This post is an adjunct to my article which appears in today’s San Antonio “Express-News.”I am sort of lucky because I get to work with, and hang out with friends who are really smart people. I consider Jeff Pulver one of them. I have known Jeff for a little over 12 years going back to the days when he literally helped organize an industry known as IP Communications. When he created the VON (Voice on the Net) trade shows, it was the only event of its kind that was more a love fest of disruptive communications coupled with a house band – Herding Cats. It also brought a whole contingency of innovators from Israel who helped commercialize IP Communications. Fast forward to last March with a conversation we had during the SXSW 2009 conference in Austin. Jeff told me about an idea he had where he wanted to produce an event that looked at the impact that twitter was having on media, entertainment, celebrity, advertising, education, diplomacy, and public safety. Being that twitter limited you to 140 characters, he aptly named his event, the 140 Characters Conference. His vision was to invite 140 “characters” to a Broadway stage in New York where he would share, in 10 minutes or less, their insights and views on how twitter was impacting their lives and roles in what they did in their respective lives. I pitched in and helped on media relations for the New York held last June, along with the LA and London events in October and November.
In the tradition and spirit being unconventional, yet purposeful, attending and being a part of three 140 Character Conferences over the last year gave me an insight into the principles of love and serendipity in the world of business. It’s really simple: when you have like minded people forming clusters and communities online they tend to be helpful and yes, even “loving” towards each other. I don’t mean love in a hippie-dippie way. I mean the love of just sharing, helping and caring without expecting anything back. I saw Jeff’s photographer and friend, Geo Geller broadcast a tweet about his cross-country journey when he took a Greyhound bus from New York to LA and by a chance meeting, he connected with a homeless person – Ann Marie who wound up not only coming to LA for the conference, but became a speaker where she and Mark Hovarth, who works with the homeless took center stage at the Kodak Theater to share their story.
There was no George Clooney. No Elizabeth Taylor. No Meryl Streep. I personally met people at the New York, LA and London events who I have been following on twitter, were friends on Facebook, viewed their YouTube videos, or I subscribed to their RSS feeds because I liked what they had to say on their blogs.
When you meet someone you’ve been following, you get into a whole new reality – sparked by – yes, love and serendipity. They’ve been sharing their love – which I constitute as their knowledge, their insights and the things they care about on the social platforms they communicate on and participate in. And while I purposely attended these events, my intent was not for business development.
It was one of chance and a belief set that if I opened myself up to meeting new people and exchanging energy, the serendipity would unfold. While I spent much of my time working with the media, I made a conscious effort to people watch. I saw strangers recognizing a face they had known on social media platform laugh, embrace, smile and say to each other how great it was to meet each other in person.Jeff’s events attract amazing and real “celebrities.”
In New York, I got to meet Wyclef Jean. In LA I was back stage with Ariaana Huffington. In London, I was able to interview Stephen Fry for this blog.
Amidst all the celebrities and characters that I met, what has impressed me the most were observing the chance meetings and connections that people made in outside of the New World Stages in New York, the hallways of the 02 in London and lounges at the Kodak Theater in LA.
Jeff has mastered the art of bringing love and serendipity in the context of a global ecosystem – one that merits serious study and thought as you consider how to build and grow communities of your own.