IZEAFest Day one was so action packed and so crazy that I lost my voice and got a little hung over for Day 2 but that is okay because Day 2 was all about listening for me. That was a good thing because my piece of junk laptop wouldn’t work right for me the whole day. I closed the lid, sat back and took in the information as it came at me.
First up was Aaron Brazell (@technosailor). I had first heard of Aaron back in December when IZEA worked with Sears on the Sears Grant-A-Wish program. I remember reading all of the posts from people who participated in this program and Aaron was obviously one of the $500 bloggers because he was able to help many people in his family as well as donate some toys to Toys for Tots. Aaron was also the guy who stopped and said hello to me poolside on Thursday before IZEAFest started. Those things stood out to me and I figured I’d give hm my full attention.
Am I ever glad that my laptop wasn’t working. Aaron was amazing. His session was out and out one of my absolute favorites. I liked how he rattled the cage and told many of us what we needed to hear rather than wanted to hear. The key thing that stood out to me was that as bloggers we are not owed anything by anyone. We should not expect to be compensated with free items just because we write about them on our blogs. His session was simple, straightforward and on more than one occasion the room was silent because we were all either in awe or seething because of what he was saying. I’d like to think that people were in rapt attention because of the great message Aaron was sharing with us.
After Aaron was my friend John Raser (@johnraser). John is a very engaging guy and he had a chance at 5 minutes of fame. Sure he used 8:43 of it to tell his story but it is a good story. John is a golfer and he is making his way to the PGA tour. And as he builds his golfing brand he is also building his online brand. John is one amazing guy and later that day he would amaze us once again by letting Heather (@HeatherinBC) and Dina Riccobono (@MLDina) shave his head for Locks for Love. I really couldn’t get used to seeing him with the shaved head. But it looked very cool.
The next session was with Liz Strauss. Now I know that she is highly respected and has done many great things, but I could not get into her session at all. I was just not engaged in what she was saying because she was everywhere and nowhere all at once. I’m sure that other people were enthralled but I just was not there.
We had another delicious lunch and then it was on to the afternoon sessions.
The afternoon session started with a panel that was moderated by my friend Brett Bumeter titled What Advertisers want. The panelists were George Smith, John Andrews, Joseph Jaffe and Zena Weist. This was one very good panel and I liked very much how Brett moderated it. Each person up there had some great things to say and I found it very useful.
The next session was one that I know that many people were waiting to see. And after having seen Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) at Affiliate Summit East I can understand why they were so excited. Chris Brogan did a session called Go Deep or Go Home. He cracked jokes, swore a lot and made everyone in the room think. I wonder if someone did an analysis of the twitter stream for the hashtag of #izeafest which session had the most quotable lines. I am willing to bet that Brogan’s gets that honor.
Once Chris was done we had another 5 minutes of fame and this one came out of nowhere. This kid named Tommy Fishback gets up (he’s 14 and had just herd about the event as he was going to SeaWorld) and he wows the entire room with his energy and enthusiasm but also with his knowledge of social media. Ted took him under his wing and introduced him around the place after that.
Our final session was the future of IZEA and the reveal of Sponzai. I’d been able to use Sponzai for a little while and was excited to see it revealed. Then Ted and Dan Rua were interviewed by Loren Feldman about the future of sponsored conversations, where we had been and where we were going. I have to say it was pretty dry. I would have liked to have had some sort of big bang ending and don’t even get me started with Feldman’s inability to pronounce IZEA correctly.
Directly after that things cleared out but there were cake plows. I spent my time cleaning up my space and also collecting many of my business cards from the tables. I had dropped one at each seat, I think I got half of them back, I figure, why waste them they are awesome and they were probably expensive.
We had a little time to change for the IZEAHunt. I was still dragging ass pretty bad. I could hardly speak, was a little nauseous and had a headache, perfect conditions for running around trying to win an insane scavenger hunt. I wanted to bail on it but didn’t want to let my teammates Alan, MommaDjane, Buck Daddy, Raging Tech and Pat Curry down.
The hunt started pretty good, we immediately covered our faces with the face paint and made a mascot and started making the videos. Then we went and started getting many of the videos and pictures that were required, saving the human sundae till the end. Human sundae was my role last year and I brought gross clothes in case it was going to be me again this year. Luckily Alan took one for the team.
IZEAHunt was not really that fun because the security guards at Port Orlando were certainly not keen on us having face paint or masks or making any sort of mess. In fact they pretty much shut us down and we had to clean up the mess. I will say this I was very impressed with how Ted handled this getting right out there and cleaning things up. I wasn’t going to stand idly by so I pitched in as well. Quite a few other people did too.
That night we went to Howl At The Moon, this was a dueling piano bar. We must have gotten there early because we were directed inside rather than to the outside area that was set up for us. Eventually Allison and I made our way out there. While we were outside we met Thomas Thorspecken who was at IZEAFest. He was quietly in one corner doing watercolors and he made the most fantastic watercolor of Allison and I at IZEAFest. He caught our mannerisms perfectly. We thanked him for that and expressed how much we loved the watercolor. Then we headed back to the hotel, tired and ready to face SeaWorld tomorrow.
Today’s photo is of the big screen that would be running video photos and occasionally images of the sponsors. I was a sponsor and figured that I kept missing seeing my logo on the screen. I shot a note over to Trevor and asked him if I was missing my logo or if I wasn’t included. I found out that my logo had been left out as an oversight. I wasn’t mad or anything but I was grateful to the guys running the technical aspects of the show for correcting that oversight. I picked this photo because it was the first time I had sponsored anything. I used my own money for it as well as for prizes and all my BenSpark.com swag like fortune cookies, shirts, hats and water bottles. I don’t know if people knew that or they figured that that stuff was part of the the package of stuff from Ted Murphy and my blog redesign. It wasn’t. Ted was more then generous with his time and talent as well as for getting me some great business cards.
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