March 12, 2013


I attended the Tech Leadership Conference for the first time. I went primarily to see Seth Godin. Overall, the sessions were worthwhile. The day was an excellent value ($199 for nonmembers, including lunch and a reception). Thanks sponsors!

Each session had time for questions. There was plenty of time for networking too. Here are highlights.

Thorsten Heins at the Tech Leadership Conference 2013 (photo from Communitech on Facebook)Thorsten Heins | Blackberry | President & CEO

Blackberry had the most to gain from a solid presentation. Thorsten Heins spoke well. but I couldn't understand why Blackberry matters when we have iOS and Android. His message was too technical, focusing on solving problems we might not really have.

Blackberry 10 is bringing us mobile computing but lookup that term on Wikipedia and the photo shows a Google/Samsung Nexus.
Mobile computing = Galaxy Nexus
No one I asked was wowed by the content. A Blackberry user said she was waiting to upgrade but after Thorsten's talk decided to switch to Android. See Blackberry's confusing message (a more detailed review) and three ways for a laggard to beat the market leader.

Tip: Communicate to get into your audience's heart instead of their heads. Have real content (or repackage old content in a fresh, compelling way).

Seth Godin at the Tech Leadership Conference 2013 (photo from Communitech on Facebook)Seth Godin

If you want your idea to be believed, say Seth said it.

I've seen Seth several times already (e.g., see three lessons from The Linchpin Session or five presentations from Seth Godin). I've read his books and read his blog. In gatherings, I sometimes act has an unofficial interpreter: "When Seth said X, he was referring to Y, which is what he said in Z."

Most of the people I asked attended primarily for Seth. He met or exceeded their expectations. Kudos to Communitech for bringing him back after a four year absence. Seth's messages were counter to Blackberry's. A big company that hires 5,000 can fire 5,000 too. RIM did both.

The onus is on us to make our own futures. As Seth has been saying since Linchpin, we need to do what scares us. We need to ship our art. Even knowing and agreeing, few do.

Rather than asking what's next, Seth suggests we ask what's now (and then do something)

Patrick Pichette at the Tech Leadership Conference 2013 (photo from Communitech on Facebook)Patrick Pichette | Google | Senior Vice President & CFO

Unlike Apple and Blackberry, Google believes in open. I do too and use their offerings as much as possible. Patrick gave us insights into the company. I've seen the Canadian head several times (see Five Marketing Keys from Chris O'Neill).

The company believes in dreaming 10 times bigger (see Larry Page’s interview in Wired). Mere years ago, the world hadn't heard of Gmail, Chrome or Android.

Patrick is involved in the Google Fiber project in Kansas City. Users get a "true gig" of bandwidth (1 Gigabit downloads and uploads) with no caps on usage or bandwidth shaping. The price is only $70/month. Imagine having capabilities like that. A future of abundance. I'd love to have Google Fiber. Instead, we have high prices and restricted service. Time Warner Cable says there's no consumer demand for the speed. Really?

Lesson: Tear down walls and open new possibilities. That's what we want. That's what we'll (eventually) get. (Sooner please)

April Dunford at the Tech Leadership Conference 2013 (photo by Promod Sharma)April Dunford | RocketScope | Co-founder & Managing Director

April's session was the most practical. I've been too many sessions on marketing with content that’s weak or self-serving. April had real substance and knew what she was talking about.

Marketing has changed and small business now has the advantage. That's because big business can no longer interrupt us with mass media messages. They have trouble reaching us at all. We care less about what they want to tell us. We care more about the views of our network and people like us. I often look at IMDB or Amazon Reviews before making decisions. The vendor's website is les relevant.
"In times of rapid change, experience becomes your worst enemy."
— J Paul Getty
Knowing isn't doing. Big business is often stuck in yesteryear. Change takes place slowly. Execution may suffer. Who has a Dell MP3 player or Lenovo smartphone? Best Buy didn't become Amazon. Do you care if your smartphone has Intel Inside?
You can watch April's live session and get the slides from her blog. Take a peek and see what you learn.


Communitech hosts excellent events and the Tech Leadership Conference is another example.Some keynote presenters are gracious enough to allow their presentations to be posted. Dan Pink is an example (see video). Well worth attending.


PS If you're near Waterloo, consider signing up for the Communitech mailing list.

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