I brought a notebook with me to Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs
(CCE) and decided to do a diary style report, so here we go ...
7:18 AM OMG. Really? [ed. I don't get up this early for work ...]
8:02 AM Gah.
8:43 AM Just missed the bus.
8:55 AM Just missed a BART train.
9:15 AM Checked-in at the registration desk.
9:17 AM mini cupcake and met Rebecca
. Soon after joined by Tina Jett
and Verte Adélie
10:00 AM Getting More Done
Willo O'Brien (moderator) (WO)
Derek Fagerstrom (DF)
Lauren Smith (LS)
Andrew Venell (AV)
I was pretty excited about this panel because I'm obsessed with being/staying organized. Many of the reasons the panelists gave for looking for an organizational system that works for them reminded me of my No Excuses
post; they were working too much, they felt overwhelmed, they felt like the were always being reactive and not actually making progress, they felt they always needed to be doing something/anything/everything.
Here are some of the highlights of the panel:
- Have a weekly skeleton of things to do on certain days DF
- Have a physical space to do your work that is useable LS
- Keep your system super simple DF
- Schedule time to get out of your head and back into your body (take a walk, etc) WO
- Get to know yourself and how you work and build a complementary system (LS)
- Have a place for everything and keep things in their place (no misc files or piles) (DF/LS)
Between them, they seemed to use all the different systems, GTD, 43 folders, pomodoro, iCal, Google Docs ... the list is endless. The thing that I really loved, though, is that Lauren Smith uses a 3x5 card for the day's tasks. Sometimes I feel weird that I *must* have my notebook, pen, and 3x5 cards. I need the act of physically writing things down. I need to be to see my tasks in my handwriting.
It's good to know I should trust myself,. I know that the act of writing helps me remember and organize things much better than typing them into a computer and seeing them all in the same font. There is character in my handwriting, there is a memory in the shape of the letters that helps me remember all of the ideas and feeling surrounding my 2-3 word note. And, as Derek and Lauren pointed out, there's something so satisfying about crossing an item off your list.
I also thought it was cool that Willo has a name for her inner workaholic, The Whip Cracker. So when she feels pressure to work way more than she should, she can say, "Thanks for being concerned, Whip Cracker, but I'm going to go take a walk." I think that's something we could all do with our inner critic, too ... name them and then talk to them like the enemy they can be. ;)
Another good tip is to NOT use your email inbox as a to do list. I used to do that, and I agree 100% with them. I've started answering all of my email as it comes in. My goal is to have an empty inbox all the time. Of course, it doesn't stay like that all the time. What used to happen is once every couple of months, I'd clean out my inbox and within a week it would be 2 pages full again. But I've discovered a super trick to keep myself on top of things ... sort your inbox so the oldest email is at the top. It seriously works for me. As soon as the new emails are showing up below the viewable area, I get right to work at clearing the old emails. Over time, this has trained me to keep on top of my email. It's much more rare for me to fill up my email box now.
Also considering turning off email notifications or at least change the setting to check every hour instead of every 3 minutes. DF/LS
If you find yourself not doing something on your task list, like "Hang the drapes" it might be that you're mixing up a project and a task. Hanging the drapes is actually a project that includes tasks like find the drill, install the rod, steam the drapes, etc. If you put those tasks on your list, you might be more likely to get to them because they are specific and well defined. AV
They all have a Friday Review / Clean up concept. DF/LS has a goal of clearing their email inbox. AV does a review of his lists and remaining tasks and reassesses everything. I think that's a great idea. What's funny is that I do that at work, but I never do that at home. At home I'm always going-going-going try to pack as much in as possible ... shopping, movies, cleaning, laundry, crafting, blogging. It's nuts. I need to build in time to just reassess everything and catch up.
11: 00 AM Creating Customer Profiles
with Grace Dobush
(The photo was hastily snapped at the end of the session!)
Best piece of advice: talk to your customers and ask them about themselves. If you don't know your market, perhaps you aren't focused enough. When you create your client profiles, it helps to name the profile so you can keep them in mind when you are making decisions about you business. It's so much easier to think of "Julie" as your customer instead of a "35-year-old who makes $50K/year, watches Colbert Report, likes pizza, and subscribes to Ready Made." The name makes them more real and more convenient to talk about. An attendee pointed out that sometimes your market is different from your customer, like toys, who are marketed to kids and sold to their parents, so keep that in mind, too.
