Thoughts on Community, Particularly Seattle’s

by Jason Falls |

I spent a few days in Seattle this week and was sincerely overwhelmed. Though I was jokingly told I came for its annual one week of summer, the weather, the people, the Social Media Club, the community … everything about the trip was perfect.

Typically, I don’t blog about the trips I take. I take far too many of them, am not a travel blogger and me talking about what I’m doing has to be monumentally boring for you, as Twitter-esqe as that concept might be.

But Seattle is one of those communities that when you walk away, you think, “I’ve got to tell people about this place.”

The top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington
Image via Wikipedia

I was there to speak to Social Media Club Seattle, a local chapter of SMC that was started by my friend Kevin Urie. At dinner on Monday with Joann Jen, Shauna Causey, Eric Berto and Urie, they told me that the 225-seat event sold out in eight hours and they had 110 people on a waiting list to get in. (Clearly, they don’t realize how unimpressive I really am, my wife was quick to remind me.)

It’s not the number of people that’s important here, it’s actually the quality of the people. SMC Seattle has grown to perhaps one of the more active chapters in the umbrella organization’s network. I was assured several times that the audience wouldn’t tolerate 101 content. This was a 301 audience. They needed to be pushed.

Thank God!

And I was told they would push back.

Double Thanks!

I was asked a tough question or two from the crowd, which I appreciate. When everyone walks away with, “Great talk.” I get frustrated. I want people to push back, get uncomfortable and maybe even be a little mad. It makes them think about the issue more which produces more clarity of thought moving forward. You don’t have to like me for me to be useful to you. Often times, I’m more useful if you don’t.

One question I was asked had me perplexed. I’m still chewing on it and will probably blog it soon. More later.

Perhaps its the fact that everyone seems to have some Microsoft connection in Seattle. They either worked there or work for someone who works with them. Perhaps its because they have Starbucks here like most cities have fire hydrants. But there exists in Seattle an awesome tech community. And those here who are passionate about social media are passionate AND knowledgeable. There’s also a cohesiveness in Seattle’s social media enthusiasts you can sense. The people I encountered unknowingly showed me how it ought to be done. Ironic since Urie insists my co-founding of SMC Louisville inspired him to do the same here.

I walked away from SMC Seattle wishing SMC Louisville could be more like them and that we could all have the benefit of such a passionate, smart community just outside our door. Maybe you have that in your community. Cherish it.

From my hour talking to Neil Crist and Pete Mannix from ValueVine to hanging out with Jeff, John and the gang at the Whrrl offices, to getting a Windows Phone demo at the gdgt event I crashed, to the chic and social media hip Hotel Max, to Shauna Causey trying to cheauffer me around town in a car the size of my left thigh, every bit of Seattle made me smile.

I even got a big-time save from Alaska Airlines when my crazy schedule put Wednesday’s PRSA Independent Practitioner’s webinar (of which I was a speaker) butted up against my return flight. Elliott Pesut, Bobbie Egan and crew snapped a few fingers and booked me a board room in their elite traveler’s lounge so I could be on the call and not have to race to the airport after.

Thank you, Seattle. You reminded me this week what it means to have a community that oozes its essence. I got a little on me. And it’s nice.

Note: I have to give a shout out to Blake Cahill who really started the ball rolling to get me to Seattle. Blake, you’re a saint. Thank you for inviting me.

Follow-Up: I knew I’d forget someone important (and ironically unforgettable). Brian Westbrook was not only Mr. coordination for all I was doing in Seattle, but is the emcee and host of SMC Seattle’s live streams and events. The guy is the bomb. Hopefully, he won’t blow me up for not mentioning him on my first run through. Watch the stream below. He steals the show.

A video of the event (SMC Seattle live-streams their events and run them like a TV show … very cool) is online at UStream.There are some great pictures of the SMC Seattle Event taken by Berto here. Tac Anderson recaps my talk on his blog as well. And I uploaded my snapshots from the trip to Flickr.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).