CFC Recap

I recently spoke at the Creative Freelancers Conference put on by HOW and Marketing Mentor. I spent a week in Chicago and had some amazing things happen. It was truly one of the best trips I’ve been on and the best conference I’ve spoke at.

My talk was titled “To Plan or Not to Plan?” and my goal was to inspire the group in the room to dream big and think beyond themselves, to think beyond the fact that they are flying solo. I also challenged them to create a plan that included money basics, marketing needs versus wants and goals that were juicy in every detail. I double dog dared the audience to do something big this year; something so big that people would laugh at them when the announced this plan. Stay tuned for some stories about people taking the #CFCDare seriously.

My personal dare that I repeated multiple times on stage was “I’m gonna change the world.” I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet, but I can tell you that I’m making progress and I truly believe I will change the world. I mentioned that “success is a direction, not a destination.” My direction from here forward will be towards things that change the world. How’s that for a #CFCdare?

Beyond the thrill of the #CFCdare, here are some highlights from my Chicago experience:

You Never Know Who is in the Room.
After my presentation, I walked off stage and handed the mic over to a tall, slender gentleman named Doug. He put his arm on my shoulder and showed me a picture on his iPhone of how overweight he used to be. During my talk, I used my own weight loss as an illustration of juicy versus bland goals. That interaction with Doug really rocked me; the fact that he was inspired by my talk even though I was there to talk with everyone else. It just goes to show that you never know who is in the room.

Get Out of Town.
Sometimes you just have to get out of town to be inspired. I love Chicago. Granted, I’ve only been there in the summer when it’s nice outside, but what an amazing city. The architecture, walking along the river … I would say other than O’Hare Airport, I love all of it. One evening, some conference buddies and I took a cab outside of town a bit to the Green Mill Jazz Club. Chicago is known for it’s jazz culture, so I always try to take some in when I’m in town. That night at the Green Mill, I witnessed Latin jazz executed at such a level that I felt like a hack at my own job. I give my job everything I have, but nothing like that. Wow. Chuchito Valdes was his name. He is a Grammy-winning artist and, despite being in a room with only about 100 people, he lit it up. This is one thing I love about jazz; it’s completely different live than listening to it on an iPod. That was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. And it made me realize that even if you think no one is watching, you should always give it your all.

The In-between Time.
I’m not the best conference person. I tend to overdo it and try to take in too many sessions, so I leave sort of overwhelmed with information overload. The thing I do love is the in-between time, the random conversations in the hall, the after-hours drinks and dinners. That’s really the stuff I love. This trip was no exception. I spent lots of time with these people, and they really made the trip special for me. @Jovenville @rdqlus_creative @schutzsmith @DyanaValentine @clearwriter @imaccami @JamieSaunders @LaurenHybinette (And many many more)

People Are So Gracious.
It’s amazing how nice people are when you show up and share your life with them. I’ve had the privilege of interacting with some amazing people since my talk and have seen some very kind posts about things that were said. You can read some of those awesome recaps here, here and here (and please send me a link if you wrote a recap so I can post it).

One of the most touching things that happened was someone bringing me homemade snickerdoodle cookies. She stood up during the Q&A portion and introduced herself: “Hello my name is Marilee and I’m really good at making snickerdoodle cookies.” I spent some time during the conference talking to Marilee about her business and how she could mix things up. I was pleasantly surprised on Sunday morning by a text that she was looking for me so she could hand off a bag of baked goods … and let me tell you, they were delicious.

So, not only does saying you’re going to change the world get people around you excited, it also has perks, like snickerdoodles.

Did you attend CFC? What were the highlights for you? Post your comments or if you wrote a recap, send it to me so I can post it.

3 Responses to “CFC Recap”

  • Alisa says:

    The in-between time is the most underrated portion of any conference. Sure, the sessions are good, but that’s just one person sharing their ideas. Lunches, dinners, drinks… those are the places where creative people play off of each other’s genius.

    This is why I think it’s important for me to get out there more during the year: less time spent in sessions in hotel basements, and more time talking and collaborating with people all around the country. It’s less conventional but I’m betting that it will be infinitely more inspirational, and better because it’s spread out throughout the year.

  • Lesley says:

    I attended HOWLive this year but have been following some of the posts from the CFC conference and think it might be of interest to me for next year.

    I definitely agree with “the in-between time is the most underrated portion of any conference…”. I got so much out of this experience from all the people I spoke too. I established some great contacts, got some solid business advice and left so inspired and energized. I think these connections will prove to be so beneficial as a network of creative professionals that I can turn too for advice and inspiration throughout the year. I am also trying out a local business networking group based on the advice of a fellow small business owner…we’ll see how that goes!

  • Crystal says:

    Thanks for the recap Luke. I have been waiting over 10 years to finally make it back to a HOW event and my experience was 100 times better than my first – basically due to making connections with other creatives, and not focusing so much on the sessions. The information was brilliant – but it is true that the true benefit of an event like this is the connections you make. Sleep is over rated and if I had chosen to chill in my single hotel room I would have completely lost out on the years of experience shared by creatives like yourself.

    I am a freelancer and this whole bill was on my dime (yes it is an ‘expense’, but it still comes out of my pocket in the end). I don’t regret the cost – since the experience itself was virtually priceless.

    I look forward to being held accountable on my #CFCdare and getting the support to push myself to follow my passions.