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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.

Visiting Montenegro around Spark.Me

Montenegro; travel; spark.me; matt lambert

At the end of the month, May 28-29, one of the region’s best business and innovation conference will kick off! Spark.me brings energy and excitement within an inspirational context and environment. Spark.me pushes attendees to dream big going after goals and objectives once thought out of reach. While Spark.me offers the inspiration for entrepreneurs and startups to get moving, the organizers bring presenters who will help existing businesses pivot into a different era. A rugged coastline set among the mountains serves as the backdrop for the conference offering another level of intrigue making it a mistake not to attend the conference and explore while visiting Montenegro. Here are some suggestions on what to experience while processing the immense amount of content from Spark.me.

The Basics:

Cetinje and Lovćen

Lovcen, Montenegro

Only 20 minutes away, Cetinje was once the royal capital of Montenegro, and today, is considered to be the cultural capital. The small city/town offers a view of the art, culture, and history of the country through its streets, museums, and churches. This inspirational perspective climaxes in Lovćen National Park just outside of the town. A drive up a curvy, narrow road will take you to Mt. Lovćen, the resting place of Njegoš, the national hero credited with unifying the clans of Montenegro. His mausoleum provides the perfect view overlooking the mountains while contemplating the ideas gleaned from Spark.me. Even plan your next team meeting here.

Kotor and the Old Road from Lovćen

Kotor, Montenegro

If deciding to visit, Cetinje and Lovćen, consider taking the Old Road from Lovćen down to Kotor for the views. The road is full turns and twists so be careful if carsickness is a problem. Kotor is a UNESCO heritage that has been featured for its old town surrounded by magnificent walls, hilltop fortress, and iconic setting tucked within the Bay of Kotor. A day spent in Kotor is definitely worth the time along with a scenic drive around the bay exploring the towns of Risan and Perast.

Durmitor

Montenegro Experience, Diskors Projekt

Durmitor is a must for those venturing through Montenegro. While attending Spark, the mountainous North is a perfect choice for a getaway, and time of reflection. It has been deemed the most beautiful mountain range of Montenegro. Along with the mountains, the glacial Black Lake rests in the top of the range surrounded by a black pine forest.

Off the Beaten Path:

Lake Skadar

Skadar Lake Montenegro

Lake Skadar is one of the most restful places in Montenegro. After enjoying the beaches, move inland to explore this wild wonder. The lake lies between Montenegro and Albania, and is the Balkans largest lake. Mostly undisturbed, the lake has been fortunate to avoid developments that would compromise its beauty. Check out Undiscovered Montenegro or Boat Milica for the perfect day on the lake.

Stari Bar and Ulcinj

Stari Bar

The old town of Bar lies slightly inland overlooking today’s Bar. Old Bar lies at the foot of Mount Rumija, and is a throwback to former time of coastal Montenegro. About a 30 minute drive from Bar, Ulcinj provides another take of older settlements of Montenegro. The old fortified town of Ulcinj stands tall on the Adriatic waters, and claims to a be an inspiration for a portion of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Sandy inlets dot the coastline around Ulcinj. The town also claims the largest sand beach in Montenegro, Velika Plaža. Traveling down the coast after Spark from Budva to Stari Bar and Ulcinj is a pleasant way to end a Montenegro vacation.

Mountains of the North

Who-is-gonna-to-kill-us-in-balkans-36

For the traveler looking to get off the coast for something lesser know, look to the mountains of the North. Besides Durmitor, Bjelasica and Prokletije offer adventure and relaxation away from the normal vacation spots. I recommend checking out Meanderbug for offerings and suggestions for your travels around the North. Spark.me challenges the attendees to dream big and there are few better places to do this than venturing through these rugged landscapes. Little towns such as Kolašin, Mojkavac, and Bijelo Polje circle around Bjelasica providing a variety of hiking and bike paths. Prokletije provides an even lesser explored mountain with more intrigue as it has been named the Cursed Mountains. The North of Montenegro will not disappoint anyone looking to experience the culture and adventure Montenegro has to offer.

While visiting Montenegro before or after Spark.me look for places that inspire. Visit the basics, but do not shy away from going off the beaten path. Use the spirit of the Spark.me to guide your travel and help you prepare or process all that is offered through the speakers, networking opportunities, and seeing the work of others.

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.