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5 Takeaways From Day 1 of #SparkMe

#SparkMe Day one

Spark.me day one has come to a close, and I cannot help but feel as though I left a family gathering. One of those where there is a greeting, a time to catch up and say hello to everyone. A bit of chaos because the crazy uncle just burst through the door. (Thank you, Jon Burkhart!) And then a time of storytelling and intimacy that takes you deep into the evening and leaving full.

An experience just occurred. An experience that rivals previous years as the best, and by the numbers, was the best. The room was packed from beginning to end. The energy filled the room and ebbed and flowed at times throughout the day. creating a symphony that, if all gos well, will crescendo and be brought a close in style tomorrow. But we will see…

For now, here are 5 takeaways from day one. I cannot say these were the most interesting points made or most radical, that honor goes to a recognized cyborg, but more on that later.

SparkMe Day 1. Budva, Montenegro

1. Become a person. – Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer delivered on the topic of personal branding and the art of becoming known. Over and over again, he pushed the crowd to think about what they were doing and was it viable as a business // brand, or were they pursuing a hobby. He quipped at one moment, “A passion without a plan is just a hobby.”

However, at the center of the talk, which really set the stage for others, was his point of “Become a person”. In the brand and message that we seek to create, how we operate, and the interactions we create, people should feel and know that hey are communicating with a person. A person that cares not only about the product they hope to sell, but a person that seeks a real connection with the customer.

Spark.me 2018 conference. Day 1. Budva. Hotel Mediteran. Montenegro. Fotograf Sergej Zabijako, +382 68 129392, Portfolio: www.photosergey.me Portal Crna Gora for Me: https://www.cg4.me https://www.facebook.com/Sergej.Zabijako, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sergej_zabijako_photographer YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/PromoMontenegro Channel VR360: http://www.Montenegro360.video #Montenegro #Spark #SparkMe #Sparkdotme #Spark2018 #CrnaGora #photoSergejZabijako #PromoMontenegro #Черногория © photography Sergej Zabijako, © Promo-Montenegro, 2018

2. Have good questions and use your imagination to answer them. – Jon Burkhart 

This was the second year, Jon has been a speaker at Spark.me, but when he comes it is so much more than a gig. He seems to approach everything as an opportunity to connect and begin asking questions. He does it with an overwhelming amount of energy. His self proclaimed “child-like” is like that of the uncle every kid loves. The one who will get on the floor and piss of every other adult in the room just for laughs.

And faithful to the approach, Jon encourages his audience to ask questions. Question everything, and do not stop at the first answer. Think imaginatively to find the solution. Ask the craziest questions of all regarding topics that will likely end up in the FBI knocking on your door, and create solutions. Create content from such a framework that brings an audience together in laughter, or creates a new audience that is unexpected. No matter the purpose, ask good questions to spur creativity in your work.

3. Stereotypes will be broken when influencers speak out against them. – Xenia Tchoumi

Xenia is an influencer leveraging her past as a first runner up in Miss Switzerland and education to build a campaign empire. While she spoke of her achievements and how she was able to scale her work, she highlighted the important roles that influencers have as voices for equality.

She spoke about breaking stereotypes across industries and creating equal work environments. What surprised me most, was where she leveled responsibility. For Xenia, the responsibility lies with influencers and marketers across industries that have built their platforms. When someone succeeds and creates a voice of influence, it should be used to silence the stereotypes holding others back. In this way, true communities that care for one another are created, supportive, and begin to flourish.

Spark.me 2018 conference. Day 1. Budva. Hotel Mediteran. Montenegro. Fotograf Sergej Zabijako, +382 68 129392, Portfolio: www.photosergey.me Portal Crna Gora for Me: https://www.cg4.me https://www.facebook.com/Sergej.Zabijako, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sergej_zabijako_photographer YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/PromoMontenegro Channel VR360: http://www.Montenegro360.video #Montenegro #Spark #SparkMe #Sparkdotme #Spark2018 #CrnaGora #photoSergejZabijako #PromoMontenegro #Черногория © photography Sergej Zabijako, © Promo-Montenegro, 2018

4. We should not only have empathy with our customers, but with our employees.  – Kerry O’Shea Gorgone

We are always taught about the importance of taking care of the customer, meet their needs, and go the extra mile for them. “The customer is always right,” has been the mantra for longer than I can remember.

