I attend a lot of conferences. Most of them are held in a hotel ballrooms. This was the first one I have ever been to that took place in a Nashville recording studio.
The room was rich with theatrical drama-the backdrop consisted of layers of red velvet curtains, the iconic Michael Hyatt microphone emblem was everywhere, and of course the architecture and ambience of the recording studio was the perfect choice for this event.
The stage was set, and so were the expectations.
And while there's nothing quite like the experience of being there in person, I believe you can benefit from some of the “takeaways” I have for you here.
The Notes I Took For You
1. Develop your framework for success. The first session consisted of Michael teaching his five-part Platform Framework. While I was already aware of this framework, having read the book, it was instructive to see how deeply Michael lives his material. The first part of the framework, step one, is to “Start with Wow”. We were wowed from the moment we walked in the door. While I strongly recommend you read Michael's book for the complete explanation of what these steps mean, here is the framework:
- Start with Wow
- Prepare to Launch
- Build Your Home Base
- Expand Your Reach
- Engage Your Tribe
Michael, and every speaker, echoed the advice that it's time for each of us, as idea entrepreneurs, to raise the bar on the quality of experience and products we are offering our people.
“It's time to get the passion back. Deliver great products that you are delighted-yes, delighted!-to offer.”
-Platform, Michael Hyatt
2. How to find wow. Next up on the speaking roster was international speaker, author and communication trainer Ken Davis. Ken is one of the most famous guys you may have never heard of. His daily radio show, Lighten Up!, Is heard on over 1,600 radio stations in the United States and around the world. How do we create “Wow”? According to Ken, we bring together the qualities of attractiveness, practical advice, and personal connection. In Ken's language, “Wow is found at the intersection of pretty, practical and personal.”
3. Michael presented a brilliant session on “the resistance”. For further reading on this topic, see the book “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield. Incidentally, Michael gave a copy of this book to every single attendee at the conference. What is “the resistance”? Michael described it as, “an invisible destructive force that opposes you anytime you try to make an improvement in any area of your life.” Michael offered three strategies for overcoming the resistance:
- Strategy Number One: to counteract the fear that resistance creates, simply get started. In other words, “do it scared”. Action alone is often enough to dispel the fear.
- Strategy Number Two: to counteract the uncertainty and distraction that the resistance will throw in your way, get focused. Narrow down your field of vision to the one thing at hand, and focus like a laser on that one thing.
- Strategy Number Three: perhaps the most insidious of the forces that resistance brings against us is that of doubt. “Will this work? Was it a good idea? What if I look like a fool?” The countermeasure to dispel doubt is… finishing. Just finish it. No matter how bad you think it is, how dumb you think your idea was, how much you doubt the outcome… just finish.
Perhaps the single most important insight I heard at the conference was from Michael, on this subject. He pointed out that “the resistance” can be our best ally-it can, in fact, be our compass. Whatever the direction the resistance is pointing, we automatically know our highest ambition should be to move in the opposite direction. The resistance infallible and points us toward our due north.
4. How to build a platform with words, passion, and people. Jeff Goins, one of my favorite bloggers and a gifted author, provided perhaps the biggest surprise for me the entire conference. I knew he was a great writer. What I didn't expect was that he is also a dynamic speaker. This nugget of advice stuck with me: “You can outlast those who are lucky and outwork those who are lazy.”
5. Cliff Ravenscraft, the “Podcast Answer Man”, has produced over 3,000 podcast episodes. In 2008, he left a successful career as an insurance agent to pursue podcasting full-time. He has become the go-to authority that top podcasters turn to for advice on creating their shows. In fact, he's the guy I turned to when setting up my new show almost a year ago. He told a moving story of his long journey to “overnight success”. As Cliff puts it, “Give up on the dream of overnight success. It takes time to build your brand.” This is something that I heard repeated in different words from almost every single speaker. It's a principle that I know from my own experience, and is one worth remembering. Overnight success is usually preceded by years of preparation. As Michael reminded us, we should not “despise the days of small beginnings.”
6. Andrew Buckman is the president of stormy frog studios, and works closely with Michael Hyatt. Together they are developing a premium WordPress theme especially created for platform builders. Andrew gave an eminently practical presentation featuring the “10 biggest mistakes people make with their websites”. Here are the three that stood out to me:
- Website Mistake Number One: you don't own your own brand. In other words, your site is hosted on Blogger, WordPress.com, or some other place that does not belong to you. That's a mistake.
- Website Mistake Number Two: you are not building an email list. While getting RSS subscribers to your blog is fantastic, and having a podcast subscriber base is even better, building an email list should be your primary aim. Remember, no matter what anybody says, the number one way to sell stuff on the Internet is still via email.
- Website Mistake Number Three: forgetting about the search engines. While I certainly am not an SEO expert. I do pay attention to optimizing my site for the search engines. I want to be easily found for my key topics when people go searching for information on Google. One great way to do this is a WordPress plug-in called Scribe. Another point worth remembering: a WordPress blog properly configured already has strong SEO properties.
7. My good friend Carrie Wilkerson spoke about “filling your stadium”. She pointed out with amusing clarity that many people make the mistake of worrying about how good their “stage show” is, when there is in fact no one in the audience. Here's a quote from her presentation that really impacted me…
“It's not who you know, or even who knows you. It's who feels like they know you.”
– Carrie Wilkerson
8. John Saddington, entrepreneur and founder of 8-bit, the company who brought us the Standard WordPress Theme, gave a stunningly insightful presentation. It was called “Creating Opportunity from the Ordinary”. Two key points I jotted down from John's presentation were that we should “scratch our own itch”-in other words, create solutions that we ourselves are seeking. By scratching our own itch, we will help others “scratch better”. The other key point had to do with counting the cost of being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial types tend to be achievers, and lean toward workaholism. The cost of such behavior can be high, and can include losing your family, your contentment, and your spiritual well-being.
9. Stu McLaren, a co-founder of WishList Member, a membership site solution that now powers over 43,000 online communities, spoke about multiplying your impact and bottom line with membership sites. Key observation: people come to online communities for the content, but they stay for the community itself. I think I saw the biggest reaction from the crowd of the weekend when Stu illustrated the difference between getting paid one time for content versus getting paid on a recurring basis. He illustrated this with a beautifully simple but powerful spreadsheet. There was a lot of “oohing and aahing” in the room. Over a spreadsheet. That's a testament to Stu's dynamic communication skills-and the brilliance of his content.
10. Pat Flynn is the creator of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. His approach to doing business online is all about leading by example, being completely transparent, and building a long-term relationship with his audience. My favorite thing Pat said all weekend was, “Your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience.” It sounds like a cliché, until you take a look at how Pat conducts his business, and you realize it's the code he lives by. Extraordinarily inspiring. And he plays a mean trumpet.
“Your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience.”
This conference also demonstrated the importance of a high-quality team. Lauren and Matt Brady, Michele Cushatt, Joy Groblebe, and Brian Scheer made this conference one of the best I have attended in my life. Their attention to detail, their commitment to being servant leaders, and the joy they exuded throughout the entire week was inspirational. They definitely helped create a “wow experience” for me and every person who attended this conference.
And while this will sound like a cliché, it has to be said: the single most valuable thing I took away from the conference was the personal connections I made with so many people. Old friends, and new friends. Fresh perspectives. Ideas and conversations that challenged some of my long-held beliefs, and caused me to rise to a higher level of thinking. The kind of intense personal interaction I experienced in Nashville is impossible to put into a blog post. Which is my way of saying you should attend the next one (it's in November).