A few weeks ago, after returning from Utah, I was strongly thinking about what I needed to start the year off right. One of things that I really wanted to find was a) something that was Christ-focused; b) something that focused on the Bible; and c) something that was geared towards women. I didn’t know what that “something” was — was it a conference, a book, a book study or something completely different.

Being faithful ...

I was planning on asking some people for some recommendations when someone in a Facebook group I’m in posted about the IF:Gathering. I hadn’t heard of it before, but as soon as I looked at the website I knew was the “something” I had been needing.

The main IF:Gathering was held in Austin, Texas. In addition to the main gathering, there were IF:Local events held around the world, and the event was livestreamed. I wasn’t able to get in contact with the IF:Local person here in Clarksville, so I just watched some of the Livestream by myself — mostly at Panera. I’m not alone as the Livestreams have been watched by tens of thousands of people.

I wasn’t able to watch all the sessions. I basically watched 2.5 of them. There is a place you can order a digital download of the sessions, and I’m probably going to do that just because there are a few things I want to watch again (and, I would like to catch the ones I missed).

I was blown away by Christine Caine and some of the things she said — specifically about being a servant and not holding on to old fears.

One of my favorite quotes:

“You cannot take hold of the future if you’re holding on to the past. Leave your pain at the foot of the cross.”

I’m blown away.

The other person that really touched me was Ann Voskamp and in ways I can’t even put into words yet.


Hear me being geeky about nonprofits and WordPress

Earlier this year, I spoke at WordCamp Nashville. I shared some examples about how nonprofits are using WordPress as their content management system.

After my session, I was able to sit down with Clark Buckner to talk about my work with nonprofits, WordPress, and other things going on in the space.

You can find a recap of the interview and a link to listen here.

Thoughts from #MisfitCon — a week later

MisfitCon BillboardLast year, I left #MisfitCon with pages of detailed notes. This year, one of the most striking things about my notes is how scant they are. For many speakers, I just wrote down one or two thoughts. For some speakers, I didn’t write down anything at all.

Towards the end of Saturday, I was pondering why I wasn’t taking more notes and to be honest I think it’s because this year’s #MisfitCon was more about my heart than my brain.

One of the hardest parts about being a bit of an introvert is that I have a hard time creating connections with people I don’t know. I will often go in to social settings and sit in a corner and people watch vs. interact. One of the best parts about being a returnee to this year’s MisfitCon is that there were already so many people that I met last year or (even if I didn’t talk to them at all last year) interacted with on Facebook over the course of this past year and I felt immediately among friends.

I ate at Hotel Donaldson four nights in a row — each night with a different group of people. (A couple of those dinners I invited myself to, and I hope people didn’t mind.)

It’s interesting that I’ve come away from two conferences this year — the nonprofit technology conference a few months ago and now MisfitCon — where the interactions that I had with people had so much more of an impact than what happened “on stage”.

My big takeaways from this year’s MisfitCon are really similar to last year’s … with a few twists.

  • I am important and unique. No one else can tell my story or add what I can creatively to the world. If I don’t do it, no one else will.
  • Be bold. Take risks.
  • Don’t wait for anyone to give you permission.
  • Being uncomfortable is okay. Making other people uncomfortable is okay.

Gotta do more … gotta be more

I woke up this morning with a couple scenes from Dead Poet’s Society running through my head.

This is how I feel after an amazing two days hanging with the misfits. gotta do more. gotta be more.

This year’s conference was so amazing. (And, we still have the film festival and I’m sure what will be more amazing conversations and chats with folks today!)

I had probably 3 or 4 people last night — mostly new folks to the whole misfitcon experience — asking me if this year’s conference was better or worse than last year’s. Where would I rank it? To be honest, I didn’t have an answer. There were many things *different* about this year’s conference — the number of attendees, some of the locations, some of the speakers, etc. — but it wasn’t better or worse than last years. It was just different.

I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity Melissa and AJ gave me to come share my story and share my journey. The presentation is still a work in progress and a bit rough around the edges. If you came up and talked to me in the past couple of days about my presentation, thank you. It meant a lot to me. If you take anything away from my presentation, my hope is that you will be able to apply some of the things I do in your own life to be more awesome … to be more world-changing than most of you already are.

