My wife and I have been to loads of conferences over the years… and while my brain is still fried from the #SMMW19 (Social Media Marketing World), we were pumped about it enough to buy in for next year.

That’s right.

I passed up on a legal education conference in Middle America in exchange for a somewhat sunny week in San Diego with some of the best social media experts in the world.

Now, for a quick disclaimer.

This was the first trip my wife and I have been on since we got married almost four years ago. One teenager and two little babies later…

And for my second disclaimer.

The winter in Minnesota this year was brutal.

It was one of the coldest and snowiest seasons in history. And, since it was the first time our skin has touched the sun, we were sunburned within three hours of getting to the hotel.

I was red, lobster red. Gretchen braved the 60-degree weather to go swimming – – making the best of the weather while the locals complained of the cold…

This article is totally different than what I normally write about, but I wanted to give my entrepreneurial readers an idea of the resources out there that we learned about after paying well over $4,000 to attend the full conference.

How does it help? Knowing the names of some of the speakers can help you look up their books, websites, and YouTube channels for testimonials.

My Takeaways

Okay. Most of you will not read this entire article, so here are the five takeaways I had:

  1. Stop stressing about perfection before production
  2. Make use of what I have right now to grow the business
  3. YouTube has videos on practically everything
  4. Do more video, duh!
  5. NETWORKING – I really like people but frequently get caught up in my own bubble and forget to actively engage others

The Event

We liked many of the speakers, and here is a quick rundown.

On the plane flight over, we were seated next to LinkedIn guru John Nemo who happens to also live in the same part of the same suburb we live in outside of St. Paul, MN. Great guy and I can’t wait to pull in his big brain to help grow the knowledge of my readers, here.

Of all the different sample ads we saw, this one about ChatBooks was the funniest thing I have seen in eons. Maybe that means I lead a boring life, but it cracked us up – 16 million views.

I would love to know who wrote that script.

A lot of my readers have asked for more video and even broadcast, so we were paying special attention to video offerings and vendors.

Day 1

At the conference, our first-day highlight was Sunny Lenarduzzi on YouTube and Pat Flynn with his new invention called the Switchpod.

Sunny is a YouTube expert (see above), so anyone here wanting to understand how to grow their channel using video should check out her how-to videos. Flynn created podcast software and specializes in passive income.

The first day we also had a chance to meet disabled veteran Arron Barnes, entrepreneur and creator of Life Butta, an almond butter product that saved his life. Arron hails from my old haunt in Portland. Great guy with an inspirational story.

Through Arron we met Katie and Dan Krefft. Katie served in the Marines and the duo is building out a content blog related to the traveling industry called The Tandem Travelers.

That was day one. It was jammed.

Day 2

The best on the second day for me was a presentation by Amanda Bond – The Ad Strategist – explaining how she uses Facebook advertising to increase customer satisfaction while nurturing prospects.

From my perspective, the presentation basically walked audience members through her Facebook Ads funnel. True story. Before we knew my wife was quitting her corporate job, I made her sit through Bond’s funnel on the website.

The site’s funnel was well put together and listening to her explain the journey and its impact on advertising helped connect the dots I was otherwise missing by simply reviewing her website.

Quick hint: If you send her a message on Facebook, she will respond, which is unusual for someone at her level in the industry.

Some of you may know we have a Facebook group with almost 30,000 members that I have organically grown since 2009 focusing on a niche area of veterans’ benefits called Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment.

We also liked a presentation by Ian Anderson Gray that focused on tips for broadcasting quality videos. I sometimes run Office Hours inside our Facebook group and thought the time was well spent.

The #SMMW19 folks ran an 80’s themed karaoke party downtown that night. All I can say is that it was awesome… and hilarious.

Day 3

Day three we did more networking than watching presentations and checking out vendors of anything from stickers to broadcast software. From Switcher to ECAMM, from Wave.video to Promo.com, we have lots of options to pick from for educational videos I plan to roll out.

Our big takeaway was for me to stop stressing over producing perfect videos.

Why 2020?

So, why are we going back next year?

I really like San Diego and meeting great folks while on a business trip with my wife is always a plus after a brutal winter. We learned so much in such a quick amount of time. The other attendees were generally helpful, and the presenters were also approachable despite being rockstars in their own rights.

Now, San Diego in March is certainly not the same as Playa del Carmen in February, but it’s better than most other options in our area.

If you are considering it, I suggest you check it out but plan ahead for the meals and hotel.

Tickets were around $1,300 each. Flight cost $1,200. Lodging was $1,700. Food was … ?

If you’re still reading this, you’re probably wondering why I would spend that kind of money for three days of training.

Networking was invaluable, and I am a visual learner. The chance to speak with experts in the flesh while also seeing the tools they use in action was priceless. It also helps that we get access to all the insider videos for the next two years.

I want to grow this platform and additional business ideas including training veterans on how to produce their own news stories for publication on sites like mine or primary news stations.

Until next time… wish us luck, and maybe through up some prayers to the Almighty.

