10 Reasons Why You Need to Attend PodCamp

So what exactly is PodCamp anyway?

If you’re a geek like me, you’re always trying to find out what’s hot and seeking opportunities to network with people that share the same interests as you. If your job involves social media, podcasting, blogging or any other sort of “new media,” PodCamp is something you should definitely check out.

My first PodCamp was last year and it totally changed the way I thought about podcasting, blogging and social media. I learned so much from so many experts and realized that I had a passion that I needed to pursue.

Arriving at PodCamp was a little unnerving at first. I didn’t know a single person who was attending the conference. I did my homework and followed a few of the people that were speaking and tried to get a better idea of what I was getting into. My attempt at preparing myself was pointless though, because the experience I had was absolutely amazing.

There are so many interesting people to hear speak, there are so many great people to meet and there is an extremely deep well of knowledge that you are encouraged to drink from. Bring a bucket, because there is so much to learn.

PodCamps happen all over the world. There are notable ones in Toronto, Montreal, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Boston and a list of other cities across the globe. Fortunate enough for us, there is one right in our own back yard.

So what are 10 reason why you should attend PodCamp?

  1. Learning more about what’s trending. There is no better place than PodCamp to meet the people in your area that are pioneering the industries of new media. They take a day of their time to offer their thoughts, insights and everything they have learned at no cost to you.
  2. Meeting new people. They call them social networks for a reason. The whole point of a conference is to network with the people you already know and people you’ve never heard of.
  3. There is always something that interests you. Unlike most conferences, PodCamps don’t necessarily have a central theme. They are not put on by a single business and they are not held within the bounds of a single topic. Sessions at PodCamp can range from how to use Pinterest to adding video to your website. No matter how you–or your business–use the web, there is surely something there for you.
  4. You can start your own discussion. That’s right. Whether or not you’re speaking at PodCamp, you can always start your own conversation. Tables are provided with cards to indicate your topic as you invite other attendees to sit down and talk about whatever interests you.
  5. Social lubricant is abundant. Did I mention they have beer at PodCamp? That’s right, you can throw back a cold one during the sessions to better enjoy the experience. Shy about meeting people? Nothing a lager can’t solve. Don’t drink? Don’t worry, other refreshments are available, and there is no one there to judge.
  6. You can tweet the whole time. Normally when you attend a conference, people ask you to silence your phones and devote all of your attention to the topic at hand. PodCamp? No way! In fact, most speakers designate a Twitter hashtag to their session just to keep track of what everyone is saying.
  7. You will learn something you didn’t know. No matter how much of an expert you think you are or how much you think you know about any given topic, it is inevitable that you will take something away from your day at PodCamp.
  8. You can build your business from attending. I know I talked about the opportunity to meet new people, but above that, you can meet people that can help you grow your business. Not everyone can be an expert at everything and people in new media are always looking for other experts to collaborate and share leads with.
  9. There’s tons of swag. Free stuff? Giveaways? Yes. It’s here, too. Plenty of companies help recover the cost of executing PodCamp each year and in return, they like to remind attendees of their business by giving away promotional items bearing their insignia. Yes, you two, might score a nifty thumb drive, coffee travel mug or t-shirt.
  10. Did I mention its free? I challenge you to find another new media conference as enriching, entertaining and fun as PodCamp that doesn’t charge you a dime to walk through the door.

There you go, ten reasons why you should attend PodCamp this year. Still not convinced? Check out the video below that I made based on my interactions with people at last year’s PodCamp. Oh, and one more thing, be sure to check out my session, “Google +: Ghost Town or Game Changer?” at PodCamp this year. If you’re interested in learning more about Google’s social platform, it’s a session you won’t want to miss.

You're Doing It Wrong and That's Okay

Different Colored Trees - Image Credit Mike Pennington used under Creative Commons Licence.
Dare to be Different.

Being different is something that doesn’t come easy to many. Stepping outside of social norms and doing things unexpected creates a very uncomfortable feeling for most people. Ironically, when you step outside of what people consider “normal” you start to get noticed.

