Passionate stories found…SOBCON 2011

I am not sure what took me to Chicago last week? I signed up for the conference over a year ago. I did not know a soul in the attendee list. I had a few conversations online with some of the attendees, and even had one phone call with one of the organizers. So, what makes us choose to travel 1000 miles to attend a conference. Some say passion…let’s just say that I had a feeling something great was going to come from SOBCON 2011 in Chicago.

From the moment I walked in the door, the energy was high…but I was so nervous. Yes, I defaulted back to my shy days of high school. This collegiate lecturer felt like a fish out of water in a room of smart people. But it was that first day that I met one of the coolest people with the most interesting story. Greg Hartle is his name and 10 Dollars and a Laptop is his domain…literally:

He was invited to join SOBCON2011 in Chicago because Chicago was the next stop on his trip. His mission is to visit all 50 states, starting in Seattle with $10 and a laptop. That is it! He cannot use any resources from his background and “previous life” as a financial man. He wants to create a new life, visit 50 states, and create a new business along the way to finance his trip. He has caught rides along the way, used cheap bus tickets, performed odd jobs…all for his mission. He is an entrepreneur with an entrepreneurial experience as his goal.

After the first day, we chatted over drinks. As I listened to his story and his passion, I thought…my students at Clemson need to hear his passion. So many stories to share, to connect the academics to real world. The word “entrepreneurship” is more than just an ideology that can be taught at the local university, the hopes of hitting it big. Here is a guy who is putting it to the test with only $10 and a laptop as seed money.

I can sit here and give you notes from educational experience inside the walls of “The Summit” during Chicago’s SOBCON 2011. I can draw some tremendous connections between great speakers like Tim Sanders, Chris Brogan, Steve Farber, Carol Roth, Liz Strauss, Terry St. Marie, Michael Port, and the list goes on and on. But…I was struck, struck by the passionate stories of change and entrepreneurship.

But…it was once again…that first day. That first day when someone from GMC took the stage to talk about their new Terrain. Yes, a simple in-person sales pitch coy’d the audience. It was a sales pitch of a different resolve. After a short video about this SUV, we were asked to go down 10 floors, back outside, all 130 of us to look at this vehicle. Some of us were skeptical of this sales pitch inside. Yes, GMC is a sponsor…but this seemed a bit much. Our willingness to please the presenters yielded something special. This is when I was able to hear the story of Mark Horvath. This is Mark below, to the left of the bald head. He has wavy, long hair with a blue blazer.

Mark Horvath of tells stories. Yes, stories of homeless people across our great country. He was once homeless himself after a career as a television man. He found himself on the streets. After pulling himself together, he began telling the stories of homelessness in America. Here is a man that is traveling across the country, documenting the stories of homeless men and women. So this day, this GMC pitch turned into GMC giving Mark Horvath a new SUV. Yes, now he has a new ride equipped with WiFi to continue his passion.  This was all made possible by Liz Strauss of SOBCON and Connie Burke of GMC…and I am sure many others. This to help a man continue his storytelling passion, raising awareness for the homeless situation right here in our own backyard.

I think it would be boring to give you my notes of what I learned as a business owner, as a online business person, and a social media advocate. I could make great connections between wonderful points made from each presentation…I think I would just create more noise. But what I really learned…to chase your passion and use these tools to facilitate the resolve!

I think there is a reason I was supposed to show up in Chicago for SOBCON2011. I found that there were so many other attendees more passionate about their mission, yet coming together to build language and facilitate tomorrow’s opportunity. Thank you Liz Strauss and Terry St. Marie. YOU ROCK! I will be back for SOBCOB2012.