Specifically, pray for steady revenue growth to better build out this platform to HIRE HELP and for protection to keep our mission moving forward.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. ~~~Awesome Sauce, Benjamin!!!!~~~

    “Social Media” to the VA means some new form of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), ask them 45 years from now and *just maybe* they will have consolidated all few dozen websites into one cluster————, orcome-up with a new expensive drug for that social media.

  2. Yeah for sunshine, Oh Gracious Lord Almighty we humbly beseech Thee for Thy protection’s, and we humbly ask that you grace Ben and Co with resources to continue this important work. Amen

  3. VA to Announce Decision on New Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions

    26 Mar 2019

    Three years after a scientific body recommended that the Department of Veterans Affairs consider adding three conditions — bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson’s-like symptoms — to the list of qualifying diseases tied to Agent Orange, affected veterans may soon find out whether they are eligible for disability compensation and VA health care.

    During a Senate Veterans Affairs hearing Tuesday on the VA budget, Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said a decision on the three illnesses likely would come in the next 90 days.

    Responding to a question from Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Stone said the VA is working “through this right now, and it would be my hope” to have a decision within three months. He added that the recommendation will go to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie for final approval.

    “It’s took this country far too long to come to terms with Agent Orange,” Brown said.

    Related content:

    VA to Drop Fight Against Blue Water Navy Veterans
    Court Decides ‘Blue Water’ Navy Vets Should Be Eligible for Agent Orange Benefits
    House Launches Renewed Push for Blue Water Navy Bill

    In March 2016, the National Academy of Medicine found evidence that two conditions, bladder cancer and hypothyroidism, are likely linked to Agent Orange exposure and that a third condition, Parkinson-like symptoms, also should be included on the list of diseases presumed to be related to contact with the herbicide.

    The announcement brought hope to thousands of veterans living with bladder cancer and thyroid problems, as well as those who have essential tremors and other symptoms similar to Parkinson’s, but who haven’t been diagnosed with the disease.

    In late 2017, former VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin said he had made a decision on whether to add the three conditions to the list of 14 Agent Orange-related illnesses, but it was never announced.

    In November 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine also released a report finding sufficient evidence to link high blood pressure with exposure to Agent Orange.

    High blood pressure, or hypertension, previously had been designated as having limited or suggestive evidence that it is related to contact with Agent Orange. A National Academies committee, having reviewed new studies, upgraded the association to say there is “sufficient” evidence that ties the disease to exposure.

    But high blood pressure is so common among older Americans that it has never been added to the presumptive list, even though the suggested evidence shows it may be tied to exposure.

    Brown did not ask about hypertension, and Stone did not volunteer any information on whether the VA is reviewing the most recent National Academies report.

    The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of herbicides, including Agent Orange, in Vietnam to clear the jungle of foliage that obscured enemy movements.

    More than 2.7 million veterans served in Vietnam. Veterans with health conditions connected to serving on the ground in Vietnam and inland waterways are eligible for health care and compensation from the VA.

    A legal decision announced in January by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit may extend those benefits to sailors and Marines who have qualifying diseases and were assigned to ships offshore.

    The VA announced Thursday it will not appeal the decision by a federal judge to award benefits to the veterans, known as the Blue Water Navy.

    Military Headlines Department of Veterans Affairs – VA US Navy Topics Marine Corps Topics Veterans Health Care Agent Orange

    Planes spraying agent orange in vietnam VA to Drop Fight Against Blue Water Navy Veterans

    366932427 minutes agoThis article is incorrect. At approx 1:57:45 of the hearing (which can be seen on the Senate Committee on Veterans’s Affairs website), Sen Brown did ask about hypertension. It was the third disease he listed. (I tried to edit my previous post in order to give the info about when in the hearing it was brought up, but was unable to do so.)

    3669324219 minutes agoSen Brown did mention hypertension in his question to Sec Wilkie.

    Glenda Helvey1 hour ago”Old Man” diseases are nothing more than a numbers game. You can be an “old man” long before the “official” age. The things that you go through in the military can excelerate/age your body long before you are considered by society as being old. The VA likes using age as a denial for certain things. What is the real number when you are considered to be “old”?

    Lorence Parker2 hours agoMilk it till its Completely Dry…. If you ain’t Dead after 50 years of being out of the Nam count yourself Blessed..To take “Old Man” diseases and aliments and blame it on Agent everything is Ridiculous. …WIA 5 May ’69..

    I tex14 hours agoWill they just be saying everything is caused by AO???Just saying…

    kenneth parksI tex11 hours agoToxins can stay in your system for decades before it shows up in differant forms………………..nam68

    Bob Bakerkenneth parks8 hours agIf they wait long enough, they won’t have to worry about most of us anyway.
    I think about the times that I went to Da Nang Airfield, where they’ve they’ve now baked the areas that were contaminated with AO, and wonder if it’s just a matter of time.
    Army,

    • Crazy Elf…
      Following, however, they’ve kicked this can down the road for years, now.
      My understanding, is, Shulkin referred this to the OMB due to the shear expense of these “newer” conditions. And I can’t get any reliable updates. Yours is the most recent.
      Any resources for “reliable” information?
      Ben…
      I think that today’s article is great! For many reasons…not the least of which, is access to great tools to, further, spread the word!
      Thank you!

