FreshBooks Live Comes to PDX (a Recap)

“Brand loyalty is shrinking.”

“Everything you are doing should be memorable or creating experiences.”

“Eighty six percent of all word of mouth happens in the real world. Real world is where the stuff happens. Do something in the real world and put it on social media, instead of putting it on social media and hoping it takes off.”

These are the words of Saul Colt (@saulcolt), otherwise known as The Best Marketer in North America and the Smartest Guy in the World. Don’t believe me? Go to his website.

His schtick in speaking to a crowd is unabashed and it works. We know it’s a schtick, because he does it for the laughs. He says he’s allowed one inappropriate comment per talk but he probably pushes the edge on that. He has a lot of experience working with brands as a consultant and forcing drumming up new ideas that are so beyond what the competition is doing. How does he do this? Acting on the belief that little ideas can be as dramatic and meaningful as the big ideas, and by using a secret sauce (more on that later) when it comes to making a really great experience.

I’m quoting Saul from the recent #imakealiving event put on by FreshBooks Live. They are traveling the country, hanging out with small business owners every month, providing them treats and some cool swag, and talking about what makes them tick. I am a FreshBooks user currently and though I almost broke up with them for 17Hats because I am looking for more automation in my workflow (how’s that for jargon) I’m still in the game with good ‘ol FB cause it’s so damn easy and reliable.

So, when I was invited to come to the event in Portland, OF COURSE, I had to go. Held at The Cleaners at Ace Hotel, I was psyched to meet a local bookkeeper/accountant immediately upon entering. (Side note: I cannot escape the accountant/CPA types wherever I go). We shared the same penchant for more activism and equity in the accounting world, hot pink nails and we even had a slight variation of the same business card from Moo. So. Good.

We weren’t there to just hear Saul, though he did get a chunk of time at the end to share some of his creative ideas for inspiration. There was a panel! I’m always up for a good panel. The panelists were:

Lindsay Wolff Logsdon, Head of the Brand Culture Strategy practice at Liquid Agency.

Meghan Sinnott, Brand Manager at Nutcase Helmets.

Reggie Wideman: a consultant for the Salesforce Customer Success Platform.

Rick Turoczy, a staple in the Portland startup community for more than 20 years and founder and editor of the blog, Silicon Florist.

Nathan McKee, an artist and illustrator who is inspired by comics, sports, music and other elements of popular culture.

Full disclosure: I realized halfway through the panel that I should be taking notes on what was being said, so this doesn’t represent the entire discussion, but will hopefully give you a few nuggets to take home with you.

On imposter syndrome:

Lindsay: “Everybody experiences this. If you don’t you are so self-deluded you are out of touch with your own talents. Ask for someone’s opinion.”

Rick: “I’m old enough where I found a comfortable spot. I do deal with entrepreneurs who are deeply suffering and are over-compensating. Every founder is lying to everyone in their lives. Nobody knows what they are doing. Every overnight success is 10-15 years in the making.”

Nathan: “As a creative, anything that I do, I think I can do better.”

Meghan: “My partner is coaching me to think like a mediocre white man. What would he do?”

Saul: “Faking it until you make it is more about tricking yourself until your mind and body catches up.” (Basically, it’s not about other people)

Other choice gems that I caught, you should check the #imakealiving if you want to see more:

Lindsay: “People stay at a company to solve a problem and then move on.” (Otherwise known as a “tour of duty”). “Life priorities change over time.”

Nathan: “I’d be doing this anyway (making art).” The fact that people are interested in it and I’m getting paid for it is crazy.”

Reggie: “Focus on what you’re good at and what makes you happy, then find a way to use that in your industry.”

Saul: “The contractor’s dilemma: I’m hired to be the smartest person in the room but the moment you tell the people who are signing the checks they are wrong, they don’t want you there.”

Speaking of Saul, what’s makes a really great experience?

1.  Make people laugh.

2.  Make people think.

3.  Create genuine emotions.

Good ideas hit two out of three.

And remember, you gotta have sizzle and substance when trying to reach people. Sizzle by itself doesn’t sustain.

One last thing: “If you don’t feel like competing on another person’s terms, just change the rules.”

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