Last October, Maggie flew out for our now annual planning tradition, and we tossed around the idea of using a fiscal year of October – September rather than the calendar year.
It’s a little silly, but Maggie joined me in October 2013, and it was such a momentous shift in my thinking about what my business could become that it felt right to honor that moment by creating our own calendar.
Ultimately, we discarded this as a fun idea that isn’t so great in practice. The accounting software I use generates useful reports based on the traditional calendar year, and with tax filings and all that, practicality and ease won out.
But I still can’t shake the feeling that our year actually started in October.
And by that measure, we’re already having the best year ever. That’s why, to kick off the “real” new year, I’d love to share the first piece of good news with you.
One of the things that has long been on my business bucket list is doing more public speaking and live workshops. Over the years, the lack of a speaking schedule has become something of a sore spot, because it’s a cobbler’s daughter has no shoes situation. I have a ton of professional experience lining up speaking opportunities for other people, but I never make the time to pitch myself.
At the same time, I’ve been doing a lot of relationship building. It’s this relationship building that ultimately lead to a situation where I am entering 2015 with not one but two big appearances scheduled early this year.
I’m going to be talking a lot more about one of them next week, because the opportunity is bringing with it a challenge I am sure you can relate to. Stay tuned — I don’t think you’ll want to miss it.
But there’s another event in that I do want to share with you now.
I’m speaking at The Instigator Experience in April. I’m especially excited, because Instigator is a dream conference:
It’s an intimate event, capped at 60 attendees. Srinivas Rao, the mastermind behind the event, is devoted to generating a lot of opportunities for speakers and attendees to interact. I’m a person that feels more comfortable making direct connections, so I can’t imagine a better setup for my first big talk as the founder of my agency.
The theme of the event, Igniting a Movement, is close to my heart and aligned with the purpose driving my agency. I also think an event like this, which brings together a small and dedicated group of speakers and attendees is essential to creating a support system that enables those brave, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, change makers and instigators to break through the barriers and launch their visions into reality.
I am personally excited about the other speakers. Some, like Jadah Sellner of Simple Green Smoothies, I’ve seen speak before, and I’ve been blown away. Others, like Christina Rasmussen, are addressing topics that I can’t wait to hear.
I’d love for you to join us as one of the 60 attendees, because it’s such an intimate event. I’ll be talking about Harnessing the Media to Move Hearts and Minds, and it’d be awesome to see your face from the stage.
Applications are open now, and you can click here to learn a lot more about The Instigator Experience. If you’ll be there, I’d love to hear from you beforehand, so we can be sure to carve out time for one another.
P.S. What I’m doing in this post, celebrating a big win with you, is something I intend to do a lot more of in 2015. Sharing our successes is tremendously important, and it’s my opinion that we, as business builders, don’t do enough of it. Can you think of an opportunity to celebrate with your own community?
On Saturday, August 23rd, Brigitte is joining Tara Gentile on CreativeLive to teach a segment on connecting with the influencers that will take your message to the big time.
As part of Tara’s 3-day program, I’ll be helping you redefine networking and giving you a concrete action plan for making the connections that will drive more customers to your next launch.
You’ll learn the secret to connecting that PR mavens know (and you can steal).
And the best part is it’s free to tune in!
When you do RSVP, you’ll immediately get access to bonus video content on finding your next big thing, avoiding a flopped launch and turning excitement into dollars.
The program kicks off this Thursday at 9 a.m. Pacific (and my segment is Saturday around 12:45 Pacific). Hope you’ll join us!
A week before the World Domination Summit, an annual event that brings together a mix of world travelers, entrepreneurs and renegades to Portland for a weekend of inspiration and connection, I learned that yet another member of my crew wouldn’t be returning for the event.
This was the fifth or sixth such disappointment. One of the reasons I always go back to WDS is to see the friends who live all over the globe. Without my nearest and dearest, why even bother?
I wasn’t sure it was going to be worth the investment, but I’d decided to bring Maggie so I could introduce her around, and it was to be her first WDS experience. I figured that even if I didn’t get a lot out of it, in my fourth year, she should have a blast.
So we got on the plane.
Fast forward 4 days to the moment I pre-ordered our tickets for WDS 2015.
So why do I keep attending the same conference year-after-year?
1. The speakers’ stories keep me focused on the purpose of my agency.
Nine years ago, I worked on a contentious regulatory issue in the state of Illinois. As both a media pro and speechwriter, my words were shared in newspapers, on the radio, on TV news broadcasts and in speeches that reached thousands of people across the state.
