I have often complained how much I hate sitting on panels. The reason is that conferences usually pack them up with speakers to maximize the number of high profile guests in attendance to sell more general admission tickets. So with a panel of 5-6 people and 30-45 minutes it’s hard to have a real conversation. Every speaker wants to get their points in so the conversation often lacks rhythm. And often the “moderators” are nothing more than an extra panelist hoping to score his/her key talking points as well.
In contrast, I absolutely love public speaking and am willing to speak to audiences large or small. I love the energy of sharing ideas in a coherent flow on topics for which I’m passionate. I almost always stay afterward and meet as many people as I can until the post speaking event is over. I do this because there are often people who want to meet VCs and don’t have a chance in their current roles to do so. And this is my chance to give back to all of those people for whom I don’t have enough time in the week for that “15 minute coffee meeting” that many people wants with a VC.
I don’t really proactively ask often to speak at events but I’m always open to it provided it’s somewhere that I already need / want to be. I’m hoping to speak later this year in Philly, for example, where I’ll likely be in November and/or December (also in Annapolis so maybe Washington DC and/or Baltimore?). And I’ll be in NY in early-to-mid November so if you know of anything ….
Coincidentally I was asked to speak three times in the coming week. If you have any interest come on out. I’d be happy to hang around and say hello and meet some of the people that I usually only know online.
1. Startup Matchmaking (Tues 5th Oct – Santa Monica) – The first event is tonight (Tues, Oct 5, 2010) at Wokcano in Santa Monica. The event is Startup Matchmaking Night organized by William Belk. I agreed to give up my evening at home because this is such an important topic to me. In LA we lack the same scale of technology ecosystem as they have in the Bay Area. We have tons of entrepreneurs but our technology community has historically been splintered across town and across industries. In aggregate we have a ton of great developers but we need a better feeding system into our startups. So any event that seeks to marry up great LA startups (Beachmint, Sometrics, Cramster, Factual, GumGum, Burstly, etc.) with high calibre technology people will get my time. I’m doing a short keynote tonight.
2. Caltech / MIT Enterprise Forum (Sat 9th Oct – Pasadena) – I love speaking at Caltech because you get a great cross section of some of LA’s smartest people (I think definitionally this is people from Caltech) with many people from the business community. This Saturday morning I’ll be giving the keynote presentation on “The Future of Social Networking.” (unfortunately they didn’t give this event it’s own URL so this link should only work until the day of the event.) Of course nobody really knows what the future of social networking is and anybody who claimed to know would be a shyster (yes, a little bit too close to my last name for comfort.). But for the first time I’ll start talking publicly about the debates I’ve been having privately over the past 2 years about the direction of websites like Facebook, Twitter & Foursquare.
3. Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders (ETL) Series (Wed, 13th Oct – Palo Alto) – Many of you will be familiar with Stanford’s annual ETL series and I feel honored to have been invited by Steve Blank to present this year. I will be giving a longer version of a presentation I gave in China earlier this year on classic lessons for getting a startup off the ground. I plan to cover the early mistakes startups make, how to maximize value for your venture, how to come up with the right idea, how to raise your initial capital, etc. It seems they broadcast these online so even if you don’t live in the Bay Area you should be able to watch this event.
I’d love to meet as many people as possible at these events so feel free to come and say hello. If you have any specific requests for things you’d like me to cover I’m happy to consider adding it to the presentations. I have my basic slide decks complete but always happy to add, amend or ad-lib.
Hope to see you!