Starting with the Why

I was going to write something this morning about how Glue’s right around the corner, and how you should come, and how great it will be. And then Brad went and posted this talk by Simon Sinek. Go watch it, I’ll wait (see you in 18 minutes).

You didn’t watch the whole thing, did you? Okay, I don’t EVER tell you to go watch videos. Seriously this is good stuff – go watch it (I’ll be here).

See? If you’re like me, your mind’s spinning on “the why.” Why do I do what I do? How do I do it? What do i do?

I don’t think I have this verbalized yet, but when the hell has lack of clarity ever stopped me from blogging something.

If you ask me about “the why,” my gut immediately comes back with 3 sides to an answer:

1. I truly believe that when people meet face to face, in the right space, with the right ingredients, something magical can happen. There are connections that get made in “meat space” that can simply never get made in “virtual space.” And those connections can not only alter an individual’s entire life, they can alter and create entire industries.

2. I’m a startup guy. Part of the reason I’m a startup guy is that I think in the right situation incentives align. That means that I believe with all of my heart and all of my soul that a small team of people running a tech conference who —  don’t take salaries, get paid based on what the conference makes, and have zero ability to “pass the buck”  — will simply put on a better experience than a team at a company that’s salaried, does 12 shows a year, and has someone else they can blame for a screw-up. Sorry — nothing against those teams of people (a lot of them are my friends); it’s not that the individuals don’t care, it’s just that the incentives aren’t aligned.

3. You start any conference with the topic. You have no idea how many conferences I’ve decided NOT to start. There was the one about podcasting, the one about disrupting the DEMO show (oh yea, I shared that idea with Arrington back in 2005), the one about this, the one that, the 1400 ideas that have been pitched to me. Why not those shows? Because it’s all about the topic.

When I make the decision to start an event, I know that I am *personally* committing (not on a financial level, on a whole person level) to spending the next 5-7 years of my life exploring this idea. In other words, I better a) think it’s a game changer and b) be completely fascinated, in love with and obsessed with exploring it. If that’s not there, there is no conference. The idea of Defrag (how data is changing everything) fascinated me from the first time Brad blogged about it. The idea of Glue (the technical underpinnings that move us past SaaS and Cloud) hooked me immediately. The idea of Blur (playing with new ways of interacting with computers) turns me into a kid again.

Contrast that with how a lot of technology conferences get started. The conversation goes like this: “Wow that X market is gonna be big.” ” Lots of money, lots of vendors.” “We should tap that market and start a conference.” Now look at some of the most successful conference of the past 25 years — Esther Dyson’s PC Forum, Tim O’Reilly’s events and TED. All started by someone who was just in LOVE with an idea. They started those events because they wanted to solve a problem and tell the world.

Okay, I’m rambling – and my “why’s” are shifting into “how’s” and “what’s,” but bottom line….

Why? To solve a problem and tell the world. Because connections in the right setting can be magical (and change lives). Because the power of a small group with incentives properly aligned can whip the ass of a large group improperly aligned every time.

Wanna see it live and in person? Come to Gluecon.