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Jon Acuff at Tribe 2017
Jon Acuff at Tribe 2017

Finding My Tribe (or Summer Camp for Creatives)

Let’s be honest. Writing is not my problem. Writing for a tribe is my problem. Without a connection, I am kind of lost. This last weekend, I attended a conference that has inspired me to change that. For me- it felt a lot like summer camp.

Jon Acuff at Tribe Conference 2017

First off- I haven’t been writing here much, and I feel a little bad. Except that I don’t feel bad. A LOT has changed since I last wrote here a year ago (August 2016 for those keeping track… which hopefully you aren’t).

Two major things have been happening in my life. One is we decided to move. No big deal. Just moving our entire life across the country… We have moved to Franklin, TN- home of big dreams, Civil War history and… yes, the Tribe Conference hosted by Jeff Goins.

The other big thing- I have left my IT freelancing career behind for the time being and taken a role as the Director of Technology at Accordant Technology here in the Nashville area. I’ve also been named a Citrix CTA – an honor of 50 people in the world which is… intimidating. So- that has been my focus. I have done some but not a lot of work with my other blog, ctxpro.com – But why mention that here? Read on.

Tribe or Camp?

Tribe Conference is refreshingly unique. I go to a lot of conferences- but this is the first where people that are attending are going out of their way to learn more about me and what I do. I was always embarrassed to talk to people with hundreds or thousands of followers about my 4-5 hits per day blog… but you know what? They accepted me anyway. And more than that- they wanted to know me. That’s crazy. A good crazy but none the less slightly off balance. But this is the difference- a Tribe is a group of like-minded people. If I find 100 people like this, I’ll be happy. But my goal is 1000. But perhaps I’m jumping ahead of myself. I can’t help it. I’m inspired.

Tribe: Summer Camp for Adults

Jeff Goins dressed in what he thinks French Artists look like.
Jeff Goins – Artists Shouldn’t Starve

I will never forget my first Summer Camp. Given it was in something like 1987 it would seem by now I would have; but there’s some things that made an impression. Then, and now.

I fell in Love

My first summer camp, I fell in love. Sure, I can’t remember her name today… but give me a break… We both moved on. She probably is dropping her kids off to college by now.
So about now you’re thinking… DJ, aren’t you married? The answer is yes- but hear me out.

This last weekend I was given the opportunity to fall in love… with a concept. A concept that I could do this. Like, really do this. It’s cheesy, sure… but it’s true. I’ve attended webinars, read books and done everything right- but honestly I wasn’t getting it. I hadn’t connected. I hadn’t fallen in love… until now.

A Ton of Awkwardness

I walked into a room full of something like 300 of the most shy people I’ve ever seen. But I left in awe of how many of these people are shaking up the world. They write books. They create. They podcast. They inspire- but above all just about every single one of them cares about their audience; their tribe. But I’ll be honest. I felt most of the time I was more socially confident than most of them. Yet here I sit. No subscribers. Noone connecting. No Tribe. Talk about awkward. Confidence has gained me nothing in this area, and I felt a refreshing humbleness. I may have heard all the buzzwords- but I didn’t really know how to apply them.

Sometimes- it takes seeing from your peers. Or your idols. Or both. Even those I look up to and listen to/read every week were people I ran into there. Cliff Ravenscraft wasn’t even speaking at the event- but I found him in the back of the room one day and we talked for 10 minutes. I got to chat with Dan Miller- a hugely positive influence in my life. All because they were around for the same reason I was- to break thru my awkwardness and learn something.

So- just like summer camp, I went away a different person than when I arrived. So, now I feel like I need to write down some of my biggest lessons… if nothing else to solidify them so it isn’t the classic ‘mountaintop experience’.

What I Learned at TRIBE 2017

As I type this, my word counter has hit 800. So I’m not going to get verbose here. I’m just going to give some main points from my notebook. My hope is that being purposely vague you will join me here in Franklin in 2018!

Pamela Slim

“You want more readers? Be the weirdo in the room.”

