SOBCon: Successful Online Business Spirit Lives On

I’m back from SOBCon and feeling freshly inspired by brilliant entrepreneurs. I’m so impressed by the businesses the conference founders and attendees are creating for themselves and their customers.

I’m also in awe of the kindness, generosity and goodwill of everyone I met. No, really. I’m not just saying that. Everyone. We expect business people to be cordial and helpful most of the time, but the people that SOBCon attracts are amazingly genuine and go out of their way to give to the community. I believe this generosity we experience at SOBCon is due in no small part to the founders who host the event, Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker.

Models and Masterminds. Inspire and Be Inspired. Generosity, Giving and Gratitude.

The format of the conference also reinforces this intention. A successful business leader provides their take on the conference theme, and then each table acts as a mastermind group to apply the speaker’s talk to their own businesses. Plus, on the last day of the conference, the attendees apply their business acumen to assist non-profits.

The SOBCon 2011 theme was loyalty: Building the New Loyalty & Leadership Business.

What transpired over this working weekend was an event that helped everyone appreciate that building loyalty should be about attracting a loyal customer base by being an authentic leader, and not about just creating a loyalty program in which customers have to do things to get points that have only nominal value.

Successful Online Business Leaders Get Congruent

The first speaker, Cathy Brooks, CEO of Story Navigation, really set a wonderful tone for the event. She started her talk by asking all 150 attendees to lower their laptops and put down their cell phones, and breathe. Ah….try it yourself…..Nice. We need to be present in order to begin.

Beginning her talk in this way reinforced the main points of her talk: creating a congruent story for your business requires you to be present to the vision you have for your business and is fundamental to what you want to create (in social media or otherwise) and offer to your customers.

You have to connect authentically with your customers and make sure that all of the touch points actually connect to this larger vision you want to create. It’s not just about creating a Facebook page in order to show you’re in social media. You have to have a plan for actively participating. Otherwise, why bother? You’re better off opting out.

Yes! Congruent stories — presence plus authentic conversations go a long way towards building customer loyalty.

Interview With Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Non-Conformity

One pearl from Chris: it’s not always efficient to take the most direct route. Instead of efficiency, consider adventure.

It’s true. From the pleasure I get from taking the back roads on my motorcycle, I know the most direct route — the highway system — is also the most boring.

My career has also unfolded by an adventurous route — I’ve moved from challenge to challenge, not afraid to pick up and move to new states and make new friends and business colleagues. It’s certainly been an adventure, and not the most efficient way to move up the career ladder.

Speaker, Author Tim Sanders, Today We Are Rich

I have always thought of gratitude as a feeling. However, in his talk, Tim suggests that we think of gratitude as a muscle we need to exercise. We need to actively use it.

I’ve started one of the practices he recommended for first thing in the morning — think of two people who helped you the previous day and allow yourself to feel gratitude for what they have done for you.

One of Tim’s other recommendations was to feed our minds good stuff. No checking email first thing before even getting out of bed. This bad habit was never one that plagued me. However, I’ve stopped watching the TV news in the morning, and instead have started reading for 15 minutes from quality books.

Even after just a few days, I feel better already. Amazing. I can’t wait to see what months or years of keeping these practices feels like.

Steve Farber, The Radical Leap Re-Energized

I’ve started reading Steve‘s book (*Disclosure: I received a free, advance copy at the conference). Steve advocates Extreme Leadership through the LEAP framework: “Love generates energy, inspires audacity, and requires proof” (53). I believe the SOBCon conference inherently works because Liz and Terry both know and have infused it with their love which generates an intentional energy that all attendees feel and experience and want to share, which inspires all of us and in turn generates audacity. We, the attendees, are the proof of its success. We take that love, energy, and inspiration out and share that with others.

Each year I see more and more people return as attendees. SOBCon could easily be a 500 person conference. However, if they allowed it to grow that big, I’d be concerned that it would lose the intimate inspired energy.

