Getting Ready for #140conf LA

Chamillionaire at TC Disrupt

It’s been very busy around here lately. Two weeks ago I spoke at the #140conf in Boston which was a lot of fun. That same day we launched our film project on kickstarter. There has also been a lot going on behind the scenes as we prepare for the next event, #140conf LA.

Sunday I’m back on the road again to spend a week in LA. Monday and Tuesday is the #140conf LA, at The Music Box, where I will be speaking again. I’ll stay in LA for the rest of week so John and I can have some face time to work together.

I’m very excited for the LA conference. I have a feeling there will be a bigger audience than Boston, which is exciting. Also, there will be a couple of well known celebrities, such as Nick Cannon, Michelle Branch, Kevin Pollak and Chamillionaire. I can’t wait to hear their thoughts about technology and how they are using it.

One person I am really interested in seeing is rapper/entertainer Chamillionaire. I have a couple of his songs and I’ve seen videos of him speaking at Stanford and other tech conferences. He recently spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt about what a rapper is doing at tech events. The video is below. I’ll be speaking after him so maybe we will get a chance to chat.

He mentioned that he uses google alerts so posts might show up on his feed. It’s funny how technology makes us so close. I look forward to meeting him and everyone else at the conference. Boston was great and I have a feeling LA will be just as good.

Speaking at #140conf Boston: Thank You Everyone for Your Support!

Image by Steve Garfield

On Tuesday I spoke at the #140conf in Boston. It was an amazing event. I shared my family’s story about how we were separated during El Salvador’s civil war and our journey to reunite. I also talked about how we are using social media and the web to bring our story to more people. I hope to have a video of it for those of you who weren’t able to attend.

The response and feedback from the talk was overwhelming at first. It’s always been our dream to share this story with the world and getting such a strong reaction was so encouraging. Thank you to everyone who came up after to talk with me. It was great meeting all of you and your kindness means the world to us.

Check out the Identifying Nelson page to learn more about the film and how we are using social media. You can also pre-order the DVD on kickstarter.

Here are some of the talks I enjoyed the most.

The Rock Star Panel

It was every interesting to hear this group. I drew a lot of parallels between what we are doing and what they are doing. In some ways we both entertain people. I’m not sure that’s the best way to describe what our family’s story is about, but they are similar.

The most interesting thought was by Ted Cohen (@spinaltap) who said something to the effect of “I tell the artist that it’s not just about one spike in attention and that you have to manage it and keep it going.” This is so true. You can’t just get a little attention and call it a day. You need to build on it and keep it rolling!

Crowd Sourcing Cancer

This was another emotionally charged talk. Alicia C. Staley (@stales) had just lost two friends to cancer and was understandably broken up. I’m so glad that she decided to talk and share her story.

What was interesting to me is that she is in a similar and yet different position as me. We are both trying to share our stories and connect with people. The difference is that there are many other people who related to her experiences. The challenge for me has always been that there are only a handful of people who have experienced what I have. I don’t have that community to turn to, so I have to find people who connect with the story in different ways.

Look for Work

I thought Chris Brogan‘s (@chrisbrogan) most profound thought had nothing to do with social media. He said “Look for work, not jobs.” I think he nailed it with that statement. This puts the responsibility back on you. You have to go out there and look for meaningful ways to provide value. We can no longer expect someone to tell us what to do.

What Were Your Favorite Talks?

AJ Leon (@ajleon) wrote up his favorites in a post Humanity, Serendipty. What were yours?

Financing the Dream: Using Kickstarter to Make it a Reality

Exploring Our Options

Making a documentary is no small task, both financially and work wise. It was clear from the start that this project would require a capital investment if it was going to reach the level John and I dreamt of. While the price of video equipment continues to fall, it is still out of reach for most people. Since neither John nor I are independently wealthy, we were going to need to find a way to raise some money. But, where to look?

Traditionally we had few options. We could find some big investors in the TV or film world. John knows and has worked with organizations that might be interested in our story, but that might mean giving up some control. Neither of us like that too much since our goal for the project was to open source it on some level. We could try to pay for it ourselves but that might drag the project out as we scraped together the funds. Thankfully in today’s world, there are better options.

The Kickstarter Revolution is a web site that crowd sources funding of art related projects. Instead of getting a few people to give a lot of money you have a lot of people give a little money. I love this idea because it really takes advantage of the distributed and viral nature of the web. It opens up a whole new dimension of funding to independent projects.

We Are Live!

Over the past month, John and I have been working to apply to kickstarter and get our project idea together. We’ve worked tirelessly over the past few days to get ready. I’m proud to announce that our page is live!

Please check it out and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating to the project that would be awesome, but don’t feel obligated. Even more valuable than money is that you share this project with others. Maybe you aren’t in a position to help (I completely understand whats that’s like), but someone else might be. Spreading the word will help us make the dream come true.