MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program


While reading various online and offline resources about disruptive innovation, I came across the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT REAP).

According to their website:MIT REAP

The MIT REAP is a global initiative designed to help regions accelerate economic growth & social progress through innovation-driven entrepreneurship (IDE) built upon a region’s unique history, capacity and comparative advantage. Partner regions form stakeholder teams and commit to a two-year learning engagement working with MIT faculty and the broader REAP community through a series of action-learning activities to assess, build and implement a custom regional strategy for enhancing IDE ecosystems.

MIT REAP admits 8-10 partner regions annually to participate in the two-year engagement. Each partner region has a team comprised of 5-7 highly driven and influential regional members and is headed by a regional champion. All 5 major stakeholder groups are represented in an MIT REAP team: government, corporate, academia, risk capital, and the entrepreneurial community.

MIT REAP involves four action-learning cycles over a two-year period. These cycles involve highly interactive workshops every 6 months, which are interspersed by action phases:

(1) A typical workshop is 2.5 days and consists of lecture & discussion, case study analysis, ecosystem engagement tours, programmatic deep dives, group work report-outs, and preparation for action phases. 2 workshops are hosted at MIT and 2 workshops are hosted by selected partner regions.

(2) Action phases are active time between workshops where teams return home to deepen analysis, validate assumptions with a broad network, and implement new programs and policies.

Why Consider MIT REAP For NE Wisconsin

MIT campusI’ve interacted quite a bit over the last ten years with the MIT Club of Wisconsin (MIT alumni who live in Wisconsin). They are a fantastic bunch of people, smartest bunch of interesting geeks I ever met. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit MIT yet, but hope to one day.

If I could chose one university to work with on a wide variety of technology issues, MIT would be my choice. MIT is considered the best technology university in the USA, and is considered by some to be the best in the world. It was the source of many innovations in computer science, and an almost endless list of new technologies have come from, and keep coming from, MIT.

StanfordIf I could chose one university to work with on a wide variety of entrepreneurship issues, Stanford would be my choice. Stanford University has a better reputation than MIT in terms of tech entrepreneurship and being the source of highly-scalable startups. But MIT has also been the starting point for many startups and tech entrepreneurs.

In terms of which of the two would be my top choice for working with NE Wisconsin to leverage emerging technologies, disruptive innovation and entrepreneurial swarming, I would have to pick MIT. They definitely have the edge on emerging tech, they’re definitely behind on entrepreneurial swarming, and they seem slightly behind on disruptive innovation.

But the reason I’d choose MIT is because their culture is probably closer to that of NE Wisconsin than Stanford is. Even though Stanford would probably have better suggestions for our region for disruptive innovations and entrepreneurial swarming, those suggestions would be based on what’s happening in California and other tech hotspots around the world. Those suggestions might be actionable in five or ten years in NE Wisconsin, but not in 2016 or 2017. I think it would be too challenging for Stanford, based on what they know and where they see things going over the next ten years, to figure out innovation improvement recommendations that are appropriate for NE Wisconsin.

wisconsin red NEI think MIT’s recommendations would be a lot more in line with how the companies, universities, government, and investors in this region think. Unfortunately, NE Wisconsin is not ready for Stanford recommendations.

In addition to our area being able to act more effectively on MIT’s recommendations, I think MIT can help NE Wisconsin develop some awesome niche emerging technology specialties. If we can have a few disruptive innovation wins in niche areas, that gives us a base to launch more scalable tech startups, and that will be the beginning of entrepreneurial swarming.

Questions About MIT REAP And Similar Programs

Even if MIT was willing to accept NE Wisconsin into their program (no guarantees about that), there are lots of questions about the MIT REAP opportunity.

  • questionsWho would the region’s representatives be on the MIT REAP team of 5 – 7 members? I’ve got a list of the people I would put on the team.
  • Who would pay for the MIT REAP team’s expenses (MIT fees, travel, lodging, etc)?
  • Why would the MIT REAP improve the region’s tech entrepreneurship and disruptive innovation more than the current NE Wisconsin programs, people, and organizations will without MIT?
  • What are the MIT REAP deliverables or realistic expectations for NE Wisconsin at the end of the two year program?
  • Are there other programs outside NE Wisconsin for improving a region’s disruptive innovation and tech entrepreneurship, and might one of those be better than MIT’s and better than our homegrown bootstrapping efforts?


PS — Iceland is one of the regions that will be in the next MIT REAP class starting in October 2016. That would be soooooo cool to be in the program and get to know the people from Iceland, as well as all the other teams (I don’t know what other regions will be in the Fall 2016 class). And I’m betting that one of the 2.5 day workshops hosted by partner regions will be done in Reykjavik! 🙂


Reboot, Part 1: NE Wisconsin 3.0

Regional Economic Reboot

innovators dilemmaThis post is the first of a series about Reboot, an initiative to improve the regional economy of NE Wisconsin.

I love technology, especially emerging technologies. I’m intrigued by the way emerging technologies cause disruptive innovation (Clayton Christensen), or vice versa. And I’m a true believer in the capability of emerging technology and its innovations to cause entrepreneurial swarming and creative destruction (Joseph Schumpeter).

Small problem, though. I currently live in NE Wisconsin. A region far removed from the centers of emerging technologies, disruptive innovation, creative destruction, and entrepreneurial swarming.

here comes everybody, clay shirkyHowever, I believe in the organizing power of the internet (Clay Shirky). Although the mostly-non-tech regional economy, low population density, and conservative culture of NE Wisconsin do not combine to create a real-world critical mass of disruptive innovators, I do know those disrupters are out there. So what we need to do is connect those disruptive innovators, build a team of future-focused supporter organizations, and create a virtual critical mass of like-minded and complementary-minded people.

Then, voilà! Let the fun, and a regional economic reboot, begin…

Where NE Wisconsin Reboot Came From

NE Wisconsin’s “New North” regional economic initiative was launched a couple years after the 21st century became a reality. I’m considering the New North launch to be NE Wisconsin 2.0.

10X innovationWhat I’m proposing is to take a brand new look at disruptive innovation and creative destruction as applied to this region. The existing programs for innovations, entrepreneurs and technology can continue, but let’s incorporate a new approach that focuses on disruptive innovation and startups with goals of delivering 10 – 20X improvement rather than 10 – 20% improvement.

Incorporating that new approach will be NE Wisconsin 3.0.

The “Reboot” title for this initiative to improve the region’s economy, innovation and entrepreneurism comes from the procedure of rebooting a personal computer when you make major changes on it, or when the computer isn’t working exactly the way it should.

From my perspective, NE Wisconsin would benefit from making major changes, sort of a reboot. Those benefits were spelled out in my earlier post “TIME Community Events: Benefits Of A Regional TIME Community.” Read that post for more details, but the benefit bullet points are:

  • Source of potential employees.benefits
  • Increased job creation in your region.
  • Increased retention and immigration of TIME people (Tech, Innovators, Makers, Entrepreneurs).
  • Building the culture for a resilient and sustainable regional economy.
  • Opportunities to invest in disruptive innovation and startups.

