Why I Want To Attend Spark.Me 2018

Spark.me 2018; matt lambert

Spark.me 2018 is quickly approaching and will hit the coast of Montenegro before we know it, May 25-27. Spark is an annual conference dedicated to bringing world class, speakers, professionals, and leaders from around the globe to Budva, Montenegro for the region’s best marketing and innovation conference. As a little insight, Mark Schaeffer and Kerry O’Shea Gorgone have already been named as speakers for this year.

2018 will be my 4th year attending the conference. Many of my friends have already harassed me for starting to plug the conference and asking them to visit Montenegro in May. They all ask, “Why?” Why Spark.Me again? So I have compiled a list of reasons of why I will go to Spark.Me 2018.

Take part in the workshops


This year will be the first Spark.Me to host a day of workshops. The day prior to the conference will be set aside to learn firsthand from a variety of industry professionals who have been dedicated to your craft. While the list has not been released yet, It seems like a no brainer that the workshops will be informative, practical, and transformative for your career. One workshop may make you even change your career.

Receive and bring value

One of the best reasons to attend a conference, especially when it is dedicated to your field of work or interest, is the value that can be received or given. Many people enjoy going to conferences because it is a good experience, however, they do not understand the immense value  that can come from interacting with top tier marketing strategists. For a startup, it could be meeting investors that provide valuable insight into the growth of your business.

Create a new community

I have met people at previous Spark conferences that seemed to spur a new community gathered around a similar interest. When ideas and innovators come together, magic happens creating new buzz and excitement around shared interests. When new communities are formed, new ideas begin to spread and take root. This has been true in my experience, and I look forward to seeing it happen again.

Increase your network

Every year, this is one of my favorite reasons to attend Spark.Me. I can always look back and remember the amount of inspiring people that I was fortunate to meet. From sharing coffee together in the mornings to cruising the Motor Bay together after the conference, my network grows every year. Follow the bloggers and their journeys connecting whenever I visit their cities. I try to keep up with the speakers who occasionally make it back to the region. Each year new connections are made. New partnerships are formed. The web of relationships grows further.

Expand your vision

Last year toward the end of his talk, I hit Jon Burkhart in the face. He did not expand his vision. But in the course of a wild presentation, he demonstrated to the audience how being “ballsy” or curious, can transform your marketing by getting outside your routine or comfort zone to grab the attention of your audience. This is how a conference should challenge the attendees. If you are not walking away rethinking your process or how to make adjustments, you have been at the wrong conference.

Spark.Me is the right one.

How To Realign Your Focus For The New Year

realign your focus; new years; goals

It is the year’s end, and we are facing the next. Ads and messaging bombard us to think about New Year’s goals and resolutions which, undoubtedly, will be abandoned by mid-February, and forgotten by April.

The challenge?


Focus on goals and aspirations held deep within one’s heart and mind.

Reassess and refocus on the goals you had set, but did not achieve.

This is how the New Year should begin: with a realignment of focus for this coming year. Everyone becomes distracted, waivers off course, or completely derails from their original objectives (which can be good or bad). However, for those few things that are worthy enough of our time and effort, what is needed to see them take shape?

Here are 5 ways to realign your focus for the New Year.

Reflect honestly on the past year.

Every year is a fresh start for something new to happen or a restart to complete a journey previously started. Going into a a new year provides the perfect opportunity to reflect honestly and openly on the past year. Question yourself, and allow others to ask questions. This process of honest reflection opens the space to see if a goal went unmet because it was unrealistic or resulted from a lack of passion.

Reflection helps to know if we need to  realign our focus on the goal, or completely change possibly abandon the goal altogether. It reveals our passions and aspirations getting the new year started with proper focus.

Evaluate your purpose statement.

Simon Sinek spearheads the “Know Your Why” movement that has swept the business community. Read more from him here. The new year provides the perfect place to evaluate your purpose, your “Why” and how it is being lived out in daily life, especially work.

