Well after a 4 year hiatus from attending any Massive events, I made my way down to the #F5Expo today at Canada place with @VictoriaChemko. It was a pretty cool experience for me; kind of like a 10 year high school re-union of sorts as I got to re-connect with many people I hadn’t seen in years.
We arrived around noon, in time for a few hours of the trade show, networking, and for the keynote presentation by Malcolm Gladwell at 3pm.
The quality of exhibitors was high. I liked seeing that almost all of them were right on point with the topic of the conference (social media). The mini presentations going on at many of the booths was also a nice touch and seemed to be appreciated by the groups gathered there.
Attendance looked solid; a little slow while the big presentations were on but that could be expected. I’m guessing at least a few thousand people made it down from what I could see… so not bad at all.
Nice extras: The free coffee, free caricatures (sp?) were a nice touch! I was also impressed with fact the event had its very own iPhone app, and the use of social media at the event (twitter feeds prominently displayed throughout for anyone using the #f5Expo hash tags).
Malcolm Gladwell: I have mixed feelings on his presentation; first off – I was filled with anticipation just to be listening to the guy who wrote such amazing books: Tipping Point, Blink, & Outliers. Having learned valuable bits of life & business strategy from each of his books, I was eager to see what I could glean from his presentation. I had to chuckle to myself at his appearance… a real unique looking guy. I guess it doesn’t matter what style of sports shoes you wear, or how big your afro is when you have reached his level of fame
His presentation style I found captivating & entertaining. I normally fall asleep pretty quick at these sorts of things but he kept me entertained the whole way through.
In a short summary of his presentation; it was about how the Internet was great at building weak ties, or low trust relationships with lots of people as opposed to strong trusting ties… something that seemed fairly intuitive to most people in the room. Yes - ok, I’ll admit it… i don’t know more than 300 of the friends on my 2000 friends facebook list. What I thought was interesting was the history of the biggest revolutions in the past few hundred years, and how people first thought they were based on technological innovations of that time (ie: The French revolution and the printing press… The ending of the Vietnam war, and the Television, Obama and social media), but then went on to prove that it in fact had little if nothing to do with these technologies. He proved his point well, and I now know a lot more about Fidel Castro, and how to start a revolution that will last >> build it on strong-tie relationships… not the internet (Sorry Obama).
So what did I take away from Malcolm’s talk? Well not planning on any major revolutions of my own in the immediate future, it definitely got me thinking more about the value of having close relationships in the face of exploding weak ties. It reminded me a bit of the dot-com bubble, how so many businesses gravitated away from business fundamentals with inexperienced management and investors feeding each other up to the crash of 1999. Sure; it was common knowledge then that business needs to be built around certain basic rules (ie: Yes… revenue should exceed your expenses before you run out of capital), but those ideas were lost in the stock market & media hype. The same thing with close-knit relationship – everyone in business today knows how important it is to have a great circle of close ties that you can count on to grow your business, but there are a lot of people overly consumed with their facebook fans & their twitter friends, they forget to attend things like the networking events at Steamworks tonight to meet people in the flesh.
So in a nutshell – did I learn anything new? I think so.
I was inspired to keep sticking to the business basics and realize that every major innovation comes at an expense.
Don’t get too caught up in the social media frenzy at the expense of shrinking your strong-tie relationships.
Don’t forget about the building blocks of revolutions – whether they be the over-throwing of a future dictatorship, or convincing your manager it’s time for a better coffee machine.
Oh and once you are rich and famous, you can dress however the hell you want.