Reflections on the 2008 Forum Symposium

I shouldn’t be writing this now. I’m mentally exhausted. On the other hand, the conference is still fresh in my memory, and won’t be so 24 hours from now.

William Azaroff posted my key takeaways from the conference, so I won’t rehash that. Check out his blog to see what I had concluded, and to see his presentation.

At the risk of offending someone (stop laughing), here are some random thoughts about the conference:

Most speakers suck. As speakers that is. One of the reasons I proposed to Forum CU to try a moderated Q&A format is that only a precious few speakers can really hold an audience’s attention for more than 15 minutes. Too many speakers take too long to make their point, try to make too many points, or aren’t quite sure what point they’re trying to make in the first place. Most speakers aren’t able to read the audience’s mood and attention level, and so they end up just motoring through their slides, altering neither the pace or tone, and saying things that are obvious to the attendees, or irrelevant to the attendees.

But most speakers have something really valuable to say. They just say it better in conversation than in the artificial situation of a presentation. That’s what Forum was trying to do with the symposium. And that’s why I’m secretly pissed at a few of the speakers — because they shortchanged their opportunity to have a conversation with me (and, by proxy, the audience). [Please see comment #4 for clarification on this]

Vancity’s story is compelling and inspiring. The word “authenticity” came up a few times during the conference. Not during William Azaroff’s presentation, however. He didn’t have to say it — he and Vancity live it. People get authenticity at a gut level. You don’t need to tell them you’re authentic, they get it. No offense to the other presenters, but William’s was one of just a few of the presentations I thought could have gone longer and still held the audience’s attention.

If you work at a credit union, you should go to William’s site and watch his presentation. For many, it will be a painful reminder of why — despite all of the public proclamations your CU makes about how great it thinks it is — your CU doesn’t really know who it is, why it exists, and what it should be doing in the market like Vancity does. If you’re insulted by that, I’m sorry. But the truth sometimes hurts.

Presenting a vision is a great presentation device.
When those visions are compelling and tangible, that is. And Matt Dean of Trabian really delivered on this count. His wasn’t some high-falutin’, gee-whiz, science fiction vision, nor was it some cumbaya vision of some CU Eden where everyone holds hands, collaborates, and helps members achieve their financial dreams.

Instead, it was a tangible vision of what credit unions could be doing with their online banking platforms to ratchet up the value delivered and bring a social media aspect to their sites. It was a great vision, well delivered, and I can’t wait to steal his slides.

As a presentation device, some conference speakers could learn a valuable lesson from what Matt did. He could have gone up there and told everybody about the great work his firm has done in the past by showing pictures of the Web sites his firm has worked on. This would have basically turned his presentation into nothing but a commercial for his company (which is what one speaker did). If he had done that, he wouldn’t have been nearly as effective at establishing both his and his firms’ credibility. Nice job, Matt.

Numbers bore the hell out of most people. And they even bore the people who are into numbers when they’re not used properly. Unfortunately, there are times when conference speakers find a number that they think is impressive sounding, or that they think will help them prove something that they’re trying to assert. And sometimes it works. But sometimes it just leaves people wondering “so what?” I’d give you an example, but it would just make a friend get mad at me for calling him out in public.

WDTMTM? Every conference speaker should recite this acronym 100 times when preparing their presentation, and 100 times 5 minutes before they take the stage. WDTMTM? = What Does This Mean To Me? It’s what EVERY attendee is thinking while the speaker’s mouth is open. Unfortunately, there are some conference speakers who are seem more concerned with WATIWS (What are the things I want to say?).