Pamela talked about connecting with your Beloved Reader. I have to be honest and say that I haven’t yet figured out who this person is yet. Maybe it’s you. If it is, please let me know so I can write you a book or five. For me in the Citrix (technology) world, Pamela nailed it for me. My Tribe is those where I can define their problems, not just their demographics. So.. that is my first goal. Sure I won’t be writing here as much… but right now I’m committing to connecting with that audience until I get a sense for who my “Leave it Better than I Found it” audience is!

Jonathan Fields

“We Rise by Focus”

I’ll be honest- I was so captivated by Jonathan talking about Exquisite Attention, I didn’t take a lot of notes. But in regards to a tribe, I wrote down “Bring people into your space makes people rise.”
Jonathan told a story about a group of teachers that was told their students were gifted and to expect a lot of them. The reality was that the students were quite the opposite. But you know what? The students ended up performing well because it was expected of them.
Though Jonathan reminded us that we all start at Zero, I was really inspired thinking of how I can both entertain and challenge. It’s not easy to expect a lot of people- but I do; because I believe you’re capable of more.

Ishita Gupta

“Make Your Mess Your Message”

If there was an award for most adorable presenter, Ishita would run away with it. Telling an honest story about learning how to be confident all while being concerned about nursing a cough made her seem so much more normal while talking about not being normal. I talked to her the next day and was impressed with her genuine desire to know more about me. It was refreshing. She was really nice. One of those people you couldn’t help but want to give a big hug!
Big takeaways- life is handing you stuff to use. Solve your own problem instead of someone else’s. Don’t invent, don’t innovate… just share the message and your mess.
Embrace your quirks.

I plan to do this right away. What I’ve been struggling with is finding a voice among an already crowded area. But honestly- I have to come to realize that they are all as lost as I am sometimes.

Tsh Oxenreider

“Listen to your Life”

Aside from my vote for coolest name of any presenter, Tsh had a lot of cool things to say about traveling to widen your perspective. That resonated with me quite a bit. I’ve traveled a LOT in my life and I agree- travel softens your preconceptions to those around you. I have also found that my writing has changed in perspective due to traveling a lot.

What I haven’t practiced much of is what Tsh calls “forced essentialism”- the feeling that we are somehow always ‘missing out’ can be killed off by just going. You get perspective of just how small we are, which is awesome.

Tsh, if you’re reading this- thanks for taking my question 🙂

Sean McCabe

“What if you Created as much as you Consumed?”

Sean McCabe blew me away. This quiet, unassuming former musician was far and away the speaker I got the most out of. I have more notes on his talk than any other.

First off- as a concept, my goal is to SHOW UP for two years straight. The concept that you can’t steer a parked car really hit me in the gut. Even a messy product is better than none at all!

I have about 20 people I want to drill a concept into their heads that Sean said: The best way to market your new book? Start writing the next one!

Though you can get his book “Overlap” on Kindle, I was beyond impressed with the level of detail he went to in the print version. Edit: I got my copy! The cover, typography and materials in the book alone are impressive. The packaging care was also pretty epic. Worth the extra shipping cost to get it in hard copy! I got it in a few days. Good job!

Sean described 4 concepts of audience building I plan to put into practice (Curation, Consistency, Quality and Time). But the best concept- You will be put into a box. So… DEFINE THE BOX.

Crystal Paine

How to Build Your Blog without Killing Your Soul

Crystal has a name (and face) you may recognize from moneysavingmom.com. She’s the poster girl for the Seven Figure Blog.. and she walked away from it. Success at the expense of happiness is just not worth it.

Three counter-cultural lessons:

  1. Ditch the Hustle
  2. Determine Boundaries
  3. Dare to Focus and Finish (1 project at a time. This was my big takeaway as I’ll not be focusing on this blog… instead focusing on another that will need my attention more. For now.).

Leo Babauta

“JoyFear”

One of the world’s most popular bloggers says that the key is experiencing both joy and fear at the same time. For me, I have a hard time typing in the name of his blog, zenhabits.net/ (but that’s a Citrix thing- I always want to type Xen…) but it’s great to read- just from the uncluttered experience that I need to learn a lot from someday.
Develop habits such as Solitude vs Connection and Joy vs Fear. Embrace groundlessness and put these things at the heart of every decision.

