Bikes, geeks, beer, tweets: why I want to hug you all

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Two very different events this weekend but both with the same outcome – increased love of humanity and this city!


Someone compared me to a virus, infecting folk with the entrepreneurial-strain.  Some websites resulting from my pricks – Little Piggy: Sweets by CC, TeamPete, Debbie Hillman: food consultant.  More coming!  [Hmm… wonder if would send me to an entrepreneur conference or send me a Starbucks gift card for every referral?]

Nothing pleases me more than people getting paid to do what they love and I got to experience this live! this weekend.

As one of my dreams is for Boyfriend and I to workshift, taking our offerings to Amsterdam, London, San Francisco, I’ve been encouraging him to take a stab at making a business out of his passions and skills.  And guess what?!  You can create a successful business plan out of a love of  bikes, beer, and improv!

Ways To Turn Your Love of Bikes, Beer, and Improv Into A Business

1. Some of the Fear Experiment participants [FE] hired Boyfriend to continue as their improv teacher post-adventure; two and half hour class once a week, going on three months

2. He was such a wonderful FE1 instructor, I hired him back for FE2.  [Info sessions in September!  Come learn how you can be a part of an adventure of a lifetime]

3. He’s been accepted as an improv instructor for Dabble, one of the hottest startups in Chicago  [Upcoming class!  Good for those who don’t want to commit to a full program/just want to stick toe in improv water]

4. At the companies requests, he’s submitted various proposals for workplace improv — inject fun and hands-on’ness to staff development!

5. We co-curated a Brew Mingler, where folk learned how to brew beer via Brew Camp and board game’d it with strangers

6. On the heels of successful “just for fun” forty-mile rides to Three Floyds in Munster, Indiana, and Two Brothers in Warrenville, his first TeamPete bike excursion was Saturday — huge hit!

Saturday Morning – Bike Tour of Chicago

1. 10AM – homebrew class at Brew Camp.  Bonus!  Homemade just out of the oven cookies made with beer ingredients!

2. 10:43AM – detour to our place to get our extra bike for a girl whose bike got backed over by a car that AM.  Yay for strangers helping strangers!

3. 10:53AM – eleven-mile ride to The Plant, a nonprofit dedicated to promote sustainable food production, entrepreneurship, and building reuse through education, research and development.  All of its power and heat needs will be met via food waste from landfills!  Home to the New Chicago Brewing Company.  What a way to see Chicago, going from Irving/Damen/Lincoln to 47th and Racine.


4. 12:15AM – as the crew starts a tour of The Plant, I hop on my Dutch baby and ride up to Lincoln Park for the second event that made me want to sing Kumbayah

5. 2PM – TeamPete meandered Back of the Yards, Bridgeport and Greek Town, then onto Haymarket Brewery for lunch

6. 5:30PM – Final destination!  Local Option, a good beer bar, to enjoy new friendships, new experiences, and tired quads

Saturday and Sunday Afternoon – Social Dev Camp[SDC]

I attended SDC last year for the first time, having little clue what it was but intrigued by the idea of learning amongst creative strangers.  And by the word “camp.”  Though they talked in a foreign language most of the time – cloud, API, CMS – it was a wonderful experience, so it was a no-brainer that I return this year.

SDC Loveliness

1. Something for Everyone – Lectures in a huge auditorium.  Unconferences in intimate classrooms.  Panels.  Q & As.  All-night Hackathons.  Hanging out on couches and armchairs.  Diet and regular Pepsi.  Uber-geeky, techy topics [HTML5 and Beyond] to big picture, flowery topics [The Importance of Being Awesome].

2. Caliber of Speakers – from the founder of Reddit to a guy who had a NY Times best-seller within two days of launch to local must-knows, they knew their stuff and wanted to share their knowledge

3. Smooth Operation – mics, clickers, projectors, and wireless internet that worked.  Central location, easily accessible by CTA.  Easy registration.  Snacks and lunch.  Effective moderators.  After-party a few blocks away.  Not even Hurricane Irene could bring SDC to its knees!  Keynote speaker Alexis Ohanian’s flight was cancelled, but thank to Skype and tireless organizer efforts, we still got to enjoy the message of and interact with someone who is now my new fave!  [Alexis, just sent Mr/Mrs. agent a request for you to be an underground supper club speaker cause you rock it hard!]

