Thursday, September 22, 2011

140 Character Conference Talks About Character, Social Media and Small Towns

Somewhere Over The Rainbow,
A Message from Heaven Kicks of the Morning of
2011 #140 Character Conference in Hutchinson, Kansas
photo taken by Andrea Cook, 9/20/11
As I travel back from the day-long #140 Conference Small Towns held in Hutchinson, Kansas, I am reminded of the plethora of "characters" I had the pleasure meeting.

Starting with the number one character and founder, Jeff Pulver, I am inspired by his generosity and intrigued by his unique attributes. He has a genuine willingness to invest his time and welcome people from all walks of life to gather to break bread. He rolled out his generosity like a red carpet to the mash-up of presenters and volunteers the night before the event as the VIP reception guests enjoyed steak dinners and conversation. 

The next morning, at the historical restored art deco Fox Theater, Jeff shared the stage with Becky McCray. This down-to-earth duo seemed to work in tangent with one another as if they communicated telepathically. Both Jeff and Becky casually would welcome the individual speakers to the stage with meaningful hugs, hugs that appeared to be as intimate and genuine as the presentations. 

Although Jeff credited "serendipity" as what brought the speakers and attendees together, and from the calm cool demeanor of Jeff and Becky, one may be persuaded to believe it. However, anyone who has ever organized any event understands the dedication that is needed to bring droves of people from over 18 states and three countries together in the center point of the United States understands that it takes much more than hugs and serendipity to deliver a successful conference. 

Jeff Pulver and Becky McCray 
The 2011 Small Town #140 Character conference is in its second year with plans to do it again in 2012, as Becky announced at the closing of Tuesday's event. In addition to the #140 Conference in Hutchinson, Kansas, Jeff has held conferences throughout the world and to a handful of vertical markets. Discussions are taking place to hold a #140 conference for foodies. One that will certainly flood the live stream with interested viewers eager to hear people talk about food.

As a small town resident of Culver, Indiana and a lover of social media, I expected that the main theme or flavor of the event would be similar to my walk of life. However, the presenters were each unique and there was a wide world range of topics that were shared during each 10 minute segment. Yet, they all seemed to flow well and compliment one another. There were some presenters that shared their success stories on how social media has helped them professionally. For example, Leslie McLellan from Lake Arrowhead who generated economic growth for her community from a minute marketing budget that she invested entirely into social media and discovered much reward for her efforts. Other community developers who shared similar success stories and case studies were Kurt Mantonya, Allen R. Gibson and Tomi Ann Foust.

 Rockstar Kevin Honeycutt,
Keynote Speaker and Change Agent Extraordinaire
There were several presenters who inspired us to change our mindset and reconsider how social media can be used to impact education and the younger generations. Rockstar Kevin Honeycutt presented a fiery message that fascinated the crowd to innovate and activate the future generation. A similar message shared by Bill Genereux, offered tips on how to raise digital media kids. He suggested that we open the STEM movement into STEAM through adding "ARTS" and teaching new subjects like netiquette, online safety, digital legacy, video literacy and basic programming logic in the classroom and in our own homes.

Cody Heitschmidt echoed this need by reminding us that we teach driver education so our children will be safe and have opportunity to drive anywhere their future takes them. How are we developing technology in the souls of our future generation? One of the best lines of the entire conference was made by Kevin Honeycutt, "Technology brings us a buffet of opportunity and we're eating the napkins." 

Ed tech and entrepreneurial spirit were not the only powers moving people to action throughout the day. There were also heartfelt stories of personal transformation and triumph. People like Shellie Couch and Joe Cheray shared personal points of their journey demonstrating that they are making an impact and transforming not only themselves, but the world around them through their social networks and communities. 

These are just a handful of heroes who presented. For the full layout of the presenters click here >> 

A tip for those who value integrity and want to follow people with character, I encourage you to follow these "Characters" and get to know them from their future tweets. You can easily find the twitter handles of each person on the list show below or throughout the 140 Conference Small Town website. 

You may also find a takeaway from each 10 segment talk from the live coverage by the Event Correspondent Facebook page >> 

Also, you may view the video clips of the conference by clicking here >> 

Lastly, I want to share some of the most memorable and thought-provoking phrases of the day shared during the full day. Rich and worthy mentions:

"Unicorns cry when you doublespace." - Tomi Ann Foust as she shares catch phrases she heard when she started to take her first steps in learning about social media. 

"How can realtime web change the marketplace for small towns?"  - Mark Linder asks realizing the limited dollars in a small town and encourages community growth with cooperative competition.

"Sometimes people are uncomfortable talking to farmers and asking questions about agriculture, but they don't mind talking to a cow."  - Val Wagner shares while explaining why she allowed her cow, Betsy to start a twitter account. 

