SearchFest 2014 event

I’m in the middle of a stretch of speaking at 5 online marketing events in 4 weeks and at each one the conversation around why I do this comes up.  There are many benefits and sacrifices that are part of a hectic schedule and preparing for events.

The most common assumption everyone has is that the main reason to speak or present is for lead generation and that’s really low, even off my list of reasons.  Does speaking bring forward business opportunities? Yes, but it’s not the goal.

Maybe you are considering starting to speak or present within the online marketing industry or your own area of expertise, maybe you are already there doing it on a constant basis. I’d love to hear from anyone if the reasons I’m going to list below strike a chord with you or are far different for you.

My List Of Reasons To Speak

1. The joy of sharing.  It doesn’t get any better for me than open communication and the sharing of ideas. I love to be part of driving that.

2. My passion for my industry.  It was timing, fate, luck and a few other things that led me to building a “web page” back in 1998 and I’ve never looked back. This industry is a constant cycle of ideas, creativity, problem solving and results. It’s perfect for me and I work tirelessly because I love it.

3. The opportunity to learn. Speaking doesn’t really mean you are a guru, genius, the best or anything else. It means you’re open to sharing and have a story to tell.  At each of the dozens of events I present at, I’m there to learn as well … and I learn an unquantifiable amount every time from other speakers and especially from the attendees.

4. Friendships.  I have dozens of amazing friendships built from people met online, at a conference and from speaking. Specifically, the group of people involved with Local University have not only become my friends over the past 4 years, but darn near family. I love them.  At every event I’m at, I make new friends with really great people.

Local University event

5. The gift of being around talented people. It’s amazing to be around intelligent and experienced industry professionals and hear their ideas, pick their minds and be inspired.  These people constantly reignite my fire to excel, work hard and enjoy what I do.

6. I get to be uncomfortable. This is not what you think, I’m not much for getting nervous to speak in front of 50 or 500 people as that just comes natural to me. I get uncomfortable seeing and talking with so many smart people that I wonder where I’m at with all of this! It can be scary, humbling and really makes me offer up a personal gut check on my strategies, work and ideas constantly.  I think it’s great to be challenged and after a few days with so many great minds, I have new challenges when I get back to the office.

7. Connections wide and deep.  6 years ago my contact list was limited to the great state of Minnesota.  I now have valuable connections to a world of online marketing talent, contacts at Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Pinterest, Bing and other online giants. I have connections within online marketing departments at a large amount of Fortune 500 companies.  These are all talented and inspiring people, with serious expertise that I can, have and need to tap into.

8. Solutions. I have problems that are known and unknown, well past Jay-Z and his 99.  How about you?  I can count on all of the above reasons I speak working together to give me solutions that are valuable, trusted, creative and applicable at every event.  Solutions come from great people, who teach, who share, who connect and so much more.

9. Perspective. Talk with attendees at an event and you get so much insight in ways you have been blinded too. It might be from a small business owner struggling to figure all of this Internet stuff out, a giant corporate marketer trying to solve SEO at scale or an industry platform sharing the soon to be BETA of a mobile app. I get to see things from a different angle and it makes me a better marketer and person.

10. The work I speak on.  It’s an honor to not only share my own knowledge and experience, but the work our team at Spyder Trap does. I’m at an event and I’m discussing websites, campaigns, SEO, mobile, social and more that our team has designed, developed and made happen. The team at Spyder Trap is amazing and I’m lucky to help lead them and work along side them daily.  Their work is inspiring and I get to tell the story of it.

I can keep going with this list, but you’ll still find that leads won’t be listed. I know that if I take value in all of the items above, the work will come and it does.

It’s Not All Applause With Speaking

I think it’s obvious that the benefits out weigh the sacrifice, but I’d be foolish not to list them in order of importance.

family1. Support on the home front.  When I travel, I leave behind an amazing wife and three perfect young daughters.  I put pressure on them to function on without me and I get that.  I wouldn’t be anywhere without my wife, her support and especially her sacrifices to afford me the opportunity to do what I do.

I also need to mention on top of being the best mom and wife, she is basically a real estate tycoon and a triathlete that competes at a high enough level to medal, qualify for nationals and crush an Ironman.

2. Work doesn’t stop.  Just because I’m out of the office doesn’t mean the office is on pause one bit.  I juggle calls, meetings, emails and more during my trips and events. Just about every time I’m presenting you can bet I just hit send on an email, save on a proposal or end on a call seconds before walking up to the podium.  For the event, sometimes a completely brand new presentation with new research, data and examples is needed.  Days can go into preparing just one 45 minute presentation.  But I get it, I make this choice.

3. Your health. Flights, late nights, workloads, stress, eating out and other factors make keeping yourself together a task. As I inch to turning 40 in a few months I’ve never been more conscious on how important my health is for myself and my family. I’ve started to work out more on the road, eat smarter and consume twice the water.  Even with this, it’s a tough battle.

Great Events Completed Or You Can Still Get To

I’ve presented at 3 events in the past 9 days and have 2 more to go next week and then some much needed down time.

  • SearchFest 2014 was in Portland on February 28th. I spoke for the 2nd year in a row on Mobile Search and love this conference. It’s run by SEMpdx and it’s an amazing one day event.  A big thank you to David Mihm for inviting me back and also I need to recognize David for really getting me into the national speaking that I get to do, he started it all for me.  I also took in awesome presentations at SearchFest by Andrew Shotland, Dana DiTomaso and wished I would have seen Mat Siltala’s and the Video session.  You can’t make them all!
  • Local University Advanced on March 7th-8th in Philadelphia.  Being part of the LocalU faculty is an experience itself.  Our Advanced events are small, deep and highly successful and I enjoy all of it.  I present on local, mobile search and mobile UX at these events and you can learn more on what makes them awesome here.  This event also has Wil Reynolds of SEER as the keynote and his talk on Real Company Shit (With a Local Theme) was killer.
  • Local U for the Bed & Breakfast Industry on March 9th in Philadelphia. For a second year we presented to a large group of B&B owners in the northeast of the US.  This event is one where we get to teach and help at a very basic level, but make a big impact.
  • Mobile March on March 20th in Minneapolis. You can still make this one! I attended the first Mobile March event 4 years ago and I’m excited to speak on my home turf regarding the Mobile Search Ecosystem and Google.  This one day event is all mobile focused with tracks on business, development and the multi-device world we are now living.
  • Local U in Harrisburg, PA on March 21st.  It’s back to the state of Pennsylvania for a basic Local University event helping small businesses and entry level industry professionals learn the in and outs of local search, SEO and social for small to mid sized business.

If you’re at one of the upcoming events, please connect with me and add to the reasons I love to do this.  To everyone that fits into what I listed above, thank you.

8 Comments

  1. Aaron – I’ve seen you speak at least a dozen times and each time is better and I learn more. Please know that the passion you have for this industry not only shows with each speaking event you do, but shines bright! Please know how much you are appreciated for sharing your wisdom, knowledge and passion for the rest of us to grow! GREAT POST!

    Susan

  2. Well said Aaron. I love and appreciate the passion you feel for your family and your profession. What a great work/life balance you have achieved…

    1. Thanks Leslie for the comment. I’m not short on passion! As far as achieving a great work-life balance, it sure is a constant thing to be managed. What I do know is having and staying true to your priorities will be the guide and I think I’m getting better at that all the time.

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