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December 09, 2007

Reflections on a Reflection

Link: Reflections on a Remarkable Event « Remarkable Leadership.

Have you ever stood between two mirrors and seen your image repeated endlessly out to either side of you? This post is kind of like that: it's a post about a post about posts (some of which are about posts).

The link above is to Kevin Eikenberry's Remarkable Leadership blog, where he offers links to posts on other people's blogs about the 800CEOREAD Author Pow-Wow that he and I and a bunch of other folks attended last week.

The fact that so many of us are blogging about the event gives you some indication of the impact it had on us. I'm especially fond of Dan Roam's pictorial post assessing the pow-wow's life-altering quotient relative to other conferences.

Like others, I've been thinking about the conference quite a lot since leaving Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. At this point in my reflections, these are the things that have hit me hardest:

- Author as entrepreneur. I kind of knew this going into the pow-wow, but now I'm really clear that being a business book author - if you're serious about it - is like building any other business. You need a strategic vision that clarifies your hoped-for-future and includes strategies and tactics for getting there. The pow-wow was both a catalyst for this realization, and a feast of tools and insights to use in building my strategic vision.

- We're still physical creatures: Because we now have the ability to communicate easily and immediately without being in the same place, we can fall into thinking that being with each other virtually is the same as being with each other physically. Interestingly, we don't apply this to personal relationships (hard to imagine a parent being content with a purely skype-and-email relationship with a college-bound child, or a wife feeling that texting and ichats provide sufficient intimacy with her husband). Social networks are fun and cool and serve many valuable purposes...but (IMHO) they will never offer all the benefits of simply being in the same room with another person.

- Cast your bread upon the waters. While I agree there are times when it's best to play your cards close to the chest, it's often - perhaps most often - the wiser choice to lay them down on the table. I loved the generosity of spirit demonstrated by every person there: authors, publishers, booksellers, publicists, branding folks. Everyone shared their wisdom and experience without reservation; I believe we each felt that we received much more than we gave.

- Lay your burdens down. I loved that people asked for help. Most of the attendees, including the presenters, were perfectly willing to share their areas of not knowing, and were curious as children in pursuit of "why" and "how." It was a delight to be in a room full of smart people trying to get smarter - as opposed to trying to prove themselves smarter than others.

These elements created an environment that combined safety and experimentation; vulnerability and strength; excitement and comfort; real seriousness and high good humor.

I'm counting the days till next year. Just out of curiosity: what's the most valuable conference or meeting you've ever attended - and why?

This photo - which I stole from Phil Gerbyshak; thanks, Phil - shows me preparing to be dazzled by Dan Roam's clarity and insight, while Bill Welter is stunned to find out how easy it is to create a blog on typepad...


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These are great reflections Erika - thanks for sharing them. I will be pondering your thoughts for the next several days as I begin to apply my lessons from the event.

Kevin Eikenberry
Author of Remarkable Leadership

Thanks, Kevin -

And one benefit I didn't mention; now we all have new (to us) and interesting blogs to read...


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