Twittering questions from the audience was a terrible idea. What a disaster that was. Twhirl didn’t update anywhere nearly as frequently as we needed it to. Terrible idea. On the other hand, just the fact that we even tried it in the first place is a real testament to Doug True. When I proposed a moderated format, he said “let’s try it.” When I suggested using Twitter to capture questions, he said “let’s try it.” There was something else I suggested (can’t remember what it was), and his response: “let’s try it.” It’s quite possible that he’s just the biggest pushover in the world. But I’m betting that his response is the result of being an experimenter, willing to try new things, and to take calculated risks. And in the end, the fact that the Twitter experiment failed was no big deal. In other words, the risk of failure was low. But some managers don’t get that. They find every reason why something new will or won’t work and then weigh the probability of success versus the probability of failure — ignoring the risks.

Stand still. Using the stage is a skill. The best speakers use the stage as a prop and as a mechanism for helping them tell their story. They focus on stage placement — that is, different parts of the stage are used to convey different messages, so that when they go to a certain place on the stage, the audience is conditioned to know what to expect. Just because you walk from the left part of the stage to the right — and back again — does not mean you are using the stage effectively. It’s distracting. But not quite as distracting as pacing. Most speakers would do better to just stand still.

Less is more. And on so many different levels. First, as it pertains to a presentation. One message, few words on a slide, few slides. Video is good, but after the first or second video, it’s boring and overused. And building in down time into the schedule is critical. Less sessions, more networking time. Better to go to 5PM with an hour break in the afternoon, than to end at 4PM with just a 15-minute break.

Canada gets it. At least as it relates to the credit union world. They can keep their health care system, though.

You don’t need a social media strategy. I absolutely hate hearing from the social media experts that firms need to have a social media strategy. Firms need a customer engagement strategy — how they should  and could interact (or engage) with customers in a more meaningful way that creates and deepens the relationship. I will keep saying this over and over until the social media proponents begin to understand: Blogs and wikis and Facebook are not the only ways to engage customers. Face to face works. The phone can work. Direct mail can work. Any touchpoint can work. If you’re a bank or credit union, it doesn’t matter one single iota that 100 million people are on Facebook — unless they want to interact with banks and credit unions there. And that’s far from a proven fact. A customer engagement strategy incorporates all touchpoints — a social media strategy only deals with a subset.

[Update: For more discussion on this, go here.  Tomas rightfully argues that “what doesn’t work is marching into Facebook with the same old rusty weapons, looking for another “segment” to bombard with “messages”, with a “social media strategy” paper at hand.”]

The future of credit unions is in providing life management services.
Banks (and to a certain extent credit unions) have become increasingly adept at selling consumers financial services products. That’s nice. Unfortunately, what many people need is help managing their money. For many people, though, “managing their money” doesn’t mean allocating investments. And it’s not about “saving” more. It’s also about spending smarter. And making smart choices about what to spend their money on, what not to spend their money on. This isn’t just about financial education — it’s about hands-on involvement with consumers. It’s about intervening, getting hands-on, and engaging with consumers. It’s about helping them manage their lives, because we can no longer distinguish between managing our money and managing our lives.

It’s going to require a huge strategic shift in the industry, but it will happen. Not within the next 5 years, but perhaps in the 10-15 year timeframe. It has to happen. It’s the only way for credit unions to thrive in the long term, and the only way to develop a life long relationship with customers that isn’t based on the interpersonal connection between a member and somebody at the credit union. And if I were at a credit union, what I would be most afraid of is having a bank — or somebody else — come in and “out credit union” me.

I will never ever do this again. Moderating, or hosting, a conference, that is. I don’t mind the work it took to prepare — that was no big deal. But it’s too much pressure. Being mentally “on” for two days straight is incredibly draining. And if I didn’t do a good job, it wasn’t just me who would look bad, but Forum would look bad as well.

In the end, there are a bunch of things I would have done differently. I guess I could say “oh well, next time” — but there ain’t gonna be no next time.

I’d like to meet Gene Blishen’s wife. She’s been married to the guy for 35 years — she’s got to know his flaws. God knows I can’t find ’em.

Face to face rules. Twittering and blogging are great. But nothing beats seeing your Twitter friends in the real world.

