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Best practices – Best in class

“It’s magical.”
This is the phrase we find ourselves using when aspects of reality seem to be manipulated – when something unbelievable happens.  This is the best way I can describe the People Report and Black Box Intelligence Best Practices Conference that I recently attended.  Here’s some of the magical elements that made this conference spectacular.

Team Building by serving others.
80 of us piled into 3 buses and headed to the North Texas Food Bank (@nftb).  Half of us sorted and packed dried goods, and the other half frozen meats.  Naturally, I picked to be on the 43 degrees team.  At the end of our shift, we had sorted and packed 24 pallets of food, which weighed 23,375 lbs and was going to be used to make 18,263 meals. Together, we made a difference.  What an incredible way to break the ice - no pun intended (ok, maybe a little bit intended).

The Content.
Daily content had panels and keynote speakers, and evenings had “un-conference” sessions.  For the un-conference content, Jessica Miller-Merrell suggested that if you don’t want to completely be yourself on Twitter, consider the Social Media Mullet – Business in the front, and party in the back.  Jill McFarland and Amanda Hite amazed us when they showed examples where franchises had created their own apps “under the radar” when corporate was too slow or wasn’t paying attention.

The final day was amazing for me, listening in amazement to Susan Steinbrecher, Kat Cole, Louis Basile, Ben Salisbury and John Izzo.  Here’s just a few of the soundbytes I grabbed over the course of the conference:

“You have to have a vision.  You don’t need a plan.” – David HouleTweet this

“We should try and be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past.” – David HouleTweet This

“Every problem that we face is an aggregate of the choices we are making” - Dr. John IzzoTweet This

“It’s not true that people resist change. They resist change for which they see no purpose or feel uninvolved” – Dr. John IzzoTweet This

“Successful strategy incorporates education and collaboration.” – Avery BlockTweet This

“Talk, be there and be present – don’t just be there to sell stuff.” – Michael VanDervortTweet This

“We’ve all been conditioned to think about average and medium and NOT best practices.” – Wally DoolinTweet This

The People.
There’s always a few people that rub you the wrong way at any conference, no matter how small, or hand picked the attendees are.  If you can figure out how to to keep out those people, you’ve just created another illusion.  And that’s exactly what Joni Doolin has done somehow.  Every single person at this conference was full of #awesomesauce.

The Food.
Ok, so I can’t help it.  I absolutely have to comment on the food selection.  I have attended quite a few conferences in 2011, and you’d swear they all had the same chef and the same menu.  There’s only so many ways you can wrap a spinach tortilla around some deli meats and keep it fresh. Want to hear a secret?  Don’t order off the menu.  Melissa Papaleo says she asks the chef to get creative – and once the creative juices start flowing, you can be certain your audiences mouths will be watering with the selections the chef has invented just for your event.  My favorite?  The sample spoons of machoroni and lobster and the bacon wrapped chicken slices filled with cream cheese.

The Community.
Last, but most important, is the community.  This community is active before, during, and after the conference.  They stay in touch.  They see each other again before the next conference.  They help each other out.  They do business with each other.  Those who missed being physically present at the conference participated online.  Magical moments like singing happy birthday to someone from afar happen when a community is strong.  I’ve witnessed many conference communities, and many of them are good, but nothing as spectacular as this.

So there you have it.  An incredible conference all around, and I’m looking forward to the next one.  Got any memorable moments you’d like to share?  Let’s chat in the comments below :)