This session was great because Grace had volunteers do a profile of their own customers. It was good to hear different people vocalize their profiles and see the process they were going through to construct it. There were a ton of good questions, too. A very vocal and interesting group of attendees.
Here are some of the data points you might want to include in your profile:
- Location (region/town size/etc)
- Marital Status
- Education level
- Political affiliation
- What is important to your customer? (price/quality/environmentalism/design/etc)
- How often to they purchase?
- How much do they spend when purchasing?
- What word describe your customer?
- What magazines/books do they read?
- What TV do they watch?
- What do they do in their spare time?
- What other brands to they have allegiance to? (which will give you a hint of what
21-1 Lunch. Catered Mexican Food. Om nom nom.
1-2 I watched Diane
get video-interviewed and narrowly escaped getting interviewed myself. Whew! Diane and I found a quiet corner for about 15 minutes to chat while I knitted.
2-3 Advanced Social Strategies and Analytics
with Willo O'Brien
This session started 15 minutes late because of a combination of tech difficulties, so Willo was pressed for time, which was too bad because I'm sure she would have given us a ton of tips during a Q&A period. There was some great info about tools to use to communicate and track your social media marketing ... one I hadn't heard of was Sprout Social (which seemed like an activity aggregator). Her best advice was to be authentic, responding to people, thanking them for their time. She stressed that no matter where the people are in your customer pipeline (Silent Consumers, Passive Engagement, Active Engagement, Conversion) they are super important and you should be thankful for and mindful of them all.
She also suggested calendaring out your social media interactions so you don't let all your hard work just fall flat. If you're coming out with something, tweet/post/etc about it leading up to the big reveal to generate excitement. Actually mapping this out on a calendar helps you keep things from falling through the cracks.
One of my action items is to figure out how to use Google Analytics better. She mentioned that you can annotate the timeline ... I had no idea!
Here are some of the things in my notes:
- Every follower is an opportunity
- Recruit and reward
- Social media is bi-directional, not broadcast
3-5 The Brand of you
with Genevieve Robertson and Shelly Kerry
They gave us an insane number of questions to ask ourselves to help us formulate our story. But if I answer all of them, I would have 40 pages of writing. They spent a lot of time telling us the stories of other established creative entrepreneurs, which was nice, but I would have liked it if they'd picked attendees and helped them craft their story in real time with us listening. By this time in the day, though, we all seems sort of wiped, and for the people who had been doing 3 full days of this must have been just DONE. The energy in this session was kind of flat, which is too bad because Genevieve and Shelly obviously have passion for this topic.
Here are the questions I wrote down:
What is your vision?
- Dream big
- What are you What Ifs and what are your Can't Live Withouts?
- What do you want to spend your time doing?
- Who do you want to work with?
- What does your business look like?
- How much money do you need to make?
What are your strengths?
- Where do you come from?
- What do you do well?
- What do you do because you can't help yourself?
- What is/are your style, background, values and materials?
- What experience do you offer the customer?
Who are you talking to?
- Age, gender, income, hobbies, passion, stuggles
- Do you solve a problem?
- Do you fill a need?
- Are you a part of a subculture?
What makes you unique?
- Your time to shine
- What do you do better/different?
- What do you want to be known for?
- What is your unique advantage?
What to do with your story
- Tell it
- Use it to bring your brand to life
- Put it on your business cards
- Make it a part of your Tagline and Branding statement
- Make sure everything matches your story (packaging, marketing materials, etc)
- Join communities
- Form partnerships
5-8:45 Got something to eat with Diane, Marlo
, and Verte Adélie. We talked about a lot of things ... it was amazing to hear what they had to say about the conference and to get face-to-face feedback about the work I'm doing on futuregirl.com.
I think there is a lot of value in attending CCE. My suggestions for next year are that the sessions should be 45 minutes long so there is time to get from session to session (and maybe go to the bathroom ...). There should also be a place for people who are not in a session to hang out and talk with other people. I think a socializing room would be an amazing opportunity to talk to people you wouldn't normally encounter. Also, offer the classes more than once on different days ... especially the super-popular ones.