summary of some of my favorite speakers and their accomplishments:
Michael Brito is a strategic social media marketer with 10 years of online marketing experience. He currently works for Intel managing their consumer social media and has held previous marketing positions at Yahoo!, HP and Sony Electronics. He is a really cool guy as well. We had a few drinks and hung out different times during the weekend. He also mentioned that he liked GroupTable, my start up, and even posted a link to it on his facebook account. Thanks Michael!
Brian Clark is a new media writer/producer, entrepreneur, and recovering attorney. A ten-year-veteran of Internet publishing, Clark has racked up millions of dollars in sales thanks to a mix of online educational content and direct response copywriting. He built three successful offline businesses using online marketing techniques before switching to a producer model that involves building, monetizing, and occasionally selling online media properties. His blog Copyblogger has over 37,000 subscribers and is one of the most popular in the world according to Technorati. I ultimately want to make moves like he does. He is also very down to earth and knowledgeable.
Jeremy Shoemaker went from unemployment to eight figures in only four years, Jeremy “ShoeMoney” Schoemaker is a blogger’s “American dream.” Starting with absolutely, no capital he educated himself and began building ecommerce sites to earn revenue. During this time he started blogging his experiences at Shoemoney.com and then used the blog to spring board new companies like Auctionads, which had one of the most impressive launches of any online advertising company ever. Jeremy continues to launch new startups and also chronicles his adventures on his blog. Oh yeah and he had a $134k adsense check in one month…that’s unbelievable
Neil Patel is the CTO of ACS, a search engine marketing firm located in Orange County California. ACS is a full service firm that specializes in web strategy consulting, online marketing, search engine marketing, buzz/viral marketing, social media optimization, brand management, community building, design and development consulting. He is a very successful, young entrepreneur. Not to mention he is funny as hell. Def someone I could see myself hanging out with if we lived closer.
Loren Feldman is the President of 1938 Media. Loren directs the overall operations of the company and is responsible for corporate development and strategic planning. Prior to founding 1938 Media, Loren founded and published NY Hotshot magazine and was a creative director at MusicVision, an interactive advertising agency, where he developed online advertising campaigns for companies such as Nokia and Scion. He has to be the funniest video blogger on the web. Check out this video he produced of him and Jeremy Shoemaker. He also produced a funny video called Where are All the Black Tech Bloggers, def controversial, but I thought it was funny as hell…I decided to screw with him a bit and introduced myself to him at the party Thursday night and said Hi Loren…I’m a black tech blogger. Good times…lol Ne way he’s doing his thing and def has my support.
John Chow is the founder and CEO of TTZ Media Inc., an advertising network that provides shopping comparison banners to its affiliate sites. He is also the creator of John Chow dot Com, one of the most successful personal blogs on the Internet. John is best known for showing the power of blogging when he used his blog as an income case study. He took the blog from $350 per month to a over $30,000 per month in just over one year. Check out his videos at our office and on the scavenger hunt they are funny as hell.
There were a lot of other great people and speakers I met at IzeaFest as well. Here is a short list…Tamar Weinberg from Mashable, Steve Spalding from how to split an atom and groove shark, Sean Livingston (He was the MC for the event and did an awesome job!), Johnathan Dingman (Really cool kid, owner of fireside media), Merlin man who is a great speaker and entrepreneur, and Lena West a successful entrepreneur and marketing consultant. One more speaker I’ll note is Scott Allen. Though I knew Scott before, he actually did the design for GroupTable, he gave a good presentation during the blog make over session. There was a significant amount of other speakers there and all did well. Those mentioned above were those that I had a chance to meet and talk to or left a lasting impression on me. (Sorry if your excluded…I’m sure you rocked!)
Besides the conference, there was an izea party basically every night Thursday-Sat, we even had open bar on Thursday and Saturday. Below is a picture of my girlfriend Lindsay and I at the party Saturday night.
After the conference was over on Saturday we also had a scavenger hunt called IzeaHunt. I was a team leader and we had to do all kind of different things. You can see John Chow’s post & video about IzeaHunt here.
As I said the event was really a big success. Extra props to Ashley Edwards, Ted Murphy and all the speakers who really made the event an unforgettable experience.