EVIL PLANS by @gapingvoid and Taking the Cream Off the Top (of the Conference Biz)

March 11, 2011

in Books, Rants

I‘m writing on a plane headed to Austin (now posting from the hotel), Texas, for South by Southwest (web, twitter). SXSW is a huge festival where music, film and interactive (or Internet stuff) overlaps for about two weeks. I’ll be there mostly for Interactive and this year I’ll be also speaking in one panel (How to Rawk SXSW) and am curating another one (the Technology Summit session focusing on Italy).

Going back to this Delta flight 109 from Madrid to Atlanta, what initially seemed a big disservice -there is no individual personal entertainment screen but a small “public” screen just too 5 or 6 rows away- turned out to be an excellent opportunity to catch up on some books in my Kindle/iPad.

First was Hugh MacLeod’s latest – Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination (Amazon)

I absolutely recommend it for several reasons but that’s not the main intention of this article. The acted as a good stimulus to not leave my own evil planning on hold and a quote from Jerry Colonna, a venture capitalist turned business-coach. I hope Hugh does not mind I reproduce a brief extract from the book:

Jerry then talked about his own carrer evolution from successful New York venture capitalist to private business coach with a thriving practice.

Jerry told me that he simply took the cream off the part of being a VC that he liked the most -that is, helping good people make a difference- and forgot about the rest.

I often whine about how boring it has become for me to take care of many aspects of the conference business I’ve been for the last 8 years or so. Though I think I’ve achieved quite some proficiency in running operations, logistics and other necessary stuff, I can hardly bare doing any of it anymore. Yes, I do like to keep an eye on it and share my experience with my teammates, but every time -for one reason or another- that I realize that a big chunk of my workday is spent in those activities I feel pain, boredom and occasionally depressed. (On the sunny side, during the last few years in PICNIC, Frontiers of Interaction and now in La Red Innova, I’ve been dedicating most of my energy and time in the strategy, marketing and experience creation areas but still long-hours logistic planning always comes back as all those organizations are small and have a reduced staff).

Jerry Colonna’s quote is a reminder of one of the conditions I’ve set for myself if I decide to stay in e conference arena. I don’t want to be a production agency nor produce one-off gigs as my main activity. I want to concentrate in researching, creating and executing amazingly remarkable experiences that can change the (my) world. I want to tread fresh new ground, try new stuff and make things that stand out. To create a platform that enables something bigger and not just pays the bills.

For any potential future partners reading this, let me be clear. I DON’T CARE ABOUT MAKING CONFERENCES per se. There are tons of ultra-efficient agencies out there that can do that at a low(er) cost than what I could do. For me a conference is a great tool (did I say platform already?) for building things on top of it. Even from the business (aka making money) point of view the serial event-maker company is a tired model that has a very clear cap.

I like to think I’m a bit altruistic but that’s not the point here. I also want to make a successful living out of my main professional activity and most importantly work in something I’m passionate about.

Ok, enough said. This rant has been howling around my head for a long time and I just needed Hugh MacLeod’s book and a boring 9+ hours flight to let it out (actually I have to wait to find an Internet connection to be able to publish it).

Read Evil Plans. Even if you already have one, it’s a terrific book. You can also follow Hugh’s cartoons through his blog and newsletter or buy his prints. Book reviews by Matthew May and Daniel Pink, two more authors I really like.

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