I remember my very first SOBCon in Chicago. I went back at looked at my post from the day after. The magic is still there six years later (including sentiments from Steve Farber). Those who have gone most or all of the years in Chicago are all a little older... a little wiser... and a little more worn. We've all had personal and professional challenges to deal with since that first SOBCon. There were many fresh faces this year as well. New promise. New hope. New business needs. New friends.
Maybe I should back up a little for the less-informed among us. Yes, there's a little irreverent wordplay involved with SOB. It originated when Liz Strauss, the world's greatest community-building maven, began designating Successful Outstanding Bloggers. From there, it's evolved to Successful Online Business. When Liz and Terry promise an event where you will be surrounded by people who won't let you fail, they really mean it.
This time, I'm not going to be verbose and list every single speaker and every single sub-event. But here are a few of the main take-aways from the event:
- Google is king. Get over it. If you're going to be an online business, you'd better get comfortable with things like Google Analytics and Google+. Yes, tools and search engines will come and go. There will always be new shiny toys. But for now, if you want people to find your business, you'd better bow to the Google throne.
- Business is about service. Service to others. To customers. To employees. To suppliers. If you're not serving, you're not leading. In an era of attention-seeking antics, it's really not about you. Your ego doesn't mean jack squat to the person next to you.
- Authenticity is the greatest form of value. Once you peal back all the layers of branding, the customer better find something real. If it's an act, they'll buy once and probably move on.
These seem so obvious, don't they? Well, so is a lot of business. Have we really created anything truly new in business principles in the past 30 years? We know how to do this stuff. But sometimes it's comforting to be surrounded by people who are really practicing it and who want to share the "how" of their success.
Liz and Terry, thank you from the bottom of my heart for another great event. I know this year, of all years, took a lot out of you both emotionally and physically. I'm so grateful for all of the friends I've made from SOBCons over the years. But for you two and your vision and leadership, I'm most grateful and indebted.
One more thing. Messages you're supposed to hear are funny sometimes... they tend to find you again and again whether you want them to or not. A message may take multiple forms before it penetrates your heart and your head. After hearing about authenticity and service all weekend, what would appear in my scripture reading this morning, but this:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)