LessConf in Atlanta at the Georgia Tech campus. … I’m sitting here and I really don’t know how to explain everything that just happened but here’s my best shot…
The speakers were not listed beforehand. These guys were a complete surprise to me and everyone in audience. Is it an example of good emotional design, as in a delightful, happy surprise or a cluster fuck. The 20 minutes of horse play and ad lib warm up gave me no confidence of the former and really pointed to the latter.
Then the first speaker:
Spike Jones – Wrote a book “Brains on Fire”
Thoughts: He reminded me a lot like Cathy Sierra, my old friend from ‘Creating passionate users’. She was on my mind, cause of the SEA of White and Male faces. More (maybe) on that later. Money Quote: “Word of Mouth is the grand papa”
Rob Walling – Serial startup-er
Thoughts: Customer Happiness Index (CHI). He went through his process of taking over a startup and renovating it. Basically, he is a hardcore data guy. He focused in on Life Time Value (LTV) and cost per acquisition (CPA). To be honest, I wasn’t too impressed to begin with but he finished really strong. It was very practical and gave me a framework to think of the startup process.
Noah Kagan – AppSumo founder, Austin TX, former facebook guy and world champion cusser
Thoughts: Seriously, I’d never been to a convention that I heard more cussing on stage than in the audience. My mom would’ve walked out. It left me a bit unbalanced – sort of happy, but sort like… huh?. [Editor’s Note: You’re the one who gets so happy that we have an explicit podcast. Pot, meet kettle. 🙂 ] It’s like a comedy show.
Also, Noah hired a guy simply to do A/B testing – Nick (pictured shirtless, hairy, sunglasses and beer bottle). BUX aspires to be Nick. If not in appearance, in verve and creativity. They test all sorts of shit. Like links to nowhere to measure support. Crazy ass, unsubscribe sorry notes. Other thought: 86 percent. That’s his failure rate. Reminds me of “Fail early and often”, “Fail forward” and “Failure is impossible”. Good dude – probably as asshole to deal with – but a great speaker (why? He made emotional impact and told a story)
Mental Floss Dude – (Sorry we don’t remember your name) – Sold his company and is a millionaire
Thoughts: By this time in the day, I’m starting to lose some steam. Lunch isn’t holding up like I thought it was going to. This dude started a creative magazine based on crazy specific facts – Like … crap, I can’t remember. But they were funny. I never remember jokes. Einstein is on the cover of each magazine and they have diversified into games and websites and etc. They sold to the Maxim magazine guy and will stay on to be involved. Not sure what the takeaway was… Am I losing my focus…? Maybe it’s the dudes still hugging in the corner of the stage during all these presentations… (more on this under Contests and Giveaways)
Bryan Liles – smartic.us
Honestly, I wrote a whole thing in this space but it wasn’t very nice. I’m not sure if I just needed some food, or if I was jealous of all the hugs going on or if this is what it feels like when you hang out with a bunch of jacked up young white dudes who are all looking for signs of people with money. Or maybe this talk really wasn’t all that.
Instead of giving you my full thoughts, I’ll give you a quick hit.
At one point, Bryan – who is a black guys said, “If you see a black man, give him a dollar.”
Now on the one hand, I’m with Bryan. This is a pretty homogenous group here. Some diversity would be nice. But that statement just sat with me wrong. But fuck it, he said it.
Now Brian, I have to say, the only thing I learned is that if you give people a dollar and ask for a picture, for some weird reason, they don’t ask questions about why you want to take it.
Boom. Wisdom. Done.
UPDATE: Here’s Newman and Bryan, who was a really good sport about the whole thing. For the record, he didn’t ask why we wanted to take the picture (but I’m pretty sure he knew). 🙂
Giveaways & Contests
One of the things I knew about LessConf beforehand was that people got wedgies for prizes. Public humiliation is apart of the deal. And today lived up to the hype.
Head Shaving – Who would exchange all the hair on their head (hair and eyebrows) for an iPad. One guy did, but they didn’t take it all before the shaver broke. I didn’t see the guy the rest of the day. Pretty sure he would have stuck out with one eyebrow and a few bald streaks running around his head.
The Eternal Hug-Off – Get on stage, pick a stranger and hug it up. The one to let go last wins an iPad. This shit lasted the whole day. And then to end it they made them all gang-eat habanero peppers. Poor dudes.
Clothes Pin Face – Simple. Attach clothes pins to your face. The person with the most pins wins an Apple TV.
Push-ups – The person who does the most push-ups wins. A respectable 35 wins a Kindle Touch.
Describe a date with Allan and Steve – Strange. The winner was the girl. Lots of bro-mance going on. There were some references to “gravy lube”.
Destroy Your Face With Hot Peppers – Another easy one: eat hot peppers. Last man standing wins a lifetime membership to GitHub. Our man, Clay wins going away. Calm and cool as a cucumber. He ate a huge habanero pepper filled with more wasabi than even the habanero was comfortable with. He didn’t even flinch.
Finale: The hugging dudes had to hug it out all day. Six hours, whoa. Then they brought out the same hot peppers. The three gang-eaters all walked away with iPads.
Hope it was worth it boys.
A big thanks to Mail Chimp and Engine Yard for hosting the after party with the open bar. Looking around on Day 2, you put a hurt on ’em.