Just as much as what I learned for myself at the 2011 Summit of Awesome was inspiring and revelatory, I feel amazed at the incredible people I met while I was there. Some of them I had met at last year's conference, others I had only heard of and still others were completely new. Here's a quick rundown of those with whom I connected most deeply—you can think of it as an enhanced Follow Friday on Twitter.
First up, there are two people I met at last year's Summit and we kept in touch through the lovely Internet. We reunited at this year's conference and were occasionally those cool kids that sat at the back of the class and giggled a lot. Would you expect anything less from this photo?
If I had one word only to use to describe Willo, it would be enthusiastic. I have no idea where she stores all that energy, let alone accomplishes everything that she does in a normal day. When we met last year, she was still actively designing and selling her rock star line of Willo Toons screen printed goods.
Now she's launched into business support and coaching, with a focus on "inspiring creative sustainability in life and business." Guess what? It's working. She's a rock star. And, since she's from the Bay Area and has a million friends and cohorts, she always has her finger on the pulse of the tech startup world and sees more live music than anyone else I know.
You should follow @willotoons on Twitter.
Caitlin's single word would be powerhouse. Like Willo, I have no idea how she accomplishes everything that she does, but does an amazing job at it (I hear there's lots of whiskey involved, but that's just rumor). Caitlin has been successfully making her book purses for several years, and spending an all-nighter with her preparing for last year's Crafty Bastards sale left me in awe of her ability to power through it and make it happen.
If you want tips on selling your work at shows, she's the expert, and has more shows under her belt than anyone I know, from the weekly Eastern Market in Washington, DC to the American Craft Council's yearly show in Baltimore to a specialized trade show put on by the American Library Association and more. She's taught me tips on sales techniques (never say "Thank you!" always say "I'm glad you like it!"), always has me thinking about ways to improve my booth display, and wants nothing more for me to succeed in my business (and you in yours).
She's also a deliciously bad influence, but we won't get into that here.
You should follow @bookgrrl on Twitter.
These new people that I met were inspiring individuals, and I was able to corner them for at least a meal and pick into their brains, while letting them pick into mine. Nothing like a little brain-pickin' action to start things off right!
I picked up on Tara's awesome blog fairly recently, but it was a post just a few days prior to the conference that really hit home and made me decide to force out of my introverted shell and introduce myself. It helped that Caitlin already knew her, and attending her session on SEO and Analytics meant that I was that annoying guy who kept asking questions.
When I finally had a chance to talk to her in depth, we had an amazing conversation about the cultural divide between left-brain and right-brain thinking and we connected over writing and many other things. Tara was far more approachable than I expected (I have this fantasy assumption that mildly Internet-famous people are like standoffish celebrities with bodyguards) and we bonded instantly. I can't wait to keep in touch with her and see what happens next.
Tara wants creative business owners to succeed, and that's a mission I can get behind. She has a great blog and offers a lot of great resources to help you get where you need to go with your endeavor. Tara's one word is motivational.
You should follow @taragentile on Twitter.
The first day of the Summit I was tweeting (as one does), and I got a reply from my friend Diane that said:
Oh, incidentally - @ibwatson and @kate_mckean, you need to meet each other at #summitofawesome. Because you both are.
Well, sure, Diane, if you say so! The resulting flurry of mentions and messages between Diane, Kate, Willo (her Summit roomie) and I was a little dizzying, but as soon as that session ended, I hunted down Kate and introduced myself in the flesh.
Kate McKean is a literary agent (who incidentally represents Diane, hence the connection) and has a wicked smart brain. We connected pretty instantly, each fascinated by the other's work and eager to know more. I'd never met a literary agent before, and I must say that meeting Kate was a wonderful experience, whether I pursue writing a book or not. Kate's one word is interested. She's genuinely interested in everyone she meets.
You should follow @kate_mckean on Twitter.
Did you know that Megan and Tara are conjoined at the hip? The two of them are hilarious together, and have a wonderful energy about them—two women succeeding at doing what they love and helping others get there along the way.
I didn't have as much time to chat with Megan as I would have liked, but she wins the savvy marketer award. She had the brilliant idea of pimping out her metalwork by offering free jewelry to any of the Summit speakers as long as they wore it while they were teaching. Everyone took notice. She was a showstopper!
You should follow @meganauman on Twitter.
Onesies are the people that I met briefly but didn't have a chance to connect with. The curses of only having three days together, I suppose. But I have a feeling that I'll run into most of them again and they're worth mentioning here: