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.
As some of you may have read already, I was accepted to speak at Microsoft Ignite 2016 in Atlanta.
However, if I am going to be travelling to Atlanta, why not bring as much value to as many people as possible? That’s what obviously one more person thought – Damu Venkatesan – a friend from my previous, SQL Server, life.
Damu leads the Atlanta Modern Excel User Group and so I got an invitation to speak for the group on the evening of 28th of September.
My topic is Presentation Design For the Non-Designer and I am already looking forward to help the user group members elevate their presentation game!
Updates coming after I come back home from Ignite…
Update: Wow! Just wow! What a user group! What an audience! And what…an…event!
What actually happened a few weeks ago was a 3 hour event with 3 sessions and a lot of pizza.
The audience was so full of energy. They stayed up until the end + stayed for an additional discussion after the last presentation. I am just out of words and because of that, the only thing that I need to do is to share my slides + the resources I used, so here we go!
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.
Microsoft Ignite 2016 is the biggest, most important yearly conference in the world! A conference that is attended by more than 20 000 people (yes, you read that right) and has the best (and in hundreds) speakers from the whole world.
This year, after not being accepted last year, I am happy and feel privileged to share that I(and respectively 356labs) were accepted to speak at Microsoft Ignite 2016.
My sessions are the following:
Wish me good luck and to all of my friends in Bulgaria – we will organize an event immediately after I come back from Ignite in order to share the overall experience and the leanings. I think it would be useful to everyone in the speaking / presenting community.
Update 1: Obviously, my first session got some serious attention because just a few days ago Microsoft asked me if it would be possible for me to deliver it twice in order for them to be able to handle all of the attendees that want to see it. Of course, I agreed without even thinking about it.
Update 2: At the end of the day, Microsoft were not able to organize the repeat of the session, but actually put my name on another one for Hybrid Cloud Storage. I am addressing this issues from the first time I noticed it (second day of the event) and up until now (October 5th) it’s still there.
Update 3: The main take away from the conference now. Here’s the thing. Microsoft Ignite is probably one of the biggest conferences in the world. With 25 000 attending it is seriously hard for you to imagine how much people this actually is, how many rooms there were and what’s more interesting – how you organize breakfast and lunch for so many people. The latter was done just incredibly well and to be honest, almost everything at the conference was on a very high level. The expo area had almost 2000 companies you can network with and the sessions were more than 1400.
As for my sessions:
The first one started a bit problematic as the display on which I was presenting died just when I connected to it. 5 people from MSFT were trying to fix it for almost 10 minutes with no success and I thought it’s Game Over and they will cancel the session. However, they made it work magically and I was able to start. The talk went perfectly well and there was some serious interest after it! Here are the resources I used together with the slides:
The second one that was on Sway went completely smooth! No issues what so ever and yeah, as it was 95% demo, there are not that many slides. However, the key takeaways are there, so sharing them here just for info:
What else can I say? I am already looking forward to Microsoft Ignite 2017 in Orlando!
Vitosha 100 is one of those races that I wanted to attack at least in the last 2 years. However, because of my traveling schedule I was not able to. Till this year.
This Saturday we will take our bikes and at 6 AM we will start our 100 km journey in the Vitosha mountain!
It’s really hard for me to explain how much I am looking forward to this challenge! I have spent just an incredible amount of time getting my health and fitness to the level that’s required for such race…
So wish me good luck and if by any chance you are on Snapchat – add me there(brshristov) as I am going to be posting some interesting footage during those 8 – 10 hours of riding in Vitosha mountain!
Update: 9 hours and 3 minutes! That’s the time of my 100 km. biking journey!
I have to say… this was quite a crazy race! Will I go for it next year? To be honest, I don’t know. Probably not and the reason is just one – at some point(my opinion!) the race becomes boring. 100 kilometers is just so much that at some point it’s just the same as it was 4 hours ago – mountains, rocks, dust and mud. Again, that’s my opinion only, so for all of you who are thinking of doing something similar – go for it and challenge yourself! That’s worth doing! 🙂