Jason Calacanis | Unskippable - Marketing Keynote Speaker - Jim Kukral

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Affiliate Marketing Is A Lifestyle Choice – Response To Jason Calacanis

Last week at the Affiliate Summit event in Las Vegas I had the pleasure of introducing Jason Calacanis as the keynote speaker. While I wasn’t sure what Jason was going to say exactly, I was sure that he was going to say something that would get the industry talking.

I was right. Here’s some links to catch you up on reading. Think Big. Live blogging the keynote. MissyWard.com. Keynote video footage. MP3 of the entire keynote speech.

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Full Script of Video

Last week at the Affiliate summit event in Las Vegas I had the pleasure of introducing Jason Calacanis as the keynote speaker.
While I wasn’t sure what Jason was going to say exactly, I was sure that he was going to say something that would get the industry talking.

I was right.

If you’d like to get refreshed on the topic and discussion, just visit the links under this video on JimKukral.com to catch up.
During his hour-long keynote address, Jason hated on some of the people and practices of affiliate marketing, which caused many a fan of the industry to cry foul.

But what a lot of people aren’t talking about from his speech is how he applauded how brilliant the same people in the industry are.
I get it… everyone remembers the negative stuff. It’s a shame, but I get that.

I’ll leave the who’s right or wrong to all of you to debate. I’m more interested in the reality of the perception that Jason and others have about affiliate marketing.

I’m a branding guy after all.

On one blog after the event Jason was quoted as saying… “My lasting impression of the Affiliate summit is… really smart folks who think small.”
Do affiliate marketers really think small? Or, is it just that the nature of the business that keeps us small?
After all, we are pretty much just selling other people’s stuff for a cut of the action.

So Do we think small? Or is that just the way the business is?

The entire model is built off an affiliate working off of someone else’s backend.

Which pretty much is the wrong thing to do when thinking of setting up a traditional online business.
At least that’s what we’re taught.

So is it truly viable to build many million-dollar businesses off of selling someone else’s stuff?
Sure, it is, but therein lies the real point I want to make on this matter.

I don’t want to own a typical 25 million dollar business
Jason Calacanis told the affiliate marketers in the world that they think too small, and that they should be owning large businesses that are worth millions.

That’s all fine and good, except for one major point.

I don’t want to own a huge business with lots of employees. I don’t want to talk to vc’s and sit with Silicon valley people.

I’ve done that once already, and I don’t like it. I much prefer my flexible days when I work a few hours here and there on my own schedule.
I like not having to deal with investors, or bankers or other types of soul-sucking people who kill my creativity and who want to keep me at a cubicle under fluorescent lights.

I don’t want to have a slew of employees who I have to manage either.
Bottom line… I like my affiliate type lifestyle.

And after all is said and done, that’s the true way to look at affiliate marketing that I don’t believe Jason gets…

Affiliate marketing is a lifestyle choice.

Thanks for the great keynote Jason, and for getting some good discussion going. And thanks for the hug.

Jason Calacanis Affiliate Summit Keynote Footage

Right after I introduced Jason I sat down and pulled out my Flip cam and took a little footage. Here it is. Just a few minutes long. I know the official footage of the keynote will come from the Affiliate Summit gang in a few weeks, including my intro hopefully.

Want to listen for now? They have the mp3 of the keynote available here. Do a search on Technorati for more blog posts about the event.

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5 Questions For Jason Calacanis: Affiliate Summit Keynote Speaker

I’m proud to be the emcee of the Affiliate Summit West event at the Rio in Las Vegas in Feb, 2008. It’s my first time in this role and I’m really looking forward to it. Perhaps though, I’m even more excited to be able to introduce the keynote speaker for the event, none other than Mr. Internet Geek controversy himself… Jason Calacanis.

