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If you can’t sell it, you can’t build it. But.

July 28th, 2014 by Adrian Segar

Lego city 7373799876_60fc952ad6_k

Architecture students bristle when Joshua Prince-Ramus tells them that they are entering a rhetorical profession.
A great architect isn’t one who draws good plans. A great architect gets great buildings built.
Now, of course, the same thing is true for just about any professional. A doctor has to persuade the patient to live well and take the right actions. A scientist must not only get funded but she also has to persuade her public that her work is well structured and useful.
It’s not enough that you’re right. It matters if it gets built.
—Seth Godin, If you can’t sell it, you can’t build it

A great reminder from Seth, as usual.


As a consultant you have no authority, only influence. And sometimes you will fail.

Even if you’re right and do an amazing selling job, sometimes you will fail.

Because sometimes it’s not about you, it’s about them.

If you can’t handle failure—having your great advice ignored—you won’t be consulting for long.

Photo attribution: Flickr user norio-nakayama

There are 213 comments in your spam queue right now

July 24th, 2014 by Adrian Segar

213 spam commentsIt’s usually nice to be noticed. But when the attention is coming from blog content spammers, you may feel a little differently. The rapid growth of pageviews of this blog (on track for ~4.5M views in 2014) has coincided with an ever-increasing volume of comment spam, those irritating blog comments that promise you $79/hour working from home!, Dior fashions at low prices!, and the best lawyer in Podunk!

Currently I’m receiving over 250 comments like these a day, so I’m happy to pay Akismet $60/year for their Pro Blogger service that almost perfectly throws them into a spam folder. I say “almost perfectly”, because Akismet doesn’t handle a rarer form of comment spam, trackback spam, where spammers put links to your content onto a page they want people to visit. Trackbacks can be a useful way to see who is linking to your content, so I don’t want to ignore every trackback link. Unfortunately this means that you have to look at every trackback and manually move spam to the spam queue, an irritating multi-step procedure in WordPress. I started seeing increasing quantities of trackback spam over the last few months, so I’ve added a plugin Simple Trackback Validation with Topsy Blocker that seems to be doing a good job automatically moving trackback spam to the spam queue.

One more observation. Looking at the spam comments I think that besides bloggers like me who have to spend time and money keeping this crud off their posts, there’s another victim of these sleazy attempts to plaster low-quality SEO slime over the internet. I notice lots of spam links to small obscure businesses, and I wonder how many of them are being fleeced by jerks who promise to increase traffic to their website, the business owners never knowing that the fleecer is spraying comment spam to make those stats rise.

National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation Confab on Event Closings

July 22nd, 2014 by Adrian Segar

NCDD ConfabJoin me, Sandy Heierbacher, Lisa Heft, Tim Merry, and Susanna Haas Lyons July 29, 2 – 3 pm EST, for a free one-hour National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation Confab call as we dig into challenges and strategies for planning and managing effective closings at participatory events.

The five of us have extensive experience closing large-scale events using approaches such as Open Space, World Cafe, Conferences That Work, Art of Hosting, and 21st Century Town Meetings.

The Confab will be an informal conversation (no pre-planned presentations!) where we’ll share different strategies for closing participatory events (with an emphasis on larger events) and common challenges and concerns. For instance, for large participatory events: how can you involve everyone in the room in a way that is powerful and meaningful, without being too cheesy or taking too much time?

You can participate by asking questions and sharing your own experiences. We look forward to a fun, productive confab!

Register (it takes one minute, promise) and we’ll send you information on how to join the call.

Meetings are a mess—and how they got that way

July 19th, 2014 by Adrian Segar

Apple 1984

“Things are the way they are because they got that way.”
—Quip attributed to Kenneth Boulding

The hundreds-of-years-dominant paradigm for sessions, conferences, and meetings is broadcast: most of the time, one person presents and everyone else listens and watches. Why?

I think there are two principal historic reasons: one shaped by technology, the other by culture.

