Like Minds: A new benchmark for a quality event

Last week I was a keynote at the spectacular Like Minds event in Exeter.  I don’t care where you live in the world, if you can get to this event, you should.  I’ve never been involved in an event that was as well organised, as stimulating and most importantly, as enjoyable as this event.

The day began with a keynote from Jonathan Akwue from Digital Public noting as an ‘outside’ to social media that it began as a grassroots movement, but like hip hop, risked selling out to brands.  Akwue was bright and entertaining, and he had an important message on the value of social media as an independent voice.

The next keynote was from John Bell from Ogilvie, who focused on tokenism in social media strategy and gave some great examples of how social media – when executed well – can assist a brand.

At lunch we all attended small, round-table discussions on a subject of choice and the intimacy and good intention in those discussions really allowed us to all to be active participants in the event.

After lunch I spoke on Location-based apps, Augmented Reality & Games.  (The video, if you’re interested, is here.) It’s a tough slot straight after lunch but I think I managed to shake people out of any kind of post-eating sloth!

After me was the wonderful Olivier Blanchard, who is a fabulous speaker and who was both compelling and insightful in his presentation on integrating people into business.  For too long, Blanchard says, there has been a focus on instruments of brand management and efficiencies of business.  We’re forgetting that people are the beginning and the end of any communication.

Following Olivier, was Yann Gourvennec who spoke from the Orange Business perspective on how advocacy at the B2B level is essential to developing trust among businesses.  I couldn’t agree more.  Trust is an undervalued influence on business performance, and use of communications media (technologies as well as people) are the best ‘metrics’ for assessing it.

The final keynote was from the fabulous Chris Brogan, who, despite nearly crushing his microphone on entry, was superbly engaging on building communities.  Though he didn’t use the word (it’d probably sound too earnest), he was focusing on fellowship as an outcome of connections between people.  Essentially it’s too simplistic to assume that the content of message exchanges is the sum of its transmission value.  There is a value in community that goes way beyond access.

After every keynote was a panel on a subject related to the keynote and these were equally entertaining and even controversial at times.  Audiences were engaged and active, and the panellists were uniformly amazing.  I don’t have time here to recount them all, but you can see details at the Like Minds schedule.

Scott Gould and Drew Ellis made the day what it is.  They, and the Like Minds Elves (not forgetting Scott’s wonderful wife, Faye, who project managed the event), put phenomenal effort in to the preparation and execution of the event, and they did so in a manner I cannot praise highly enough.  You would not come across more decent and caring people than these two guys.  Their combination of efficiency and welcome is rare indeed.

But I think the thing I loved most about Like Minds was just how decent everyone was.  There were no egos, there were no mumblings in the corner, there were no drama queens and there was nothing I could find to critique. (And I’m fussy.) Everyone was so implicitly aware of the need to help and enjoy the company of each other that it was the warmest and most inspiring event in which I have ever taken part.

If you’re looking for reviews and more on the event, there are a bunch of media stories here.  And for a short time, you can still access tweets about the event from the twitter stream.

Congratulations to the Like Minds bunch and to all who were involved. I look forward to working with you all again soon.

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