Gnomedex 2007 first day

I just returned from my first day at Gnomedex. This is the first time I’ve attended this event and it was a lot of fun. My favorite speaker of the day at Guy Kawasaki (picture below) who spoke about evangelism. He was so good that he should have been the keynote speaker. He was by far the most polished speaker yet also had the most interesting content. I loved his story of how he turned down the chance to interview for the Yahoo CEO position because it would have meant a 2 hours commute. He put his family first which was cool even though it may have cost him an estimated $2 billion had he landed the job.

guyThe theme I will remember most about his talk is that when growing your business it’s best to talk to your most loyal customers and ask them what you can do better instead of spending time asking those who don’t buy your product or service.  “It’s very hard to convert an atheist”

The most confusing talk of the day was given by Jason Calacanis. It’s not so much that his talk wasn’t interesting because it was. It’s that I was looking forward to his talk more than any others, and he showed up with what amounted to a 45 minute infomercial for his new company called Mahalo. I reviewed Mahalo a few weeks ago and believe he could be on to something. But it’s old news and I wish Jason would have talked about another topic because he’s such an interesting character and is so smart. Maybe my expectations were too high? 

When Jason asked the audience a question about spam Dave Winer yelled out, “What do you think about conference spam?”. No doubt many others in attendance were thinking the same thing. Jason seemed a bit dejected after this happened and didn’t have as much energy. Jason brought up many valid points about spam and the need for better search results. But I was disappointed that each point he made felt like a tailor-made opportunity to mention Mahalo. I think Winer was right to call him out.

chrisI came to Gnomedex expecting to to experience a much different conference than what I’m accustomed to. Most conferences I’ve attended have been as a Microsoft employee or vendor and most had thousands of attendees. They are big and impersonal. But I found out today that Gnomedex has many of the same problems you’ll find at larger conferences such as technical issues, starting on time and keeping people on topic. And there’s got to be a better way of drawing for prizes.

But overall, Chris and Ponzi did a great job of selecting speakers who are thought-provoking and interesting. And sometimes controversial.

Random things I noticed:

  • Lots of action at the back of the room
  • Men outnumbered women 40 to 1
  • Lots of Apple laptops and iPhones
  • The attendees are older than I expected
  • Google was hardly mentioned. Microsoft even less.
  • Chris facilitates rather than leads the discussion

Overall, the first day was well worth the price of admission. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Link to Gnomedex pictures on Flickr

Guy Kawasaki picture taken by KK
Chris Pirillo picture taken by Mr Noded