4. The People – from the organizers to the attendees to the speakers to the volunteers, this is why I love going to events like SDC!  Familiar faces from last year, familiar faces from an event the day previous, new faces introduced to me by the Queen of Connecting Heidi Massey [check out I.C. Stars, the amazing organization she works for!], new faces introduced to me by virtue of sharing a power-strip.  Common thread amongst them was friendliness and a desire to help one another.

5. What I Heard/Learned [thanks to  Jeff Cohen, Chris Courtney,  Jonthan Ozeran, Julien Smith, Sundeep Kapur, Emile Cambry, Alexis Ohanian]

  • When you can take your own ideas and bring them to life, it’s empowering
  • If you want to join a community that is the epitome of community, Ruby on Rails! [if you don’t know what ROR is, neither did/do I, really; but jump in anyway!]
  • Development can be funny
  • Red Eye’s traffic to its Missed Connections app is rivaling the traffic of “when is the next train coming” app; yea priorities!

[Tangent: check out this Chicago Reader Missed Connection — guess who it was for?!?  Always wished that relationship had worked out, what a great How We Met story]

  • We’re the 1st generation of folk who consume/create/own media at same time
  • Give value that no one else can deliver
  • Your audience is your best asset; make them work for you, which they’ll do if you do above
  • People need more connections and unity, not more advertising and technology
  • Want venture capitalist help?  Get someone else to tell a VC about you.
  • Purposefully insert a mistake into internal communication and give a $5 gift card to first employee who finds it; they’ll find other mistakes too
  • Be willing to disrupt yourself
  • Social Entrepreneurship – get on this train!
  • Social Change film festival coming to Chicago
  • Turn regular joe’s into fans by giving them nuggets [this is the foundation of my e-newsletter!]
  • Write actionable subject lines in your email [story of how someone accidentally left a note to himself of “insert witty subject line here” on an email he sent to his network, and that ended up getting a gazillion helpful responses]
  • You don’t have to spend a lot on advertising to be successful.  Reddit total advertising budget = $500.
  • People will not love crap.  So don’t make crap.  Start with a product people actually want.
  • Great user experience = great [free] marketing
  • Website buttons with amusing names work well
  • Your product should feel like it was made by human beings [the design, the copy, etc.]
  • Whatever you create, create it around community
  • Don’t only drink the start-up kool-aid, spill it!!

Random Musings Post-SDC

1. It took me a year to “get” Twitter.  SDC last year was my first experience with live-tweeting, where you tweet about what you’re experiencing in the moment.  At first I was appalled that people were laptop’ing and iphon-ing during talks; how rude!  But I realized, no, that’s not rudeness anymore, that’s reality.  Most of us can handle doing multiple things at once and ironically, while it looks like you’re totally disengaging, in some ways, it makes engaging with others that much easier.  And fun!

And now I would like to be paid to be a live-tweeter.  Anyone want to hire me to live-tweet their wedding?  Bat mitzvah?  Family reunion?

2. If you still use Internet Explorer, don’t admit it.  People will snicker.

3. You’re at something good when you need to clone yourself to be in two places at once.  Where to go,where to go, Social Media unconference or Thick Value for meaningful, ethical enterprises!?!?  Oy!  Which child do you love more?

4. It’s lovely to see folk who are so proud of their love of dungeons and dragons.  Arms shot straight up when asked who had the D & D love!

4. I would like to be paid to be a speaker.  Even if payment was just airfare, hotel, and a nutter butter.

Anyone want to hire me to talk about things that really matter, like why your bed shouldn’t be in the corner if you’re over twenty-five, how to transform your inability to dance into cash and laughter, and the best ways to find that someone you want to wake up with for the rest of your life?