How technology shapes our system of education
Perhaps you’re thinking: Technology? Isn’t technology a relatively recent development? How could technology have influenced how we learnt hundreds of years ago? Read the rest of this entry »

5 tips on how to market event apps to me

July 17th, 2014 by Adrian Segar

Traci FB comment
Traci Browne, Facebook post
Like my friend Traci, I receive a constant stream of messages from developers about their new event apps. Naturally, as a frequent commentator on the event industry, I am anxious to throw myself into the tiniest details of these innovative products that are sure to revolutionize every event professional’s life. Clearly they are tools that will: Read the rest of this entry »

Serve up learning in small bites, not giant plates

July 14th, 2014 by Adrian Segar

tapas 7217145804_8dd3edd94d_b

In May I spent a gastronomically intense delightful week in San Francisco, eating lunch and dinner at different restaurants almost every day. After an initial low from consuming the worst tuna salad sandwich ever during a hectic rush to return my rental car, I enjoyed French, Italian, Korean, vegetarian, New American, and Argentinean cuisines, to name a few. And I noticed a pattern to my favorite experiences.

I like small plate meals best.

Read the rest of this entry »

The value of maximizing social connection at events

July 7th, 2014 by Adrian Segar

edACCESS 2014 break

Recently I wrote about my joy in the simple moments of connection that take place during my morning walks in Anguilla. Why do moments like this bring us joy?

Because, as social neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman explains, human beings are wired to be social:

“The message is clear; our brain is profoundly social, with some of the oldest social wiring dating back more than 100 million years. Our wiring motivates us to stay connected.” —Matthew Lieberman, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Connect

There are significant practical benefits that arise from being social. Lieberman documents the measurable increase in well-being from such social activities as volunteering, (equivalent to moving from a $20K/year to a $75K/year salary), giving to charity (equivalent to doubling one’s salary), or having a good friend (equivalent to making an extra $100K/year). He notes that colleges have found that it makes sense to design their dorms for social connection, with modern dorms devoting about 20% of their expensive floor space to places for social connection. (Compare that to the amount of social space available in a modern apartment!) And he references the work of economist Arent Greve, who found that in the companies he studied, social capital, as opposed to human capital, accounted for most of the increased benefits in productivity.

I don’t know of anyone who’s done quantitative research on the value of making new friends, peers, colleagues, and business associates—as well as strengthening existing relationships—at meetings. But most of us would, I think, agree that maximizing social connection at events is well worth significant effort. Doing so helps prepare workers for the new economy, supports the way that adults learn 90% of what they need to know, and can drive community-building at the event.

How do we maximize social connection at events? Well, don’t rely on traditional socials to do a good job. Instead of filling our sessions with content, we need to make connection an integral component of every session. Carefully interspersing content (short bursts, twenty minutes max) with time for connection (reinforcing and reflecting on the content, and developing ideas with others) increases the quality of learning that takes place while strengthening personal connections around relevant content and consequently building engagement and community. When we maximize social connection around relevant content we maximize the event’s value to participants.

I’m lucky. Facilitating productive event process like this for tens or hundreds of people is one more thing that brings me joy.

Stuff breaks all the time

June 30th, 2014 by Adrian Segar

repair bicycle 9506355716_32325afc2b_bWe live in an imperfect world. Life doesn’t go according to plan. Entropy increases. The terrible has already happened.

In other words—stuff breaks all the time.

We need to remember this, and keep one thing in mind.

It’s the repair that’s important.

Photo attribution: Flickr user pedrosek

Change first, explain later

June 23rd, 2014 by Adrian Segar

Be The Change_4868893727_3bd6f4d34e_bSometimes an experience is worth a million words.

In 1982, Australian physicians Barry Marshall and Robin Warren proposed that a bacterium Helicobacter pylori was the cause of most ulcers, challenging established medical doctrine that ulcers were caused by stress, spicy foods, and too much acid. Their claim was ridiculed, so Barry drank a Petri dish containing cultured Heliobacter and promptly developed gastritis. His self-experiment eventually helped change medical thinking. In 2005, both men were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

So, how do we convince people?

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Insights to Create a Connected and Engaged Organization by Dan Pontefract

June 16th, 2014 by Adrian Segar

I resonate with and find value in so much of Dan Pontefract‘s perspective that I’m posting this succinct Slideshare summary, created by 33voices. Take a couple of minutes to view it. Do you agree?

Conferences That Work book cover

Thirty minutes free consulting included with book purchase on this site!

Download five free chapters here!

Where To Buy

Purchase eBook ($11), paperback ($26) or both ($32) via PayPal on this site. Signing and U.S. shipping included. Also available at your local bookseller, and online everywhere.

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I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about The Solution Room! Thanks so much for speaking at NE/SAE’s Annual Meeting! — Pam McKenna, CAE, Executive Director, New England Society of Association Executives

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