It was great to hear from some of the same presenters from last year and hear how their journeys have grown and changed just in the past 12 months. It was in true misfit-style that they were willing to share that even though some of them may have had more growth in their ventures than any other year, that they were still struggling with what was next and where things were headed.

I know, especially if last year was any indication, that most of the real insights from #misfitcon will come in the quiet moments in the days and weeks to come. I do already have a couple of things running through my head:

a) Creativity is an essential part of life. Whether that creativity is part of what earns you a paycheck (hopefully it is) or something else, finding those moments to be creative is crucial.

b) Only you are uniquely you. Don’t hide that from the world.

Where will you be on Friday the 13th? #startexp #startconference

Next month, on September 13th and 14th (which happens to be Friday the 13th), I will be attending the Start Conference in Brentwood, Tennessee.

So far the Start Conference lineup looks pretty awesome with writers, songwriters, entreprenuers and other creative folk.

I’m most looking forward to hearing Jeremy Cowart speak. He’s a photographer here in Nashville who we tried to get to speak at PodCamp Nashville, but we weren’t able to make it happen.

I’m also, of course, looking forward to hearing Jon speak again.

Tickets are still available for the Start Conference.

The People of #MisfitConf

In my post yesterday about the amazing content at #MisfitConf, I really only told half the story. The other half of the story is the amazing community that AJ & Melissa brought together in Fargo, North Dakota.

To be honest, trying to figure out who to talk about in this post was almost harder than putting together a short list of content highlights. Here are a small handful of the fantastic people I met this week.

  • Israel Smith had quite a journey to make it to MisfitConf, but I think all of us that met him were glad he made the trek. He’s a photographer from Australia and takes beautiful photos.
  • I sat on a couch with Patrick Strahan and his wife. Patrick is a blacksmith artist and makes some really cool stuff.
  • Victor Saad spent a year traveling around the world doing 12 one-month apprenticeships. Along the way, he encouraged others to take their own “leaps” and start something new. He put all the experiences together in a beautiful book.
  • Rose Choules is a shoemaker from England, who makes these wonderful handcrafted moccasins. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve really wanted a pair of shoes that weren’t my boots.
  • Marcella (and her husband Juan Jose) are from Nicaragua. Juan Jose is in farming and construction and Marcella works with companies and helps them with their marketing.
  • If you ever wanted to meet anyone who loved their town and their community, that would be Greg from Fargo. He was an awesome ambassador for Fargo to all of us misfits.
  • Nelson De Witt has an amazing story that he’s currently trying to tell via a documentary. We got to see the first 8 minutes and hear more of his story.

Those are just seven of the nearly 50 talented, funny, generous, awesome, brilliant people that came together for #MisfitConf. (I already mentioned my love for AJ & Melissa in my post yesterday. We wouldn’t have been there without them.)

Proud to be a Misfit

Greg from Fargo

I’ve just spent the past two days at the most amazing conference organized by AJ & Melissa Leon. I first met AJ & Melissa nearly 5 years ago, when they were just starting out on their Misfit journey. I’m so happy that I was able to be part of this inaugural Misfit Conference with them.

This is one of those events where there are almost too many takeaways. Each speaker was amazing, and I have pages of notes to process as the days, weeks & months go on.

My goal for coming out to Fargo, North Dakota and attending #MisfitConf was to be inspired — to be more fearless, to be a better writer, to take more risks, to put my thoughts and stories out there and not care what everyone else thinks. I got that and so much more.

There wasn’t a lot of tweeting happening, because AJ had implemented a no laptop / tablet / staring at your smartphone rule. There were some tweets that made it on to the Internet, and you can see them here. You can also see some of the awesome Instagram photos people took of the event.

