I’m not really much of a conference guy. Even if I had the money and time to fly all over the world to attend tech conference after tech conference, I don’t think I’d do it.
In terms of interaction, I’ve met tons of great young business owners from around the world online using this blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and through all of our sites. Example – I have a direct link to Gary Vaynerchuk because I sort of interviewed him. If I went to a conference, I might be able to speak to him…or maybe not. But now I can sure email my contact at his company and get through to him if I really want to.
In terms of offline interaction, I’m lucky enough to live in a city where there is enough academia and tech business that it isn’t all that hard to meet people that do the types of stuff I’m interested in. I have a handful of friends locally who run businesses, both online and off. I also know several people in NYC, which is a 2 hour 30 minute train ride away. That’s good enough for me.
Of course, the other reason that people attend conferences is for the speakers. You get to hear some of the best people in their respective professions give talks about the things that they’re passionate about. You can learn a ton by listening to successful people speak. Luckily, all of these conferences post every single talk online. Want to go to TED? LeWeb? BigOmaha? Sit at your monitor and watch the entire conference at home for free. Want to have access to Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Though Leaders class? Just download the podcasts and listen on your way to work.
It’s really pretty amazing if you think about it. 15 years ago the thought of what I just described would have been laughable. I’ve been meaning to do a post about this for a while. There are so many great talks I’ve seen recently that I wasn’t sure how to organize it all. I may double back down the road and do something more extensive, but for now these are the two talks that really stand out in my mind as being absolute must watches.
In both cases, the videos are extremely entertaining and extremely educational. They both preach the type of entrepreneurship that I (try to) advocate:
- Do something you are passionate about
- Have a great product or service
- Fund it yourself
- Have an actual revenue model
- Grow slowly and organically
- Listen to and interact with your customers
- Work hard
- Create a lifestyle that works for you from the beginning
- Build a business for the long term
Gary and David are both ultra passionate, ultra opinionated, and ultra outspoken, so there’s some (OK, a lot of) dirty language.
Anyway, here are the videos:
David Heinemeier Hansson from 37Signals at Startup School ’08
Gary Vaynerchuk at LeWeb ’09