Inspiration: Roots of GEEKmemphis & TechCamp

I struggle to convey how inspiration is a great part of my life.  I’m surrounded by it and attempt to recognize it wherever I can in people and what they share. Find the inspiration in everyone (even though it’s not always positive… people can inspire you not to do also).

Though I’m far from cracking the code on inspiration, I’m compelled to share this actual example which recounts some origins on BarCamp Memphis, TechCamp Memphis, and {GEEKmemphis}

Back in 2007, I was inspired by my wife to go to a conference in Seattle about Facebook called Community Building in the Age of Facebook. The inspiration I gleaned from that conference changed my professional inclinations forever. It was like the breakfast club of the social media revolution with folks like Jeremiah Owyang, Connie Bensen, Jake McKee, Nick O’Neil, Dave McClure, Baratunde Thurston, and more awesome people that I still talk with today. The conference was also my first exposure to an “unconference” where (pre-facebook fame) Mari Smith and I pitched a session on Facebook for B2B Business and it was picked! The same conference is also where I was inspired by Eric Weaver to attend my first SxSw four months later (and I’ve been every year since).

I was so engaged with the whole unconference concept, that when Dave Delaney mentioned PodCamp Nashville (2008), my wife and I went. I was very inspired by how Dave Delaney and Marcus Whitney pulled together local subject matter experts to share, mix, and exchange ideas with attendees in a casual setting. That experience is what inspired me to start BarCamp Memphis.

Fast forward past eight Memphis camps that I chaired with local support & inspiration and having attended and/or spoken at more unconference camps in Austin, Seattle, Mountain View, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Jonesboro, and Nashville, I’ve developed an addiction of sorts.  But, I’ve discovered inspiration at all those events from interacting with the people at them.  People who, for the most part are recognized as being a quieter introverted lot (they have the most awesome ideas & concepts to share).

Add the most recent inspiration at SxSW 2012 (and the drive back with Steve Phipps) to start GEEKMemphis with awesome founders and position myself to be out of the lead seat in a year so that there’s freshness and distributed responsibility/fun with organizing/inspiring, and we get to “why” I initially started this post in the first place: TechCamp Memphis.

In proof, illustrating the value of a board, Liz Jostes (who is the lead with Joe Spake on the Marketing/PR/Media committee for what yesterday was termed “ContentCamp Memphis”) was hashing through some preliminary work on lighting a fire under getting the word out with Joe, Beth Sanders, and myself. During a series of many Facebook group posts, Liz wanted to consolidate websites and URL’s to make it easier to setup these unconference camps twice a year. We wound-up talking on the phone to hash through things before I had to mow. We checked out and it was available and we snagged it.  While mowing and listening to a SxSW session podcast by Bryan Person the notion of a one titled conference with two themes jumped into my mind. I floated the idea back by Liz, Beth, and Joe. Poof and now that’s what we’re doing.

If you’re ever talking with me and I seem to “glaze over”, you probably just said something that triggered my imagination to some expeditionary tangent. I have a tough time calling some things my own ideas when really they’re the products of so many different people and experiences.

More often than not, I connect tons of dots (inspirational concepts/notions) and add a little sauce. None of these ideas I come up with would be worth anything without great execution. To gain the confidence of enthusiastic and inspiring people that contribute and “execute” is one of the greatest treasures I’ve ever been dealt. It’s where collaboration makes an addictive magic, and I’m hooked.



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