PubCon & All of Us…A Story

Disclaimer: This post has less to do with the information I learned at PubCon and more to do with a few important lessons I learned.

I should kick it off by saying this past PubCon Las Vegas was my 7th PubCon. Between Vegas, Austin, Dallas, and soon to be Hawaii I have literally wandered the U.S. to make sure I didn’t miss this show. I’ve spoken over ten times on topics like PPC, landing pages, retargeting, the state of our industries job landscape, PR and social media marketing. Not to mention I’ve been lucky enough to moderate panels around analytics, affiliate marketing, SEO, and more.

Like many of you I paid for my first PubCon out of pocket. I still remember tweeting out “should I go to PubCon if my company won’t pay?” and @Sugarrae responded with something along the lines of a “hell yes” and carried on to tell me that this is THE show that is worth attending.

Jesus was she right.

There is something inexplicably special about this show. It likely has something to do with the amazing people behind it, the story of how it came about, the way its grown, and the people that attend it every year. Then there is the hugs, and the sincere “how are you doing friend?” and of course the drinks, and the gambling, and the laughing. Wow has there been some really spectacular laughing.

Because of PubCon we have had secret jokes shared between thousands of friends, a face-to-face with Matt Cutts every year of our careers, we have had something to call “ours” and something to compare every other show to.

Some of us have gotten jobs, some of us have fallen in love, some of us have gotten raises, or started companies…all from a PubCon. We have left PubCon both proud of what we have learned over the past year and humbled by how much left there is to learn.

The crazy reality of all this is that all I’ve listed above isn’t even the half of it. I’ve heard stories of late night brainstorms that led to agency collaborations, new tools, revolutionary ideas and philosophical shifts in how we approach the industry we have all jumped into whole-heartedly.

At PubCons I have seen assholes apologize for being assholes, and quiet wallflowers take a stand (usually over a few cocktails funded by {fill in awesome company here}. This conference gives us a place to rethink things, to validate our gut feelings, and to catch glimpses of what is to come.

Dare I say that PubCon has always been my favorite show over the years? Closely followed by SearchFest up in Portland, and our own MozCon. What can I say? I’m a sucker for shows that truly are just a gathering of friends at some random place usually surrounded by bars. The bigger shows out there have their place and I would never take away what shows like SMX, SES, Dreamforce, etc. have done for me, but something about PubCon keeps it on a very special pedestal for me.

I thought it would be worth writing up a few things I took away from this particular PubCon (since I always say I am going to do it and never do)…

  • I need to get over my issues with it and participate more on Google + … FINE! Geeeshhh.
  • I need to start saying thank you more to the people in this industry who have supported me for years. Thank you so very much– Marty, Topher, Brad, David, Brett, Steve, and Steve and so many others.
  • I must stop making jokes about not being able to see over the podium when I talk, no one has ever really laughed
  • I took away I should push myself to do better things with Facebook advertising for SEOmoz, I’m slacking there – ask Brian Carter and Kate Buck Jr. about what they are doing.
  • I realized I’m really happy with my job and finally at the place we all hope to get to – a place where I can hear about a new opportunity but not want to explore it
  • I’ve realized I will forever be thankful to the veterans of this industry that continue to push out epic ideas that get me thinking– Loren, Streko, Tim, Greg, Chris, Lisa, Rhea, Andy, Tony and so many more.
  • I learned that duplicate content issues really piss people off, I’m going to suggest to our bloggers list that we should write more on this
  • I took away a whole lot of great information around social and its convergence with our current digital strategies – ask Joe Hall about the data battle out there, it will tell you a lot about where we are going.
  • I realized there is not so much a revolving door in this industry (like many other industries) but instead a constantly open one and I am excited to see where all the newcomers will take us in the future, cuz they are freaking smart yo.
  • I’m reminded again and again that the amazing women I know in this industry have become true friends and I am a better person for it – Kate, Ruth, Kristy, Monica, Dana, Pam, Carolyn, ShannonVanessaJanet, Lauren, Melanie, Merry, Michelle and so many more.

Okay that’s enough rambling for me, but I will say one last thing that any future PubCon-er should know – this all started from a group of people that literally built this industry on questions and through connecting in forums…where we all tried to help each other move an industry forward.

Sometimes I think we have forgotten that. I only hope that as Brett and his team continue to put together these shows every year we somehow find our way back there – to a point of conversation, and questions, and curiosity…and collaboration.

That’s where I want to be. Sitting around a table with you crazy freaking braniacs, trying to share what little experience I have, and absorb all of yours. Thanks again to the brilliant team behind PubCon… once again you’ve managed to remind us how amazing, ambitious, and special this industry really is.

See you in Hawaii!

11 Comments
  • http://www.danaditomaso.ca Dana DiTomaso

    I think you just convinced me to make it out to PubCon! One of my goals is to start attending more conferences – expensive when you work for yourself, but the opportunity to talk to other folks in the industry (in person!) is worth it.

  • http://www.tengoldenrules.com Jay Berkowitz

    Joanna:
    Your presentations (I saw 2) were the highlight of Pubcon for me. Your conversion session with Tim Ash rocked, and you took retargeting to a whole new level for me.
    Thanks!
    Jay Berkowitz

  • Shane Eubanks

    Right on! I’ve been involved with internet marketing since the ’90s, but oddly enough this is my first PubCon…but it won’t be my last! You pretty much summed up exactly how I feel. You’re just one of the few people I DIDN’T get to meet. Oh well, next time!

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  • http://righteousmarketing.com Robert Brady

    I laughed at the joke about not being able to see over the podium…probably because I was on the front row thinking “I wish I could see her” at the same moment.

    Great post about an awesome event. Thanks.

  • http://rockfi.sh steveplunkett

    I’ve heard stories of late night brainstorms that led to agency collaborations, new tools, revolutionary ideas and philosophical shifts in how we approach the industry..

    -yes ma’am

    bring peter to hawaii and store up on sleep.. #whitecoatseo on the beach at pubcon paradise. =)

    like you.. learned more form the people of pubcon than than anything else.

    Great seeing you this year. See you in Paradise!
    #pubconP

  • http://www.crossingmarketingandit.com Elmer Boutin

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Over the past several years, PubCon has been the catalyst for me to stretch further and reach for new things. I’ve learned so much from you and the many talented people you listed in this post (and so many others) I don’t think I could catalog it all. I’ve made some great friends, too. All in all this is THE show to attend.

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  • http://austinstf.tumblr.com Cathy Benavides

    What an awesome post! The great thing about Pubcon is most definitely the people. The speakers, the attendees, the exhibitors, the employeees- everyone comes together and shares stories and experiences and we all come away smarter, more inspired and with a few new friends. Thank you for reminding me how special this show is because if the amazing people that are involved!