If and when the things we are doing do not lead to this purpose and passion, then we are forced with a decision. Do I leave this position? Do I quit this project? How can I refocus? Ultimately, how does my current profession, start-up, or project fit my purpose? Creating a purpose statement and evaluating it quarterly or annually creates focus heading into the new year.

Create goals and processes that lead to your purpose.

Goals and processes are the pathways to operating in your purpose and passions. Once getting a clear focus on what these are, set goals that will serve as clear benchmarks to show progress along the way. Goals challenge and push toward that vision and purpose statement for one’s life. Goals should be clear and concise to eliminate ambiguity and uncertainty. Here is good resource for several different perspectives and types of goals.

Pro tip: Share your goals with those you trust. It is easier to take steps with others supporting and helping to clarify your goals along the way. 

The other side of achieving your purpose statement is mapping the necessary processes. Create a strategic plan for hitting milestones. Carefully, consider not only the benchmarks, but the steps and challenges you will face. Identify new skills that need to be learned, and how you will acquire them. Once your processes have been set, stick to them for 3-4 months and evaluate. Are the processes moving you toward the goals and purpose laid out? Can they be improved?

Reassess your schedule.

Schedules are necessary. Some will cry reading this, but they are. They guide a day, week, month, or the year. A schedule sets the tone for productivity and creation. It provides structure that many of us need, even when we do not like to admit it.

They can also be a hazard to achieving goals. Poorly done schedules give the sense of busyness without considering direction. At the end of working day or week, it is easy to feel a lack off accomplishment despite the long hours. This is a result of a poor schedule.

Reassess your schedule. Make sure it guides toward your purpose and the individual goals set. Be flexible only when understanding personal processes for achieving your goals. Stick to it. Be unapologetic about it.

Reassess relationships.

The new year and a realigned focus also provides the perfect opportunity to reassess relationships. Those who surround us and serve as sounding boards for ideas, projects, and pursuits may not be the best to help achieve our passions and purpose. While it may not be necessary to completely cutoff relationships, it is good to evaluate where our time is spent. Do others help us achieve our goals or distract from them? Are they positive forces in our lives giving motivation and encouragement, or do they take energy and time?

Everyone needs to evaluate the people around them. Create circles where ideas can be challenged, informed, and progressed. Consider taking on a mentor to help you stay on track, or overcome challenges.

In a few days, we will kick off a new year. It is time for a fresh start. It is a time to adjust. It is a time to realign your focus for this year.

Let us know how we can  help. Drop us an email. Tell us about your purpose, passion, and ideas that you are working toward.


The Core Values of Coworking

Coworking; Business; Matt Lambert

In 1995, a concept, known as “coworking” began transforming work style. To keep anyone from setting “the rules”, the initiators defined coworking vaguely.

With only 20 years of history, coworking has evolved into a worldwide movement. It has vastly impacted economies, business development, and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Its progress has had direct impact on work environments and whole industries. Some argue it has influenced a stronger creative economy.

What is coworking? One must embrace the values which unite spaces despite their difference in markets and inhabitants.


Communnity extends beyond people working near one another. Community reflects a value of care not only for the space but for the individuals that inhabit that space. It carries an underlying idea of a shared purpose. Sometimes these communities organize around a similar occupation bringing together industry professionals who can push each other along. Other times the community reflects a diversity of occupations, yet the members wish to learn and grow along side of one another. In both cases, there is a shared value of care present.


An important aspect to any community is the ability to be open with one another. Some cultures struggle with this ideal of being open handed with ideas. Coworking combats this way of thinking. Members of a community must know each other and have trust among their piers. Those entering the space are not there to outright compete or gain the advantage, but to invest and give to the community. Since openness takes time to build, it should always be part of the goals of any coworking space.


Coworking creates an environment for individuals to collaborate with their strengths and professions. Those managing the space can help by encouraging projects that would necessitate collaboration among the members. There have been plenty of examples of new startups and companies forming as a direct result of collaboration within coworking spaces. Such examples create a positive impact on the community internally and the greater local economy.


