Micah January 1st

The Year of People

Lets get a few things out the way first:

1) I hate people.

2) I travel a fair bit.

3) I have a new girlfriend who is one time-demanding bitch.

Near the end of 2009, my friend Gary Vaynerchuck came to Colorado for a book signing. I offered to ferry him about for the day, and brought him up to Boulder so he could see what we were up to. We spent a good part of that day talking about the things that are important.

And by the time I dropped him at the airport around midnight, it was clear what was important.

People.

Now, you can look at this in several ways. Startups arent empty shells. People come up with the ideas. People execute on the ideas. Social Media isnt a set of tools, its how people use those tools in their lives and work.

When I traveled, most of the time, it was for a speaking engagement (I think I did around 20 in 2009), where I saw it as a performance. I had a responsibility to the people that were taking their time to listen to me and my message. And whether it was Gnomedex where I had 10 minutes or Big Omaha, where I ended up on stage for around an hour, my feelings of responsibility were the same. My questions were always the same two: Did they enjoy themselves, and did they get out of it what they expected?

As the year progressed, I started to see a change in me. I started to meet people. A lot of people. Now Chris Brogan, who travels more than me, speaks more than me, and is generally just more than me, says he met around 10,000 new people in 2009. I would bet my number has to be in the 5,000 -7,000 range, because most everyone was new to me, and I was new to them. To put it in perspective, when I first joined Lijit at the end of 2007, the first person I reached out to was Chris. He quickly became a mentor and friend, and it was with great excitement that I spoke with Chris on a panel at Twiistup in LA.

As I met more and more people, and saw how much I was learning from these interactions, I began to realize something, the primary component missing from these interactions was time. I was spending so little time with people that I was just getting flavors of them and what they have to offer.

Now its 2010. Im back to running my own company again. We have a lot of exciting things coming up, and (I hoped) I would be traveling less. (Not sure if that will happen, given I have 3 trips already planned in January). I decided that this year, I would speak at less conferences, maybe a 1/2 dozen or so maximum, and rather than trying to meet EVERYONE, I would try to create greater opportunity to spend real time with people.

So I thought that I would make a list of the people I wanted to spend more time with this year. I would write a blog post about it, and say here is my list. I resolve to spend more time with the people on the list, but I realized the folly of that. Its not about the people on the list, its about creating more time and increasing the priority of interaction in my life.

So thats my resolution. I am going to make it a priority to take the time to find the time to spend extended time with people. I have lived in public for a long time. My phone number, email address, twitter account, facebook account, etc are all pretty easy to come by.

I hope that people feel welcome to contact me and set up time to connect when I am nearby, since I am certainly going to do the same. Last year I felt I often was sneaking into and out of cities given how compressed my time was. This year, I am going to set aside several “hang time” hours on every trip to provide opportunity for real connection.

2010 is the year of people.

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  • Great post….I feel much the same way in that I'm not a big fan of most people…but reading this makes me realize that the point you make is accurate and I should follow your lead!

    BTW….it was great to be one of those people you met this last year! Hope to see you soon :)

  • melissapierce

    Micah, I'm a big fan of your “hang time” hours, pencil me in when you are in and around Chicago. The people we meet and connect with in a real and personal way are the ones who make what we do bearable, cheers to a more bearable 2010 my friend.

  • You were definitely a highlight. Well, your wife was a highlight, you were a positive consolation prize… :)

    I hope this year to get to texas a couple of times, and when I do, I would love to connect with you and your family.

  • I've always felt like this is where the true power of social networks really is…we have this inherent desire to be with people, especially the people we care most about.

    The thing I can never figure out how to reconcile is how to both Crush It! but also spend the time that I want to with my family. Those two sometimes just don't connect.

  • Melissa, last year the couple of hours we spent at the coffee shop and generally connecting was a impetuous in this resolution. Times like that were way too sparse…

  • Micah
    Happy New Year
    I will take you up on the offer
    Whenever you are in the New York area
    I will take your suggestions as well for people in the food and wine world that you think are good interview material.
    Thanks
    Serge the Concierge
    http://www.sergetheconcierge.com
    'The French Guy from New Jersey'

  • Micah- I'd love to connect at SXSW…will you be at the Big Omaha party? Thanks so much for taking the time to come to Omaha last year and talk to this dog-obsessed girl!

  • I'll be at SXSW for sure, but didn't know there was a BigOmaha party.
    Very cool. Yes. I will make time to connect, for sure…

    Sent wirelessly.

  • Micah – love this post and I heart you. I am so fortunate to have connected with you online, then finally in person. I hope to see more of you in 2010!!

  • It's seems you, Derek Featherstone, and myself have all been thinking about spending more time with friends and other people we want to get to know better. That is either in person or on the phone if all else fails. We could even do it over Skype or video conferencing of some type so it feels like we are together.

    I was even thinking about about doing it over a meal, even if that meant me buying it and having pizza, Chinese takeout, sushi, or the like paid for by me and sent to their homes so we could share a virtual meal together, if it was not possible in person for some reason.

    Hope if you either get to DC or sometime once things came down for you we can do this.

  • John, I will make it a priority to get out to DC and sitting down. The idea
    of doing it over Skype is interesting…

  • dllavoy

    congrats on improved love life. i assume she thinks that you can, in fact, keep up.

  • My startup? Pretty sure she is going to run me ragged! :)

  • Great, great post! I am so thrilled to know you and cannot wait to see you throughout this year. See you very soon!

  • easisell

    Great message Micah. Thanks for sharing that – I think you really have pointed out something very fundamental that a lot of people are missing out.

    New subscriber <

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  • Lol, great post

  • Yesterday, I had the joy of going to a brunch with fabulous ladies in SF, most I knew by name and from seeing each other at tech events, but we don't really KNOW each other. I've recently stopped going to the traditional tech events because, though it's easy to meet people, it's hard to get to know them at a bar where it's way too loud to talk. Not to mention it's usually the same people at each event. I'd much rather meet one-on-one or in small groups to really get to know each other.

    And to add to your point, this lovely thing we call 'Social Media' that we all live in allows us to get to know each other, to a point, but nothing replaces face-to-face (or skype-to-skype as an alternative) meetings.

    Micah–next time you're in SF, I will clear my schedule to finally meet and chat with you. :)
    Thanks for your honesty. Looking forward to reading more.

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  • You're too kind! Meeting you was definitely one of our '09 highlights and we look forward to meeting up with you again in '10. :)

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  • Batman

    It took me a long time to figure out that it's not about me….