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34 thoughts on “Reflections on the 2008 Forum Symposium

  1. I think you did an amazing job. While I certainly wish I had been able to handle my nerves a little better during my presentation, I thought the conference was phenomenal. You were a big reason why.

  2. Ron,
    Thank you for your work this year. No doubt the preparation and “on” time was draining, but I would argue that the conference was a little more positive than your analysis provides. Many of the attendees were there to hear presentations on topics from people they may have barely or not ever heard of before. In my opinion, allowing the speakers time to present gives them an opportunity to individualize themselves before being exposed to the interview setting.

    I can’t imagine the pressure of a speaker or moderator to do the things the speakers and you did this past week, but everyone did a great job and sometimes personalities are just different. But if you get 130 people in one room and they are all the same, then there really is no difference…and nobody really cares. Passion comes from our differences and I dare each of us to embrace that each and every day.

  3. Ron, I can’t imagine how drained you are feeling right now, because I feel drained and I wasn’t “on” in the way you needed to be for two days straight, plus the prep work you put into it. But I agree with Ashli, I bet many attendees got a LOT out of it despite the fact that it was not all was as perfect as it could be.

    Once you have had a chance to rest up, you may feel better about how many eyes were opened, how many open and honest conversations that you facilitated took place in way that a CU-sponsored conference may have never seen before. The spark that was ignited by the first Forum Solutions conferences years ago, and that was fanned into flame with last year’s conference that got so much coverage online thanks to the Trabeans, is now a raging fire of goodness that many are now roasting their s’mores over as we refine our new, sharper, better way forward.

    And Ashli, thank you not only for your stellar hosting this week, but also for your encouraging words and joining the CU blogosphere conversation!

  4. @Ashli and Morriss: Let me clarify my statement.

    The presentations didn’t suck — and I did not mean to imply that “most of the speakers sucked”. Instead, I was trying to make a general statement that — sorry to call it like it is — but that people who aren’t trained to give presentations — are simply not good, effective public speakers, unless they do so many that they become good.

    Look at Andy’s presentation, for example — it was clear to me that he’s a pro, whether because he’s received training, or because he does so many presentations.

    Overall, the content was excellent.

    I’m sorry that I didn’t make this crystal clear in the post. I was trying to make a comment about presentation style, not content value or overall session value.

  5. Oh, and I forgot the original point of my comment was to say: >sigh< [raises hand, looks at ground sheepishly] I am nearly sure that I am the offender who used a few stats and numbers without clearly explaining the meaning behind them as it relates to those in attendance.

    But, I will assert that you are wrong in saying that the fact that 100 million people now on Facebook (and that represents a doubling of the 50 million Facebookers this time last year) has no proven implication for credit unions. These 100 million people represent both your members and your staff. Your members expect you, as a business, to be reachable on the time and terms of *their* choosing. They may choose to get in a car and drive to your branch, they can call you on their cell phone, they can send you an email. Whatever percentage of your membership is comfortable with social media expects your CU to be there, not marketing AT them, but available to ask questions of, and otherwise interact with CU staff (they would run screaming away from the marketing dept.).

    As William has pointed out to his colleagues at Vancity: If a member comes into the branch, we don’t turn our backs on them, we help them right away. When they call in, we don’t ignore the ringing phone, we help them right away. At most CUs, if they email us, we help them as quickly as we are able. So when they approach us via Facebook, write about us on their own or a friends blog, or try to find our blog, would we ignore them there? Is this the first communication platform where ignoring it is an option? We’d think a CU today who ignores the web channel or email channel is pretty archaic. I mean, can you imagine a credit union without a telephone? Of course not. Social media’s rapid adoption curve proves that not only is it ubiquitous now, it’s progressing toward near-universal adoption. How long from now will it be that a CU ignoring the online networked conversation is pretty archaic? Do CUs want to wait that long, or adopt Doug True’s “let’s try it” attitude that has yielded yummy results for his organization so far.

