When passionate people come together, share opening and genuinely want to encourage and inspire each other, amazing things happen!
Such was the case this past weekend for me in Chicago. I had the honor of attending a conference unlike all the others I go to/speak at.
SobCon stands are “Successful Online Business Conference” and this was their 4th annual conference. (I went two years ago but couldn’t go last year.) It was started by two friends (and now two friends of mine): Liz Strauss (who I believe is the smartest, kindest woman in the business / social media world) and Terry ‘Starbucker’ St. Marie (also brilliant and kind – they make a great team!). (* It actually is a bi-annual conference since they hold a smaller one in CO in the Fall, I just consider the big one, the annual one.)
The conference is limited to 150 passionate people – so you get to have conversations, sit with new people each meal/day and mingle between snacks and sharing ideas. There were bloggers (like Girlfriendology , businesses (& sponsors GMC, Murphy Oil, Network Solutions, Intel, Glam Media, GoToWebinar) and a host of amazing business people. Being the ‘support your girlfriends’ kind of girl, here are some of the amazing women in attendance: Barbara Rozgonyi, Danielle Smith, Margo Millure, Judy Martin, Laura Petrolino, Alli Worthington and too many more to list!
How is SobCon different from other business, blogging or social media conferences? Well, at the heart of it is the love shown by the two founders, Liz and Terry. There is never any doubt that love is at the center of everything – for the attendees, sponsors, speakers, non-profit groups, conference location employees, and anyone who crosses our path basically! (Proof below too …)
The first two days are designed to get us thinking with some of the best speakers actually in the world, like: Chris Brogan, Tim Sanders (who inspired this post on gratitude!), Steve Farber and Cathy Brooks. After each of these and other wonderful speakers, we discuss how the lessons they presented can impact our online businesses. For example, Cathy shared the importance of ‘sharing our story’ through our blog and/or online business, and how critical that is. (Watch for another blog post this week on the ‘story’ of Girlfriendology and more lessons from SobCon.) So, for two days we mastermind together – share ideas, help each other, encourage one another. (More love for each other!)
As further example of love: on the last day of the conference, three non-profits are invited to present their passion for helping others. Then the brilliant minds of SobCon attendees offer up our ideas, recommendations and support. It’s a powerful and passionate sharing of creativity and caring. The non-profit that I was able to hear about was perfect for Girlfriendology readers: Women with Drive is a organization that empowers women by providing them with a car and support as they get their life on a better track. It is passionate lead by women who are committed to making a difference.
The ultimate LOVE was shown by SobCon, GMC and Murphy USA. One of the non-profits from last year, Invisible People is lead by it’s dedicated founder, Mark Horvath. He works tirelessly to give the homeless hope and as he explains:
“The purpose of Invisible People is to make the invisible visible. I hope these people and their stories connect with you and don’t let go. I hope their conversations with me will start a conversation in your circle of friends.”
Now to the love. Mark shares love with ‘loveless,’ invisible people everyday. Finally he got to have some love showered on him at SobCon. GMC, as a sponsor of SobCon, brought their new Terrain vehicle to show us. We all went down to the street/plaza where one was parked for us to view. But it really wasn’t for us. It was for Mark and for his journey in loving on others. He was given the keys to a brand-new, impressive (lots of cool features like Wifi, etc.) GMC Terrain – even filled with snacks to share with his homeless friends. And to further support his mission to help the homeless, Murphy USA is covering his gas for the coming year (even if he isn’t at one of their stations). Now Mark doesn’t have to worry about gas prices or a reliable car. He can follow his mission of loving on the homeless – with the support of GMC, Murphy USA, SobCon (great surprise Terry and Liz!) and all the positive energy generated by this amazing group of SobCon attendees, speakers and sponsors. (That’s Mark, Liz and the GMC Terrain in the photo above. It was a happy and teary crowd!)
p.s. What’s this got to do with ‘girlfriends’ and female friendship? Everything. We should live our lives with love. For each other. For our families. For our fellow women and men. And, when we have cool experiences, have great conversations and learn amazing lessons, like I did at SobCon, we should share. Come back to Girlfriendology later this week for more SobCon love and lessons. Hopefully you’ll feel the love, be inspired and maybe even be challenged to show love to others.