Sounds like a dream for a PR pro, right? But I worried I was on the wrong side of the issue. After all, the governor and consumer groups were against us. Nonetheless, the argument our client made was solid, so I got the job done. I defended my former agency’s client in my personal life as well as through the media.
Until one day, the client admitted they’d lied to the PR team.
…and we were winning the regulatory battle.
I was shattered. Within a month, I had a new job, far away from legislative and regulatory issues. Even though my job was still in media relations, I didn’t watch the news for 2 years. I couldn’t bear to think of how my press releases were read by newscasters or printed up as stories in The Chicago Tribune.
All my life, I’d been a political junkie. That part of my life was over.
…Until I started reading Chris Guillebeau’s blog, and others like it.
Here were people impacting social change, and more amazingly, not expressing an ounce of cynicism that they could make a difference.
When the tickets for the inaugural World Domination Summit went on sale back in 2011, I purchased mine immediately.
Sitting in the audience, I felt a stirring of hope, a feeling that I could use my superpowers for good. I could get back in the game, this time working with people on the right side of the issues.
I go back to the World Domination Summit every year to feed that feeling.
2. When you find your community, make time for them.
After just one day in Portland, I realized that my main crew not attending was a gift.
A criticism of WDS, and every conference really, is that the community very quickly siphons into cliques. It can feel like all the cool kids are hanging out without you, especially when you see certain people walking around with speakers or your favorite bloggers.
But what’s really happening is that people who haven’t seen each other all year are simply making time for their best friends. It’s not malicious, and I’d argue this tendency is not inherently negative.
I’ve now been on both sides of this fence. In my first year, I didn’t know many people, and in my second and third, I bonded with my crew. In a small but significant way, I’d lost the very openness to connection that made my first WDS experience such an overwhelmingly positive experience.
This fourth time, I was in the best position of all, where I knew a bunch of great folks AND I was receptive to new connection.
At a conference like WDS, you never know who you might connect with. A future business partner. A client. A fast friend you’ll invite over for Thanksgiving next year. Someone you’ve collaborated with for the past year but never actually met in person.
I’ve been in each of these positions over the years, but only because I’ve made meeting my Internet friends and collaborators and clients a priority.
3. Consistency, consistency, consistency.
I don’t only attend WDS to get fired up and spend time with friends. I go to network.
Because I have a business purpose for attending conferences, it follows that I’d follow the first rule of marketing.
Anyone who does trade shows knows how important this is. In your first year, buyers might not put down an order, because they’re not quite sure you’re going to be around in 12 months. Media might glance at your product, but they don’t stop for a conversation.
But in your second year, and your third and your fourth, you get recognized by the very people you once idolized.
4. As a 4th (or 2nd or 3rd) year, you get to mentor newcomers.
This year, I brought Maggie. Because she’s new to the community of world-changers and rabble-rousers that attend WDS each year, I wasn’t sure how she’d experience the event. If she pressed for the reason I was spending all this money to get both of us to the conference, I didn’t have a strong answer.
But I knew I wanted Maggie to experience firsthand the event that launched my own entrepreneurial journey.
I’m not certain mentoring is the right word for it, but returning puts you in the unique position of being in the know. You can make introductions, help a newcomer decide on the right pacing (do you skip a session for a quick nap or push through and head to lunch with new friends?), and choose to be a friendly and helpful face in the crowd.
This year, I took that role seriously. When I attended in 2011, I only knew a few people, but one of them introduced me to Leo Babauta, which directly led to this post on Zen Habits. I still get daily traffic from this 3-year old blog post.
I paid that debt forward, time and time again. When I met someone new, I often asked point blank, “Who would you most like to meet?” With 2,000 people in attendance, I certainly didn’t know everybody, or even a third of everybody, but I’d been attending long enough to have friendly relationships with quite a few of the “big names” (aka totally down-to-earth people who happened to have a big following).
I delighted in the fact that I was able to make a few of those introductions.
As Chris says, we all get to be ambassadors at WDS.
Look, it doesn’t matter if the World Domination Summit is your thing.
When it comes to relationship-building and growing your business, it’s important to find and nurture your community of peers and potentials.
And even in an environment where it’s easy to forge a bond on Instagram, relationships are best nurtured on the ground.
Like any investment, you get the greatest return when you tend and nurture your peers and prospects.
You never know who you might meet.