The Reboot concept started out as a personal project to connect with a few people in NE Wisconsin who are highly interested in working on disruptive innovation. Before I spent most of 2014 working on a startup in northern California, we had several years of biweekly coffee shop meetups in NE Wisconsin called the Friday Disrupters. I decided to work on connecting another group of disrupters, but a slightly larger one with more focus on driving change in the region. As I worked on connecting that disruptive innovation network, there was a need to answer three questions.

  1. Who would be good people to have in a network of NE Wisconsin disruptive innovators?
  2. What would be the goals of a small network of NE Wisconsin disruptive innovators?
  3. What would be the benefits of a network of disruptive innovators (to the innovators and to their region)?

Those three questions sequentially led me to think about the following increasingly larger regional networks.

ne wisc

NE Wisconsin

  • 12 – 20 people. I began working on connecting a network of 12 – 20 disruptive innovators who live in NE Wisconsin.
  • 500 – 5000 people. Discussions about a small network of disruptive innovators highlighted the value of connecting 500 – 5000 NE Wisconsin TIE people (Tech, Innovators, Entrepreneurs).
  • 8000 people. Thinking about the TIE network led me consider the value connecting a larger network (~ 8000 people) who are committed to actively improving the NE Wisconsin entrepreneurial and innovation culture; not just TIE people.
  • 12,000 people. One of the benefits of improving a region’s entrepreneurial and innovation culture is improvement of the regional economy. That larger goal of regional economic improvement would add more people to the group working on entrepreneurial culture — with a resulting objective of connecting 1% of the region’s 1.2 million residents.

The Reboot initiative will start out with a small group of committed people but is intended to lead to much bigger things. Sound like a challenge? As Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Long Term Commitment: 50 Years

After a small group of committed people is connected, the first step on the Journey of 10,000 miles to an improved regional economy is reaching a consensus that the Reboot partners and sponsors 2initiative will establish realistic expectations rather than over-promising when recruiting program partners and sponsors.

It’s essential for supporters of Reboot to agree that achievable short and medium term goals are worth the budgeted resources. If there are questions about that, a conversation is needed about why improvement will only happen if there is long term commitment. If that long term vision and commitment are missing, there is no point in launching Reboot. Without that supporter commitment, the smaller group of disruptive innovators should just focus on a more limited vision of enabling 10 – 20X improvements in projects in which they are direct participants.

When I say long term vision, I’m referring to 50 years, not 5 years. Stretch objectives are helpful. Optimism and a desire to change the world, or at least the region, are good attributes. But Silicon Valley didn’t spring up in the 70s, 80s or 90s, much less in the past 50 yearsfive or ten years. MIT and Stanford didn’t become world-leading engines of innovation in ten or twenty years.

No matter what potential supporters for the Reboot initiative want to hear or want to have happen, it will take many years to achieve the goal of a big improvement in the region’s innovation, entrepreneurism and economy. The “Start-Up New York” entrepreneurism program was just launched in 2013, but political opponents are already campaigning to end the program because they say it hasn’t created enough new jobs in its first three years. Other entrepreneur and economic accelerator programs have suffered similar fates because they created unrealistic expectations or did not have long term commitment from supporters.

Realistic expectations. Long term vision and commitment. Table stakes.

Seven Step Reboot Plan

In the expectation that three key objectives will be achieved, a seven step Reboot plan has been developed. The three key objectives are:

  1. A small group of thoughtful, committed NE Wisconsin disruptive innovators is connected.
  2. The disruptive innovators group reaches consensus on realistic expectations for the Reboot initiative.
  3. Reboot partners and sponsors with long term vision and commitment are recruited.

seven step planThe seven steps for the Reboot program are listed below. This is a draft blueprint, v.0.1, intended to be talking points for discussion after the disruptive innovators are connected. The Reboot v.1.0 proposal that is used for recruiting partners and sponsors will be developed by the disruptive innovators group. The Reboot v.2.0 that is funded and launched will be based on customer feedback using the Lean Startup methodology. Reboot’s seven steps are:

  1. Connect the TIE community (Tech, Innovators, Entrepreneurs).
  2. Build effective communications and events system for TIE community.NE Wisc Reboot Roads, red, green
  3. TIE community facilitate disruptive innovation; develop program for launching disruptive innovation startups.
  4. Improve NE Wisconsin 3.0 main roads to 4 lane minimum (see map).
  5. Develop and implement plan for Top 5% schools.
  6. Expand TIE community into a 21st century regional economy network.
  7. Develop and expand culture-building regional events.

I’ve seen and heard NE Wisconsin people talking about technology, innovation, entrepreneurism, and change for more than twenty years. People in NE Wisconsin are working on technology, innovation, and entrepreneurism. And change is happening. But…

While NE Wisconsin is moving ahead and improving its regional technology and innovation, other regions are moving ahead faster. And they were ahead to begin with. I don’t think NE Wisconsin isn’t catching up to them. I think it’s falling further behind.

“Reboot, Part 2” will take a look at Next Steps and a recommendation for Reboot discussion events in cities around NE Wisconsin…


Total Potential Participants For NE Wisconsin TIE Events

TIE Community

TIE is an acronym for Tech, Innovators, and Entrepreneurs.

Many posts I’ve written have mentioned the TIME community (tech, innovators, makers, entrepreneurs). In addition to the TIE member types, TIME includes makers. The reason this posts is only discussing the TIE demographic is because some makers are not strongly focused on innovation. Those makers are fine using traditional methods, materials, and equipment to “make” traditional products. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This post just doesn’t apply to them.

Other makers love innovative technologies, like 3D printing or microelectronics. This post does apply to many of those types of makers. And they are covered by tech and innovation, even if entrepreneurism is not of high interest to them.

Connecting The TIE Community

community connectingAn email conversation I had last week discussed software patents, technology innovation, and the TIE community in NE Wisconsin. Part of our discussion related to building more connections between people in this region who are highly interested in tech innovations, emerging technologies and entrepreneurism related to those topics.

Our email discussion didn’t get into specifics of exactly what types of people would fit into the innovation community we were thinking about. Today I decided to put my thoughts on cyber-paper to help organize those thoughts. It’s also a way to continue the conversation, and, I hope, move it closer to action. That action being to start connecting more people in the TIE community.

Size Of NE Wisconsin TIE Community

One of the ways to help build a community, as I’ve mentioned before, is to have various types of community events. When thinking about or organizing those events, one of the pieces of information that’s helpful is how many people might be involved in the events. Coming up with an estimated audience, or total number of potential participants, for the TIE events does two things.

  1. Gives the core organizing team a feel for venue sizes, event budgets, communications needed, etc.
  2. Gives potential community and event supporters (partners and sponsors) a feel for how much support is needed and how big an impact a strong TIE community might make.

The population used below for NE Wisconsin is a recent and probably accurate number. Percentages I used to convert total regional population into the size of the TIE community are strictly estimates. If and when we work to connect the TIE community and have a significant number of events, we’ll find out how accurate the percentages below are.

