Are you going to SMB Nation?

Events, IT Business, SMB


Of course not. If you’d like to know why, read below…

Everyone seems to be asking if I’m going. After last years sales festival everyone seems to be trying to figure out if Dana and Arlin are really going to change it or if it will be a shame on me moment. Point is, everyone is wondering. Should I go? Do you think it will be better? Think they’ll get it back to what it used to be? Who else is going? Think I should go?

I don’t know, I’m nobody’s daddy (that I know of) but I made a decision on one simple observation that I get because my role involves talking to a lot of partners: nobody I want to network with is going. Pure and simple. I have a lot of peers in this segment, I work with a lot of people that I respect and can learn a lot from and it just seems that none of them are going this year. What their reasons are I don’t know and don’t care, I am not interested in flying accross the country to meet a bunch of people that are just starting their business.

Mind you, there is a handful of very impressive people going.. Matt Mackowicz, Erick Simpson, Karl Palachuk, Arlin Sorensin, Mark Crall, Dana Epp, Susan Bradley, Jeff Middleton.. but (with the exception of Susan who is just insane) they are all going because they are speaking or selling our launching a book or attending an SBS MVP meeting. There is no shame in that, more power to them but I’m looking after myself: Will I get a chance to talk to them when they are surrounded by the riff-raff, can we really talk about the issues businesses on our level face when other people on the table are struggling with the concept of E&O?

So I did my evaluation and based on just those two pieces I decided not to go. I also took into account Jeff’s SMB ITPRO conference, SMBTN and found them head and shoulders over SMB Nation 2006. I also considered the full weeks that I spent at Microsoft WWPC and Microsoft TechEd and the potential CES trip and it just turned out to be a no brainer. There is a lot more to this, and me cancelling the conference schedule I had on my plate, which I intend to cover in a future blog post.

24 Responses to Are you going to SMB Nation?

  1. Susan says:

    And this is the guy I said I was friends with on Facebook?


  2. vlad says:

    And I have videos to prove it, missy!

    [Can she throw a 2×4 all the way to Orlando?]


  3. Susan says:

    But dude… nice support of the community when you call the attendees riff-raff.

    We were all/still are riff raff to many.

    Never forget where you came from or who brought you here.

    That’s still community folks you just insulted by calling them riff raff, Vlad. Way to go dude.

    If I had my way SMBNation would embrace the SPF and help them not be a SPF. Not everyone wants or needs to be in a multi person MCP/Certified firm. There still a need for a single person forum/community. And those of us who aren’t that type of person need to not insult them you know.

  4. vlad says:

    Didn’t mean to insult anyone, I work with a ton of one man bands and respect their decision.

    Statistically though, there is a lot of riff-raff that (if they haven’t yet) has gone out of business or will soon either be hunting for a job in IT because they don’t have the skills to compete.

    When a conference only appears to draw people that are only trying to figure it out then I don’t see how I’m insulting them by deciding not to go.


  5. mavmesa says:

    Vlad, whether you go or not is your decision. I can understand your desire to have uninterrupted time with these leaders that you listed. And as leaders at a conference, they will be in demand.

    SMBTN and SMB Nation are not the same conference. Agreed. Can SMB Nation become better than last year? We will soon know. I believe so, but I am a hopeful guy.

    That does not mean that the “quality” of the attendees at either is better or worst than the other.

    It is high offensive that you referred to everyone else attending SMB Nation as “Riff Raff”. These are the guys that are actually spending their money to better their businesses, connecting to “community”, reaching to learn, etc. There is no need to backhand them because they are no value to you.


  6. vlad says:

    Actually, it does mean that the quality of attendees is better or worse. How so? Well, on one hand you have people that have been in business for years and are trying to keep it at the top and in the other arena you have people that are just getting started.

    Liken it to the way that professional NBA stars can’t go back and play at the college basketball level.

    Perhaps I could have used a better word than riff-raff, but if the leaders of this business, people that are really good at what they do, are not going then what does that say about the conference and its appeal?


  7. vlad says:

    And I’d like to point out that virtually everyone I talked to said that they were not going because they identified themselves out of the audience (that is starting, trying to become SBSC, exam cram, meet vendors, join community)

    These same people were at Jeff’s and SMBTN conferences and most said they were going back.

    So it might be more interesting as to why others aren’t coming; but I just posted my reasoning, sorry if you find it offensive to where you place yourself. This is a reflection of where I see myself and my decision, it does not (or it should not) be a judgement of where you are, thats your destiny to make.


  8. ellis says:

    I love it when the comments pack more fire than the post itself.

    I don’t see where you’re insulting anyone though. There are conferences that are aimed at the top participants, middle, bottom whathaveyou. If you go to a newb conference you’re a newb, if you go to a CIO/CxO conference you’re an executive. Does everyone that goes to TechEd get offended when they aren’t going to the VIP party?

    Take it easy guys.

