The 3rd Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference is in the books now and I am very grateful to have had a part to play.  My disclaimer is that I am on the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation (OTEF) Board of Directors and I’ve been a co-chair of the conference since it’s inception, I suppose you’d have to say that I have an interest in seeing many more of these events staged to support the mission of OTEF.  With that disclaimer, here is what I saw happen at the event that made it meaningful for me.

  • logo_color Generational / Cultural Connections – I have often been called somewhat of an anomaly in my career before, so it’s not to weird for me to have people say so now.  Early on, I was the youngest of the team and brought a lot of energy and creativity to an effort.  Now I am one of the older guys sitting around the social media technology table and I still bring creativity to the table that has been tempered with experience.  I hang out with both a traditional entrepreneurial community and I’ve also been working more and more with what I’ll call a new generation and culture of entrepreneurship, a culture exemplified by social media and it’s impact on marketing and it’s ability to create community.  One is often represented by slacks / suits, collared shirts, hard shoes and ties and the other by flip flops, jeans and silk-screened tees.  This event saw both of them mixing and mingling in the pursuit of knowledge in the entrepreneurial equation.  I think we need to see a lot more of it and we need to look for way to connect the two, not drive generational or cultural wedges between them.
  • Passion by Gary Vanerchuk – My favorite presenter of the day was Gary Vanerchuk.  It was not so much his stories about WineLibrary.TV or the family business’ trials and tribulations that struck me, but his emphatic encouragement that we all have to do what we’re passionate about, the thing that is meaningful to us individually.  Not just doing the thing we think is going to make us some money.  In this age of social media, what you’re passionate about WILL come through – either by you delivering it to your audience or from your customers, suppliers and competitors doing it.  People will find you out if you’re just posing and they will talk about whether or not you’re passionate about what you’re doing.  Gary suggested that even if that approach does not make you a million, you will be happier with your life than if you gave up your passion for a buck.  I liked Gary’s message.  I have my own story about why I do the work I do and how it fills my life with a passion to learn and do what I do in social media.
  • Microsoft BizSpark BizSpark is one of the biggest announcements of the year, I am not sure a project of this scope and caliber has even been launched in the history of business.  It is a project that only a company the size and depth of Microsoft could have launched.  At it’s core is the ability to provide the start-up entrepreneur with integrated enterprise-quality tools at little or no hard cost.  The low-cost alternative has been the development and deployment of solutions using OpenSource Solutions (OSS) technology with the integration left to the entrepreneur.  OSS is not necessarily a bad alternative, but the addition of the Microsoft suite to the decision process means that now the tech entrepreneur can make the best possible decision, not just the best OSS-based decision. Silent Dispatch was announced as an early adopter / inductee of the program, so again I am in full disclosure here – I like what they’ve done and have some perspective after 25 years in tech.

These are the things that made the event significant for me; I’m interested in hearing what made it worth the investment of time and dollars for you

(Update – Chance Carpenter / EET just post a bunch of YouTube videos on what many of you thought about the conference – thx Chance!)