There has been a shift in work style which rejects the traditional “work in isolation model” which was demonstrated by offices and even cubicles. The coworking value of accessibility rejects this model as well. It pushes the need for people to be accessible. While important ideologically, it may also cause some angst because it entrusts other members to be professional in their approach without being overbearing. When the members allow themselves to be accessible, it builds the community.


Ongoing health and development are central tenets of coworking. Sustainability includes the ongoing development of the economy culture surrounding it. Sustainability brings financial stability and personal/professional growth among the participating members. For sustainability to happen, the members must invest and active in developing the core values.

The coworking community accept these core values as unifying factors across the industry. They are interdependent for the success of the space. Failure in one area may undermine the others. Each core value must be cultivated in the local coworking space.

What has been your experience with coworking? Would you try it, recommend it, or avoid it? Share your thoughts on social media and use #diskorsprojekt. 


Coffice: Skopje Coworking Space

Walking down a busy Patizanski Obredi Blvd in downtown Skopje, I was a little lost looking for Coffice, Skopje’s only primary coworking space (that I know about). After planning a recent trip, I decided to so a quick search to see what the Skopje coworking scene was like for the city. I had found a couple more on the outside of the city and focused on business incubation and accelerating rather than coworking. After sending a quick Facebook message, I knew I needed to stop into Coffice.


Coffice is located across the street from the Ramstore Mall (on the side with the Istanbul Cafe). Go across the street toward the back of the parking lot and find a whitish awning, and you have arrived. The space owner and manager, Dani, opened in June 0f 2015 creating an energizing and interactive space for freelancers and creatives. According to Dani the majority of those working there are freelancers receiving jobs from abroad, a current trend that is growing the freelancing market across the Balkans.

Entering into Coffice on the ground level, the space is created for relaxing and taking a break. The walls are white and decorated with unique, black art and games such as the “world’s most difficult Sudoku.” A couple of couches, lockers, and some basic end tables decorate the lower the space. Upstairs is where business is done. Again, the space is simply designed and layer out. Wood top tables, chairs, and bar top are all available for working. Internet speeds of 60mbps and coffee help keep the tenants working throughout the day.


The one thing that really stood out is the interaction taking place. As I topped the stairs, I heard the sounds of keys being pressed along with the noises of people talking, laughing, and discussing their work. Coffice had an amazing energy for being a smaller coworking space. It resembled many larger spaces that I have visited with its vitality.

Coffice is a pioneer space for the city. Dani admits that this can be a difficult process, and she is in a wait and see what happens stage. Skopje coworking is relatively new and developing for the betterment of the local economy and freelancing industry, Hopefully, as Coffice grows and others take shape, coworking will impact Skopje as it has countless other cities across the world.



Why I want to attend Spark.me 2017

spark.me 2017 why I want to attend

Spark.me 2017 is headed this way quickly. The annual conference is already shaping up to be another stellar affair with a speaker line-up sure to deliver. Spark.me is a conference about emerging and innovative business models, disruptive tech, digital marketing strategies, and transformative initiatives. With a pristine location just outside of Budva, Montenegro on the Adriatic Sea, there are no valid reasons to skip Spark 2017. However, some still need reasons to come.

Inspiration v. Motivation

Right now, it is easy to scroll through Facebook or any other feed and find countless “motivational” speakers that try to get people amped up to go do something. Anything. While motivation may be necessary at times, I find it lacks substance that will push forward day after day when the grinding is the hardest.

The majority of what I take away from Spark.me is inspiration. Inspiration feeds on what is already beating deep down within us, and gets triggered to burst forward and outward. The stories shared at Spark.me, those sitting around you, and those who take the stage offer inspiration to make the decisions and actions that have been hiding deep within you. The substance of real examples and the information being dispersed do not push you to a pipe dream belonging to someone else. Instead, they provide practical and applicable steps to accomplish goals while overcoming real challenges.