One Suggestion

At our table, we talked briefly about our desire to meet more of the attendees. What if we had one segment that was set up like speed dating. If we formed a snaking line throughout the halls, we could briefly introduce ourselves. I know many are introverts, but if we did it after we’d already experienced part of the conference, maybe people would feel more comfortable. It could be challenging from a time perspective — we’d have to make our conversations quick. I envision something like —

Hi, I’m Marcia. I create marketing plans for a huge tech brand. I love sand between my toes and motorcycling up the California coast. How can I help you?

This year was my 3rd year attending, and I walked away feeling inspired, but also a little sad that it went by so quickly. In case you’re wondering, the acronym SOBCon actually refers to Successful Online Business Conference, and I also think of it as a smart and outstanding gathering of no-bullshit creative and critical business minds.

I’ll be posting more about the great ideas and work of my mastermind colleagues, Steve Sherlock; and Mary-Lynn and George at BIGG Success. Plus, I can’t wait to dig into books by Steve Farber, Carol Roth, Michael Port and Tim Sanders.

If you’d like to share your talents and mastermind with the best, go register for SOBCon 2012 already. Do it now.

You can also read what some of these brilliant minds have said about their experiences:

The Best Day Out of 26 Years at GM: Paying it Forward at SOBCon 2011, by Connie Burke — Awesome of GMC to gift Mark Horvath of InvisiblePeople.tv with a new GMC Terrain in support of the work he does for the homeless.

GMC gifts Mark Horath, InvisiblePeople.tv a car at SOBCon, by Danielle Smith — so great to talk with you over lunch!

Connecting To Happiness: A Single Model For Leadership Excellence, by Terry Starbucker — You’re awesome, thank you!

Not Speaking is the New Black, How to Turn a #Fail Position into a #Win, by Liz Strauss — I am blessed to know you, thank you!

The Way You Wear Your Brand, Mary-Lynn Foster and George Krueger — Thanks for the great masterminding!

5 People You Meet at SOBCon, by Steve Wood — Don’t miss this post!

Cause Marketing Brilliance: @HardlyNormal Receives GMC Terrain at SOBCon, by Geoff Livingston — Thank you for leading the non-profit 1/2 day!

The Ultimate Brain Diet, by Carol Roth — look forward to chatting!

The Lesson From SOBCon, by Jeannie Walters — wish we had been able to spend more time talking!

SOBCon 2011: Successful Online Business Conference – The Must Be There Conference, by Lorelle VanFossen — so glad to talk with you again. Will let you know when I’m in PDX next.

SOBCon 2011 Models Teams and Tables, by Barbara Rozgonyi — you rock! I’m inspired by all you’re creating.

Lessons From SOBCon: Amazing People, Incredible Conversations & Love, by Debba Haupert — we need to talk more! So glad to see you again! Love the work you’re doing.

Favorite Quotes at SOBCon 2011, Barry Moltz — Great collection of quotes.

Love Notes From The Freshman #SOBCon11, Lennie Rose — Will I see you next year?

SOBCon: Enter as an Attendee and Leave as a Friend, by Shashi Bellamkonda — Inspired by the work you do @netsolcares!

Stop, Consider Adventure and Give Love – Lessons from a Mindful Conference, #SOBCon Inspiration Part 1, Mana Ionescu — Will I see you next year?

SOBCon in Photos:

Steve Sherlock SOBCon 2011 Photos — so great to meet and spend time masterminding with you!

Erno Hannik SOBCon Photostream — wish we had time to talk more.

Shashi Bellamkonda SOBCon Photostream — you are an awesome creator!

2 thoughts on “SOBCon: Successful Online Business Spirit Lives On

  1. Mary-Lynn

    Marcia, we so enjoyed masterminding with you! What a fantastic summary and compilation of others summaries. You could do a presentation on how you did this so nicely next year 😛

  2. Marcia

    Mary-Lynn — Google is my friend! It was a little time consuming to pull it all together, but I wanted to make it useful and show a little link love for sobcon. It’s also great for me, because here is my list of people to follow-up with until the next sobcon!

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