Last night I shared a post on a social network about why I thought people were leaving. I didn’t specify that people were leaving faster than they were arriving, because that’s simply not true. What I was suggesting, however, is that certain improvements need to be made in order to regain the attention of the people that have turned their backs.

Immediately, after posting my thoughts, I was criticized for suggesting things that I wasn’t suggesting at all. The post ballooned into a thread of over 150 comments within two hours. People were clearly upset with the message I was conveying and wanted me to know why.

On the contrary, had I written a post about why so many people are coming, and why the network is the bees knees, I don’t feel that the level of interaction would have been nearly as high. In fact, I don’t think posting something that everyone agreed with would garner much interaction at all.

Within the thread of comments, someone suggested something that has had me thinking all day, the Abilene Paradox.

The Abilene Paradox basically suggests that people will always agree with the feelings of a group, regardless if they agree or disagree with the feelings themselves. People want to be accepted, they want to be cool like everyone else. Well, the problem with the Abilene Paradox happens when you’re trying to get noticed.

The Abilene paradox is a paradox in which a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of any of the individuals in the group. It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group’s and, therefore, does not raise objections. A common phrase relating to the Abilene paradox is a desire to not “rock the boat”.

If you want to stand out in a crowd, you simply can’t do what everyone else is doing. Sometimes you need to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Try something different.

When you first do this, you are going to notice resistance. People are going to wonder why you are diverging from your normal course. You will likely get some negative feedback and an occasional splash of “Hatorade.” Don’t worry. This is normal.

The fact is, when you step outside of your norm and do something contrary to what people expect, it catches there attention. As long as you are doing this with good intentions, and occasionally, if warranted, an explanation, you’re doing alright.

Different Colored Trees - Image Credit Mike Pennington used under Creative Commons Licence.
Image Credit Mike Pennington used under Creative Commons Licence.

Don’t let any group of people tell you you’re doing it wrong, because what proof do they have that they’re doing it right? If you’re trying to blend in and stand out at the same time, you might need to address your priorities. Becoming relevant, authoritative or considered an expert in any field means that you need to explore all angles. Never leave a rock unturned.

In the end, when you challenge your own thoughts, your own ideas, your own course of action, you can learn a lot. If not from yourself, then definitely from the feedback you receive in doing so. Remember though, be receptive. You should listen to what people are saying and invest in a fresh perspective.

“If people aren’t making fun of you, you’re doing something wrong.” – My High School Band Director

Then again, you can always do what everyone else is doing in fear of hearing “You’re doing it wrong.” Let me know how that works out for you…

Image Credit Mike Pennington used under Creative Commons Licence.

What If Google+ Ended Tomorrow?

Google HIRL in New York City Photo by Daria Musk
Google HIRL in New York City Photo by Daria Musk

Have you gotten anything out of it?

Google has hosted the world’s greatest cocktail party. They have invited people from all of the world, of all sorts of different disciplines. From astronomy with +Fraser Cain, to technology startups with +Robert Scoble, and even journalists doing amazing things from Small Town, USA like +Sarah Hill. Through all of this, you have all been given the incredible opportunity to network, share your thoughts and ideas and create relationships. Continue reading What If Google+ Ended Tomorrow?

How to Make It Work: Getting Published

This week I interviewed +Evo Terra about books.

This morning I hosted a +G+ On Air hangout with publishing expert +Evo Terra and discussed tips on how to become successful at publishing your own book.

During the podcast we talked about different publishing services and Evo’s two start-ups. Watch the video below to learn more and make sure you subscribe to my channel on +YouTube! (http://www.youtube.com/petergmcdermott)

Never Judge a Man by His Vocation

Garbage Man Learns Irish Language

When you think of your garbage man, you probably wouldn’t think of someone that studies foreign languages in their spare time. That’s because we profile people and come up with our own stereotypes. It’s sad, but we all do it. Here’s a great story of NYC Sanitation Worker Ed Shevlin and his passion for speaking the native tongue of the Emerald Isle.

