After Dennis Crowley presented, the remaining speaker lineup was Melody McCloskey, a panel discussion and then Tony Hsieh. When Melody started, I’m not sure how many of us were familiar with her. By the end of her presentation, I don’t think any of us would forget her.
Melody McCloskey founded StyleSeat, which provides business tools for personal service providers. She focused a lot on the process for entrepreneurs. Here are some notes.
- Know your motivation. What’s your story? Why are you in the game?
- People are everything. What is tech? Tech is people helping other people.
- Credibility, honest and trust. Believe in something bigger. Doing something great. Build brand equity.
- Let go of your fear. Don’t worry about respect of your peers. When you realize you’re doing what you want, it’s relieving.
- What’s your worst case scenario? Your worst case scenario is the best case scenario for many others. Are you scared of those things, of your worst case scenario? If not, then why worry?
- So go out there and suck. Really, really suck. Because you will.
- Doing something poorly is better than doing nothing.
- “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. -Wayne Gretzky
- And if you go down in flames, may they be glorious.
It was a fine presentation so far, but then came one of the memorable moments of Big Omaha. She said that if they wanted to be successful as a entrepreneur they had to move to San Francisco, Boulder or New York City. (She did add Chicago and Boston.) No one was quite sure how to respond to that, especially since we’re all at a conference this about building up the community here in Omaha and the midwest.
I missed the next segment of her presentation because I was angry. Like many who are from the midwest, I hate the way people on the coasts can be so casually dismissive of us. It’s an easy way to infuriate people here. Many of us in the audience got on Twitter to voice our disagreement with her stance. Melody had managed to offend a good portion of the audience.
I don’t think anyone here denies the advantages of San Francisco, Boulder and New York City, but many of us don’t want to make those established communities better. We like it here in Omaha and want to establish this community. Plus, with what had been shared throughout the conference, it seemed a ridiculous assertion that you had to be in one of a handful of cities to be successful. Businesses nowadays have employees spread out all over the country and world. Why must you be in one of five cities to make it?
(By the way, Omaha has more Fortune 500 companies than Boulder, 5 to 0.)
I wanted to focus back in on Melody’s presentation. Despite her assertion, I respected the fact she actually said what she believed at a conference which is about trying to build its own community. Some more notes on what she finished with.
- Call 25 influential people in an area and do meet and greets with them. Have coffee and converse.
- If you’re the biggest fish in the pond you’re in the wrong pond.
- Know your battle cry.
- What is your plan for world domination? People in business think at a scale of insanity. Make big bets.
- Find ways to keep it awesome.
She finished up, and when she came off the stage she realized quickly the response to what she said. She was engaging those of us who had taken to Twitter. She responded to me, and then we started conversing back and forth. I was reading what she was saying to others, on Twitter, and I realized she misspoke in her presentation. It was a big one, but in her tweets she rounded out her comment. It wasn’t that controversial. (I also spoke with her for a few minutes later in person.)
Melody encourages people from smaller communities to travel and immerse themselves in some of the larger communities and their culture. There are great deal of opportunities and advantages by going to places like San Francisco and New York City. What Melody was saying is it will be easier to get funding for an entrepreneur, and it can only help someone by having a well-rounded perspective. Isolating yourself in a smaller city makes it more difficult.
Now, if she would have shared all that in her presentation, I think everyone in the audience would have nodded their head in agreement. That didn’t happen, though. But you know what? The best thing for her may have been her response to her own presentation. She engaged with everyone who was willing and won a lot of new fans. She admitted she didn’t execute that part of her presentation. She explained in detail what she meant, and it was solid.
When I talked with her in person, she was gracious and took the time to listen. She answered any questions. Melody said she hopes to blog soon about her presentation, specifically her comment about “moving”, and clarify her remarks.
I became a fan. I probably will never have any reason to use StyleSeat, but I’m all for it.
Her comments were good in the sense it got many of us talking about what do we want the community and culture here to be?
I don’t think anyone at Big Omaha this morning will forget Melody McCloskey. My thought now? I hope Melody returns to Big Omaha next year.