First comes the story we all asked each other when we met…”How did you hear about LessConf?”
Most answers were, oh I was here before or my friend told me about it. Mine is just a bit different and it happened on February 17, 2013 when I stumbled upon a blog post called “Top North American Conferences for Entrepreneurs” on the Clarity.fm blog http://blog.clarity.fm/top-north-american-conferences-for-entrepreneurs/
If you visit the site you will see that there is a long list there but while scrolling through the list I got to the section titled “Have Your Mind Blown (Inspiration)” and what I saw next was love at first sight with LessConf.
LessConf (April 11-13, 2013; Panama City Beach, Florida)
Pack a diaper because you are going to pee yourself many times. LessConf is the place to go to laugh, listen to amazing speakers and leave smiling. More importantly, it’s the place to be if you want to challenge conventional thinking.
The LessConf website only confirmed the love with its most awesome descriptions and weird design of floating bubbles.
What is LessConf?
LessConf is not like other events you’ve heard about. Sure there’s speakers, after parties, people with laptops, it has been called “Summer camp for startups”, “the best time of my life,” and even “the world’s worst conference”.
Fast Forward to April 11, 2013 when I landed at the Panama City airport all alone, nervous and excited at the same time. Thoughts were going through my head…”what if they don’t like me?”, “what if this isn’t for me since I’m not a programmer or coder?”, “what if…” and then I snapped out of it while sending an email to the group as I didn’t see anyone with a LessConf sign like we were instructed. That’s when I met my first SuperFriends of the weekend, Nathan & Kim @FirstNate whose cool product PromoFLy already has me hooked now, you too should have a look www.getpromofly.com.
Other soon to be SuperFriends were slowly gathering around us until we got to about 20 people that then squeezed into vans sponsored by GitHub and headed to our destination at the Bay Point Wyndham Resort where we signed our life away in about four separate waivers and received LessConf T-shirts and other items from our gracious sponsors.
What followed next during dinner that night had some people running as live animals from ZooWorld came out of their cages. There was a crocodile, a parrot, a snake, a lemur, a hedgehog and even a baby kangaroo that became a twitter celebrity that night.
Of course the Charfigy.com bull tried stealing the kangaroo’s fame at the afterparty when it started dancing to AndyD’s music. More entertainment that night was provided by the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus (thanks Steph & Keith) who were ever so patient and supportive in teaching others how to juggle. Personal accomplishment was when I went from not being able to juggle one to juggling with three.
After a long first night and low on sleep we were ready for the un-named speakers scheduled to inspire us on April 12. 2013, and inspire they did! The Martin Theatre in downtown Panama City was the venue of choice (and a great one at that).
Some of Jack’s quotes & advice:
- “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”
- “Get 80% solution and start executing”
- Have a Back Up Plan
- OODA Loop – “Observe -> Orient -> Decide ->Act”
- Commander’s Intent: key element to help a plan maintain relevancy and applicability in a chaotic, dynamic, environment.”Small changes can have a big impact”
- Broad View (Don’t micromanage)
- High Level Goals
- Mid Level Objectives
- “Communication is negotiation””Aviate, navigate, communicate”
- “Sound cool on the radio” keep calm like Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger who landed in the Hudson river… see video
Sound cool to the rest of the world even if business is in trouble
- “If they are shooting at you, you’re doing something right”
- “Invest in training”
- “Learn how to learn”
- “Take care of your people”
Our next speaker was AJ Leon of PursuitOfEverything.com
AJ used to be an unremarkably average financial executive in Manhattan until he decided to stop living the life he was supposed to live, and start living the life he was destined to live. Now, he spends most of his time changing the world. He is a writer, designer, entrepreneur, humanitarian and world traveler.
Some of AJ’s quotes and advice “Musings from a Life Reinvented”:
- “Your life is always just one brief moment of audacity away from remarkable”
- Starting from scratch -you don’t have to choose, you can create
- “Define your moments or they will define you”
- “This is not your practice life, this is all there is”
- “Most people are waiting for a glitch” I was trapped “The more money you make, the harder it is to walk away”
- A lottery or inheritance to go on that trip they’ve been dreaming of
- a big bonus to use and start their own business
- or… a cup of Starbucks coffee to burn the sh*t out of them so they can sue for money
- “I was making an extraordinary amount of money but I hated my life, I despised my work”
- “I hated myself for trading my life for more money”
- “You can, and should rebel against a system that tries to tell you what your life should be like”
- “We all dream of escaping the office, but we don’t change what we do after getting out.”