I was reminded of this when I saw the NY Sanitation Department marching through the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Ed Shevlin Polishes His Irish While Collecting the Trash

Ed Shevlin, a city garbage collector, studies the Irish language and culture — and polishes his conversation skills with Irish speakers along his route in Queens.

Embracing Failure: Why Learning How to Fail Will Help You Succeed

Old Flying Machine
Old Flying Machine

One of the biggest things I have learned over the past few months is how important it is to fail. You can read about it from so many prominent authors, and hear about it from so many successfully people, but it won’t start to make sense until you start to embrace your failures.

Continue reading Embracing Failure: Why Learning How to Fail Will Help You Succeed

Your Social Media Strategy

I’m not a Social Media Expert. 

But, I have learned a few things that could help you, your business and your brand in creating a successful online engagement experience for your customers.

One of the things I keep on my business card is “Experiencial Design” because I think something that customers of this age look for is not only a good product or service, but a great customer experience.

Take a look at what you’re doing with your current strategy and ask yourself if you are really engaging your customers or just pushing things out there without paying attention to what they’re saying. To find out more, watch my latest episode.

How to Make It Work is also available on Tivo, Roku and Blip.tv

Do You Want to Make an Impact?

Do You Want to Make an Impact?
Do You Want to Make an Impact?

It seems as the global population grows, more and more people feel the need to “make an impact.” This philosophy of making a difference with your life has really got me thinking a lot about how the way we think is changing. As future generations become more and more “mainstream” there seems to be less diversity in our occupations and less time away from work.

America (and other Western countries) are shifting more and more towards service and away from industry. Not too long ago it was common to have coal miners and factory workers as your neighbors. They were good people, working hard for an honest living. Now, in the suburbs of America, it seems that most of us work in cube farms providing services for other individuals and businesses.

There is nothing terribly wrong with a shift from blue collar to white collar work, but it seems as though we are finding our jobs more and more mundane and they are taking up more and more of our time. No longer do we have 40-hour work weeks with worry-free weekends. Instead, we drag ourselves into the office each morning and try to pry ourselves out sometime in the evening. The work doesn’t stop there, though. Usually there is a Blackberry or other device constantly reminding us of our occupational duties.

I think that our increasing passion to make a difference comes from the separation of ourselves from our vocation. No one wants to be known as a “project contributor” and they probably don’t want to define their life by that. I, for one, want to die being “the person that…” and I don’t think I am alone.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson

It doesn’t matter what your passion is, but I bet you it probably isn’t related to your work. If you love doing what you do, then consider yourself lucky. But, if you are like so many other people, what drives you to be independent, to succeed at something? Is it money? Is it happiness, fame? Why do you want to make an impact?

If one thing is for certain (well two, if you count taxes) we have a limited amount of time to enrich our lives and the lives of others. So putting your nose to the grind and finding something that will benefit not only yourself, but others—and possibly society—is a huge desire.

“I like my job because it involves learning. I like being around smart people who are trying to figure out new things. I like the fact that if people really try they can figure out how to invent things that actually have an impact.” – Bill Gates

I would love to make an impact on the world, but I don’t think that is going to happen, so I’ll settle on making an impact to my audience. I have been working hard to create content, engage my audience and build a tribe. Hopefully when I move on to do other things, create other products and services, I might have a few members of that tribe standing behind me. But, as I am doing all of this I need to keep focused on what pays the bills and keeps the lights on at home.

Perhaps in a few years I will hit a breakthrough and finally find myself loving what I’m doing. Until then, I’m going to keep trying to put a dent in a few people’s trains of thought. The universe comes later.

How to Use Google Plus for Your Brand

Google Plus for your Business
What is Google+?

Last night I was asked to speak at Ross Jones‘ IMD405 Internet Marketing class at The Art Institute of Nashville. Ross and I met at the SpeakerUp meeting for the 2012 Podcamp Nashville as we are both interested in speaking this year about our perspective niches.

Ross is a SEO expert and has been doing it for longer than most people knew what Search Engine Optimization was. Ross owns a business called 2 the Top Design where he helps businesses get their website optimized for search engines and in turn, getting them more leads.

Continue reading How to Use Google Plus for Your Brand