Future so Bright the Midwest Needs Shades

FMW 2010This past weekend saw a conference of epic proportions. Typically I’m underwhelmed by conferences; they promise these mind-blowing, motivation inspiring experiences that rarely metastasize into realization of the guarantee. This was not to be the fate of the Future Midwest Conference (#FMW10 on Twitter), held in Royal Oak, Michigan.

I was first amazed at the lineup of speakers that the Future Midwest founders were able to pull in to our little underappreciated metropolis. While the weekend was chock full of awesome presentations and I learned or was inspired by everyone, some of my favorites were Sam Valenti IV of Ghostly Media; Jay Addelson of Digg fame; Ken Burbary from Ernst and Young and Ben Smithee founder of Spych Research.

Sam Valenti spoke of many things, but the takeaway I will live with is managing your way through the imminent dip in the explosive growth rate of your business and creativity.  I surmised that as building your business becomes easier, your drive to innovate should continue to grow. He also reminded us all that you want to say “oh sh*t,” before you die instead of “oh sh*t I didn’t do…” Definitely words to live by.

Jay Addelson was inspiration. He reminded us that success in the entrepreneurial world is born out of being a little bit crazy. I’m going to start taking it as a compliment when people in corporate offices call me crazy, now! :) Seriously though, he mentioned that trying and failing was a part of success. A message I took to heart, as I have run a business that had less than stellar results before. Hearing someone so successful say how natural it is to fail, increases resolve to try again.

Ken Burbary assaulted my mind with statistical tools that I’ve already begun to wade through. It will take a lot of time and effort to make some of these tools useful, and I’m sure it will be challenging…but since when have I run from a challenge? Let’s just say, it’s been a while. I have to admit I’m a little biased because I love research. Digging into analytics is something I regularly must undertake on my day job at R. L. Polk and I always look forward to getting into data for my clients.

I was blown away that I heard a research topic near and dear to my heart, yet rarely discussed in the digital marketing world, qualitative research,  by Ben Smithee. His dissection of social media affect was inspiring, challenging, and a little crazy (compliment) just like the man. I was also blown away by a project he worked on, with others, called That’s Not Cool. Anyone who knows me knows, *Therran love the kids* (to the beat of Trick Daddy’s In Da Wind).

Finally, I was impressed with the attendees. All of the who’s who and future who’s who of Detroit’s digital marketing scene were in attendance, approachable and full of positive spirit. Like I stated in a recent blog post on networking, getting to know your online cohorts face to face is tantamount to good ideas in business and life success. I can say, I left the weekend truly inspired by the conference and people.

Well I’m off to be brilliant. What have you done recently, that gave you a kick in the butt to get out there and crush it? I can say for me, Future Midwest was right on – and right on time.

About Therran Oliphant

Therran Oliphant is a strong advocate for developing the academic and practical field of Integrated Marketing Communications. Holding an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) from Eastern Michigan University, Therran has been a staunch advocate for developing the theoretical, practical and applicable concepts of the field, especially as it comes to digital advertising and media. His main passion is helping marketers more accurately interface with the technology community and ask the right questions to help them accomplish the objectives their brand customers have set. A career in data and advertising technology has allowed him to have a unique perspective on the science of utilizing the right methodologies to systematically ask the right questions that lead to delivering the outcomes necessary for success.