A month ago I got an invitation from the local chapter of Startup Grind to speak about 356labs, my story and the presentation world. It was a long, but incredibly interesting and more importantly honest conversation.
Believing that having English-only online presence is more than enough.
This one hurts me so much to share, but I need to.
Before I started 356labs, I was an IT consultant(and a lot of other things which does not matter in the context of this post) who was fortunate enough to speak in more than 20+ countries. And to put things in perspective, I did this before I got 25.
One of the reasons why I was able to speak at the most important events in my world was because of my personal brand. I really care about my online presence and I seriously believe I know how to manage it on a pretty decent level.
That being said, an important point here is that, all of my online identities were in English. And I live in a non English speaking country.
So, you probably guessed it right — when I launched 356labs, everything was in English. Pay close attention to the next sentence, though. We are selling our services to both our local, Bulgarian market and the global one. However, in my mind, there was not even a thought that I am doing a mistake in regards to the local market.
I was constantly telling myself:
If they want to work with us, they will find us through our website(which was in English).
Bad, bad, bad. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
It turned out, they won’t find us through our website because when they search for our services, the decision makers in Bulgaria were not typing in English. Guess what? Because of that, we were not showing up in their Google search results! How cool is that, right?
At the moment I found out about that (by a customer… as you can imagine), I immediately changed my view (even though I didn’t want to and even though I thought that this is their problem and not ours back then!). I started a process of translating our web site and if you go to 356labs.com today, you will see that at the top right corner there is a Bulgarian flag too. We are still not 100% ready with the translation (especially the blog articles — 200+), but we will soon be.
My lesson for you here — don’t be romantic. Just because something worked for you before, doesn’t mean is the best option for your business case now. Reverse engineer the market and act based on that. Yes, you may need to put a lot more work, but… if you want to have a business, there’s a price coming with it.
P.S. That same “language problem” happened with our Facebook Ad campaigns too. Made our creatives and campaigns in Bulgarian — boom. Results.
Many people asked me why I spend so many hours of work and preparation on every single presentation that I deliver. Here’s why. It’s because of 3 really simple things:
So in case you were wondering why I spend so much time — that’s your answer.
In case you were wondering why you should spend a ton of time — that’s your answer.
And in case you were wondering why we started 356labs — I have a question — do you still wonder why we did it?
Don’t underestimate the importance of any of the presentations you deliver because if you do so, something may go wrong and the consequences for you and your career could be a lot worse than you can imagine. Strive to always get better and remember — when you are on stage people expect to see 110% from you, not 100.
Hope you will remember this post next time you are about to present.
Agree or disagree? Would love to hear your opinion on this too…
I love the Software University! This place is just one of my favourite places to speak and it’s not because of something else, but because of the students there! If you want to see motivated to succeed people, you just have to go and surround yourself with those guys! Now, I have already delivered some talks in SoftUni, but all of them were on SQL Server related topics. Last year I talked about what SQL Server is and then, earlier this year I crushed the course for Relational Databases with the advanced topics of transactional concurrency and performance tuning. All of those were REAAAALY highly rated – you will be amazed by the feedback(only if you were able to read in Bulgarian…)!
On 21st of May at 19:00 I am again looking forward to seeing a full room of students! This time we decided I need to talk about how to deliver successful technical presentations because as Svetlin Nakov, who is the owner of the university, said to me at SoftUni Conf 2015 recently, it should not be us speaking and training the others after 10 years. We should teach the young guys to start taking over now! The seminar is opened for anyone, so even if you are not a student at SoftUni, but you are interested in the topic, come, learn, ask whatever interests you and why not say “Hi” after the presentation?
So… do you want to become trainer, speaker or probably both? Because if so, you have no excuses to not show up!
See you all there!
Update: No surprises. No surprises at all! Once again I had great time at SoftUni and I seriously believe the audience had such too. That was also one of the most interactive sessions I have delivered there and I am quite happy I saw around 50 – 60 people that want to learn more about how to deliver technical presentations. That’s a huge number if you think about it. Again – thanks to everyone who came and stayed even after the event ended to ask more questions! My slide deck and the video recording (in Bulgarian) is are below!
So it’s a day after 1st of April and that’s the date when I get to know whether or not I will be an MVP for the upcoming year. Last year Microsoft awarded me for first time with this prestigious award and now I am really, really happy to share that once again I was chosen to be SQL Server MVP!
It was a rough year. It really was. And I am speaking from community perspective only. However, I really enjoyed it! Travelling and speaking at more than 10 countries at events large and small, delivering webcasts, continuing the SQLHangouts, helping online almost every single day – everything pays off at this single moment when one sees the e-mail from Microsoft stating that he/she is awarded again and that’s true because of the value that this program has to both the MVPs and Microsoft itself. It’s just priceless to be able to speak with the Product Group and brainstorm with them on upcoming features and products. It’s also amazing to be able to share/ask/help to fellow MVPs, but of course that’s not all…
So congratulations to everyone who got this e-mail today and for all of you who want to become an MVP – get involved. Go out there. Go the extra mile and help the community. It’s worth it.