This week, I am doing something that I have never done before: attending a conference that is strictly online. One of the best parts about this particular conference, Maker Mentors (MM), is the fact that it is three days packed full of information and inspiration geared toward creatives, like me, who are launching their own businesses. It is also for those wanting to improve a business that already exists and/or to simply soak in the ideas and inspiration that the conference offers. Another great thing is being able to enjoy the benefits of MM in the comfort of my own home. Still another great part about this experience is actually feeling like I’m at an in-person conference, in a sense, in that everyone attending can see each speaker talking in real time, ask questions via the chat room and interact with other conference attendees during the sessions, as well as outside them (e.g., in the forums on the MM site).
There are talented, knowledgeable and driven creative professionals behind Maker Mentors: Cassie Boorn (founder), Erin Wetzel (creative director), Liz Sabo (marketing coordinator) and Gary Robinson (graphic designer/webmaster). Having just completed Day 2 of the conference, I can say firsthand that the MM team is doing a fantastic job of pulling off this unique online event. Cassie and Erin check in with all of us logging on first thing in the morning (7:30 a.m. sharp), and briefly go over what to expect for the day, as well as general reminders, etc. I am thoroughly impressed with how smoothly the conference has been running, and with the fact that Cassie and Erin each have a laser-like focus on helping attendees get the most out of these three days.
For me, coming together with others who are serious about doing creative work; building and growing their own businesses and/or helping others get started and progress is the biggest gift I could give myself right now. I am truly grateful for the opportunity and intend to apply what I’m learning and absorbing to my own life, to the best of my ability. One thing seems pretty much universally agreed upon among conference attendees and speakers: one’s success boils down to showing up regularly, contributing and speaking from the heart.
Below is a brief list of shared wisdom, advice and positive affirmations that have stood out for me personally during the past couple of days (Please note: I have paraphrased from my notes on the different speaker talks and presentations, adding my own emphasis to certain words in the form of all caps):
- Write a blog and say whatever you want to say in long format. The objective is to pick a platform and tell your story. ~ Cory Huff, digital strategist & actor
- SMILE! Be enthusiastic and passionate about your product/business. It will transfer to others! ~ Jenna Herbut, entrepreneur & maker
- Building a business is all about just DOING it, and creating something that aligns with who you are as an individual. ~ Jennifer Lee, coach & author
- Take SMALL steps. Don’t let focusing on the “big goal” paralyze you and your work. ~ Kendyll Hillegas, illustrator & maker
- STEP AWAY from the work daily, taking time to pause and regroup during the day. Breathe deeply and stretch. ~ Kerry Burki, teacher, author & maker
- You HAVE to make sacrifices to launch your career. ~ Lisa Congdon, illustrator & fine artist
- There is no “right way.” There is YOUR way. Trust in yourself is vital, and you have to practice it. ~ Molly Mahar, coach, teacher & writer
- When you connect with others authentically, promotion comes naturally. ~ Tara Gentile, author & coach
- You WILL get rejected a lot. Focus on moving forward to the YES. ~ Tracy Matthews, jewelry designer & mentor
Pictured above: Maker Mentors promo image; a photo from one of Friday’s sessions, featuring conversation with Joanna Hawley, creative director and blogger (© 2015 by Pam Winters); the quote in the title of this post is attributed to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf