Say you were attending an event, not SXSW big.. but not Refresh small.. maybe like a 500 to 1000 attendess size, with 10-15 speaker/panel slots. Say it was a gig talking about entrepreneur’isms, startups, and leaning towards the tech side of things.
What would you like the speaker list to look like?
Option A: Joe Speaker – CEO some large ass corporation that is 20 years out of the garage.
Option B: Pam Presenter – Founder of a mid-size (1-2 million) startup that is clipping along nicely after 2-5 years.
Option C: Tony Talker – Small business type that has had some success (financially) but is still in the garage and is regarded as being very bright and ambitious in their field.
Would you want only A’s, only C’s. a mix of all?
What would you hope to gain from each?
Here are my quick thoughts. I happen to fall into the C category, and I guess as birds flock together so do entrepreneurs. (Hefty generalizations coming)
I found that the A’s are so far out of the garage they have lost touch with me, and my lean and mean environment. They offer good advice, but it is 5 years down the road advice, as we do not have the luxury to solve problems with money or more staff as their advice tends to be.
The B’s are just now getting a taste of their payout and are in a protective mood and not so eager to share for fear of their house of cards crumbling. They seem to be absorbed with their projects and have little time to share with the C group as they are hunting A group companies as prospects.
Now the C’s seem to be on the cutting edge of everything, they are the true innovators IMHO. They are doing the work today that will make A size companies 10-15 years from now. But they suffer from an inferiority complex as the way success is measured (cash, ipo, stock price) as alluded them to this point. Also there are so many C’s, the noise level is such that only a few breakouts (the small startups the get bought by google in early beta) get any respect (could be said because they are now instant B or A companies). But they are also the most eager to share their experiance and gained expertise with others.
So where does that put you? I hang around with C’s all week.. and there is good horizontal information flow, so we are all rising together, but slowly. Until their is some infusion of A and B ideas, concepts, and mentoring (vertical information flow) most of the C’s move along at a snails pace.
So at a conference, how do you get an A to remember the garage days, and the B’s to slow down for 5 seconds.. so they can both meet the C’s that will soon replace them on those respective levels of success? If you are a C, do want to listen only to A and B’s at a conferance, or does it make sense to hear some of your own language coming from a C. Also if you are an A, are you lacking the vision and drive that you had as a C? Would a panel led by C’s rejuvenate you and your companies way of looking at your market?
Just random thoughts… as I prepare my future speaking career 🙂