Blogworld Expo 2009 Recap | Unskippable - Marketing Keynote Speaker - Jim Kukral

Blogworld Expo 2009 Recap

I’m just getting back into the swing of things, despite having been back over a week from Blogworld 2009. Whew, what a show. This was my third year attending, and also organizing and moderating the entire monetization track. If you didn’t make it to any of my sessions, too bad for you, because they were the best ones at the show!

Day 1 – Zappos

King Jim at ZapposThe week started off by taking a tour of the Zappos facility with a gaggle of others who also wanted to see just exactly what “awesome customer service” meant. On the bus was @ctango @jasonrubacky @AllisonNazarian @leesabarnes @elizabethpw @sarahrobinson @carlayoung @davetaylor @mpgomatic and me. We were picked up at the LV Hilton by the Zappos tour bus, and driven to their facility. Our tour guide, Mika, was fun, perky and well versed in the inner workings of the company. (I think they all have to be to do tours.)

Mika Tour Guide At ZapposWhen you first get into the lobby, you’re greeted by many bookshelves filled with books that their CEO Tony has read. You’re instructed to help yourself to a book as well. I helped myself to two, sorry Mika! Then it’s off on the tour. What a fun place. It’s lively, open, loud, and in general fun. I don’t see how it would be possible to get any “real” work done with all the “noise”, but I guess you get used to it?

One of the highlights of the tour was the blending station. With an actual Blendtec blender from the WillitBlend.com series. Of course, I had to ask if we could blend something and we did. Here’s the video of that.

Part 1

Part 2

Overall, Zappos is #1 because they get it on so many levels. You can tell they treat their employees right, and the employees love them for it. The do an extensive weeding out of the bad apples during the hiring process, and if you haven’t heard, they even offer potential employees $2k to not take the job. It works.

The rest of the day I spent doing a staff meeting with the Blogworld team. We get a tour of the show floor and the rooms and this and that. Same thing every year, I know what to do. :) I met with John (Vegasgeek) about a project we’re working on together, and had a few drinks with @jasonfalls of social media explorer. Wednesday was also the night I got to go see Mystere at Treasure Island.

Time I was in bed sleeping? Midnight.

Day 2 – Off Day

My track didn’t start until Friday, so I got to spend Thursday hanging out in Vegas. You know what the problem with “hanging out in Vegas” is? It means either drinking too much, or spending too much. I did both. At last count I drank Sake, Whiskey, Vodka, Beer and something else, I forget. Dinner was blur, and so was the late night fun. I do remember, however, meeting up with my new super-cool editor for my new book from Wiley… the awesome Shannon Vargo. I also remember not being let into the super-party at “The Bank” club because I was wearing shorts and sandals. It’s ok, I hate clubs anyway and I like it when they don’t let me in.

Time I was in bed sleeping? Um… 3am-ish.

Day 3 – My Track Begins

Got up out of bed and headed over the show with a mean head hurter. But managed to get all the panels in my track off without a hitch. Heck, I even moderated a few of them. If you want to see what my track looked like, you can view the agenda here. Tim Jones has a summary of the panel he was on here.

anniedukeFriday night was a blast because I got the opportunity to play in the Blogs with Balls charity poker tournament at the Hard Rock Casino. For $60, I was able to sit at a table with two professional poker players… and beat them both! Yep, I sat with Annie Duke (she was on the Celebrity Apprentice) and another guy named Gavin Smith. Side note: I’m pretty sure Annie and Gavin were completely annoyed that a total n00b beat them both. Oh well!

2-hours later, I had won the entire table and earned my way to the finals. What a rush! I hadn’t played poker in over two-years at least, but I kept getting good cards and kept getting lucky. For my effort, I won some prizes, including a year subscription to Sports Illustrated, a Tiger Woods Xbox game (which I gave to mad man Jason Rubacky) and a bottle of Crown Royal. Side note: You can’t pack a bottle of whiskey in your carry-on. TSA threw it in the trash. Duh, Jim. I didn’t advance very far in the final table, but it was a great time!

ipThings only got more fun that evening. After beating the pants off some poker sharks, the crew I was in headed over to the Imperial Palace to play some cards. “Why go there Jim? Isn’t that place dumpy?” Why yes, it is, in fact the bathroom I was in had raw sewage coming up through the floor drain. But! And a BIG but… they have celebrity lookalike blackjack dealers. We got to play against Tony Orlando (who was super funny) and Garth Brooks. Great time. Thanks to Brian Littleton for leading the crew. And Missy Ward, well, she’s always just awesome to hang out with.

I hate to admit that I had not eaten since noon and I had the cab driver take me through McDonalds at 2am. That Big Mac was great though.

Time I was in bed sleeping? Um… 2:30am-ish.

Day 4 – Final Day

Chad Vader & Jim KukralThis was actually the best day of the show for me. My panels were kicking on all cylinders. My room was packed for almost every one of them too. People were swarming the speakers at the end of every session wanting to get more questions answered.

On the show floor, I fulfilled a life-long dream of meeting Chad Vader, from the Web series. I got my picture with him and watched as he played actor Kevin Pollak in Rock’em, Sock’em Robots. Kevin won.

That night the show wrapped with a very nice dinner out by the pool put on by Blogworld, hanging out with Cleveland buddy Joel Libava, and a Tech Karaoke event in the casino. I was going to sing, but went upstairs to pack and fell asleep. #finalnightinvegasfail Rumor has it that Shannon Paul does a mean Pat Benetar Heartbreaker, but I can not confirm this.

I’ll be back for Affiliate Summit West 2010 in January.

Summary

Another GREAT show in Vegas for Blogworld. I was able to have a LOT of fun, and connect with many people that I only get to see on Twitter usually or in emails. There’s a million people I would want to call out here but it would take me hours. Remember, you NEED to go to shows like this because you NEED to get the face time with your peers. You need to be seen.

If you’d like to see a bigger breakdown of a ton of excellent blog updates from the show, visit the Blogworld blog.

Thanks to Rick, Dave and Jim for the invite again. See you next year!

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