A few weeks ago*, I spent the weekend in NYC attending Nathalie Lussier’s annual event, Off The Charts (OTC) Live.
Now, as an entrepreneur and a lifelong learner, I’ll admit that I buy a lot – and I mean a LOT – of information on business-building: books, eBooks, videos, online courses, and yes, admission to in-person events. I’m sometimes disappointed with what I end up with, so I was kind of wary about this weekend heading into it. Not only that, but to save on costs, I decided to use Airbnb for the first time, since hotels (even seedy ones) were insanely expensive.
So here I was, heading to Manhattan on my own, to a potential ax-murderer’s apartment, to meet up with a bunch of people I didn’t know, at an event that might suck.
It’s rare that I enjoy being proved wrong, but this weekend was one of those times.
In short: it ROCKED!
* OK, originally that said “last weekend,” then I changed it to “a week ago,” then “two weeks ago,” and now here we are, nearly three weeks out, because that’s how long it’s taken me to distill down everything I wanted to say into a reasonable length for a blog post!
Getting Settled In
When I got in on Friday, after dropping off my bags at my host’s apartment (and not getting murdered), I headed to a restaurant where an informal pre-event dinner had been arranged by another attendee. I was greeted by a mob scene of Friday night happy-hour imbibers packing the joint and spilling out onto the street.
Being an introvert and a little insecure, normally I would have hung out on the sidelines, trying not to look desperate and wishing fervently that someone would recognize me and point me in the right direction.
This time, though, I was feeling pretty brave and adventurous – I’d taken the train to NYC by myself! I was staying with a potential ax murderer! I was meeting up with total strangers! – so I rode the wave of moxie and adrenaline, and started walking up to people and asking them if they were with OTC.
Most of them thought I was nuts, but eventually I found my people! After I’d rounded up most of the group, I spoke with the hostess and managed to score us a table in a private room, where I had a great time getting to know my dinner companions, including a fun fitness entrepreneur who had served as a beta tester for my editing service! It was so cool to meet her in person after working with her online, and she actually only lives about 20 minutes away from me, so I’m looking forward to meeting up with her again and learning more about her business!
Getting Down to Business
On Saturday, I joined 150 (mostly) women entrepreneurs for the first of two days of presentations and networking. We heard from some captivating and inspirational entrepreneurs, who shared freely of themselves, their viewpoints, and their experiences – I could hardly take notes fast enough! (Don’t worry – I shared a bunch of my best takeaways further below!)
I enjoyed a walk atop the amazing High Line (which I actually had never heard of before, and WOW, it’s so cool!!) and mingled with other entrepreneurs over a delicious farm-to-table lunch. After more speakers and some dance breaks in the afternoon, I went out to dinner with a new friend and enjoyed some scrumptious Brazilian fare while we got to know each other, and each other’s businesses, a little better.
Sunday was more of the same – fun speakers, dance breaks, enjoyable NYC experiences (eating lunch at a restaurant on a dock overlooking the water), and getting to know more attendees. I met Christina, a published author; Nerissa, a copywriter and marketing professional; Charlotte, a sex educator; Cate, a landscape designer and staunch steward of the environment; and so many more fascinating and lovely people.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend, well worth the time and cost, and I really hope Nathalie holds it again next year – I’d sign up in a heartbeat, and I’d encourage you to do the same!
Just to give you a mere sampling of the kind of inspiration and insights I took away from the event, here are some of my favorite key takeaways:
- Nathalie Lussier
- The Spiral Staircase Model – Nathalie shared the analogy that an entrepreneur’s business path isn’t a straight upward shot, but rather more like a spiral staircase. You may find yourself “back” at a certain point (say, redesigning your website – AGAIN), but in reality, you’re actually “back” but at a higher level, with more experience and knowledge to help you out. So, rather than getting discouraged when you find yourself revisiting some aspect of your business, know that you’re tackling it armed with even better tools this time around. (I love this model!!)
- Jen Hansard and Jadah Sellner of Simple Green Smoothies
- Their internal motto is, “No comment left behind.” This means that they (or one of their Community Happiness Specialists) respond personally to every comment their photos receive on social media and every email they get. This has built up a huge amount of trust and community among their followers – ahem, their 300,000+ followers!!
- Focus on building a brand, not just a website, and build it for what you want your business to be in the future, not just what it is right now.
- Always add value and tell a story – they share a smoothie recipe or else some news or interesting nutrition information on every photo they post on Instagram (which is where they built up their following).
- Kelsey Ramsden, maven/entrepreneur/speaker/coach
- Ask yourself if you have famine in your heart or your eyes – in your heart means you’re feeling a sense of lack and scarcity and desperation. In your eyes means you see any lack as an opportunity.
- Our capacity for vulnerability equals our capacity for connection with others.
- Schedule two hours every day for chaos/randomness, to make sure you have enough time to deal with whatever pops up unexpectedly.
- Treat your own business as a client – schedule the time to take care of it. Don’t devote 100% of your time to your clients to the detriment of your business.
- Five ways to engage with your clients, customers, vendors and employees:
- Know and tell your story.
- Expose your vulnerability.