Interactions with the Speakers

While Spark.me may not be biggest conference regionally, the organizers created a venue to allow attendees to get up close to world class speakers/practitioners. They are not only speakers. These are people who are currently leading changes in their fields and expertise. And the intimacy of the venue produces the perfect environment to interact, engage, and learn. This would be my third year at Spark, and I cannot wait to see the list of speakers continue to unfold.

What I have found helpful in leading up to the conference, is reaching out to the those who are especially interesting or inspiring. I did this over the last two years and received quite a bit of openness for future projects. Spark.me is the first opportunity that I had to connect in easy and natural ways with those who graced the stage. BTW, reaching out prior to Spark also landed me some excellent coffee thanks to Jovana and Frank!

Beyond the Speakers

Spark.me is so much more than the speakers, venue, and other things that usually stand at the forefront. When you sit down in your seat, look at the people around you and introduce yourself. Go to lunch and roll up on someone to introduce yourself. Meet the media companies present, the bloggers, and whoever else. NETWORK.

Spark.me is the perfect place to network. Again, not overly crowded where networking can be intimidating, but also large enough to strengthen your network internationally. Start expanding the brand, and possibly learn new skills or meet the person that will help overcome specific challenges being faced.

These are my top 3 reasons for why i want to attend Spark.me 2017. Do not hesitate. Pick up your tickets hereWhy do you want to participate this year? And when will we meet for coffee? 🙂

Past talks and posts from Spark.me are linked below:

Chris Fabian and Innovation Solving World Problems 

How to address change

Reflections from 2015

As a bonus, here are some ways to explore Montenegro when visiting for Spark.me.

photo credits: Jennifer Buxton visit www.RealPoshMom.com to chat travel, food, fashion, and work.


3 Lessons of Leadership

3 lessons; leadership; Matt Lambert

While doing a bit of reflecting, I began thinking on the different areas of leadership that I have held. And how fulfilling these roles brought responsibility for the success of myself, my family, co-workers, a organization, or maybe a group of friends. In most cases, all or some of these were bound together. Here are three lessons/principles that I feel summarize not only my experience, but some of the greatest successes and failures of leaders that I have admired, or at least gleaned understanding.

Diskors Projekt - BE


At the moment, I am a bit consumed with this little, yet significant word. In any case, a leader must “BE.” A leader must BE himself. A leader must BE present in the situation, organization, crisis, etc. A leader must simply “BE.”

Too many times, leaders can become sidetracked by their position or title and fail at any of the above examples or countless others. Many times, I have witnessed leaders who fail at the first because they do not know who they are. Therefore they fail at being themselves which is usually why the position of leader was acquired. The reality remains that if a leader fails at being who they have been made to be, it is only a matter of time before other stressors are evident: unrealistic expectations, taking on tasks that are not a good fit, poor vision, etc. All of which can be curbed to a great degree when a leader knows their own person, and chooses to BE that person.


Leaders must be able to build around themselves. This means understanding personal weaknesses, and building a team that will meet those weaknesses. This also requires a leader to be secure enough to admit faults and recognize that others excel in these areas. Too many times, leaders try to cover their failures and weaknesses at the fear of being “exposed” as a fraud. A true leader will understand these faults and recognize them as strengths within others looking to build the best possible team.

Not only does a leader build a team, but they also build an environment in which the team functions. The trustworthy leader facilitates and orchestrates the environment in which the team will flourish. This is not unchecked freedom, but accountability balanced with room for errors which can bring growth. Significant growth if the right environment has been built. LEaders bear this weight. It is tough, but that is why they are leaders.

Diskors Projekt


Leaders empower those around them. Plain and simple. If someone is not exercising empowerment, they are more of a manager or authoritarian rather than a leader. Leaders set people free to excel and create in ways and areas in which the leader may not be able to do. This is tied into the security of the one leading. In my experiences, those who are most insecure are the ones most controlling and authoritarian. The adverse has been true as well. Those who I have found to be most inspiring as leaders were the ones empowering me to be who I was made to be, and even helping me get there.

