Monday, April 7, 2008

Back from Blogger Social '08!

It's been a full on couple of days around here. Mostly due to the great event that was Blogger Social '08!

A huge thanks to CK and team who managed to pull this thing together and actually make it into a wonderful couple of days.

I pretty much knew no one going into this thing, and came out of it with a lot of new friends and a huge heaping of respect for bloggers in general - a really interesting and smart (in a good way) group. Some of the people I met...

...on Friday night I had the privilege of meeting Valeria for the first time. Valeria runs the Conversation Agent blog - aptly named because the first thing we did after meeting was sit down and talk for 2 hours (yes, Valeria can talk!). I also had a brief chance to talk to Seni Thomas (really smart guy who seemed to have a ton of work/life experiences in such a short span of time) and Marshall Sponder of fame (Marshall is also an artist and has the coolest 'personal branding' card I've seen in a while).

We met up at the new MoMA building on 53rd to hang out before the open bar on 45th (a museum tour within walking distance of free booze was a great way to start the weekend!). And while I never got to chat with them much, I also met Nathan Snell and Ryan Karpeles. We briefly gave Nathan a hard time over his blog's name - The Technopian. All fun-and-games though - what's in a name anyway Nathan? The more I say it the more it grows on me as well - The Technopian, The Technopian, Technopian...

I was introduced to so many people over the weekend, its hard to remember all the conversations, so forgive me if I miss one.

At the pub after the museum I met Chris Kieff - who later the next day 'cookied' all the bloggers (pictures here). I also had an all too brief conversation with John Wall - who runs the M Show Marketing podcast (which I am about to subscribe to). Gavin Heaton was one of the three(?) antipodeans at the event. Gavin flew all the way from Sydney for the weekend - now that is dedication to the cause! Gavin writes the ServantofChaos blog - one that I have been following for quite a while. It's always a great read. Check it out.

At some point in the night I got cornered into a corner with Anna Farmery and Heather Gorringe - two Brits. Standing in the corner of a pub with two English girls would normally have me searching for excuses to bolt for the door (I jest!). But not these two. Two of the nicest people I've met. Heather runs a popular farming podcast in the UK - Wiggly Wigglers. While Anna runs the Engaging Brand blog and is one of those really smart people you can have a conversation about anything with - I think we covered topics from consumer apathy on environmental issues, to choices in the face of imminent extinction. How did we get on to that?

Later in the night I got to meet Paul McEnany of heehawMarketing -another blog I have been following for a while - Paul's a great writer. Always has a clear idea and lets his personality really come through in what he writes - it's honest stuff. Briefly got to talk to the other antipodean, Katie Chatfield - still supports the All Blacks despite the Australian accent - good to see. Also got to talk to Mike Arauz - whose blog I didn't have in my reader but now do. Had a great wide ranging, far reaching and interesting conversation with Marilyn Pratt that continued the next day. Marilyn is a community evangelist at SAP. Having started our business in the Microsoft program, it was interesting to briefly hear how another company manages a developer network.

One of the highlights was bumping into Saul Colt - the Marketing guy for FreshBooks. I use Freshbooks for my consulting and just love it. It's one of those brands that just has the marketing built in. A lot of that is Saul's doing. He is, after all, The Smartest Man in the World! Saul hit me up for a 'user profile' spot that I am going to take him up on. I love to talk about products and services I like - it's almost a duty these days.

On the Saturday afternoon we all went on a boat ride around Manhattan. CK donned a 'liberty crown' and ended up looking a lot like the statue - 'statuesque' describes her pretty well. 'Larger than life' would also fit.

On the boat I had a chance to talk with Mario Vellandi and Jennifer Berk - Jennifer's blog is Information Squid... because she just likes squids. We got into a conversation about the various merits of octopuses and starfish, but squid just seemed to come out on top every time. I also had a good talk with Rohit Bhargava and got a chance to skim read his just released book Personality Not Included. Off to Amazon to get it right now. I get a good feel for a book just skimming the pages, and this one looks to be great. A must read if you are any way involved with branding or Marketing.

Again, you have to give credit to CK and team who pulled this off. It really was a 'social' - just a bunch of people with similar interests and passions getting together and hanging out. I couldn't make the Saturday night event, but I am sure it was also a huge success.

One last thought. On the boat we were asked (as part of a video documentary of the weekend) to say a few words about Tibet. Next to us on the pier were Tibetans protesting over the recent Chinese crackdown. On the spur of the moment I think managed to blurt out something nonsensical. What I meant to say was...

... I'm not a person who throws around hope in humanity lightly - we don't have a great track record. But if this 'social' and the community around it is any indication of the future of communication, governments who rely on the suppression of expression, of ideas or dissent will not last long. The wider we make the conversation, the more inclusive and less restrictive, the more honest and powerful it becomes. That has to give hope to displaced and suffering people everywhere.

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Mario Vellandi said...

Hi Paul,

It was great meeting with you; I didn't know it was a business intelligence software startup you were operating - very cool! I love information management, having been involved in helping set up Salesforce for a previous employer, I appreciate the value of interconnecting relational data. Now, beyond CRM is what I'm interested in...particularly in regards to competitive intelligence data systems that can really just be a conglomeration of defined database objects with incoming external data. This could be great not just for looking at competitors, but also suppliers, partners, etc...I wish I knew you were in this field, and we could have chatted some more. Ah well, here I am now!

Regarding Tibet, I can only agree that dialogue is the best steps toward reducing violence and mistrust, whatever the outcome may be: sovereign nation (unlikely IMO) or commonwealth status (more plausible).

Paul Soldera said...

Hi Mario,

Likewise, I had a great time. I tried not to talk about work too much with everyone but it seems that might have paid off with you! Very cool that you are into this area. Our specific area is BI for Marketing - so dealing much more with aggregation of data, performance measures, KPI setting etc. We try to label it all under Customer Intelligence - which works sometimes, although the term gets used often in other contexts as well. Competitive Intelligence actually dovetails well with what we are doing - we have a SaaS system so pulling in external data to bolster your marketing intelligence is something we're looking at (sideways at the moment as we have other fish to fry).

Love to hear your ideas in this area if you want to share!

Hit me up on paulsoldera(at) Or FB!

Valeria Maltoni said...

I had missed this brilliant post. You can talk, too... and that is a good thing. There's chatting and there's connecting and you have the ease of connecting built in. Looking forward to more conversations where I get to listen about your work ;-)

Paul Soldera said...

Thanks Valeria, I had a great time chatting to you at BS'08. We should do more of it!

Gavin Heaton said...

Hey Paul, this is a great wrap-up of the event. I had avoided doing something similar, but this may just have inspired me to change my mind!

Paul Soldera said...

Hi Gavin, great to meet you last week. I guess my post was really just a brain dump of the conversations I remembered. But they were great conversations so I figured yeah, they all deserve a post!

saulcolt said...

Hi Paul,

It was great to meet you and I am thrilled to be included in your post here. You said such nice things...I am not used to that :)

Please drop me an email whenever you would like to be featured on the FreshBooks website as I would love to have you up there!

Saul Colt
Head of Magic

Paul Soldera said...

Hey Saul, thanks for stopping by! Definitely going to take you up on that offer. Great to meet you as well.