I know the event is months away, but when Shawn told me he booked Jason, I thought to myself, “what are we going to expect from Jason, and what does he know about affiliate marketing?” Jason is a lightning rod in the online community who has had a storied career of business successes and a knack for stirring the proverbial online pot. I mean, if he cause such an uproar by saying “seo is b.s.“, what does he have in store for us in the affiliate business, right?

I wanted to know, so I dropped a few questions his way via email the other day and here are his responses, unedited. He didn’t give up a lot, but I’m hoping to pull more out of him down the road leading up to the event. You will be there, right?

JK: I say the words “affiliate marketing”; what is your first immediate thought?
JC: Amazon

JK: Have you ever done affiliate marketing? If yes, what have you done? If no, why?
JC: We never did it at Weblogs, Inc. on blogs like Engadget, Autoblog, and Joystiq because we had premium advertisers and high-performing Google AdSense available to us. I think we experimented a little with Amazon but the performance wasn’t so great that we would shift from display ads to pay per transaction.

Also, I’m a little uneasy about the idea of inserting affiliate links into editorial, and from what I understand you really have to do that to make any money. If a blog like Boingboing links to their Amazon affiliate for book sales I’m not so troubled, but if a blog like Engadget started linking to HD TV’s via their affiliate link I’d start to think “hmmm… are they writing about this TV because they make $100 bucks if they sell one?”

JK: What can the summit crowd expect you to talk about?
JC: I’m not going to tip my cards right now, but I think I’m on the trail of some interesting theories and observations on the dynamics of affiliate marketing.

JK: What kind of crowd are you expecting? Do you know many affiliate marketing people?
JC: I know a couple, but not too many. I really don’t know know what to expect!

JK: If “seo is b.s.”, affiliate marketing is…???
JC: … you’ll have to wait for the keynote. ;-)

What a tease. This should be good. What Jason will find out is that affiliate marketers are really the best overall online marketers in existence. They can do it all, not just search, and they know it all, well.

But perhaps what is the most interesting and revealing to me from Jason’s answers above is his first answer “Amazon”. Jason isn’t in our little industry bubble, not many are. So it’s VERY interesting to see how a person like Jason views us from the outside. Not only interesting; but I think important. Sometimes a little outside perspective can really help.

I fully expect, and hope, that both Jason and the show attendees challenge each other and start some good discussion about the industry, because the affiliate industry sorely needs some new voices and faces.

Jason Calacanis Wants To Be The Next Mark Cuban

Yet another reason why Jason Calacanis is successful. He knows how to get attention and brand himself, just like Mark Cuban.

jason20C.jpgThe word is on the street that he’s going to try and take on Google and build a search engine.

So what’s the idea? It’s a cross between Wikipedia and Google. Calacanis’ new site will create more digestible search results for popular queries such as the names of Hollywood stars, and tech products. The pages will be seeded, initially, with content gathered automatically from the web and other sources. But they will be open to contributions by readers. Sounds like Wikipedia? Yes: except Calacanis will employ paid editors to oversee the pages.

C’mon, we all know nobody could pull this off. You’re not going to beat Google? So what is he really up to?

What Jason is doing is classic branding association. You associate yourself with the types of business/people/projects that you want to attract. The laws of attraction anyone? Anyone realize he works for a venture firm?

I gotta give Jason credit, again, he’s a big name, and it was going to be hard to get to the next level. This is a step in the right direction.

What about you? What’s your branding goals? Do you associate yourself with brands that help your cause? It can work.

More on this story at Techmeme.

Sunday Night Roundup, Links & Random Thoughts

Here’s some links and thoughts I had after a beautiful 70-degree, sunny day here in Cleveland, Ohio.

Thought #1: Jason Calacanis interviews Ted Murphy, fucking marketing genius (it’s #1 on Google Ted, you should be proud) and CEO of PayPerPost.com.

A few thoughts popped into my head while watching this broadcast.

1. You ever notice how much nicer people are in person as opposed to when they’re calling someone an asshole on their blog? Ok, to be fair, I don’t think Jason ever called Ted an asshole directly, but he shit on his business model plenty worse. You get the point.