"We aren't here to get, were here to give!"  - Gigi Belmonico

“Have you taken a stand? If not, make the decision to do it. Take a stand. Stand for something." - Douglas E Stewart

"The single most cause of depression in NY is lack of social contact...  Don't just click "like" or "retweet", support and embrace one another.“ - Ron J. Williams now living in Brooklyn, a town of 2.25 million people. But like many metropolitan residents, he was born in a small town and still visits on holidays. 

“What brings people to your town? The attractions? No, the people and the culture draws the businesses and people to your town.” - Jay Ehret talks about “soul attraction” and shares how officials in Waco Texas gave $1 million to attract a diaper factory in exchange for jobs. However, the town saw little return on the investment.

“100% job creation comes from entrepreneurs and startups and adds flavor, character and culture to a community.”   - Jay Ehret recommends that more emphasis needs to be placed to recruit, embrace and invest in entrepreneurs.

“I'm smart, but my network is brilliant.” - Kevin Honeycutt

“Technology brings a buffet to us and were eating napkins.” - Kevin Honeycutt

“Every civilization has turned their tools into toys so they can develop their future.” - Kevin Honeycutt

“We’re all the same size on twitter, and have just as much of an opportunity to make an impact as we do in more populated areas.” – Dorthory Barnett

“The most social way to engage with community is by breaking bread with them.” - Dennis Deery

“It doesn’t matter if you’re from rural or metropolitan areas, we all are concerned for safety, education and the quality of life.” - Kurt Mantonya

“If you can't engage kids in the classroom, they will power off.” – Tammy Thorn

“My small town is where my hashtag is that I follow.” - Fernando Fonseca

“The person I am online, is the person I am in real life.” - Fernando Fonseca

“Find the real people who influence regardless of their Klout score.” - Fernando Fonseca

“When you live in a city, you still are living in a small village.” - Fernando Fonseca

“We all succeed when we put our differences aside and we focus on what needs to be addressed. When you follow a hashtag, you focus on something that fascinates you, and you aren’t dissecting the person and your differences first.” - Fernando Fonseca

"If you lead a business or community and find yourself in the midst of a disaster, be sure you have a single person assigned to social media. This allows the person in charge to speak to media and verify all facts." – Kirstie Smith, Director of Crisis Communications for Joplin Chamber shares advice on how to manage a crisis using social media.

“Key to share stories online: get information out from credible sources and web sites. Verify. Verify. Verify.” – Kirstie Smith 

Gigi Belmonico
Twitter: @GigiBelmonico

Becky McCray
Twitter: @BeckyMcCray

Patsy Terrell
Twitter: @patsyterrell

Jeff Keni Pulver
Twitter: @jeffpulver

Cody Heitschmidt
Twitter: @codyks

Kevin Honeycutt
Twitter: @kevinhoneycutt

Janice Person
Twitter: @JPlovesCOTTON

Douglas E Stewart
Twitter: @dscweb

Kurt Mantonya
Twitter: @HappyTrailsKurt

Cheryl Lawson
Twitter: @Partyaficionado

Shellie Couch
Twitter: @Taegus

Greg Falken
Twitter: @GregF

Twitter: @debworks

Joe Cheray
Twitter: @wildheart4vr

Gloria Bell
Twitter: @gloriabell

Sheila Scarborough
Twitter: @SheilaS

Jon Swanson
Twitter: @jnswanson

Ron J Williams
Twitter: @ronjdub

Jay Ehret
Twitter: @JayEhret

Twitter: @t_rave

Twitter: @takechargeks

Leslie McLellan
Twitter: @LeslieMcLellan

Laura Girty
Twitter: @LauraGirty

Joplin Area Chamber
Twitter: @joplinchamber

Naomi Shapiro
Twitter: @superdumb

Jennifer Lynn Keller
Twitter: @JenniferLKeller

Twitter: @guavalicious

Ryan E. Cole
Twitter: @ryanecole

Twitter: @MilliGFunk

Shane Helton
Twitter: @nwoweather

Allen R. Gibson
Twitter: @starmediaguy

Jennifer White
Twitter: @JenWPortraits

Linda Gregory
Twitter: @lgphotography

Dennis Deery
Twitter: @DDeery

J.D. Patton
Twitter: @jdpatton

Fernando Fonseca
Twitter: @fjfonseca

Twitter: @threegypsies

Twitter: @ICTSOS

MB Linder
Twitter: @mbl

Bill Genereux
Twitter: @billgx

Twitter: @jiggyjaguar

Mark Vierthaler
Twitter: @AgHipster

Jen Lee Reeves
Twitter: @jenleereeves

Michelle Barry
Twitter: @MichelleBVM

Val Wagner
Twitter: @wagfarms

Mary Klaebel
Twitter: @mklaebel

Todd Randall Jordan
Twitter: @Tojosan

Twitter: @mskonfa1990

Scott Wendling
Twitter: @CommercialScott

Tomi Ann Foust
Twitter: @BBBSRenoCounty

Katie Lukens Pinke
Twitter: @katpinke

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