Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meeting incredible people, building real friendships: how BarCamp Nashville got me out of my shell

Hello and welcome to my addition to BarCamp Nashville's Blog Tour. Hopefully you've already read Kasey Lawrence's great post followed by Nashville Scooter's recent addition.

It's no secret I'm a geek. I was a geek before it was cool to be a geek (as in, before they were making all the money). After moving to Nashville in 2006, one of my biggest challenges wasn't my anti-social geekdomit was my split focus. I worked for a ministry organization, followed by the Lampo Group (Dave Ramsey's organization), all the while building my own company with my business partner, Brett Florio.

I worked really hard to stay "under the radar" about having a company. I couldn't let everyone know because I was unavailable to help our customers during the day. I chose not to connect with my peers which put me in a self-created shell, locked up tight.

That split focus has recently improved as I've become what Jon Acuff calls a Quitter (but you can read about that story later). What I want to blog about here is how last year's BarCamp brought me out of my shell and into some great relationships.

My BarCamp experience started with a regular meeting of entrepreneurs including Joel Widmer, Kenny Silva and others. Last year Kenny was in charge of obtaining sponsors and, as the master influencer he is, he not only convinced our company to sponsor, but also convinced me to speak. I could already feel my shell starting to crack. With barely enough courage to attend the SpeakerUp, I was honestly feeling way out of my league. How could I consider speaking at an event I've never attended? What about the fact I've never spoken anywhere else?

That night at SpeakerUp I took a big step and wore my FoxyCart t-shirt. Mitch Canter was one of the first people to greet me at the bar and he was not only super friendly, he was actually a fan of our company! Right away, I started feeling more comfortable. The SpeakerUp team was convincing. BarCamp is perfect for people like me. I just needed to get out there and speak.

So day of, who do I see outside? Mitch is again there to greet me with a firm handshake and a big, friendly smile. I'm now thinking, "I know one person here. I might be ok." My session was in the first slot of the day, some of my Dave Ramsey developer team members were there, and I somehow stumbled through my first try at public speaking. Afterwards, I started meeting all kinds of really cool people who had more ecommerce questions. As the day progressed, I met up with Bill Butler who took me under his wing like a little lost puppy and started introducing me to just about everyone. Later I connected with Billy White via his awesome Arduino presentation. I saw Travis Robertson, Justin Davis, Mitch Canter and Joel Widmer throw underwear at the crowd while giving incredible advice about being entrepreneurs. By now, my shell was in pieces on the floor.

I met even more people at the after party including Travis and Justin who, it turns out, were not only FoxyCart fans, but also huge Dave Ramsey fans. That gave me an excuse to set up lunches with them and others over the next few months. Keeping up via Twitter, LAN parties and face-to-face meetings, I started building real relationships that I value so much today. BarCamp was the catalyst for building those relationships and bringing me out of my shell.

This year I'm looking forward to seeing people I've had the privledge to hang out with and learn from like Kacy Maxwell, Joey Strawn, Laura Click, Tyler Clark, Tim Moses, Nathan Hubbard and others. I also hope to build some new relationships with people like Chuck Bryant (who convinced me to write this post), Cal Evans, Kate O'Neill, Ben Ramsey, Jacques Woodcock... I could go on and on. If you're reading this, come find me and say hello on October 15th.

"All this and more!" can be yours too... if you're willing to show up with a smile and a handshake. Life's too short to stay in a shell. Come to BarCamp on October 15th and meet some wicked awesome people who are crazy smart and fun to hang out with. You'll be glad you did.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to hit up Laurie Kalmanson's blog tomorrow for the next stop on the blog tour.

4 comments:

Travis Robertson said...

Hey Luke! Thanks so much for the shout out! I will neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not have been throwing signed copies of tighty-whities (spelling?) at the audience.

Wait...there were witnesses. Crap!

In all seriousness, that I played even a small part in the fact that your shell cracked is humbling. Thank you for your kind words and I'm so excited for you and to see what you accomplish with FoxyCart and over this next year.

Congrats, my friend!
Travis Robertson

Luke said...

Thanks Travis! This year has been wonderful and I'm so blessed by the people it has brought into my life.

I've learned so much from you and am always encouraged by your drive to never settle, serve others and get things done.

Thank you!

Thelma said...

I was signed up to go and then a birthday brunch invite landed in my inbox. I might try to follow in the afternoon if that's allowed...

Luke said...

Hey Thelma. Absolutely allowed! We'll be there all day (including an after party).