2. Ted Murphy is not only a fucking marketing genius, the guy is a PR wonder. He has kept his calm, clear head from day one of his company’s turbulant launch, and it has paid off big time.

x_donnydeutsch2.jpgHeck, he won me over and I was probably the biggest public hater on PPP besides Jason way back when. I’m speaking at his event in June with Robert Scoble.

Lesson: Never let them see you sweat, and keep a clear, calm head and let your passion never let you sway from your vision.

3. Calacanis is really good as an interviewer, and the show production is very good, making it fun and easy to watch. I would actually liken Jason’s performance to one of my new favorite personalities Donny Deutsch. Fyi, if you don’t watch Donny’s show “The Big Idea” on MSNBC, you’re missing out.

4. Did Jason really say he was the first blogger to ever setup a disclosure policy? Not that I really care, but is that true Jason and do you have anything to back that up? I’ve been blogging since 2001 and frankly, I’ve been disclosing since 2002. Forget it, it doesn’t matter.

Thought #2: Can businesses use social media?

On Monday, March 26, I’m moderating a panel called ‘The Growing Impact of Social Media‘ here in Cleveland.

Each of our panelists will dive into case studies that demonstrate how social media, including blogs and online communities, offer businesses a unique opportunity to interact and learn from their consumers. Be warned! This event is sure to generate a lot of excitement, but the most valuable takeaway will be your newfound confidence to assess social media ideas and the benefit they hold for your business and target audience.

Thought #3: Update On My Question To The Copyblogger

A few days ago I posted a question to the Copyblogger. Dear CopyBlogger, How Did Your Blog Become So Successful, So Fast? Today, he dodged the answer with a non-answer on his blog. That’s fine, Copyblogger.com is still one of my top 5 blogs ever in terms of high-quality information.

Jim Kukral asks me a question that I was going to try to answer, until I realized that the answer is what I write about here. I haven’t done a single thing to develop or promote this blog that I haven’t shared with you. There are no secrets; only poorly-organized information that needs to be compiled and edited into a book, which I need to get focused on.

The Blogging A-List Is The Matrix, It Does, & Doesn’t Exist

Sometimes I get so fired about about something that I just have to sit down and crank it out into a blog entry. Now is one of those times, and it’s best I do it now so I can relax with a cold, green Harp and relax for the rest of the evening. After all, it is St. Patrick’s day, and I’m Ukranian, heh.

a-list.jpg

The backstory: Tony says the a-listers refuse to acknowledge the ‘blue-collar bloggers’. Calacanis, an a-lister target, says the a-list doesn’t exist.

Tony, you’re right, and wrong. Blue collar bloggers do exist, but they’re not in the a-list because it really doesn’t exist beyond an idea conceived by those who aren’t in it. Again, the a-list is nothing more than an idea. It exists in people’s minds, yet, it’s not real. It’s like the Matrix.

Jason, you, on the other hand, are ignoring the reality that perception is in fact the true reality. That is, dear sir, is that of course there is no real a-list, just as their is no real Santa Claus either by the way. However, there is a very, very real “perception” of Santa (especially by my 5-year-old), and on the same meme, there is the same very, very real perception of the supposed a-list in the real blogosphere. Sorry, like it or not, that is the reality.

You, Jason, do not get to define the perception as true or false, mostly due to your current status.

It’s the same as a billionaire trying to say that Walmart sucks because it kills the little guy. But guess what? That billionaire doesn’t have to shop there, he doesn’t know exactly how much Walmart means to someone who is forced to shop there to feed his family. His perception is NOT the vast majority. Therefore, it’s the minority, and last time I checked, the majority is usually what drives just about everything in this world (except a US election).

Is it possible to end this a-list, z-list conversation?

No, it’s not, because this is what humans do. We feel comfortable when we class ourselves into levels of status. It’s not going to change anytime soon.

By the way, the Big Brown Box is very real :)

Now, where’s my bottle opener.