A leader who encourages their team member(s) to grow can be empowering. The leader who says, “Yes. Now let me help you get there,” is truly empowering and moving not only the individual forward, but the team is moving forward. It is not enough to “inspire” people to do what we want them to do. This can easily become manipulation. But leaders must inspire and empower people to become what they are passionate about and driven toward.

A leader who can be, build, and empower is a leader worth following. He is also a leader who is usually willing to follow when it is necessary.

What lessons or principles on leadership could you share?

Boat Milica: A family story of resilience on Skadar Lake

Boat Milica; Skadar Lake; Matt Lambert

On a cooler than normal day last spring with a bit of overcast and wind, my family along with a visiting friend decided to do something that we had not done in the two years of living in Montenegro, take a boat tour around Skadar Lake National Park. After asking our friends from Undiscovered Montenegro, Ben and Emma, they recommended Boat Milica. Within a few hours, we were off for our 3 hour tour around the largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula.


We arrived in Virpazar about 30 minutes outside of Podgorica to begin the tour around the lake which included seeing the local wildlife and monasteries. It is easy to tell from the pictures that the tour itself was amazing. The vibrant greens signaling the newness of the season created the perfect backdrops for the old, stone monasteries being restored. As we went around, our guide, Ksenija, was exceptional at pointing out the intricacies of the lake, its history, and wildlife. After a quick dip in the lake by our friend, we returned from our tour with a new appreciation for Montenegro’s wild beauty which happens to be only a short drive from us.

While the tour was memorable and the service provided is highly recommended, it is the story of the Boat Milica which really draws me in, and causes an even greater appreciation for their business. The family Dabanovic is from Virpazar knowing the lake intimately. During the economic downturn around 2011, the Jelena guided her family to do something different to survive. They started Boat Milica.

captain Skadar Lake

As a family, they divided responsibilities and took to creating their business building it slowly. The daughters learned new languages to specifically help with foreign tourists, they built their wooden boat in the shop of an old master in Podgorica, and Andrija began guiding tours. Andrija grew up on the lake and is familiar with al the ins and outs. The stories, legends, history, and diversity all get proper treatment during the tour. And Jelena became the only woman in Virpazar to own and operate a boat tour showing off Skadar Lake

The family worked together and have been successful together. Even in the face of some struggles, they have proven resilient and creative to help one another and their town by attracting tourists to this natural resource hidden in the interior of Montenegro.

The Dabanovic story is one of resilience in the face of difficulty. It is exemplary of what it takes to be resourceful and succeed. The family found support among themselves continually encouraging each other to do better and achieve their goals.

Innovation, Tech, And Solving World Problems

Matt Lambert; Spark.me; Solving world problems

In just under two weeks, Spark.Me will kick off. In preparing for it,  listening to the talks from 2015 and previous years is an excellent way to observe what the conference is about and set expectations. For other ways to prepare, I suggest you check out RealPoshMom’s article here.

Spark provides opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups to rethink their ideas, systems, and industries to develop their product. One talk from 2015 stands out as a way to use innovation and tech for other purposes aside from building your startup, or in conjunction with your startup. Chris Fabian from UNICEF gave a talk on the growth of tech in solving world problems, and the importance of investing in localized development that can scale up and be applied on larger levels.

Why is localized development so important?  

To Fabian, locally developed platforms help form solutions in context to the challenges that are being faced. It is an advantage over existing platforms that have already been significantly developed across the world. Local development puts the solution in a language and context that local people can understand. Of course, this does not discredit the strides that existing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have used in meeting crisis situations. However, Fabian used two examples of Ebola outbreak and the Nepal earthquake to demonstrate how solutions developed on the ground of these disasters proved more beneficial for the response.

Startups and solving world problems

One of the better discussions that is raised during the talk happens in the Q and A. Chris talks sustainability, and startups looking to do do good. In a conversation that usually involves pursuing money or creating a social model, Chris pushes businesses to think differently offering that most businesses are looking to do good in the world. Startups have the freedom to solve a specific challenge or crisis while building a business model that will make money through a proper exit strategy or transforming the product to meet similar challenges in a different context.