- “Everything from tomorrow on is unwritten, be the protagonist and write your own novel”
- ” We got rid of almost everything we owned except what fit into a backpack”
- “Taught ourselves how to travel the world on the cheap, bartered by creating websites or services etc”
- “You can choose options that are given to you or you can reject all options and set out to create from scratch”
Up to bat came Ryan Ohara who works over at Dyn Inc. in Business Development
He is looking for cool sites that Dyn Inc. should work with. He is interested in zany marketing/advertising campaigns, Interactive Web/Media, Films, Playing Piano/Synth/Keyboard, and taking over the world.
His presentation was titled: The Art of Digital First Impression and how to be memorable even if you fail to make a connection or get a deal done.
Some of Ryan’s quotes:
- “Put an open ended question at the end of your email”
- “Give them first impression, and if rejected make them feel bad because you are awesome!”
- “Don’t make viral videos. – Make a realistic goal”
- “Don’t be a wuss! – Follow up”
Ryan’s story was a touching one of Losing Everything. Like many of us, Ryan’s greed at the age of 24 was his deadly sin that landed him in federal prison for insider trading. He was very nervous about sharing his story with the world but everyone in the room and hopefully Ryan himself was glad to reveal a vulnerable dark spot of his past. Ryan talked about prison life, disgusting prison food, importance of exercise, TV shows like Prison Break, passing time by writing letters etc.
“You’re always one trade away from humility” is the quote that has stuck with Ryan. Even though he lost everything, he was still ok because he had people that supported him and 538 days later he was out of prison. Ever since, he began working on his comeback.
“The thing that’s most important is understanding what its like to lose everything, too often we worry about losing simple things.”
There was an intermission where we had a chance to try WonderMade Marshmallows
If you liked them or would like to try these delicious goodies use code “less” at checkout for 20% off
The two time world beard champion Jack Passion came up to the stage with his signature red beard.
Jack focused on personal branding and here are a few quotes:
- “Personal Brand = You + Packaging “
- “Customers don’t complain”
- “Only put your name on things you believe in”
- “Be yourself”
Jason Blumer of Blumer CPAs talked briefly about Things that creative business owners do:
- Understand the difference between freelancing and entrepreneurship
- sell knowledge
- leverage teams
- build a brand
- make time to think, write and learn
- know a lot of the right people
- recognize their own value
- seek out coaching and mentorship
- constantly innovate new products and services
- take risks
- focus on customer needs
- gain specific knowledge
- see money as a tool
- know when to protect their time
- don’t make emotional decisions
- vet their ideas with others
- price, instead of bill
The last speaker I have notes on is ‘Darius Monsef’ aka Bubs – Founder/CEO of CreativeMarket.com
Bubs talked about Money and Happiness and finding that fine line. The important points to take away and ponder about from the presentation bubs gave are the following:
- “We learn from our mistakes”
- “Beware of advice from experts without scars”
- Find your work/life balance
- “Balance implies opposing forces coexist”
- “Change what you can change, accept what you can’t change”
- “Don’t worry”
Then his beautiful little girl went up on stage and stole the show so I stopped listening to Bubs (sorry Bubs!).
On April 13, 2013 the speakers gathered at the beach and we had talks while the beautiful sun was shining in the sky. This time I didn’t come prepared with pen and paper but instead I had bathing suit and plenty of sunscreen. While everyone was sitting under the tent I was soaking the Vitamin D which had been missing for a few months in the mini ice age of the North East.
At noon we headed off to the Panama Dunes and drove Dune Buggies, Zip Lined and completed a ropes course.
After party this time was at Allan & Anna’s house and it too was filled with plenty of hidden gems including tightrope walking & knife throwing courtesy of The Bindlestiffs .
April 14, 2013 came and it was time for the new SuperFriends to say goodbye to each other. Many hugs were exchanged that day and people didn’t want the wonderful times to end. A select group (myself included) didn’t want to stop the LessConf party to end so we stayed another day and kept the fire running with dinner and games.
Monday April 15, 2013 came and the party was still not over in our hearts and spirits so as more people had to catch their flights home, a select few SuperFriends along with captain Allan Branch navigated the Panama city waters and swam with dolphins. If you missed out take this as a lesson for next time… “Sometimes the last one out has the most fun” but of course this was the last LessConf so if you didn’t come you will never know how great it was (way beyond what these 1,800 words, photos and videos describe).
Also special thanks to all the SuperFriends (you know who you are) that made this an amazing conference and for all the different tips and advice you gave me and all the laughter we enjoyed together.
Many thanks David Moeller, CEO of www.codeguard.com who gave me a few awesome tips over one of our breakfast chats which I have now already began implementing in my business by using www.popsurvey.com.
Let’s End it with the official LessConf song (sound quality is sub par but deal with it! also a few swears so careful! )
Some of the lyrics:
Where were you while we were partying,
Where were you while we were having fun,
Where were you while we were making SuperFriends
Where were you while we were getting work done.
LessConf 2013 coverage finished, hope you enjoyed it.