Lessons Learned: Bigg Night In Chicago

With just enough of learning to misquote. – George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord Byron (1788–1824)

It’s always a little difficult to open a post with a quote, but sometimes you have to try. A kernel of knowledge can indeed be a dangerous thing and a fact many, myself included, forget all too often. So with that fundamental baseline, I’m in Chicago to learn and meet good folks. Every day represents a new opportunity to drive change, improve your understanding of stuff and develop relationships – day 1 was of SOBCon has provided all 3 for me at least.

The first thing I have learned is we all want to meet others like ourselves and be part of a community. A quick/ad hoc survey of the attendees last night easily represented all four corners of the US and around the world. The diversity in geography is only matched by the diversity in expertise and passions which are distributed amongst the attendees I’ve spoken to so far.

While it seems that the blogosphere is littered with marketing folk and productivity leaders, this meeting represents participants who have diverse editorial agendas – parenting/homeschooling, education/international culture…. While I met a good deal of folks (ok Emily did – she was my introduction wing chick), we spent the majority of the evening engage in just a few coversational circles. It’s not the quantity, but quality and I was able to find some quality insights without a doubt from everyone I spoke to.

One of those more interesting and rewarding conversations was with Mary-Lynn and George, from Bigg Success. So today, I thought I would post the 3 things I learned from Mary-Lynn and George:

  • Cards are good
  • Get ahead of the game
  • Play into your strengths

Cards are Good

Yup I love pinochle, but this reference is about a different type of cards – business cards. Ok – nearly everyone I met reinforced this lesson along the way. Apparently everyone makes their own cards – CRAZY creative cards which convey their focus.

Style, substance and brand are just part of having your own cards, but they also serve the very tactical purpose, follow up. You will invariably meet so many smart, cool and interesting folks throughout an event you can’t possibly remember everyone, even though you try. Essentially it appears that your cards are an extension of your brand.

Lesson learned – get cards – CHECK!

Get ahead of the Game

Last night I spent the better part of the evening honing my introduction pitch. The pitch organically meandered into an overly verbose apology for the lack of business cards while rolling into explaining that I’ve been traveling for three weeks and that my recent content shouldn’t be seen as characteristic of what I’m trying to do at spatiallyrelevant.org. I’m actually not sure what I am trying to do here which is another reason I am here at SOBCon08.

While I did reasonably hone this intro, my sheepish/apologetic intro pitch to George and Mary-Lynn teed up an immediately valuable retort on the importance of staying ahead of the game. George made it pretty straight forward: plan, write, edit and post. Seems simple enough – stay 1-2 weeks ahead. Initially I thought this was uniquely related to audio, since Bigg Success focuses on high quality audio production, but no it’s all things content since all content requires planning and execution. George confirmed this by providing an overview of their hybrid approach leveraging text, audio and newsletters for their readers.

So the key thing to remember for me was to stay ahead of the curve on content production. If I can practice this seemingly straight forward concept, I just might be able to avoid the horrible content holes which continuously creeps up by accident or by conflict here. So hopefully, the conflicts of my life, travel and the absence creativity can be avoided by staying ahead of the game with my content.

Play into your Strengths

So while I have multiple ways to look at this, Mary-Lynn and George put it simple: “We plan, we produce and leverage core skills which makes a better product in our opinion”, or something like that. So I took a little time to think about this. My conclusion – it’s as much about as skills as it is about reputation. The talented folks I have met here already have a common thread/quality – they are leveraging their past experiences to drive credibility and authority.

Bigg Success’ Mary Lynn is an example of this with proven/verifiable career in radio, as is George who brings to bear a life of lesson’s learned in business and an academic approach to sharing the information they provide on their shows. These folks are an example of how we should use our knowledge, skills and integrity to deliver value to our readers/listeners in a medium that best suits a person’s abilities. This is just what they have done.

While video may be killing the radio star, that doesn’t appear to be the case with Bigg Success, they are hopefully at the start of their online hockey stick, but for them it is more than stats.

George crisply summarized what “Bigg Success” would be for he and Mary-Lynn: “If we can help a single person with each program then we have accomplished a big part of why we are doing this”.

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  • Reply jon gatrell May 3, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Blog: Lessons Learned: Bigg Night In Chicago: With just enough of learning to misquote. – George G.. http://tinyurl.com/3rbpdy

  • Reply George and Mary-Lynn May 3, 2008 at 6:50 pm


    One of the highlights of this event for us was meeting you and Emily!

    Here’s what we learned from you:

    1. Being likeable (and better yet fun) goes a long way in networking. You two are a great team … which leads to …

    2. Know what you bring to the table and pair up with people with complementary skills. You and Emily are the perfect example of this.

    3. By definition, there is no such thing as a one-sided conversation. We thank you for your kind words and just wanted to let you know that we learned a lot from you too!

  • Reply J G May 3, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    em is blushing and I’m just thankful for the follow up. Soon she will be blogging – I hope. 2 days done – 1 to go! see you tomorrow. I’m gonna edit the post to put the appropriate hyphens in – corrections are important.


    ~j & e

  • Reply AmyL May 3, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Jon, excellent lessons! As an individual who didn’t even consider the possibility of bringing along business cards I’m going to count that as one of the many many lessons I’m learning this weekend.

    And I’ll have to second what George and Mary-Lynn had to say: you and Emily are a fantastic couple and so much fun to spend time with. Very glad to have met you both!

  • Reply J G May 4, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Too many lesson’s to learn. Keep up the good work on your blog and in your school. Stay warm in GR.


  • Reply Pete May 4, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Great to meet you and Emily.

  • Reply J G May 4, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Pete – thanks for the comment and good to meet you . Safe travels back to Iowa. Get your blog going and send the link.

  • Reply Ruth Marie Sylte May 7, 2008 at 10:09 am

    It was great to meet you in Chicago at SOBCon08, Jon. I’m delighted to see that you linked to my post about choosing the Norwegian word for “community manager”. The world is an exciting place with plenty of lessons to be learned. I’m glad we’re both a part of helping to teach and inform each other.

  • Reply J G May 8, 2008 at 5:52 am

    Good meeting indeed! THe community manager post just had to be linked, one of the more interesting things I’ve heard of so it was important to share. Hope all is well and we are now connected on multiple networks.

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