TIE Community Numbers

  • ne wisc1,200,000 = population of the 18 counties of NE Wisconsin (The New North region)
  • 840,000 = target age, people 13 – 80 yrs old, in relatively good health (15% under 13, 15% over 80, or over 60 and in poor health)
  • 588,000 = people who will hear about TIE community if well publicized and promoted (70% of target age)
  • 11,760 = people who would say they’re very interested in TIE activities (2% of people who are target age and hear about TIE community)
  • 5,880 = people who will actually get involved with community (50% who indicated interest will be too busy or have other reasons not to participate)

Based on my 10+ years of organizing events and projects, I’ve developed a 1 / 9 / 90 rule for medium and large groups (more than 20 people). I’ve also seen similar numbers applied to levels of participation in areas other than events wrangling. From my perspective, 1 / 9 / 90 means that the 5880 (NE Wisconsin people I estimated will get involved to some degree in the TIE community) will include:

  • 59 potential leaders and initiators of events, projects, ventures, startups.
  • 529 active and contributing community members.
  • 5,292 potential participants for selected TIE events, but not generally active TIE community members.

Of the 5,880, 50 to 150 people (~ 1% – 3%) will want to actively discuss, work on, and facilitate disruptive and destructive innovation with goals of delivering 10 – 20X improvement rather than 10 – 20% incremental improvement.

My view of disruptive innovation as being 10X – 20X improvement or change, comes from (my incomplete understanding of):

Innovator's Dilemma

Innovator’s Dilemma

  • Schumpeter’s creative destruction and entrepreneurial swarming.
  • Christensen’s innovator’s dilemma.
  • Kevin Kelly’s technium, described in What Technology Wants.
  • Steve Jobs 10X principle (my imperfect memory says I first got that from Jobs, although it could have come from reading about Larry Page or some other tech entrepreneurial leader).

There you have it. An estimated six thousand people in NE Wisconsin who have a reasonable chance of getting involved in disruptive innovation in the next few years. And over five hundred people who have a very high probability of being active in broad-focus innovation events in the region. It seems a worthwhile number of people to connect from an events wrangler’s point of view and from a supporter’s point of view.


TIME Community Events: Benefits Of A Regional TIME Community

What’s A TIME Community?

The TIME community consists of Tech people, Innovators, Makers, and Entrepreneurs.

[For more details about what the TIME community is, read “TIME Community & Events.”]

timeIn today’s post, I’ll present a definition of what a regional TIME community is and what the benefits are of a Thriving regional TIME community.

One definition of a community includes “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” and “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” When you read “community” in this post, think “group of like-minded people” instead of city, village or town.

What’s A Regional Community?

For the purposes of this post, a “regional” TIME community refers to a connected group of people sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals who live in an area larger than just one city. Examples of regions in the part of Wisconsin where I live are the Green Bay area, the Fox Cities, and NE Wisconsin.long term growth

[For more specifics on the definition of regions, see the notes at the bottom of this post.]

A thriving regional community is one that has a long term growth trend and one in which the people are well-connected and motivated to participate in some of the community activities. Listed below are the benefits of a thriving regional TIME community.

Five Benefits Of Being A TIME Community Member

Here are five important reasons for YOU to consider being an active member in a regional TIME community.

  • Meet and interact with like-minded people.
    • The TIME community makes it easy to connect with like-minded people, working on projects with them, sharing your knowledge and skills with them, and learning new skills and knowledge from them. Interacting with other TIME community members may lead to lifelong relationships which otherwise would not have happened.
  • Find fun and interesting non-work activities in the region’s TIME community.
    • When you get involved with your region’s TIME community you’ll find out about non-work opportunities of high interest to technologists, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs such as meetups, conferences, workshops, classes,

      disruptive innovator 2

      Disruptive Innovation

      and projects. You’ll also have more opportunities to launch new TIME activities you want to see happen.

  • Participate in disruptive innovation and startups.
    • A region’s TIME community can help you participate in disruptive innovation and startups with goals of delivering 10 – 20X improvement rather than 10 – 20% improvement. It can also help you participate in emerging technologies or the global economy.
  • Find a new job or part time revenue stream.
    • A thriving TIME community can help you connect with current jobs in the you're hiredregion for technologists, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs. It also helps find part time work or revenue opportunities that generate income from your region and from other parts of the US or the world.
  • Help create and participate in an improved regional culture.
    • Conservative regions’ culture and limited opportunities for people interested in work/play TIME activities result in minimal immigration of new TIME community members and significant emigration of existing TIME community members. Regions with a conservative and insular culture are poorly suited to adapt to strategies that will most successfully improve their economy in the next twenty years. Regions with a relatively stable economy but a minor tech and innovation industry sector have socioeconomic measures that aren’t negative enough to drive meaningful change unless a virtual critical mass is connected is developed to facilitate culture and economy changes.

Five Benefits Of Being A TIME Community Supporter

Here are the top five reasons for influential individuals in a region, and for decision-makers at companies and civic organizations, to support their regional TIME community.

  • Source of potential employees.
    • The TIME community is a major source of easy-to-access potential employees in the tech, innovator, maker and entrepreneurial categories.
  • Increased job creation in your creation
    • The entrepreneurs of the TIME community are the region’s residents who are most likely to create new high-wage and high-growth companies and to expand existing companies, creating new jobs for your region. Research shows that small and medium companies create a majority of new jobs in the US.
  • Increased retention and immigration of TIME people.
    • Regions with a non-innovative culture and limited opportunities for people interested in work/play TIME activities usually have significant emigration of existing TIME community members and minimal immigration of new TIME community members. Most highly motivated people who want to drive disruptive innovation have to move to regions with a thriving TIME community to participate in work/play opportunities that are meaningful to them.
  • Building the culture for a resilient and sustainable regional economy.
    • A region without a thriving TIME community is poorly suited to adapt to strategies that will most successfully improve the local economy over the next twenty years. One challenge to improving the culture to be more resilient is that a region’s socioeconomic metrics may not be negative enough to drive meaningful change unless a virtual critical mass is connected is developed to disruptive innovationcatalyze and facilitate culture and economy changes. A strong TIME community creates additional attractive work/play opportunities for highly-intelligent, experienced, and motivated people who will drive change and improve the region’s economy.
  • Opportunities to invest in disruptive innovation and startups.
    • Supporting your region’s TIME community will bring long term opportunities to invest in disruptive innovation and startups with goals of delivering 10 – 20X improvement rather than 10 – 20% improvement. TIME community support will also create more regional opportunities to participate in emerging technologies or the global economy.

Get Involved. Support Your TIME Community.

Getting involved with and supporting your region’s TIME community means EVENTS!

Participate in TIME events. Launch new TIME events and projects. Support TIME events, projects, and groups by sponsoring or partnering with them.