    Or maybe we should instead adopt “Silent Cal” Calvin Coolidge’s stance; when he became President upon Harding’s death in 1923, he refused to use the new-fangled telephone contraption while in office.

    I love that we get to continue this debate here! (Do you not think there are members who care passionately enough about their credit union that they would not love to discuss it given the right time and platform that gave them a comfortable space in which to do it? I know there are!)

  6. @Morriss: Please recall one of my closing comments: If your members are doing something, you need to be doing it as well. So if your members are on Facebook, you need to be on Facebook, too.

    But I mean “you” as a person, not a CU. If the CEO isn’t going to do it, then someBODY on the CU staff should. It doesn’t mean setting up a Facebook page for the CU.

    This is what I love about what Maine State CU did. Plucked The CU Loop off the teller line, put him in Marketing, told him to figure out what all this social media stuff means to the CU.

    While you didn’t say that a CU should put up a page in Facebook, you didn’t say what I’m saying, either. I interpreted your reason for touting the 100 million number as advocating for a Facebook page, a la Valley CU.

  7. Authenticity is a term that gets talked about a lot, but is seldom (if ever) defined. Social media pundits stress “authenticity” without giving many (if any) examples. Here’s my definition: Knowing who you are, letting people know, then backing it up. Or, more simply, “doing what you say.”

    Ron’s right about presenters. Not Forum Symposium presenters, just presenters in general. It’s like writing (and you bloggers know what I’m talking about). There may be a lot of smart people who know how to type, and understand the English language. But that doesn’t make them a writer. Similarly, PowerPoint coupled with experience, knowledge and confidence on stage does not make for great presentations. As Ron notes, a good presentation requires acting talent, among other things.

    I’d say less than 5% of English-speaking people are good writers. Probably less than 5% of us are good presenters.

    One last thing. Is it just me, or does it sound like the Forum Symposium is more flexible and open to new ideas than the BarCampBank model? Will BCBs be perfected — as many people implied — if BCB attendees simply do a better job wrapping-up the conclusions of each session (that’s what everyone was doing at the Forum Symposium)?

  8. Re: Authenticity.

    Here is a fabulous example of the ridiculous things people say about “authenticity.” This came up in my Google Alerts about 2 minutes after my last comment:

    “Authenticity is something that’s really lacking in bank and credit union brands these days.
    “1. If you are authentic, you don’t have to say you’re authentic
    “2. If you say you’re authentic, you better be authentic
    “3. It’s easier to be authentic if you don’t say you’re authentic”

    Circular nonsense.

    http://ownyourmarket.wordpress.com/2008/09/26/authenticity-is-one-of-the-keys-to-market-domination/

  9. @JP: A reply to your comment re: “does it sound like the Forum Symposium is more flexible and open to new ideas than the BarCampBank model?”

    I really don’t think you can compare or contrast the Forum Symposium to BCBs.

    The Forum Symposium is sponsored by (ie. PAID FOR) by Forum CU. As a result, the control the content and structure (as well they should).

    If you perceive the content and structure of the Forum Symposium to be “flexible”, it’s because of the folks at Forum, who have been open to different ideas about how the execute the symposium. I’ve been blown away by how open they’ve been to suggestions (not just from me, but, for example, from Tim McAlpine on something to do at the evening event).

    Regardless of their openness to ideas, the fact of the matter is that FORUM IS STILL IN CONTROL.

    I’ve only been to one BCB, but I’ve certainly kept up with the others, and if there’s one common thread is that there is no ONE who is has control.

    That’s neither good nor bad, but just the way it is. The beauty of BCB is that when it works, the group controls, everyone feels part of the group, and therefore feels like they had their fair say.

    The Forum Symposium was not “flexible” in this sense. Forum CU was in control, but given the nature of the people in charge (and I think it’s in Forum CU’s DNA), they’re open to new ideas and suggestions.