These are the top takeaways from the event — although there is *so much more* floating around my head (and heart) that it was difficult to even narrow it down to these:

  • Clay Herbert – “What gatekeeper is keeping you from shipping?” For me, that gatekeeper is internal and not external.
  • Pam Slim – “You don’t always need to know the outcome.”
  • Srini Rao – “The more you polish something, the more it loses the shine from within.”
  • Srini Rao – “Be the final authority on your life.”
  • Justin Levy – Pursue your ideas & passion with obsession. Don’t let the cards you’ve been dealt in your life dictate your decisions.
  • Victor Saad – Hope. Risk. Learn. => HOPE
  • Victor Saad – Education should be about finding out what is wrong in the world and HOW YOU FIT INTO MAKING IT BETTER
  • Joshua Fields Millburn – Don’t confuse passion with excitement
  • Joshua Fields Millburn – Hold on to the things that add value to your life & ditch the rest — re-evaluate this on a regular basis
  • David Baeza – Don’t try to compete. Research your competition and find where you can add unique value.
  • Rachel – The gut feeling is your destiny.
  • Rachel – You already know what your destiny is and you have everything you need to start!
  • AJ Leon – Everything from tomorrow on is unwritten.
  • Greg Hartle – opportunityisnowhere
  • Greg Hartle  – If you don’t let go of the old and of the past, nothing new can begin.

My hope is that #misfitconf and the community of misfits will be a touchpoint for me moving forward.

It is wonderful how things turn out. Years ago, I heard about a guy named Chris Brogan and that he was holding a conference in San Francisco called New Marketing Labs Inbound Summit. I had been following Chris for awhile and actually paid for the Indbound Summit out of my pocket. I was on a quest for power to charge my laptop and wound up at the same table as AJ & Melissa Leon. We had a couple of great conversations that day and they became part of my inner circle. These past few days are an extension of that, and I’m so proud to be a Misfit.

On My Way to the Misfit Conference

Back in January, AJ Leon sent out a message to some folks about a conference he was planning on putting together called the “Misfit Conference.” By his description, I immediately knew that I wanted to go. I also knew that it wasn’t necessarily something I could ask work to cover my expenses on.

I decided it was worth it to make it happen and told AJ & Melissa that I was in. I’ve spent the past 24 hours on a train headed to Fargo, North Dakota.

I decided to take the train for a couple of reasons. A) It’s a very Misfit way to travel. B) I wanted some thinking time, but I didn’t feel like driving. C) There were no direct flights between Nashville & Fargo. I hate flying, but I really hate flying & having to transfer planes.

You would think that Amtrak has some sort of presence in the Nashville, Tennessee area, right? You would be wrong. The closest train station to Nashville is over 2 hours away. (Also, I forget living in the suburb hamlet of Goodlettsville that I now live in “the South”. That was unmistakable in Newbern. In addition to living in the “south”, I’m frequently reminded why some of California’s laws and regulations regarding things like cleanliness are public restrooms are good things. I went to the restroom in two of the strangest restrooms I’ve seen in the United States.

I’m now about 3.5 hours away from reaching Fargo. I’m hoping that the Radisson folks will have pity on me and allow me to check in to my hotel room early, so I can get a few hours of sleep before things kick off with the Misfits.

Top 5 Reasons I’m Looking Forward to Blogworld

A week from today, I will be in Vegas for the start of BlogWorld Expo. To say that I’m excited would be an understatement. I’ve been looking forward to BlogWorld for the past 8 months or so. It’s not too late to register. And, you can register and save 15% on Thursday, Weekend or Full Access Passes.

  1. Getting to meet some fantastic folks in person. Super excited to meet @johnhaydon. And, it looks like I’m going to get to meet a couple of people from Care2 that work in other offices.
  2. Great content! A large part of my job now involves blogging, and I’m looking forward to BlogWorld to learn as much as I can.
  3. I get to see two good friends of mine – Camille and Travis – who live in Vegas. They won’t be attending BlogWorld, but we’ll be meeting up for dinner.
  4. The drive from Bay Area to Vegas. Driving is really the one time where I don’t multi-task and take the time to think about things. Looking forward to the drive and the thinking time.
  5. Getting away from my apartment and looking at boxes. I was able to get a BlogWorld room at the Mandalay Bay.

Are you coming to BlogWorld? It’s not to late to buy a ticket. (And, if you’re in the Bay Area and interested in road tripping, let me know.)

This post contains affiliate links for BlogWorld. People registering through this link will give me a small commission (and help pay for part of my trip).