Sorry about the title of this article. I don’t usually talk about myself in
the third-person but in this case I made an exception. If I had made the title
of this article “I Am Speaking…” as the article made the rounds on Twitter,
Facebook and elsewhere, nobody would know who the hell I was talking about.
This way, at least 10 people will recognize the name.
In any case, on with the article.
I accept a limited number of speaking engagements a year. The reason is very
simple — it takes a lot out of me (I’m not a professional speaker and no matter
how much I do it, I find that the days and weeks leading up to a speaking gig,
I get monumentally stressed out). Last year, I got invited to speak at the
“Business of Software” conference (which just happened to be in Boston). I had
a great time. It’s on the list of top 10 conferences I’ve ever been
too. Well organized, great speakers, great content and most importantly — great
That’s why I’m thrilled I’m going to get to speak again at the Business of Software Conference
this year. The conference is in San Francisco (right in the heart of the city,
at the Westin on Market street). And, although Neil Davison (organizer of the
conference and an exceptional software entrepreneur) was likely caught in a weak
moment when he added me to the list. Despite Neil’s lack of judgment inviting
me (again!), I think you should attend the Business of Software conference
1. Even though I’m speaking, I represent a small fraction of the total
agenda. And, even though I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full
of rocking chairs last year, I managed to string together some words into
sentences and say some semi-useful things. If you’re a glutton for punishment,
you can watch the video
of my session from last year. I promise that this year, I’ll do my best to
make my presentation better.
2. Geoffrey Moore will be keynoting the conference. Many of us in
the software business learned much of what we know about technology marketing
and strategy from Geoffrey’s landmark book “Crossing
The Chasm”. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to stop what you’re doing
right now and go get it.
3. Paul Graham, hackepreneur
extraordinaire will be at the conference. Paul’s officially on my list of most
brilliant people I’ve met. He really groks the whole startup thing (which he
should, given his experience with Y
Combinator). He’s insightful and articulate. If you’re even
thinking about starting a software company some day, you need to learn
from him. Good stuff.
3. I can’t remember how long I’ve been reading Rands in Repose. What I can remember
is when my wife Kirsten (who is an artist and
does not geek-out for a living) approached me one day and said “Have you ever
heard of this Rands In Repose guy? He wrote this Nerd
Handbook thing. He’s soooo right.” And, she was right. It’s
scary accurate. But, I digress. One thing I didn’t know is that the ingenious
mind behind the blog is Michael Lopp. I’m really looking forward to meeting
Michael and seeing what he’s like in real life.
4. I’ve never actually met Ryan Carson
in person, but I’ve followed him online for a while. He’s the real deal when it
comes to being an internet entrepreneur. He hosts some fabulous events too. If
I had to risk my emotional well being by speaking at one additional conference
next year, the “Future Of Web Apps” would be high on my list.
5. One of the skills I do not have is design. I can use things. I
can tell (for the most part) good design from bad design, but I can’t actually
produce it. This is despite exposing myself to a bunch of reading (and
listening) on the topic. There are some things that are perhaps just not meant
to be (for me, there are lots of things not meant to be, but such is
life). However, you should not give up too easily. If you’re looking to create
more usable products that make people happy, Don Norman is your guy. He wrote
Of Everyday Things”. I rest my case.
6. I have at least three of Kathy Sierra’s books sitting in my house right
now. This does not include those that I gave away to friends and family along
the way. She’s the master-mind behind the “Head
First” series of books. She’s exceptionally good at injection passion into
a product. We all need more of that.
7. Paul Kenny is not going to like reading this, but when I saw him on the
agenda last year I found myself asking two questions: “Who is this guy?” and
“Why the heck would I want to suffer through a presentation about
sales?” I hate selling stuff. But, Paul’s presentation was absolutely
phenomenal. He’s a real pro. He gets the whole “resistance to sales” thing and
makes cogent points. He’s definitely worth listening to. Even if you don’t
like sales. In fact, especially if you don’t like sales. And, if
you’ve got the whole sales thing figure out, he’s worth watching simply because
he’s a great presenter.
8. Joel Spolsky needs no introduction. His presentation last year was
off-beat and funny. Look forward to seeing what he has up his sleeve
This is just a partial list of some of the speakers that will be there.
Check out the full
list of speakers.
Ok, so you might be thinking, that’s all great and all, but $1,995 (wow!
That’s like $2,000!) is way too much to spend on a conference. And it’s fair of
you to think that. I got the memo about the whole economic downturn thing too.
I have two things I’d like to counter with:
1. Right now, early registration for Business of Software is $1,695 (expires
July 31st) . But, this expires on July 31st.
2. This is unlike most of the conferences we normally go to. Sure, you
could find some conference that’s “cheaper” and spend $1,000. But, it’s not the
same. At BoS you won’t have to endure semi-veiled sales pitches every other
session or panels where a group of semi-random people got thrown together
because their suggested topics had some of the same words in them.
And, to be clear, I don’t get paid anything for convincing you to go. My
only motivation is that I want as many smart software people there as possible,
so I can sponge as much information off of them as possible. I’m selfish that
What do you think? If you were able to attend last year’s conference, please
share your (candid) thoughts and help out others that are considering going this
year make their decision.
Hope to see you there!