It’s hard to think that I can struggle with this- but Leo suggests writing for 10 min every day. Seems easy. But for me… difficult!

Connect with your WHY – but start small to remove barriers. Setting up a truly positive environment was another key takeaway.

Dan Miller

“We Become what we Think About”

I’ve followed Dan Miller for quite awhile. His book, 48 Days to the Work You Love, changed my life in 2011. Go buy it on Amazon. Seriously. My career trajectory was radically altered; my passion increased and I made 4 times what I had been making. While I can’t guarantee your results will be similar I can guarantee you will not be worse for taking his suggestions!

Dan’s talk had a groundbreaking thought that is worth repeating because I’ve also committed to it.
Go beyond “you are what you eat” to “You become what you think most about”. The most successful people re-invest in themselves as a matter of planning.

  • Budget 3% of your earnings under $50,000 into investing in yourself
  • If you make over $50,000 per year, invest 5%
  • Invest in Magazines, Books, Conferences, Coaching, Mentoring, etc

Or, just invest in your overall health.

I mean- it’s Dan Miller. How can you disagree? Go do it!

Here’s a list of the books Dan suggested during his talk:

Ryan Holiday

“Can what I’m Making Actually Last?”

So much of what we see out there these days will be gone in a year, or maybe a week. So what is it about long-standing Perennial Sellers that is different? Ryan explained that making it GOOD is what really matters. If you can get away with not writing it- you shouldn’t write it. Powerful.

I loved the notion of uniqueness- writing something that only I could write. Noone else has my perspective. It’s mine. I should write it!

Another thing I struggle with is timelessness- I often write with references to things that are points in time. Would another culture get my reference to summer camp, for example?… oops.

Effectiveness is another trait- buy the $300 boots because they last forever. You’ll buy 5 $100 boots before the $300 boots wear out!

Speaking of lasting quality- Ryan’s book Perennial Seller was given to me as a gift, but you can buy it at Amazon in hardback, Kindle or Audible.

Jon Acuff

“Make it Fun to get it Done”

Finish is Jon’s new book (last week I listened on Audible– it’s about 4 hrs long and worth it). It is humorous and convicting. So was his talk.

Getting the size right on your goal is important. I’m fat and out of shape right now. Tackling a 5K when I couldn’t run a 1k is not a great idea. Start with the smaller goal to get practice with success!

Jon found that making goals smaller and fun led to a 31% increase in satisfaction, and a 46% increase in performance. Very cool.

Connect with your motivation- Rewards and Fear are both valid in this way.

Finally- “You can’t schedule a crisis but you can call a friend.”

And now I have a few hundred I can call! Yay!

Coming Down from the Mountain

So, now that you see how I’ve fallen in love, now the tricky part. Not losing touch.

Admit it- every note you got from someone at camp always said the same thing. “Let’s not lose touch!”

But you always did.

So my goal is two-fold.

  1. Connect with an audience. For me- that won’t be here… yet. I’m going to focus on building my ctxPro.com platform until I feel it’s ready. But that doesn’t mean I won’t occasionally post something here. In fact- I would go ahead and subscribe to my email list, and when I do publish something significant- I’ll let you know!
  2. Not to lose touch. I’m going to stay as active as I can on Facebook and other sources with my new Tribe tribe (yes I repeated a word, Word). And we’ll see in a year what kind of a difference that makes. We’ve got the litmus test already. One post in a year. Shouldn’t be hard to break that trend!

[UPDATE 10-2-2017]

Jeff Featured this blog among some other well written summaries at https://goinswriter.com/tribe-2017/ Would you do me a favor and go read some of those? I’m betting you may just find someone you’ll resonate with and maybe a reason to join me at Camp Tribe 2018 if I haven’t already convinced you!

I’ll be listing some of my personal favorites below as I read them:

-DJ

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