Chris also pushes startups and companies to enter a new relationship with existing power structures and working between different groups. He does this by pointing back to UNICEF’s 9 principles for innovation and tech development. These principles, no matter how obvious, represent the existing change occurring across business lines and development in crisis areas. In the end, Chris looks to leverage the value and innovation of the startup community for solving world problems, and doing so in a way which invests in the local and global markets.

Check out the full talk below. Look ahead for Spark.me at the end of the month with an openness to challenge your own ideas for startups.

Obstacles to Coworking

Coworking Obstacles; Matt Lambert

Coworking is a growing phenomenon across much of the world that has been revolutionizing the concept of workspace and management.

However, not everyone is convinced of the importance, sustainability, and longevity of coworking. Is this a fad that will dissipate over time, or is coworking here to stay, grow, and continue to transform work, office life, and even specific industries? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, the obstacles need to be addressed to continue moving forward.

Lack of understanding

Coworking is quickly growing as its own industry, however, there remains a widespread lack of understanding about it. Some have not even heard the term before, and

Fear of competition

When entering a space, the risk of  running into direct competition is high especially for some spaces that gear themselves toward specific industries. Programmers competing over the similar market or startup teams that are working on similar if not the same ideas can bring an unwanted tension in the space.

Answer: If this is a concern when entering a space, take some precautionary measures. Always be proactive in interviewing the manager of a space. Usually, they will know their workers, and have an idea about their businesses or projects. It is the mark of a good manager. If this information is not known consider shopping other spaces as it could be the sign of a bad space manager. Also, consider the possibility of working together. Maybe that places both parties in a better position to succeed.

Fear of stolen ideas

Today, the fight over intellectual property rights rages. Legal cases are fought over stolen ideas causing a distrust and overprotection. Such mentalities can hurt a coworking space, and even worse can keep people from entering one. Stories are even told about competing startups being too friendly in order to gain an upper hand. It is a real possibility, and is something that can only be addressed by the ethos of the community. Nobody wants to have their ideas taken, but such a fear should not leave black eye on the coworking industry.

Answer: Take advantage of the free trial period that any good coworking space will offer. USe this time to meet the people, ask questions about the culture and how people do business, and if there is any sense of cunning behaviors taking place within the space. If you join a space, and anything suspicious takes place, report it. It can be a community killer if allowed to progress.


Sometimes the idea of coworking leads one to think of a constant party in a space. Imagery of endless table tennis matches, foosball tables, and game consuls fill the mind.

Answer: This should not be the case. Some spaces may incorporate these features, but a strong trend exists in really defining the design of the space to best suit work flow. As a recent interview from the Social Workplace Conference has noted, “a variety of spaces help to keep people motivated.” There is an element that people can be distracting, but this will depend on the type of space one is looking for, and can also be sorted through when using a free trial period.

Lack of value

The question of value can always play a large part of someone deciding to join a coworking space. It may not even be that one will not receive value, but just the unknown. Can a social work environment filled with others trying to create something similar really be of value, help grow business, create a larger network, etc. These are doubts that exist within some. The main question is, “What am I really getting out of this?”

AnswerValue can be measured differently depending on the person. For small businesses, freelancers, entrepreneurs, or startup teams the cost of the space itself will be of value when compared to renting a space. The use of equipment, meeting rooms, and additional benefits that may come with the membership only grow this value. Other factors such as the potential to network, grow a client base, and work together on projects with those in the immediate vicinity create an immeasurable value depending on the long term goals. Even larger corporations are finding value with sending their people into a coworking space by finding new talent and collaborating on projects. Each person will have to define the value they are seeking, but when locating the right space even a day pass weekly can create value for the user.

People can always find an excuse not to try something. However, as the 2015 Coworking Survey demonstrates, coworking spaces and social workplaces are a movement. Coworknig spaces are only increasing in number and at a strong rate. The best question is, “Why not try one?”

Have you worked in a coworking space? Are any of these objections legitimate? How can you work around them?