  10. As a presenter (suck level unknown) at the Symposium, my favorite part is the quality of the audience. I do about 5-10 of these a year on different topics and it was a challenge to keep out in front of the audience after attending last year. As I mentioned during the session, at “normal” events there are 0-1 iPhones in the room (an example I used) and there were about 30 at Symposium… not necessarily means folks are better (Apple haters, please don’t flame me), but certainly a different crowd.

    The cool thing about this conference (if you can call it that), is that is radically different than anything I go to.

    My suggestion – remember there are numbers involved an ROA and ROI still count. Bring new ideas and things tried (and maybe failed). And as my friend Mark Meyer says, keep it crisp (likely something I failed at as well…)

    Nice job Ron. Hadn’t met you prior, but you did keep it fresh, even if the NPS conversation was a train wreck waiting to happen 🙂

  11. Ron I understand your energy draining. I was only up there for 25 minutes and was ready to run off the stage. Next time I speak I need water.
    Forum is not a BCB and it is not your typical conference. It has a unique place because of the people who attend and the people who put it on. Maybe because you know so many people there due to Twitter or blogging it makes the difference.
    I loved the NPS presentation. Watch out because there are some that feel completely different. It was a frank discussion from people at opposite ends of the NPS spectrum who had a PASSION for what they understood and what they felt. We take challenges too personally sometimes. We have to be nice (Not In Control of your Emotions). Give me a dialogue with some gumption, a debate with some volume, instead of some immutable pablum.
    I enjoyed your input and questions. They balanced the presentations in a very positive format.
    As to my wife and my flaws…you had to get her involved didn’t you. You can meet here when you visit Vancouver.
    My only regret – we didn’t get a picture of all the bloggers and twitters together. It was great to see everyone again. It is even great that the community is getting bigger with the more people you encounter.

  12. @Jeff: Sigh. This discussion reminds me of a Seth Godin blog post in which he called on bloggers to (paraphrasing here) “not agonize over what they were writing but to just say it”. I vehemently argued that this was terrible advice — and apparently, I’m living proof. Had I agonized a little more over the words I chose, maybe I wouldn’t be defending myself comment after comment.

    My comment that “most speakers suck” was meant to be a general comment — not a specific one. And in no way does that mean that I thought any session sucked.

    But I do think — sorry that this is a harsh assessment (and so, maybe I DID agonize over the words I chose) — that most people who present at conferences are simply not very good presenters. They don’t tell a story, they don’t transition well between slides, they don’t effectively gauge the audiences interest and attention level, they don’t pace themselves well, they don’t use voice inflections well, they don’t … you get the picture.

    Here’s another thing I’ve concluded: Many of these same speakers have no clue that they’re falling short on all these measures. Cuz nobody tells them. They don’t get trained on how to make presentations, and when they get feedback on the evaluation forms, the feedback is rarely that specific.

    Here’s the key point I failed to make in the blog post: The fact that the speakers fell short on many of the measures I laid out as criteria for a good presentation does not mean that attendees didn’t get value, didn’t have a great time, or didn’t have a wonderful overall experience.

    As for the overall experience, I know that I had a great experience. But my opinion on this doesn’t count. What counts is the overall experience that the attendees had (note: someone like you counts as both speaker and attendee). But I don’t feel that I could be considered an attendee.

    Regarding the “train wreck”… yeah, well, you called that one right. I had been debating whether or not to address it in this blog post, but a trusted advisor counseled me to “let it go.” Honestly, I haven’t let it go, but I will take the advice and not comment on it here.

  13. @Gene: It wasn’t until Friday morning that I figured out why it was mentally exhausting: Too many masters to serve. I was constantly worried about what the speaker was thinking, what the attendees were thinking, what the Forum CU people were thinking, what Doug True was thinking, and what I was supposed to be thinking about.

    As for you “loving the NPS presentation”, I would guess you’re in the minority. As I mentioned in my reply to Jeff, I’m not going to comment on it publicly. If you really want to know my assessment of it, we can talk offline.