If you are an individual interested in getting involved with more tech, innovation, maker, or entrepreneurial activities, contact Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I will help you come up with a couple ways to start connecting with your region’s TIME community! 🙂

If you’re an influential individual in your region or a decision-maker at company or civic organization who wants to support your region’s TIME community but aren’t sure how to start doing that, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I’ll be happy to help you identify specific ways to start doing that in your area! 🙂


The Green Bay region might refer to the state-defined statistical area which has a population of 180,000, the official US Census metropolitan statistical area, which has a population of over 350,000, or it could refer to a more informally-defined area which includes people in Green Bay itself, the adjacent cities, villages, and towns like De Pere, Ashwaubenon, and Humboldt. The informal Bay Area essentially includes everyone in the vicinity of Green Bay who feels it’s worth their time and effort to get involved in the region’s activities of particular interest to them. The same concepts applies to the Appleton / Fox Cities area, which has an official US Census population of about 400,000.wisconsin red NE

NE Wisconsin officially refers to 18 counties in the northeast section of Wisconsin with a population of 1.2 million, but more informally, and for the purposes of this post and the TIME community, refers to people who are:

  • In the Green Bay area, the Appleton / Fox Cities area, and the Fond du Lac area.
  • Located close enough to US-41 between Fond du Lac and Marinette to be interested in and participate in activities in other cities along the Hwy 41 corridor.
  • Located outside the Hwy 41 corridor (in large cities like Sheboygan, medium-size cities like Sturgeon Bay, and smaller villages or towns like Bailey’s Harbor or Keshena) who are interested in and participate in activities in other cities in the 18 counties.


July​ ​16,​ ​2016:​ ​News​ ​&​ ​Views​ ​Roundup​ ​For​ ​Events​ ​Wranglers

Presented below for keeping you up-to-date and as July 16th’s potential fodder for your occupational bag of tricks are a selection of recent events wrangling news and views. If any of the items below appeals to your inner events wrangler, click the headline link and read the article in its entirety.

What’s the Worst Thing that Could Happen at Your Meeting?EMT ambulance

What’s your worst-case meeting scenario? A terrorist attack? A tornado strike on your venue? An attendee turning violent? A speaker dying on the dais? A website hack that exposes your participants’ personal information?…

It’s up to you to identify all the possible things that could go wrong, then find ways to avoid, minimize, or eliminate unacceptable risks. Also on your already crowded desk: To keep looking for and evaluating new risks that crop up—say, the Zika virus or an economic upheaval—and find ways to mitigate any adverse effects that may happen despite your best intentions…”

Last Saturday I started off the week’s aggregated news and views with a non-serious article, so today I’m taking the reverse approach. Recent event tragedies and potential disasters include:

  • Bastille Day Celebration, Nice, France — almost 100 people killed and hundreds wounded by terrorist
  • Bataclan theater concert, Paris, France — 89 people killed and many others wounded by terrorists
  • 2016 Summer Olympics, Brasil — Zika virus concerns cause some athletes to drop out

The above article is a totally-serious look at how to prepare for issues that could turn an event into your worst nightmare. Everyone, wrangler and attendee alike, assumes their event won’t have a disaster or tragedy. Most humans go through their daily lives with the basic premise that bad life-changing events will happen to someone else. Doing that makes it easier to enjoy each day and to look forward to the next day.

But because the events wrangler is responsible for the safety of each attendee, as well as the success of the event, some level of risk management should be included in every event you take on. You may not need to put major planning into preventing or dealing with terrorist attacks or Zika virus, but you should at least have a plan for dealing with severe illness or a death during your event, cybersecurity problems, and failure of your internet access or sound system.

The 3 Big Problems With Your Marketing Event Metrics

In today’s data-driven marketing world, wouldn’t it seem crazy to spend the most money on the most poorly measured marketing channel? Strange as it is, it’s still happening. Events continue to dominate marketing budgets, while event success and ROI are measured poorly or not at all. The problem isn’t with events, but the metrics we use to determine event success. Here are three of the biggest problems with event metrics and how to fix them:

  1. Lack of data…
  2. Setting the wrong event goals…
  3. Calculating ROI the wrong way…”

event ROIDuring an event this week, we had a discussion about recruiting sponsors and measuring the ROI (return on investment) for those sponsors. Clearly defining, measuring, and documenting sponsor benefits and ROI is an important issue for every events wrangler. Some sponsors may be totally satisfied with a one-page summary of the meeting, an assortment of event photos, a two-minute event video, and an attendee list. Other organizations or people who fund your event might want a comprehensive report listing results for each agreed-upon event success criteria, a line-item spreadsheet showing both budgeted and actual expenses, a ten-minute debrief presentation, and a five-minute opening-to-closing professionally-edited event video which includes three 20-second attendee interviews.

Regardless of where sponsor ROI expectations lie on the continuum from minimal and informal to professional, detailed, and quantified, those expectations should be discussed and documented before event planning begins. My preference is to propose, based on my perception of the sponsor’s motivations for funding the event, a reasonable package of success criteria and documentation that can definitely be delivered and doesn’t create unrealistic expectations.

I’ve developed a flexible Event Benefits, Documentation & ROI base package for use in pitching event proposals. If the sponsor feels additional items are needed in that package, we discuss options that will help them feel their money was wisely spent and agree on the event deliverables. The key to satisfied and repeat sponsorships is developing realistic event sponsor expectations, then delivering on clear success criteria and event documentation.

Your Team-Building Dilemma Solved with Five Essential Questions

With myriad offerings to ponder, choosing the right team-building activity can be a daunting challenge…What proves motivating and memorable for one group is often completely off-target for another…Do your workers have a healthy dose of competition? If so, Jacobs counsels looking for an activity that delivers a true sense of victory to adrenaline junkies…

Is creativity king at your office? For a classically right-brained group, Watson Adventures counsels an off-the-wall activity such as the company’s Team Photo Challenges, which are all about thinking differently with prompts designed to encourage creative results.

Designing an event for the “Brainy Bunch”? Would your group more happily tackle a heated debate than a game of football? Time to celebrate their cerebral side…

Does the mere mention of refreshments get your team’s attention? Some personalities think, and perform better, with challenges that stimulate the senses…”

Even if your event isn’t just for one organization, you should still consider team-building activities which engage attendees and build relationships. The last activity mentioned in the excerpt above focuses on refreshments. Consider blending relationship building, team building, and experiential events with foodie workshops, e.g. a gelato-making session.


Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato Company

The owners of Jersey City, New Jersey-based Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato Company will do “a demonstration class with elements of hands on participation (for those interested). They provide a glimpse into the world of gelato making and an adventure to remember. An important part of every event is (of course) the sampling of gelato, often organized as a guided blind tasting.” Your event may not have a nearby craft gelato company to help you out, but there may be other craft foodie vendors who will provide attendees with a fun, tasty, nutritious, and unique relationship-building session.

12 Things Event Planners Can Learn From Pokemon Gopikachu

The latest gaming craze of Pokemon Go can teach event planners a lot of about what attendees want from the blending of digital and live experiences. I think I have the recipe for why Nintendo’s Pokemon Go mobile game is such a massive hit and I believe there are a number of lessons here for event planners to learn from…So what does any of this have to do with event planning? Turns out, a lot. I’ve deconstructed what made this game so mass-adopted that it currently has more active users than Twitter…

  1. Star Power…Even when you have a great product, star power matters. When you are planning a conference, as good as your industry speaker’s content will be… celebrities sell tickets. They also capture imaginations…a big name and a compelling story attracts larger audiences…”

If you’re a PokéPlayer or want to consider incorporating Pokémon Go or other AR elements in your event, you’ll probably enjoy this article. You might also want to look at my post from earlier this week, “Pokémon Go & Social Interaction.”

pokemon goIf you’re the type of events wrangler who wants to experiment with the latest trends because you see clear potential benefits for your attendees, you could have every interested person at the event download Pokémon Go (the few who don’t already have it on their smartphone), form teams of four to eight people, give a short overview of the game, then fire the starter’s pistol for an hour or two of catching wild Pokémon. All sorts of relationship-building possibilities could be built into an event like this, from teaching the game to fellow team members who are Pokémon Go noobs to collaboration between small teams.