  9. vlad says:

    Thanks Lisa, very good point but it deserves some context. For years SMB Nation was the leader of the SMB space in terms of conferences, publishing, etc. Some of us have established our businesses by learning from the community of peers and networking that surrounded the SMB Nation brand.

    But over the last year or two SMB Nation lost a lot of that community appeal and in my opinion became a sales show for SMB vendors, approximately 1/4 of the sessions there were nothing but infomercials, on top of 1/4 that Microsoft always gets and more. When you take the community out of the community conference and remove the reason why many came to it in the first place you alienate a lot of your loyal base that otherwise would have come to support the newcomers.

    But when the model changes, when the conference becomes more about a startup business than a business that thrives on the open community, peer groups and professional support arrangements.. When that is no longer the focus of the conference then the group of people that do show up in the end have different values than you do and it just might not be worth the time.

    I decided it was not worth the time, I am sorry if you are offended by the way I choose to allocate my training budget or where I believe my business is growing but to each his own.


  10. Pingback: Why you should go to SMBnation - E-Bitz - SBS MVP the Official Blog of the SBS "Diva"

  11. mavmesa says:

    Again, I do not question your judgement on business value to you.

    The term “Riff-Raff” for attendees is not warranted.


  12. HandyAndy says:

    Speaking as part of the Riff-Raff
    or why I will be at SMB Nation

  13. Pingback: Kicking and Screaming I am Bloggin » Blog Archive » Speaking as part of the Riff-Raff

  14. Pingback: My Amazing Sense Of Timing « Andys Techie Blog

  15. makingitsimple says:

    Watch who you call riff-raff, buddy. You need that “riff-raff” to grow your business, especially since those starting out are the seeds of the next quality partners of yours.


  16. vlad says:

    Actually, they are not.

    Our numbers indicate that our profitable accounts are by a ridiculously large margin very established shops that have been around for a while. The newbie ones are the ones that are around for a quarter or two and they disappear.

    I know you guys out there think that just because you’ve made it every single other person that tries is going to make it too. Statistically, that is not the case.


  17. markcrall says:

    Wow, did you get some attention from this. I’m sure that wasn’t your intent. 😉

    Seriously Vlad. You have so much to give that I hope you reconsider. It won’t be the same.

  18. vlad says:

    Oh no, it is never my intent to get people talking and opening up! 🙂 Why I’d never say anything controversial to make that happen!

    I know, I’m such a giver….

  19. Pingback: Vlad Mazek - Vladville Blog » Blog Archive » Riff-Raff, and you don’t Stop.

  20. Schrag says:

    FWIW, I had already passed the magical 5-year mark when I attended my first SMB Nation conference in 2005. Was I riff-raff then? Seems to me that people who are not serious about developing their business are unlikely to trek to a conference like this, so I’m surprised that you don’t think you’d find any valuable partners there.

    Also FWIW, I’m not going this year simply because the session content does not appeal to me. I only see about 2 or 3 sessions total that I have any interest in. And while networking is certainly an important component of these conferences, it’s a lot of time and money just to have a drink with the people I “see” online every day.

    If I hadn’t gone to New Orleans, maybe I’d go to Seattle. And if they do Islandia again next year — and if it’s not just an SBSC-in-a-weekend camp — I might go to that one, too.

    What I don’t understand about the reaction here is why everyone seems to think that a conference without Vlad is somehow less of an event. If I were an up-and-comer in the community and I had the opportunity to meet and hear from all the people who WILL be there in September, I don’t think I’d be disappointed in the slightest.

  21. vlad says:

    You’ll always be riff-raff Schrag 🙂 You know what I’m talking about, when you’re trying to have a decent conversation and someone butts in with a 101 course question like “whats an SLA?”

    And I don’t get the disappointment that I won’t be there either. I am not that much to look at and it goes downhill from there so I am not sure what the big deal is. I, however, feel I owe a responsibility to my readers to explain why I am not going to something that I used to go to in the past. In the past I pushed SMB Nation aggressively and when people showed up last year and saw that stuff they openly asked me how much $$ I got to tell them to show up – even considering that I was perhaps the only MVP in the audience that paid for his ticket.

    Conferences can happen without “Vlad”, believe me, its been done, and this year I’m just not wasting my time or money.


  22. mavmesa says:

    Why oh Why did you have to bring looks into it?

    If appearance was a reason to go or not go, I wouldn’t be allowed in the door.

    Face it, my friend. It is called the “gaping hole” syndrome. When you are absent, there is a gaping hole. The same when Handy Andy did not come to WWPC. There was a “gaping hole” there to.

    Can we get by without you? Sure. Will we lament your absence? Definitely.


  23. vlad says:

    Ok Ken, ok.. I understand.

    But you know who I feel for the most? All of those women that can’t get enough of hearing my voice that were going to Seattle just to meet me. Disappointing them, I think, will be the hardest part of this.


  24. mavmesa says:

    You got me there…

    Voicewise, you are the man!


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