  14. I’m really not sure how to respond, except to say that I’m honoured by your comments. I thought you did a great job keeping the presenters on topic and making us all work a little harder to make our points and explain how what we do is relevant for other CUs.

    Many thanks, my friend.

  15. Ron – I think you did a great job at the Symposium. I would hope that you would reconsider moderating the conference again despite your statement above.

    On social media strategy – I believe that all credit unions need to understand what Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. are, but not necessarily use them to market to their members. It takes the right message to make it the most effective, and the right people to execute the appropriate strategy.

    To have a Facebook page for the sake of having a Facebook page is not sound marketing strategy.

  16. Like Gene, I loved the NPS presentation. I actually thought you were a little “soft” with your questioning on some of the other presentations. Your “say it as it is” style is respected by most and what we were prepared for at the Symposium. You were helping the audience ask WDTMTM and somtimes that means questioning what was presented.

    The NPS session did make a few people who were not familiar with your style a little bit uncomfortable, but just because they didn’t understand or know to expect it.

  17. @Mike: Thanks for the comment. There’s a lot of time between now and next year’s conference, and so, who knows, maybe I’d change my mind. But I’ll say this: I nominate Andy Janning to host/moderate next year’s conference. I’m convinced he would do an awesome job.

    @Kristi: Thanks. Can’t tell you what a sigh of relief it is for me to hear that. As for the NPS session…. sigh. Given the chance to do that over again, I would have done it very differently. I was (as Gene put it) NICE (not in control of emotions). As for being “soft”, I definitely gave McAlpine a pass. It was the first session, was still trying to get a feel for tone, etc. …. and his damn kid had me TOTALLY HYPNOTIZED.

  18. @Ron: No need to defend the “suck” comment – you called it as you saw it. I’m one who says honesty is the highest compliment. Another person once told me that sarcasm doesn’t do well in print, which my parenthetical comment proved.

  19. Ron, I’m glad I got the pass. You could have torn me and my subject matter to pieces.

    And I’m sorry you feel my presentation came off as a commercial for our company and that the videos became boring.

    I was honestly trying to translate our experiences into takeaways that the audience could use in their own worlds. I guess the fact that we are a vendor with something to sell asked to do a case study on the thing we have to sell will always cloud the issue.

    At earlier presentations this year, I would just show a couple of Larissa’s videos and try to piece the rest of the story together by talking about it, but I felt that people were left with too many holes in the story. That’s why I put the two short films together to try to give the full picture.

    I will definitely learn from your comments and find a way to improve my presentations. I appreciate the feedback.

    This was the best credit union conference I have attended. It was the best because of your role as moderator. You kept it moving and interesting. The Q&A periods were the highlight for me. Thanks for doing it.

  20. @Tim: Aaaaaargh! I don’t think your presentation came off as a commercial for Currency Marketing (which can be found on the Web at http://www.currencymarketing.ca) — and I can’t find anything in the blog post that would suggest that I thought that.

    And I didn’t say that the videos you used were boring — I was simply trying to make the point to people who might find themselves in a position to present at a conference that they shouldn’t over-rely on anything, including videos.

    Looking thru the blog post again, I can’t find anything directed at you. If you really want feedback on your presentation, I have one point I’d love to share with you. Just one. And I’d be happy to share it w/ you privately.

    And thanks for the kind words at the end of your comment. Your opinion means a lot to me.

  21. Sorry Ron, I obviously took a couple of the general statements way too personally. This is the line I thought was about me. “This would have basically turned his presentation into nothing but a commercial for his company (which is what one speaker did).”

    I do agree with you: Matt Dean’s vision presentation was amazing. I had never seen anything like this and was spellbound by the simplicity and thought that he put into it.

    I do want your feedback and will give you a call. Thanks.