If you want to have a Pokémon Go component in your event but are more conservative or don’t want to figure out how to best leverage this social phenomenon, hire an experiential consultant to run your PokéSession…or maybe hire a group of local teen or millennial PokéPlayers…

5 Creative Ways to Celebrate National Ice Cream Monthstrawberry ice cream

July is National Ice Cream Month, and this year’s National Ice Cream Day is on July 17…ice cream has more than $50 billion in annual global sales, and people in the United States consume the most ice cream in the world (about 18.4 liters of ice cream per person every year). Thus, unsurprisingly, ice cream is a beloved treat by event guests. Here are five creative ways to make ice cream the center of a memorable event.

  1. Raise money for a good cause..
  2. Create a promotion for television or movies…
  3. Commemorate a milestone…
  4. Offer the unexpected…
  5. Invent unique ice cream flavors…”

ice cream makerToday’s post started out with a serious issue, so I’ll close on a more fun note which also relates to the mention above of a gelato-making session for your event. If you can’t find a nearby company to do the gelato session, maybe you can find a company to do a homemade ice cream event. Or you can just buy enough ice cream makers so there is one for every six people. Then do a small-group ice cream making event, and have each team decide which team member gets to take the ice cream maker home (or have it shipped to them).

If that’s too much work for your July event, order Peanut Buster Parfaits and Dilly Bars from a Dairy Queen or have a craft ice cream vendor cater a variety of custom flavors.

Events Wrangler Tip — If you do an ice cream activity at your event, be aware of potential challenges for attendees outdoors during extra-hot summer weather…

ice cream melting


Pokémon Go & Social Interaction

The Pokémon Go Phenomenon

pokemon goEveryone else is doing it — so I’m jumping on the bandwagon before it rolls out of sight.

Pokémon Go.

Today’s post takes a look at Pokémon Go, an augmented reality (AR) game that became a runaway hit in the past week. I’ll discuss three types of events relevant to Pokémon Go, taking a close look at one of those types of events. The three event types are:

  1. Emerging tech nexus event
  2. Events with a primary focus on AR
  3. AR and social interaction

Emerging Technology Nexus

The public launch of Pokémon Go is a watershed moment for AR, an emerging technology nexus. A turning point for widespread understanding of what AR means. This smartphone game may become the killer app for AR. Watershed moment, nexus, turning point and killer app each have slightly different meanings, and I’m not sure which term is best applied to Pokémon Go.

pokemon go in useBut it is certainly more than just another time-killing cell phone game. This is even more than an interesting and engaging mobile game. It’s not just another Angry Birds, and it’s not Candy Crush. It could be bigger than Minecraft, which Microsoft bought for $2.5 billion. The true impact of Pokémon Go may end up being far greater than Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Minecraft AND Tetris.

It requires the key ingredient of time to know for sure if an event is a watershed moment, nexus or turning point. We need to know how much money the Pokémon Go franchise makes, how many people get absorbed into the game (you don’t just play a killer app), how pokemon go nexusmany millions of hours per week the human race spends (wastes?) on it, and what subsequent games, AR applications and related technologies Pokémon Go gives birth to.

Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston of Y Combinator say Make Something People Want. Well, Om Malik says this is something he wants, something other people will also want.

Once we can assess the long term results and impacts of Pokémon Go, we’ll know if this truly has been a momentous event.

AR-Focused Events

The second type of event which could be part of the fallout from Pokémon Go is AR-focused events. This category of events could start out with ones centered on Pokémon Go itself. Local meetups of P-Goers. Regional events, such as a Pokémon Go convention or IRL MMO battle. Some type of LARP involving Pokéballs, Pokéstops, Pokégyms, and other essentials of the game. Or maybe none of those acronyms will stick or be pertinent. You see, watershed moments tend to spawn new acronyms and concepts.

pokemon go crowd

PokeCrowd: Santa Monica, California, USA

There will undoubtedly be local events with hundreds of dedicated PokéPlayers. Events in major metro areas will draw thousands of fans, and Niantic will no doubt have teams of events wranglers figuring out how to facilitate real-time in-person gatherings of tens of thousands. It boggles the mind to consider the technology, game play, economic, and sociological possibilities involved in both those massive meetups and in the global game itself.

trough of disillusionmentAfter the inevitable “trough of disappointment,” the Schumpeterian swarming of innovative people and startups inspired and motivated by playing Pokémon Go will kick off a wave of innovation in AR. Whether that wave will gather energy and build momentum depends on a multitude of unpredictable factors. But I know that trend surfers and AR aficionados will be catching the wave and riding it as far as they can. This wave has the possibility to be the epic wave of the decade, or it could fizzle out and be a disappointing ankle buster.

AR-focused events may be important for events wranglers in two ways. First, many large AR-focused events will need a person coordinating the event, taking care of details that won’t take care of themselves. Secondly, AR-focused events may create a whole new type of ice-breaker or relationship-building activity. If you’re interested in ways to spice up the social portions of your events, keep an eye on this type of tech.

AR-Enabled Social Interaction

smartphone isolation 5The third type of AR event is a category which catalyzes and facilitates social interaction. This third type of event is one I feel holds huge promise for technology to have a positive impact on society. Pokémon Go-inspired location-based AR could be the key to creating beneficial social interaction in a world of smartphone addiction.

If you live in mainstream America or in other parts of the world with widespread prevalence of smartphones and ubiquitous cellular or WiFi internet access, you have likely observed smartphone addiction-in-action. This addiction takes many forms, but three common variants are:

  1. Parents with their kids
  2. Groups of friends or family
  3. Random people in public places

Parents & Smartphones

smartphone isolation 3I can’t help feel smartphones and tablets are hurting parenting more than they’re helping it. If you look for this flavor of smartphone addiction, you’ll find it everywhere. Dads with their young child or children sitting at McDonald’s. Dad’s glued to his smartphone while his kid(s) sits quietly, munching on the meal, looking lonely and bored. Or lonely and sad, probably wishing that dad would pay more attention to them than to the stupid phone. Many of the kids are fidgeting or being downright disruptive to get dad’s attention.

smartphone isolation 2It’s not all dads — you can find mom at Starbucks, drinking her caffè latte or frappuccino, intently posting on Facebook and checking out what other moms have said. Meanwhile, her neglected child or brood has to make do with the donut and juice box mom bought to keep them from getting too restless or bored. Some moms know it takes more than a donut and juice box, so they share their addiction and give their three-year old a tablet to keep them occupied (no cartoons on TV for them!) and give the eight-year old their own smartphone.

