What I learned from #20SBSummit

If you follow me on twitter (thank you!), you probably could tell I was at the inaugural #20sbsummit this weekend.  You deserve a big giant thank you for not un-following me after the massive influx of tweets.  For those of you who don’t follow me or don’t know what I’m talking about – the 20sb Summit is, in boring, simple terms, a conference for bloggers in their 20’s held this past weekend in Chicago.  However, nothing was boring about this conference.  People came from all over the world to learn from fellow peers in the 20sb community. It truly was a summit ‘created for you by you’ as the registration page says. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect  when I signed up as this was my first blog conference with speakers. I walked away rejuvenated, inspired, optimistic, enlightened and giddy with a newfound courage.

I feel as though a light bulb went off! I have a new direction, feel creative and limitless, and as if suddenly I am decades wiser. We all were there with a common bond – we blog. That was enough for friendships to begin, trust to be established, inspiration to be imparted and learning to be fostered. For two straight days, we were surrounded by our peers who get what and why we do what we do, who are inspirational, creative, and brilliant.

Really, the weekend was nothing short of awesome. I keep writing and deleting this post because I’m finding OMG, it was AWESOME and inspiring, and ah! Then a bunch of gibberish giddiness is all I can get out, but I’ll keep trying!

I have been to other events with people my age, but this wasn’t just any event. I brought a notebook with me while others brought their laptops. Usually, when you are on your phone or computer while someone is speaking, it is straight rude. But not here. People were taking notes and tweeting throughout the panels, but it was evident people were still fully present as we were a top Twitter trend on Saturday with over 1000 tweets. There was no judging here. Everyone was welcoming and creative. It was a safe place.  We were all there because we have blogs, but there was no competition. No one was trying to out do another, because everyone was there with the same purpose – to learn from each other. It was honestly beautiful.  As Boehmcke said in his recap, “There are millions of bloggers that can exist in this same space and not compete.” We all volunteered to be here to further our knowledge and to be inspired. The thought of competition never crossed my mind.  Seriously, there is no other community out there where I feel more encouraged, applauded and included. Blogging is for lovers.

The contents of my purse after the summit

I can write pages and pages upon pages for a recap. There are a lot of other points, and I am sure I am going to forget some, but I am going to share some of the points that I learned the most from.

Keynote speaker #1: Scott Belsky on Making Things Happen

  1. “If you don’t tell anyone about your idea, no one will hold you accountable.” Share your ideas and let your community hold you accountable. Sharing outweighs potential stealing.
  2. “Era of Reactionary Workflow” – We are constantly distracted by endless stream of incoming emails, texts, tweets, voicemails, IM, DM etc. The car used to be where people went to get their moment of solitude and recollect their thoughts, but now it has technology access overflow in the dashboard.  The only sacred space in the shower. It is important to make that time for yourself and disengage with technology.
  3. Is organization the competitive edge on ideas? For example, Apple didn’t invent the tablet, cell phone or mp3, but the did master the organization and productivity market.  His formula to explain the importance of organization: Creativity x Organization = Impact. Or think about it this way: 5 x 0 = 0; 5 x 2 = 10; 50 x 2 = 100.
  4. If 99% of people think you’re crazy, you’re either crazy, or on to something. Trust that.
  5. Email etiquette: Emails less than 3 sentences have 60% faster reply rate. Keep it short, focus on the actionable stuff. Take disagreements offline. Call to sort it out and then reply with positive recap. Start emails with actions needed, number your questions, use an edgy email subject line.
  6. Don’t go unnoticed. Overcome the stigma of self-marketing. He gave the example of the Joshua Bell social experiment. He is a world-famous violinist who played for President and then the very next night dressed down and played in the subway of DC. If he had a sign that said who he was, he would have had a crowd, instead no one noticed him.
  7. “Nothing extraordinary ever happens through ordinary means”
It was early Saturday morning, and I am so glad I forced myself to make it to hear him speak. What a fantastic way to kick off the summit!

Keynote speaker #2: Jenny Blake Life After College. Live Big and Take Leaps.

  1. You’re capable of so much more than you realize. We have ceilings on our self-perception. Ignore them.
  2. There are three pillars of being a 20SB blogger. Vulnerability, courage and community.
  3. You can’t cross the Grand Canyon in two small leaps – Jenny’s fathers’ words of wisdom.
  4. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Embrace uncertainty.
  5. How would you feel if 1 year from now you hadn’t made any changes to your life? Jenny’s mentorMichael Ellsberg. This really struck a cord with me…
  6. Find confidence from unexpected places. Don’t try to make every single person in your life happy.
  7. How to find courage: notice who’s talking…social self vs essential self. Social self: the one you show people, reacts to others, wants to please others.Essential self: deep within you…your body and intuition.
  8. It takes courage to blog. She had us close our eyes while she read us the Parable of The Trapeze. What a brilliant metaphor for conquering big change in your life. She encouraged us to let go of the bar and allow ourselves to launch forward towards the next.  Spend time “hanging out” between the trapeze bars of your life. Let go of one, so you can grab the new one.  You cannot move forward until you let go of the trapeze bar and allow yourself to take the risk of falling.
  9. Practice writing “Truth” posts. Dig deeper, find the truth at the roots.
  10. Just put it out there. Let the response be your judge , not your inner critic voice. Do the opposite of the inner voice.
  11. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Do that over and over and over.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jenny’s keynote and walked away with a renewed sense of hope, optimism and confidence.  In the next few days, I will be doing my first EVER giveaway – I will be giving away a signed copy of her book Life After College and a signed bookmark. Stay tuned, more on that later!