However, what happens when the care for the customer exceeds the care for the employee? Or a work environment that focuses criticism of the employee goes beyond truly understanding the needs of the employee for growth and development. I remember working for a lady who taught me quite a bit about trusting the employee, caring for them, and seeing them grow so the business grows. Demonstrating care and understanding for our employees and teams will have a positive impact on the business as a whole.

Spark.me 2018 conference. Day 1. Budva. Hotel Mediteran. Montenegro. Fotograf Sergej Zabijako, +382 68 129392, Portfolio: www.photosergey.me Portal Crna Gora for Me: https://www.cg4.me https://www.facebook.com/Sergej.Zabijako, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sergej_zabijako_photographer YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/PromoMontenegro Channel VR360: http://www.Montenegro360.video #Montenegro #Spark #SparkMe #Sparkdotme #Spark2018 #CrnaGora #photoSergejZabijako #PromoMontenegro #Черногория © photography Sergej Zabijako, © Promo-Montenegro, 2018

5. Once something finishes, take what you learned and accept this new stage in life. – Mike Massimino

One of my favorite quotes from the whole conference will be this one. Thee importance of accepting the time something ends and something new begins. The whole point of these transitions and changes is to apply what we learned previously and continue to grow. Every experience we face, even when it comes to an unexpected end, is a time to learn and explore.

In another memorable moment, Mike spoke about the value of passion, following your dreams, and perseverance. He was honest in his assessment that all we can do is try. We cannot always control the outcomes, but we can try. This may be the most important thing we ever do. Just make the attempt.

#SparkMe 2018 exceed all expectations which is getting more difficult to do. I told one of the organizers, Natasha, that to imagine such diversity in speakers, it is hard to fathom the cohesiveness which it achieved on this first day.

Looking forward to Day 2.

All photos are Sergej Zabojako, https://www.cg4.me/index.php/me/foto-galereja/event/106003431699157444447@6561106624492577377

 

 

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

WORKSHOPS! WORKSHOPS! 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.

Being A Nowist: Takeaways From Dr. Max Mckeown

Nowist; Matt Lambert, Spark.me

“Strategy is about shaping the future.” One of the opening lines of Dr. MAx Mckeown and opening lines for the whole of Spark.Me. Also, one of the more profound points to understand when starting, progressing, or innovating anything. Mckeown is a strategist and “nowist”. He is a believer in forward movement, and the only way to accomplishing such is by remaining optimistic in the present using circumstances to move toward your future goals.

Innovation Defined

“Innovation is new ideas made useful.” In a day when the word “innovation is thrown around loosely, it is good to have a structured, practical approach. Innovation is not merely having an idea. Many people have ideas and do nothing. Many stop at “desire insight” where the possibility is seen. However, it remains in pile of  untouched potential never coming to fruition. True innovation will see new ideas take shape in useful ways that change how life is lived.

Experience does not equal learning

Common myth in the innovation story is that experience automatically brings learning and progression. However, this is false. Experience only brings learning. Those undergoing the experience must be engaged and draw conclusions for learning to happen. Learning cannot be assumed to happen, but must be actively pursued throughout the process. Engagement in the now brings progress toward future goals.

The future is powered by human desire ===> curiosity

Curiosity and questioning the norm is what moves the human experience forward. People begin to ask questions, challenge the status quo, dream, etc.  Curiosity into the world around us should push toward learning much like a child. In doing so, we begin to find solutions to daily challenges, or improvements to daily habits and routines. The human desire to be curious brings what we envision in the future to the now.

Avoid living on bloody awful island

A critical point of Mckeown’s presentation came when he described the different states of people as they approach the present. We can live on an island where everything is “bloody awful,” and nothing can change because present circumstances will not allow them. Some exist in a space where things are slightly better. All is not lost, but still cannot see the way forward. However, those who see the potential, and use the now to their advantage are the ones who will find success. Avoid the “bloody, awful” island.

Be a #Nowist

A “nowist” leverages the moments of today to reach the goals of the future. There is clear direction that cannot be derailed by challenges that popup along life’s journey. They keep moving forward taking advantage of unplanned opportunities. A nowise minimizes regret by doing so.

The question becomes, “Am I acting and living as a “nowist” or thinking too much about the challenges being faced?” Are we truly innovating by making our new ideas useful, or saying, “if only….” What ideas do you have, and how can they be made useful? 

 

 

 

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.