Friends & Family

Another addiction scenario is a group of friends or family members sitting together but interacting with their phones instead of the people sitting next to them. Well, to be totally accurate, many of them will be interacting with their phone AND with people next to them — via their phone. Texting, instagramming, snapchatting, FBing, tweeting, and other social media verbing. When observing a group of people gathered together but seemingly-separated by their mobile devices, one can’t help but wonder why they bothered getting together in one place.smartphone isolation

At least one photographer has captured in pictures the apparent isolation that can be created by these small technological marvels which are intended to connect us. Eric Pickersgill’s photos captured people interacting with phones instead of each other, then he removed the mobile devices from the pictures.

Strangers Together In Isolation

The third smartphone addiction often observed is probable-strangers in close proximity in public places who are all absorbed in whatever is happening on their phone rather than what is happening around them.

smartphone isolation 4Some people in public spaces are using their smartphones to deal with an immediate need, such as finding a restaurant, figuring out how to get to their destination, or answering an urgent personal or work text or email. Other people around them are absorbed in their phone because they’re bored — watching videos or checking Facebook is an easy and mindless way to pass time. Of even more dubious value is public use of smartphones to avoid interaction with others or to avoid looking like you don’t have a life.

Based on Pokémon Go social interaction I’ve read about in the past week, it feels like there’s a whole (augmented) world of possibilities for developing games and other applications that create more obvious social interaction in at least one of the above three addiction categories. I won’t try to predict what any of those AR applications or technologies might look like, but I know they’re coming, and I look forward to seeing them in action!

Are You A PokéPlayer?

Are you riding this technological and sociological wave? Want to experience this world-changing event for yourself?

Download Pokémon Go from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Then start up the game and begin catching wild Pokémon today! 🙂

Pokemon go 2


Pokémon Go Events post update, 15 Jul 2016:

Overwhelming response to Pokémon Go events forces cancellation

Thousands of people in Sacramento have hit the streets looking for Pokémon. Rick Mears wanted to share the Pokémon Go experience with his friends, so he created an event on Facebook…But that event quickly became a big hit on social media. “It was almost a thousand people an hour,” Mears said. “It just kept growing and growing.”

When more than 6,000 people expressed interest in the event, Mears pumped the brakes.

“I was worried [about] disturbing the peace,” Mears said. “I checked with the county and there are some specific ordinance for events like these.” If a special event meets the definition, like if anticipated attendance will be greater than 200, then the organizer must submit a special events permit application, according to the City of Sacramento. That application must be submitted at least 60 days before the event…”

This is another case of modern laws struggling to deal with the connected world of today’s internet users. Rick was a law-abiding guy who didn’t want to get in trouble. In other cities, there are guaranteed to be PokéCrowds and Pokévents with thousands of people. And it would not be surprising if Sacramento still has a crowd of over 200 people show up at the time and place Rick Mears originally scheduled.

Will 22K people turn up to catch Pokémon in San Francisco on Wednesday?

“…The Facebook event for a San Francisco Pokémon Go crawl on Wednesday has 3,600 people confirmed in attendance, with another 18K “interested” in the event. “I had no idea that this event would reach such a large scope of people. I made this event at midnight, invited my facebook friends, and fell asleep,” the the organizer of the Facebook event, Sara Witsch, tells me. “I woke up to 500 people going. Within 24 hours, it reached 2k going and 11k interested. I only expected maybe a few hundred at most, if anyone at all…”

When I checked the FB site on July 15, the participant numbers had climbed to 6100 confirmed for the pub crawl and 25,000 interested. By July 20, the date of the event, there could be 10,000 to 50,000 people who show up to catch wild Pokémon or to just watch PokéPlayers


Relationship-Building Events

Interactions ⇒ Relationships

relationshipRelationships are created when two people interact.

That relationship may be a temporary relationship that dies as soon as the initial interaction is finished. On the other hand, the initial interaction might be very enjoyable for both people, and the resultant relationship could be very deep and meaningful and last for a lifetime.

Most intentional relationships are somewhere in between those two extremes. By intentional, I mean that at least one of the two people initiated the interaction with a reason or purpose in mind. Just like there is a wide spectrum of relationships, there is an equally wide spectrum of reasons to initiate a relationship. Some reasons are really good, some are very bad, and most are in between.

And just like there are reasons to initiate relationships, there are reasons for writing today’s post about relationships. Here are the four main reasons for this post topic.

  1. relationship 5Events wranglers should always be thinking about relationships when they plan and run events. Ergo, it’s a fitting topic to write about on this blog.
  2. Relationships will be an essential part of a new venture for NE Wisconsin disruptive innovators.
  3. Relationships will be an essential part of the Baby Boomer Gold Rush I wrote about last week.
  4. I enjoy building relationships and expanding my networks.

Ingredients For Growing Relationships

relationship 2Here’s something to think about regarding relationship-building events. Just like growing vegetables in your summer garden, or perhaps growing flowers around your yard, certain ingredients are crucial to survival of both plants and relationships. Plants need good soil, moisture, nutrients, proper light, and appropriate temperatures to live and thrive. The following items help relationships start, grow and flourish. Keeping these in mind when organizing events will contribute to the start and growth of relationships for your event goers.

  • Opportunities and time to interact
  • Empathy
  • Complementary personalities
  • Shared interests
  • Shared experiences
  • Shared language and jargon
  • Shared passion
  • Shared goals
  • Shared futures

I’ll get into more detail regarding those essential ingredients for a relationship in a future post.

Types Of Relationship-Building Events

Two people can interact in many settings and situations. Some situations are more likely to create a lasting or beneficial relationship than others. Below are a few settings with high potential for starting a long term relationship or enriching an existing one.relationship 6

  1. Meet For Coffee (or Lunch, or Happy Hour)
  2. Group Meal
  3. Monthly meetup for like-minded people
  4. Workshop
  5. Tech Cafe Learning Session
  6. Team Working Session
  7. Unconference (like BarCamp or WordCamp)
  8. Conference, Seminar, and Trade Show

There are a zillion things to say about each of the above relationship-building events. relationship 4Thousands of books have been written about this topic, and many people earn all their income from building or strengthening relationships.

Each of the eight types of events listed above for building relationships will be covered separately in posts in the upcoming weeks. Writing these posts may prompt me to think of important types of interactions focused on building relationships that I forgot to mention. If it does, I’ll revise the above list and also discuss those additional types in posts.

Start A New Relationship!

Want to start a new relationship?

If one of the following statements applies to you, please contact me (Bob Waldron) at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com — you can initiate a new relationship, and we’ll see where it goes!coffee, let's meet

  1. You’re highly interested in disruptive innovation, especially in NE Wisconsin.
  2. You’re a Baby Boomer Creative who wants in on the Gold Rush mentioned in last week’s post.
  3. You’re an events wrangler who wants to discuss topics mentioned in this blog.
  4. You’re not an events wrangler, but want to discuss topics mentioned in this blog.
  5. You want to make interesting things happen, and you think I might be able to help you do that!

We can meet for conversation and coffee or other beverage at your convenience somewhere in NE Wisconsin.

If you’re not located in NE Wisconsin, we can talk via your preferred communication medium, such as email, text, IRC, Slack, voice call, video call, or ?? If you’re located in Arcata, California, USA, I’ll meet you at Don’s, Toni’s, Los Bagels, the Beachcomber, the Seascape, or other location of your choice! And if you’re in Québec, Canada, we’ll meet at Tim Hortons!! 🙂

I look forward to talking with you, finding out how I can help you, and discussing why and how we might consider working together Making Something People Want.


