conferences and confidence

We just got back from the <a href=”;SXSW interactive conference in Austin, Texas. 

Because we work remotely many of us had never actually met each other, let alone shared a time zone.  Being in one place meant we could match faces to voices and raise a glass.  It was great.  Handshakes when we got there and hugs when we left.

The sessions themselves were good but the highlight is always the hallway.  Meeting people in person, looking them in the eye and shaking their hand. 


Over the last few years I’ve met a few of my heroes there, the people behind some of the products or blogs I love.  It’s one of the reasons I go to conferences.

While you shake their hand and tell the OMG! in your head to shut up, a part of you realizes they’re not actually 7 feet tall and made of bronze.  And as you realize they’re not so different and they gingerly step off the pedestal in your mind, something shifts in your self-confidence.

That confidence shift is a big deal for entrepreneurs, because the limiter on what you can accomplish is what you believe you can accomplish.  You are your limit. 

Whether or not you believe you can do something is based on your past experiences and external examples from people you know.  “Have I ever done anything like this?” … “do I know anyone who’s done anything like this?”  The more similar you are to someone else, the more your brain uses their results as a proxy for your own.  In other words, “if they can do it, I can too!”

In 1953 Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes, something few people thought possible. The world record had stood for nine years, but once he showed it could be done just 46 days later John Landy did it too and five others quickly followed.  Bannister was an inspiration to other runners because they were similar to him. His example was relevant.

It doesn’t make me think I could do it, because I’m not like him. Also because running fast when you don’t have to is for crazy people.

Aaron, Roben, Barb, Ned.

Thanks for making it a great conference, it was great meeting up with you… Grant Storry who’s making RSS feeds do cartwheels, Scott McDaniel and Christian Vanek from Survey Gizmo, Derek Scruggs from Enthusiast Group, Henry Copeland from blogads, John Unger from Typepad Hacks, Christine Liu who does amazing things with fashion and technology, Kelley Poturalski from puppet show new media, Samantha Warren from bad ass ideas, Dan Drinkard from display awesome  and David Cohen, who created the TechStars project in Boulder.

See you next year!


2 Comments on “conferences and confidence

  1. You too David. You tossed out some great ideas, and if you’re ever out this way dinner’s on me. :)

    – aaron

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