- Give of your authentic self.
- Connect through relationships.
- Build trust.
- Erika Lyremark, ex-stripper/real estate investor/sales & marketing coach/bestselling author
- Having and voicing a viewpoint (i.e. an opinion) is essential for entrepreneurial success, because it allows people to know immediately whether or not you’re right for them.
- Start small and develop opinions about little things first, if you’re not used to being opinionated, and just be conscious/aware of them.
- Make both friends and enemies quickly. Sharing viewpoints creates great conversation, and while it may drive some people away, it will also attract the people who agree with you.
- When stating your opinion, direct your energy towards the positive, not the negative. Rather than stating what you hate or what drives you crazy, share what you love or what you admire most in other people, businesses, products, or situations.
- Your viewpoint doesn’t even have to be super interesting – you just have to feel strongly about it.
- Rebecca Rapple, serial six-figure entrepreneur and marketing maven
- Selling is telling someone that you see bigger, better things for them, and people will respond to that message. If you have a product or service that can help people, then selling is simply giving someone the opportunity to have a better life – so why wouldn’t you do everything you can to get your product out there?
- Excitement – fear + action = a sale. So to make a sale:
- Get prospects excited about making a change.
- Diminish or demolish their fears.
- Make it easy for them to take action.
- Sell like Popeye – don’t sell the spinach, sell the muscles! In other words, sell your products and services NOT based on their features and benefits, but rather on your customer’s desires. (E.g. If you’re a fitness trainer, you can sell training sessions based on a woman’s desire to fit into her wedding dress.) Sell them what they want, and give them what they need.
- Ways to demolish fear:
- Social proof (testimonials, reviews)
- Risk reversal (money-back guarantee, clearly define who your product IS and ISN’T for, state and address your prospects’ specific fears)
- Build trust through history, being yourself, using a 1:1 touch, and having a professional, modern website design
Not only were the speakers fantastic, I also noted down a TON of recommendations for books and websites – check ‘em out below! (Note: all book links are Amazon affiliate links – no difference in price to you, but if you click and buy, they’ll throw a little commission my way, and I’ll throw a ton of love your way!)
- How to Rule the World From Your Couch by Laura Day – Internationally-renowned teacher and intuitive Laura Day shares exercises and tools to help you develop your intuition muscles, in order to succeed in business, love, and life. I just started reading this one!
- 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall – Renowned marketing consultant and go-to expert Perry Marshall shares unique tools to identify untapped markets, gain more time, and apply the well-known 80/20 Rule (the Pareto Principle) to everything from outsourcing to PR, lead generation to web traffic. (There’s a supporting website, too.)
- Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne– This book comes highly recommended by Marie Forleo, among others. The authors describe how businesses often find success by creating what they call “blue oceans” – untapped markets ripe for growth – rather than indulging in business warfare in the bloody red oceans filled with their competition.
- Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur – This book was “co-created” by 470 “Business Model Canvas” practitioners from around the world. Their insights and ideas are distilled into this highly visual, colorful book in a way that makes them easy to understand and implement. This one also has an accompanying website of the same name.
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk – I’ve heard so many great things about this book, which serves as a roadmap to social marketing for entrepreneurs, explaining how high-quality content is no longer enough – perfectly tailoring your content to each social media platform is the key to success.
- The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zanderand Benjamin Zander – the authors are a psychotherapist and music conductor, respectively, and they bring together their unique skills and backgrounds to explore how possibility can play a powerful role in every aspect of our lives.
- Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition by Jay Abraham – This book teaches you how to find opportunities and resources you’ve previously overlooked, and shows you how to make the most out of them, in order to maximize your success.
- www.8020curve.com – created by Perry Marshall, author of 80/20 Sales and Marketing (see above), this tool applies the 80/20 principle to your specific numbers to gain insights into your pricing model and customer engagement rates.
- www.BusinessModelGeneration.com – this site was created in support of the book of the same name (see above), but there are other tools and opportunities available, plus you can download a free preview of the book here.
- www.IconoSquare.com (formerly Statagram) – this site allows you to view and interact on Instagram from your laptop (rather than from your mobile), plus it tracks your key metrics, such as likes, comments, engagement, and more.
- www.Quantcast.com – this site provides free detailed demographic, geographic and lifestyle information on other companies (read: your competition).
- www.ViralQuizBuilder.com – this is a WordPress plugin that allows you to build fun quizzes that will engage your audience and encourage them to share your info on social media. I can’t wait to try this out!
- www.LaunchBit.com – this software helps online marketers generate new leads from within their target audiences, and convert existing traffic into new leads. One of their programs allows you to run ads in other people’s email newsletters, which looks fantastic (though you need some serious marketing budget for that service). I also just love that it’s a tech company started by two smarty-pants women BFFs.
As you can see, I got a ton out of the weekend, not the least of which was the camaraderie of 150 other entrepreneurs, all at different points in their journey, all sharing their experiences and insights. It completely renewed my faith in business events and I can’t wait for the next one!
What about you? Have you had an awesome experience at an in-person entrepreneurial event? Or if you attended OTC, what was YOUR biggest takeaway? Let me hear in the comments below!