July 09, 2016: News & Views Roundup For Events Wranglers

Below is this week’s curated smattering of recent events wrangling news and views. My goal is to have this Saturday’s items inform you or inspire you. Maybe you’ll even do something a little different for your next event because of what you read here! For complete details on any of these goodies, click the headline link and read the juicy cyber-details at the source.

10 Types Of Attendees To Fear and Lovelove fear

Attendees are the heart of every event. Here are the 10 most common types of attendees we all know… and love.

Attendees are important. Our guests should be on our minds during the whole event planning process. Every decision we make should be well thought out in terms of our participants. We strive to delight and exceed expectations in every way possible and without attendees we would be out of a job! Often by the time the event day arrives, our attendees can feel like family. And like every family, they include a mix of different characters and behaviors. Here are some of the most common characters to be found at every event.

The Hyperactive One…The Casual One…The Wannabe…The Indifferent One…The Demanding One…The Friendly One…The Veteran…The Pressured One…The Curious One…The Famous One…”

I figured today’s News & Views should start out with something (mostly) light-hearted. Even if you just read the excerpt above and don’t go read the whole article, I’ll bet you smiled when you read the descriptions of the 10 types of attendees. Or rolled your eyes. And you may have even thought of a couple more typical attendee stereotypes you fear or love.

7 Live Streaming Mistakes to Avoid

livestreamingWhen it comes to live streaming conferences and events, it pays to think through potential tech problems and plan promotional activity well in advance. Sarah Platt, MD of Kinura has worked in the video streaming business since 2000, and has these 7 tips to offer as a starting point for your pre-event checklist….The good news is mistakes can be avoided with a bit of forward thinking. Hopefully the points below will be useful…

  1. Not checking connectivity is like not checking your water, oil and tyres before a long journey. If you haven’t got the basics, nothing else will function. When scoping venues ask what connection is available beyond delegate Wi-Fi.
    1. Can a line be dedicated to streaming? How fast is it? How reliable is it?
    2. Can we come and test it in advance of the webcast?…
  2. Rubbish audio will spoil even the highest quality video or webinar. Make sure your sound tech’s understand that the event is going out online and not just in the room.
    1. Soundcheck. Build this into your event plans, and soundcheck with stand-ins before guests arrive.
    2. Agree the method of communication between the video team and the sound tech so levels can be tweaked during the event if necessary…”

This article has seven tips. If all you took away from reading this was that you closely followed the author’s advice on Connectivity and Audio, then you benefited greatly from her writing the article. When the event starts, it’s too late to frantically try to correct problems related to video streaming capabilities of the venue or provider’s system. And missing or poor quality audio will ensure that most of the streaming audience will stop watching.

Co-creation and Collaboration: Tricks and Tools for Event Planners

Are you an expert in what your attendees want in terms of content? How do you know what you have programmed is going to be a hit with them? These are crucial questions when creating your event concept and the content programme for an event. You need to get to a point where the content and programme are what attendees want, not what you think is best for them….

The collaborative approach to co-creation results in unique perspectives on your event. It is made up of the opinions of the stakeholders that you would like to involve in co-creating an event. Six Steps To Co-Creation:

Initiate…Inspire Participation…Idea Collection…Crowd Sourced Idea Assessment…Select The Best Ideas…Create The Content…”

collaborative development of eventsAs I mentioned recently in the post “The Meaning Of Life Comes From How We Interact With Each Other,” I believe that collaborative development of events has tremendous potential. As various forms of electronic communication and collaboration improve, people interested in events will be able to work together to create events which are enjoyable and generate lasting value. It’s early days for this type of event planning, but when you have the chance, work to include collaborative development in your event.

12 ways technology is going to transform B2B events

telepresenceSpeaking at the ILEA Accelerate 2016 Conference on Friday (13 May), Brian Ludwig, senior VP at Cvent, shared 12 ways the company predicts technology will change the face of B2B events. “People are impatient, particularly when it comes to consuming technology,” explained Brian Ludwig, senior vice president, Cvent. “There is a lot of cool tech in events already, but the pace of new innovations is really exciting.”

Smart airports…Driverless cars…Geo-fencing…Event registration…Notifications…Navigation assistance…Augmented reality…Wireless charging…Remote presence…Content & Engagement…User-generated videos…On-demand keynote speeches…”

The three types of eventech in this article I find most intriguing or potentially useful are:

  • Notifications — Anything that makes it easier to connect with people and build or strengthen relationships at the event seems like a winner to me!
  • Augmented reality — I’m a fan of augmented reality. Early uses of it will be interesting and clunky, but five years from now, AR may be an amazing component of most large events.
  • Remote presence — Like the AR, early experiments with remote presence are awkward and full of shortcomings. But I’m convinced the potential value of telepresence is so enormous that technologists, investors and entrepreneurs will keep fiddling with it until everyone uses it and takes it for granted. Like Google Maps and Wikipedia.

Splendid “Spreads Softness” With New Campaign

spread softness puppies

Softness Personified

Upscale fashion brand Splendid…launched a campaign in New York City to raise awareness of its soft t-shirts and other apparel while spreading a little kindness, too. Called Spread Softness, the effort seeks to create an emotional connection with consumers via guerrilla marketing tactics that encourage people to be kind to one another. The campaign will run through the end of the year and includes in-store events and social media amplification on its website, Instagram and YouTube.

“So many people say things like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is the first shirt I wore on my honeymoon,’ and talk about things they were doing in our clothes. I just kept thinking, this is more than just clothing, it’s about these emotions, these moments and these memories they are creating in them…”

This last item is only tangentially related to events wrangling. The reason I included it in today’s News & Views is because it puts a spotlight on the role of emotions in today’s events and in the branding of events. Regardless of what type of event you’re putting on, think about what emotions the attendees will be experiencing, and how you can influence the event experience so their emotions will be good ones. Smiles, good memories, new relationships, feeling confident about doing their jobs better than they could before your event. These are all good results!


Developing Event Participant Plan

Proper Planning and Preparation…

[There are many versions of the 6 or 7 Ps, but the US Marine Corps and British Army start their versions as shown above. That’s good enough for me!]7 Ps

Because I’m an engineer and because I want to get the most out of every event (whether I’m the events wrangler or a participant), I always develop an event participant plan.

This plan is especially important for event goers, but it’s also something events wranglers should think about. Walking a mile in the participant’s shoes enables the wrangler to provide helpful pre-event information and prep activities for the participants, helps structure the event and the venue so it will be participant-friendly, and assists in avoiding gotchas and other preventable annoyances.

keep calm and hack everythingI’m going to an infosec, cybersecurity, or just plain “security” meetup next week. The meeting is the 902_sec meeting organized on It’s on July 13, 2016, at The Bar Holmgren Way, 2001 Holmgren Way, Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. The listed start time is 5:30 PM, but the meetup organizer said people will continue to arrive after 5:30 because of their work or home schedules. So it’s fine if you show up whenever you’re able to get there.

Here’s the (quite long) event participation plan for 920_sec. This one is tailored to meetups, but the same general format can be applied to conferences, unconferences, and other types of events. In a future post, I’ll present and discuss a checklist intended to better cover the needs of a conference or unconference.