      • To: “Orange Spazz”,
        I received this article from *”military.com”* this morning.
        Both articles ran together in this one article.
        Hope it helps.

  4. Well Ben, glad to hear all went well enough for ya all out there, besides the sunburns. Oh and all out here get the prayer business even the agents of distractions, cheerleaders, Kool-Aid drinkers, and provocateurs.

    Now to the meat.

    The two videos are cute, well made, and include the cuties that draw attention alone. Including the props for Iphone, etc. We all know what sells, what is used, etc. Also why some kid playing a yukalaylee or being all about make-up, degenerate material, puppies, “kitties,” or other nonsensical stuff can get millions of hits while hurting vets, whistle-blowers, “whiners,” very serious issues/topics get near zero or banned. Or the vets doing good and monetized showing off their girlfriends new boob size holding a M-4 or 16 are pacified and not worried much about more serious issues.. but let’s have fun. Many others banned or lost their monetization abilities. I wonder why. WE also know how and why certain people are promoted or used due to the various links and connections out there. Like there being thousands of Ytube vids about how to do them and what to use but certain people are said to be experts and zoom to the top of some list. Some promoted, get the bucks, some not and with much more in-depth info, and the why nots. It’s across the board on a wide variety of conventions and issues. Yeah, I am not nor would be liked at such events with questions and answer periods. I’d have to stay longer and pick some brains from those experts. I ask too many questions and like to connect all the dots if possible or there.

    I doubt it but anything for public consumption on all the censoring and banning while promoting the censors/trackers on FB, Linkin, Utube, Instajunk, etc? Wasn’t this event more of being socially acceptable, “marketing,” etc. Or not much of why those like Dr. Mercola (and many others) are leaving, left, FB and other ‘social sites’ due to the censoring and IT trickery. Seems to me the censoring and such would be high priority on the use of social media, the ruination of the “net,” or social marketing media. Any hot potatoes or elephants in the room slung around? “To thine own butt be true/covered,” and for survival to stay in the boxes of safety but what about others being trampled by others and their programs?

    Networking? Nice pipe-dreams for some. Some can’t some can, some allowed to, others not.

    Any info on some public schools K-1 on feeling the need to hire social marketing experts, aka PR people, for their own nefarious reasons, to sell, promote, or for excuses? Not much diff between PR types or marketeers is there? Especially while playing elected politicians or reps. Or sales people or door to door vacuum, magazine sellers, or brush sales types. lol

    Were any out there concerned about the body count of the day or of serious vet issues? Why so many ignore or by-pass our many issues of life and death or misery? Just pondering.

  5. Glad you enjoyed your trip Ben. T, as always, made many good points. One point in particular, is, ” who cares about Veterans? ” point being, Ben, i think you’re going to have to learn that marketing really really well to get people caring about Veterans. Enjoy your new knowledge…

    • No one cares about veterans unless they get paid to care. The VA employees are paid by the taxpayers to care about veterans but then deny veterans the care or programs to get veterans a help up to move on from injuries and stress after military service. I thought Ben was taking the approach there is no money in helping veterans and that is why his practice shifted to helping VA employees since they have the union paying his legal fees to help. I understand that everyone needs to earn a living but it seems that veterans get forgotten and left behind despite any good intentions or money designated to help.

  6. Oh and Ben/any others able to, healthy enough, whomever. Can or wants to try to begin some V-chat forums or something with free speech for veterans to “network” with, to try to group up in areas like fascist tyrannical Indiana where it is forbidden to try to do so over the “negativity” or un-wanted truths and reality… I will gladly chip in. We could stray from a topic and chase some connecting dots. Have various areas for a variety of things/topics to private membership personal private messaging for those wanting to remain anonymous or contacting those in the same areas that have no other options to do so, or fear doing.

    Times a wasting, censoring and banning increasing as well as the suicide rates going un-reported. Social media types/heads don’t give a hoot about our many issues or of freedom or truth. See how our own ‘marketing’ or sales go. Mainstream PC and propaganda, or feel good/fluff/business alone sites aren’t going to cut it. Just thought I’d throw this out here again along with my humble offerings.

  7. Nice to hear you had a GREAT time at the convention! Sounds interesting, I might check it out next year as well.

    On a different note, I’m responding to John N. Downing and Robert C”s remarks. I’ve been preoccupied with thinking about this issue lately, (Why can’t the VA get its act together? With all the funds they have at their disposal, why?) Well — Nobody cares about the Veteran including the VA. It’s all about the numbers of veterans enrolled in the system in order to get the $$$$$ and not about treating the veteran. Soooo sad.

    I have faith in you Ben to help in changing this situation – keep on keeping on.

    Peace out

    • It’s all about that ticket of entry to the Veteran Cookie Jar; we nonhuman test subjects are the ticket to Frankenstein Castle’s Confection Contraption.

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