My decision last year to be more open to opportunities, YES defaults rather than negative ones, has led me to do quite a few things. So when my friend Reece Sims suggests an inexpensive 5 day/4 night trip to Las Vegas for one of the bigger new media conferences in North America, New Media Expo, I kinda have to say yes.
With a few personal goals (we’ll get to those) in mind, I headed to the desert.
Much like any conference, this is as much about forming new ideas and learning lessons, as it is about the people you meet and the connections you form. Large gatherings like this are there to help us understand why we connect. You’ll probably see a few write-ups on where the event could have done better, but I’d like to focus on my personal experience and four reasons anyone should attend a conference like this.
- The Conference Itself
It was good. Formerly known as Blogworld, this conference has grown to include a lot of different social/media platforms, with this year aiming at podcasting. It was split into two areas: one for the exhibition, including podcast alley and relevant tech companies plying their wares, and the second one for the workshops, keynotes and award ceremonies. The exhibition was a smaller area but it was good for those of us that needed a place to congregate, and we got to learn a bit of about some of the new technologies in the podcast space. That second spot, about a five minute walk away, felt more like a destination for learning. Not a place you stayed long but it served its purpose.
- The Sessions
Well a conference lives or dies by its sessions and the thought leaders it attracts. In that sense, NMX delivered. The best ones are always those where you can take useful, applicable information away from it and none did more for me than Mignon Fogarty (you may know her as @GrammarGirl). Personable, smart (she is a scientist) and with tips I’m using the minute I get a chance. I also really enjoyed the bluntness and insightfulness of Gary Arndt (Mr. EverythingEverywhere) who basically spit in the face of traditional thinking…and was right to do so.
The other two sessions of note for me included the State of Podcasting with Libsyn’s Rob Welch, Podtrac’s Mark McCrery, Spreaker/PodcastOne’s Rob Greenlee and GeekNews Central’s Todd Cochrane. I’m in the process of planning my own podcast and these gentlemen laid out what is and what may be. Really great place to start from. And of course, one of the highlights of the conference (in my opinion), Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income doing the opening keynote. With entertaining, engaging and teachable moments…all with a Back to the Future theme…my inner 10 year old was pleased, while my current 40 year old took good notes.
- The People
I’ll be honest, when you go to events like this and look around, what you’re going to find are nerds. Lots and lots of nerds. My people. Wrestling nerds, TV’s Once Upon a Time nerds, medical nerds, podcasting nerds, NFL nerds, and the list goes on and on. This was very much a podcasting conference and as a newbie, I was blown away by the warmth, intelligence, helpfulness, supportive, welcoming spirits of those I met. I’m sure if I was more active in the podcast space, I would have been a little more starstruck but I’m glad I wasn’t. I got to know them as what they were: cool people. Specifically, my favourites included, Jared Easley, Megan Pangan, Vernon Ross, Dr. Ryan Gray, Trina Baclig, Addy Saucedo, Nick Seuberling, Jason Bryant, Jesse Krieger, Jaime Tardy, Jordan Harbinger and Steve Scott.
Thank you to each of you for giving me what time you could. I really hope you’ll let me get to know you better as I get my podcastin’ on. (oh come on, this thing can’t be totally sappy)
- The Surprises
Oh and there were some surprises. Of course most of these are my fault for not reading my emails and related websites more. First, this year, NMX was held under the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference. And this thing was HUGE. My pass actually didn’t get me into the drone hall. Yes, I said “drone hall”. This was tech nerd heaven, and it was really cool, but I see it as a missed opportunity. As mentioned by Mr Seuberling, it would have been great to get some of the more relevant technology closer to NMX, aka audio equipment and related software. Next year?
Though NAB did lead to the second surprise: The Walking Dead panel. Excuse me? Yep, The Spin-Off‘s Michael Schneider moderated a chat with the show’s creator Robert Kirkman (geek squeal) and Steven Yeun (fan giggle). I’ve actually been a fan of Kirkman’s for a long time as an admirer of the Walking Dead and Invincible comics. It was just gravy that it was for such a kickass show. Goes to show you never knew what will come up, especially if you don’t read the program.
The icing was connecting with Help a Reporter Out (or HARO), a sub-division of Vocus, and one that I’ve wanted to meet. “Budding customer service expert” meets “those who could connect you with journalists in need of experts”. And so the personal brand could grow. I’m really looking forward to where this could go. We’ll see.
Was it Worth It?
Sure you’ll hear about the 10th annual Podcast Awards (bit of a trainwreck), and opinions on whether linking with the NAB was wise but I have to tell you, as I type this on a ferry back home, it was worth it.
- meet new people in the podcasting space who would be willing to mentor and support my efforts. CHECK
- spend a little time away to collect my thoughts. CHECK
- get a change of scenery. CHECK
- expand my knowledge of podcasting and get some useful tips and tricks. CHECK
- have a great time. CHECK
Before I left for Vegas, I knew why I was going and what I wanted to walk away with. Mission accomplished, and a great reminder to understand why you’re doing something before you do it.