  22. Lesson for Ron: Don’t give out generalized comments to the speakers of a conference to which you have given much thought and moderated, because every speaker will assume that every critique is directed at them. Better to be specific!

    My conclusion based on this post: Ron thought I sucked, was not as brilliant as William or Matt, used numbers to bore the hell out of the audience, did not explain what it all meant for them, paced around, went too long, am not Canadian and therefore don’t get it, misguidedly advocated that credit unions develop a social media strategy, and am not married to Gene Blishen’s wife.

    Did I leave anything out? 😉

  23. @Morriss: Yes. I didn’t like your tie.

    You know, if I had been specific, then some speakers would have thought “oh good, that doesn’t apply to me” when it may very well have applied to them.

    p.s. I’m sure you saw my email to you — so you know I didn’t think you sucked, or bored people with numbers. You did explain what it meant to them, you didn’t pace, you went too long, you’re not married to Gene Blishen’s wife (for now), and I think you really do think that credit unions should develop a social media strategy.

  24. @Ron… since you are wondering what I thought…

    We are pleased with the ’08 symposium. As one can tell from reading these comments we had the right people at the symposium – passionate people and people with conviction in what they believe – whether they be presenters, attendees, or the moderator. Wouldn’t have it any other way. You delivered on what you proposed and what we agreed upon.

    We pride ourselves here at FORUM Solutions and FORUM Credit Union to be committed to learning. One of the best ways to learn is through experimentation — do rather than talk. I hope it is part of our DNA — we are trying. Today’s world moves at such a rapid pace, you can’t afford to sit on the sidelines too often. Yes, we measure risk versus reward and this is especially the case with the symposium. We want the symposium to be something the attendees and the presenters find value in and that is unique. Everyone is time starved and we respect and appreciate the time that was spent by all at the symposium. As you know there are too many conferences being offered that don’t deliver value for time spent. We refuse to add to that list.

    We feel like we have some momentum with the symposium and would like to build upon that. At the same time, we won’t do the symposium unless we know we can deliver results. So there may or may not be an ’09 symposium. We have some ideas on how to experiment some more, apply what we have learned and make it even better. Stay tuned as we are working on an idea. Open to listen to other ideas and you all know how to reach out to me.

    Thanks Ron for the role you played in making the ’08 symposium a success. I am hoping to post survey results at the FORUM Solutions site today which validates why we are pleased.

  25. @Doug: Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments.

    I think, looking back on this post, that I may have come off sounding critical. It’s only because I wanted things to be PERFECT, and I had an image in my head of what perfection was going to be.

    With 20/20 hindsight, here’s what I didn’t foresee: The need to build in a feedback/checkpoint mechanism. We forged ahead at full-speed, and we (you, me, Leah, Jen, etc.) never had the chance during the two days to sit down and say “so… how’s it going so far… what do we (translation: I) need to do differently…”

  26. Ron,

    Just quickly, I really liked your comments RE social media. It’s tiring hearing that we all need to be involved in social networks.

    I’m a Gen Y kid, work in marketing, but for my CU social networking just isn’t relevent.

    Well, not yet.

  27. @JP: I don’t get the sense at all that James W is another CU Skeptic. Not the least of all, is that he’s not writing anonymously, and says he works for a CU in Australia. Hell, there’s even a picture of him riding his bike on his site. Check it out.

  28. Ron, you did an excellent job of moderating the symposium. Your questions were awesome. Not only did you force the speakers to go deeper into their presentations, but I think the fear of your grilling gave the speakers an extra motivation to know exactly what they were talking about.

    Your comments on social media are dead on. I don’t think there should be such a thing as a “social media strategy”. You have to have a strategy that covers all of your communication channels and if social media fits into that overlying strategy you should use it.

  29. Ron,
    Thanks for the time and effort you put into the conference! Can you send me an email? I found a site about the goal strategy we discussed that I thought you might be interested in.

    @Doug I sincerely hope that there is a 2009 Symposium!

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