Breakout Sessions and other random bits I learned:

On Guest Posting: Open calls to twitter followers, Facebook friends, offline friends and family is a great way to find guest writers.  Anyone, parents, experts, non-bloggers can make for excellent interviews. Communication is the key to a smooth exchange. Evernote is a great app to help take notes or record ideas for future blogs.

On getting the most out of WordPress: I backup my computer, but never thought of backing up my blog before! Just because it is on the Internet – doesn’t mean it won’t crash. Recommended hosting domains: Bluehost, Dreamgator and Lunarpages. I learned a plethora of different widgets and plug-ins that help the flow of my blog. Do not upload your photos straight from your camera! Resize images down to 72ppi  it using a photoshop or Pixlr because that is what it is displayed on the web. (I tried this and they were TINY, so I need to play around with this more…) But be sure to do that before uploading to WordPress. Cart 66 ($) is a great plug-in if you need to add a shopping cart to your website, however it does not design for you.  When picking a theme – look for responsiveness. If it is from 2005 with 500 download, odds are it is out of date and not recommended.  If it is from today and has 2500 downloads, that should be a better bet.

On putting our lives on the internet: It takes courage to blog and we need to take risks. We need to be willing to put ourselves out there, to take those risks. We need to engage and network within the community more. I don’t remember who said it, so I apologize if I misquote.” If you have the same followers as you did from when you started your blog, you are doing it wrong.” There is more to blogging than just having your own blog and hoping people read it.

On community: Having a blog is networking, letting creative writing juices flow, impacting peers, making friends, and being a member of a community of support that only wants the best for its members, at least within the 20sb.net community. If you jump, someone will be there to catch you.  Despite our family and friends offline thinking that “Our internet friends are imaginary friends,” we know the truth.

On your blog being your brand: I realized I must do what makes me happy. I must stay true to myself and to my blog and the rest will follow. It is important to be authentic, be present and most importantly be true to myself. It your blog, and your life. Your blog is your brand. Create it as you see fit.

Saying I learned a lot this weekend, is an understatement. I feel like a new person. As Jenny Blake said in her keynote – I feel like I was given oxygen!  I walked away inspired, engaged, enthusiastic, enlightened, and extremely optimistic. I have new blog ideas,  I networked for future opportunities and made a ton of new friends.

I even got to to meet internet idols and the founders of websites such as Texts From Last Night, GenPink, Talk Nerdy to Me, Lover and 20sb.net!

Jen Friel, of Talk Nerdy to Me Lover encouraged us to “own your awesome” and “do what you love and the money will follow.” She is a very bubbly, outgoing nerdy hippie with epic stories. You instantly want to be friends with her. She went on 100+ dates on OkCupid in 9 months, lived in her car on purpose, got sponsors to support her for everything, was on the Red Carpet, and her website  is now being turned into a TV pilot.

On Sunday, when the conference was over, and Derek finished his closing remarks, he concluded with, “And that’s a wrap.”  However no one moved. No one spoke. No one wanted to leave. We wanted to hold on for just a little longer. We didn’t want to go home yet. We weren’t done learning from our peers. It was a very honest moment and really could not have been rehearsed if we tried.

Walking around on Sunday, after I said my goodbyes, I felt surprisingly alone walking on the street. You’re thinking, alone? You just spent a weekend with fellow bloggers and just raved about it for pages? But there I stood, watching people, non-bloggers, going about their everyday life. I wish I could walk up to them and share all the inspiration and enlightenment that I just experienced and attempted to share with you.  Here I was with this rush of excitement, this creative urge, the feeling that anything is possible, but these people around me all looked like zombies, just going through the motions. I felt sad for these strangers who didn’t get to experience the summit, that don’t know there are infinite possibilities and limitless opportunities at our fingertips. There was a love in that conference room that is truly special and cannot be truly nor fully explained. Despite feeling this way on the street, I came home feeling as if I could touch the sky. I was giddy and feeling more creative than I have in a long time.  I am glad I got to experience the summit, and hope I can take what I learned this weekend and leave a positive mark on some of those zombies. I hope to make a difference in the community.  I cannot wait until next year!

Also, a special thank you to our Sponsors who helped make this incredibly special weekend possible. Thanks for everything!

Gap 1969 – Pico de Gap @picodegapchi – If you are in Chicago, follow this food truck for delicious Mexican tacos!

Murphy-Goode Wines

Brand About Town

Vera Bradley

Vapur – eco-friendly, reusable anti-bottle


Lenovo tech room

Author: Caryn

Hi! My name is Caryn. I'm a midwest transplant living on the east coast. I love games, asking questions, making lists, and sunshine. I dream of someday owning an antique car, starting my own charity, and traveling the world. Welcome to my Blog!

16 thoughts on “What I learned from #20SBSummit”

  1. This still makes me teary: “On Sunday, when the conference was over, and Derek finished his closing remarks, he concluded with, “And that’s a wrap.” However no one moved. No one spoke. No one wanted to leave. We wanted to hold on for just a little longer. We didn’t want to go home yet. We weren’t done learning from our peers. It was a very honest moment and really could not have been rehearsed if we tried.”

  2. Thank you for sharing! I didn’t have the chance to go, but I feel like I still got to learn about the things discussed there!

    Also… I have a Lenovo ThinkPad like the one in the picture – or mine looks SO much like that one, anyway! x)

  3. That was such a great run down of the events. Of course 20SB would have a conference in the summer of my 29th birthday, when I move to Europe. Such is life. Still plenty to take from this. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hey Rich! Hope you had a safe trip home. Thanks for checking out my post. If you couldn’t tell (since I quoted you) I thoroughly enjoyed yours as well. It was great to meet you!

  4. Excellent recap, m’dear. It was such an amazing time and I’m glad you talked me in to going. I would have been so sad if I’d missed such an epic weekend.

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