Just returned from Phoenix after attending Marketing Prof’s Digital Mixer. It was an outstanding event. I have been to their events in the past, but this one was the best by far. In trying to put my finger on what made this event great, I thought back to other events I have attended that had a similar feel.
The first, was a conference organized by Peter Senge in the early 90’s at Bretton Woods. The second was a gathering Tom Peters organized in 2002 and invited a few of his “cool friends” to (I had the honor of joining that list after the publication of my first book, Aha) along with some major corporate leaders. The third happens every year when I attend the TED Conference.
The feeling at each of these events comes from the participants, not from the content. Sure the content is important, most of us would never go if the content did not draw us in (or we were not invited to deliver some of it). The people and the dialogue that go on in the halls, at dinner (or in this case in the casino) are where new connections are made and ideas launched. At each of these events in the past, there were incredible individuals that I connected with, some who have become life-long friends, others mere acquaintances, but none-the-less, the conversations were life changing for me and many of the participants.
At Bretton Woods, I met many of the influential leaders of the then very hot Learning Organization community. I formed a loose partnership with one of them, and we worked together for several years in a variety of interesting ways that led me to the publication of my creativity book, and built a great management development business.
In Vermont, I connected with many influentials of the digital world who were starting to change the way we viewed the web. Seth Godin, Dan Pink, Marti Barletta, Robyn Waters, David Weinberger and many more. I had started SubscriberMail at that time, and the ideas and feedback that came out of that gathering helped shape the vision for our organization.
TED every year is simply TED. It defies description beyond the fact that it is the single event that I attend that requires I take a vacation afterwards to process the input. You can certainly read more about TED on this blog, but you can experience some of the content at the TED website.
Now I come to this event, which I have fondly just started to refer to as #mpdm . For those of you who Twitter, you will understand the reference, the rest of you, will soon. From my perspective, this event fell into the same basket with the ones I have named above because of the participants. There were many of the people I know from the email world, along with some of the SEO world. The catalyst at this event however were the Social Media participants. They verified for me that this is indeed and exciting marketing element, and in my mind they were the “who’s who” of this new space.
I am sure that many of the participants formed relationships that are going to fuel new business ventures, create great new concepts and build new marketing ideas. Many of the connections I made are people I plan to stay connected with and hope to get to know better in the years to come. I think we will all be on this new marketing road together, and boy does it look cool. Sure the economy is glum, but with opportunity like this, why worry? As one of the keynote speakers Gary Vaynerchuk (future owner of the NY Jets) stated so eloquently, in the down economy, the first thing big companies will drop is their funding and focus on new marketing initiatives (like social media). This creates fantastic opportunities for everyone currently in the space and willing to invest work, time and money.