Event Participant Plan (Meetups)

  1. smartphone checklistCreate a relevant profile, or update profile if you already have one.
  2. Invite others to the event. Let people know you’re going to it.
  3. Find out beforehand who is going, try to learn a little about them, including checking out photos of them.
  4. Make a list of any registered people you particularly want to connect with at the event.
  5. Have a goal of learning something new at the meeting; come up with a written objective if you have enough information about the meeting topic or purpose.
  6. Write down a couple questions for the speaker or topic leader. Also think of a couple questions related to the meeting topic to ask that other participants might answer.
    1. While preparing for meeting, also look forward to the ad hoc, “don’t know what will happen,” aspect of the event. Unexpected can be good. Serendipitous can be fantastic!
  7. Before the day of the event, review why you’re attending. Fix it firmly in your mind that you’re going to enjoy the meetup, and that you’ll be someone awesome to meet. (Make sure you actually figure out specific reasons you’ll be awesome to meet…)cybersecurity new north map
  8. Turn your smartphone off before leaving for the meetup, and don’t check it during the event. (Unless you’re on call or there’s some high-priority reason you need to be reachable.)
  9. Get to the venue early. Use that time to get to know others who came early, or ask the meetup organizer if they’d like you to greet people as they arrive.
  10. Focus on others at the meetup. Ask questions, listen more than you talk.
  11. Get the names of everyone at meetup, and contact info if possible.
  12. Find out specific goals of the meetup organizer if it’s the inaugural meeting.
  13. Take pictures and video; ask organizer afterwards if they want copies.
  14. Ask main organizer if they’ll do an Events Wrangling blog interview.
  15. Thank organizers for arranging the event.
  16. Contribute to post-meetup comments, documentation, and publicity.
  17. Follow up after the event by sending people promised links or other agreed-to items, by scheduling or requesting a post-event meetups, and by letting them know you enjoyed meeting and talking with them. Assuming you did.
  18. Contact the meetup organizer and offer to help in any way possible for the next meetup.

wisconsin and UP with starI’ve already done some of the stuff shown above. If possible, I’ll do every items on the list.

If you’re in the Green Bay area or the Appleton / Fox Cities region and are interested in security, consider coming to the 920_sec event on July 13. If you’re in the Fox Cities and want to ride up to Green Bay together, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com, and we can figure out if schedules allow us to roadtrip together.

I’ll let you know how the event goes.


Additional online resources to help prepare for and get the most value from events:

Meetup Participation

5 Steps to Get the Most Out of
Getting the Most Out of the Technology Meetup Community
How To Get the Most from Attending a Meetup
The Brutally Honest Tale of My First Web Design Meetup

Conference Participation

How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
10 Insider Tips for Attending Tech Conferences
27 Things To Do Before a Conference
10 Things to Prepare Before Attending a Conference 
How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
Preparing for Conferences
Before You Fly Off to That Conference Have You Thought of Everything? 
10 Things to Do Before Attending a Conference
14 Helpful Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Conference

Meetup Plan From Host’s Perspective

Guide to a Successful Meetup Group & Meetup Events 
25 Best Practices for Meetup Organizers
8 Secrets to Hosting a Successful Tech Meetup
HOW TO: Organize A Successful Meetup


Baby Boomer Creatives: America’s Next Gold Rush

Klondike ==> 49ers ==> Senior Creatives

gold rushAmerica has another Gold Rush just waiting to happen!

It’s a gold rush that will be uncovering, connecting and investing the untapped time, talent, energy, and resources of older American creatives who want to be a vital part of an economic and innovation resurgence in the USA.

Vast numbers of older Americans are creatives, also called doers. They’re people who want to learn, make things, build stuff, or start businesses. They don’t want to spend their days just playing golf or sitting at home watching TV. These individuals are bundles of restless energy who have an itch they can’t scratch — they want to be more productive but don’t where to rush 2

Maybe they’re not given the opportunity to be creative at work, or they don’t feel they’re working on stuff that matters. If retired, they may feel like there’s a lot more they want to do with their life. They might be an entrepreneurial person who grew up in a time when most people planned to work in one profession or job for all their life, so they didn’t even consider creating a new company. Or maybe they are someone who enjoys new technologies, like 3D printing, robotics, virtual reality, or microelectronics, and they’d like to be involved with that technology in a startup venture or innovation project.

These gray-hair creatives fit into one of three categories.

  1. Baby Boomers who have retired.
  2. Baby Boomers who have not yet retired.
  3. Older members of the post-Boomer generation who have retired or are thinking about it.

Retiring Retirement

The recent article “Retiring Retirement” talks about the growing ranks of healthy people who’ve passed the 65 year mark without even noticing it. Many in this group are still going strong and look forward to ten or twenty more productive years.healthy seniors

“…The percentage of citizens age 65 and older is expanding…from less than 10 percent in 1950 in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan to a respective 20, 30, and 40 percent by 2050…“We’re going to see something we’ve never seen before—people in their 60s, 70s and 80s who want to continue working and remain connected.”…Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65, and every day, more and more of them are just as fit as me. Society may still view able, competent, sound-of-mind seniors as happy curiosities. But the fact is we are quickly becoming a sizeable demographic…“Today’s seniors are healthier, better educated, and more productive than ever,” Johnson says. “The challenge we face is finding ways to harness their talents…”

From my point of view, the challenge is not so much “finding ways to harness their talent” as it is CONNECTING.

  • Connecting with the sound-of-mind senior creatives.
  • Connecting senior creatives with each other and with younger people.
  • Connecting senior creatives with projects, ventures and adventures.

Senior Creatives & NE Wisconsin Disruptive Innovatorsdisruptive innovator

In yesterday’s post on this blog I talked about the initiative I’m launching to connect disruptive innovators in NE Wisconsin. Closely related to that initiative is the issue described in today’s post — connecting sound-of-mind senior creatives.

A few of the senior creatives are disruptive innovators who want to be on the bleeding edge, love to work with emerging technologies, and shoot for 10X world-changers rather than 10% incremental improvements. But the majority of senior creatives are more interested in working on useful creative projects, products or ventures which are less risky and less likely to fail.

disruptive innovator 2Both personalities are needed; neither one is better, and neither is good or bad. Success comes about when the risk-takers and the risk-averse work in the same direction, sometimes together and sometimes separately.

We’re focusing primarily on NE Wisconsin for the project to connect disruptive innovators. I’m sure the network we build will include disruptives from outside this region, but most of the effort will be local.

However, it feels like there are nationwide possibilities for an initiative to catalyze this new American gold rush. Before deciding how to approach this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I’m going to talk with smart people and bounce a few ideas around. Then we’ll develop a laser-focus plan for connecting senior creatives in the upcoming 21st century gold rush.

If interested, join me for exciting times ahead!

[As always, if you want to discuss topics covered in this post, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.]


For those Baby Boomer Creatives who aren’t sure if now is the right time to get involved in fun, interesting, exciting, or innovative ventures and projects, listen to “Wasted On The Way” by Crosby, Stills & Nash.

I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started long before I did
And there’s so much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way