If you attended and we didn’t have the chance to meet, cross-paths, smile, so be it. My apologies but we all had our own “agenda” at the conference and I think it would be safe to say that we all achieved it. Coming into Content Marketing World is a cool experience. First off, I’ve never been to Cleveland and it’s actually a really great city. There wasn’t one person we met who was negative, rude, a dick, snooty, etc. Anyway, back to the point of this, Content Marketing World is for the creative minds in the content, not marketing, industry. There are huge corporations in attendance, many mid-size and then some smaller companies as well. It’s for sparking ideas, generating new revenue streams, analyzing what you’re doing and saying why it isn’t working.
The point of the conference isn’t to say what you’re doing wrong, it’s to say what you could be doing better. Maybe in our businesses we’re writing a blog on something in our industry. Well what if we still do that, but we also make a video about it. With the video and the blog, we create a quick video for LinkedIn to promote that content. In one of my sessions, Andy Crestodina said that we’re no longer just creating content to promote our brand/product/service. “We’re now creating the content to promote the content that promotes the brand.” GENIUS! It’s true. The content that we’re creating isn’t gaining the traction and readership we desire. So, let’s create content to promote the content that we want seen. I think my biggest takeaway from the conference is being open. Having an open mind to think about all of the possibilities out there for our company brands and our personal brands.
The information at CMW was phenomenal, great experience with great information. However, the conference itself was….lackluster. The main speakers from Content Marketing Institute, Robert Rose, Stephanie Stahl, and the founder of Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, all seemed like they were forced to be there. The energy they spoke with, the vibe they gave off and the demeanor they had just seemed lackluster. Almost like when you’ve perfected your craft and it’s just second nature for you at this point. The only energy in the room came from the cheers when one of the speakers would mention Tina Fey. The way they would speak about past conferences and about each other made it seem like anyone who didn’t know or who had never attended was an outsider. Which I found extremely odd since marketing is about complete openness and looking at things differently. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe someone else felt the same way.
Now when your company pays for you to go to this conference, you want to get the most out of it! You want to sit in the front and take good notes, network, learn, expand your mind. So knowing this, wouldn’t CMI (Content Marketing Institute) allow you to pre-register for sessions to at least save your seat for the sessions you want to attend? Apparently after last years conference nobody wanted to pre-register. Which means they were the ones who didn’t get the good seats and/or missed out on the sessions they wanted to attend. This made for an extremely hectic and almost hostile situation. You had lines of 100+ people waiting in line to get in to a session where the room has a max of 80 people. The remaining 20 people would try to stand in the back or kneel on the floor just to catch a glimpse and take notes, but the workers of the conference wouldn’t allow it since it broke fire code. Which, kudos to them for the conference working their tails off and doing a hell of a job. CMI should have allowed pre-registration to take out some of this mess. There were people leaving sessions early, skipping sessions, sprinting to the next session just so they can attend the one they wanted to. That’s not right.
Dear lord! This was by far the worst part of the entire conference. There were just under 5,000 people at the conference and everyone has lunch at the same time. Everyone needed to go to the same place to get their lunch, get in line for their next session and then eat said lunch at the next session. I’m no mathematician, but 5,000 people going to one place at once creates a bottle-neck. Which is funny since that’s what we’re all trying to prevent in our sales and marketing funnel, a bottle-neck. Maybe they wanted to prove how it’s not supposed to go. Who knows.
Everything. Not really, but there’s so much to digest after a conference like this it’s best to just write things down and decompress. On the last day of the conference someone asked me who my favorite speaker was. My response was this. “Honestly, I don’t know. My brain is so fried right now that I’m surprised I remembered where to go this morning.” And that’s how I felt. My brain had information overload and that’s no joke. He actually responded with a similar response. He said he felt the same and there was so much to take in. It’s not a bad thing either! I’ve since written this, reviewed my notes and played golf. What a better way to turn your brain off than by playing golf? I’ve noticed in the past few years that I’m almost able to turn my brain off and just veg. I’m not sure if it’s from excessive drinking in college to kill my brain cells, or if I’m just maturing and not caring about the minuscule things around me. Which leads me into the next feature.
Dewitt Jones might have just changed my entire life. This man has traveled the world, seen things many ten times over that many of us in our lifetime will never see. He was a former photographer for National Geographic and filmmaker. He has taken millions of photographs and learned that it’s not the ones that you save, it’s the ones that you throw out. He always took pictures of animals, nature, people and noticed that just because a picture isn’t the “right” picture, it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong picture. He mentioned how he would sit there for hours on end watching and waiting for the right moment. All the while continuing to take pictures knowing that they weren’t the right one he was looking for. He showed a picture of a little boy who was playing with a sprinkler and how he waited to take a picture of when it was going to spray him in the face. The capture of complete joy and bliss in the little boys face was more than anyone in the entire room had ever seen in their entire life. “Don’t just live life. Celebrate!” – Dewitt Jones.
My takeaway from what he talked about was finding beauty in the moment. Even though something may be completely wrong, it didn’t go as expected and you were just completely bummed out, there is still something in that moment that is worth finding. What is it? He mentioned how he found a field filled with dandelions and it was absolutely gorgeous. But he didn’t want to take pictures of it because he just wasn’t in the mood. He said he didn’t feel right and didn’t find the beauty in that moment. So he planned on coming back to take the picture another time. Well, when he came back, they had all bloomed and were now just puff balls. But he didn’t let that deter him. He searched and found the beauty in that moment. The picture he took is the one below.
So whether you’re walking down the street and trip and scrape your leg. What’s the beauty in that moment you wonder? It’s that it wasn’t worse. It’s that you’re able to walk and stand back up while many people may not be able to. You’re living life and this won’t stop you. To keep pushing forward and to always find beauty in your moment.