The way you treat people shows your character

I don’t know about you, but did you ever experience that you have written an email, no bounce back arrives in your inbox and you can be quite sure that the email you’ve written arrives in the inbox of the recipient – if it did not end up in the spam folder having been filtered out by the spam filter.

Assuming it didn’t end up in the spam folder, what are you doing if someone does not reply to you after a while? I myself am trying a polite second email, asking if all is ok and if my email arrived as I’d otherwise be happy to send it again. I think nothing wrong with this, is it? Maybe I try a third time, but then I usually give up, just being sad again asking myself, why people don’t have a few seconds to let me know that they have no interest in speaking to me. Which is totally fine. And in the end it would only help as I’d know the email arrived, I don’t have to bug this person again and I know that this person has no interest to speak at my event for example. Not answering an email is just rude in my eyes. It is like if you meet someone, want to say hello and the one in front of you just turns around without reacting or saying anything. How would you react to this and think of this person? Exactly!

I think it is even worse if you had an ongoing conversation with back an forth emails and then all over sudden, without you knowing why, the one you had been talking to stops replying to your emails. I mean, yes, you might have written something that upsets the person or maybe something that the recipient did not like. In terms of business, for example, an offer that the one who got it finds unacceptable. But how easy is it to simply write back, say no, or even to say fuck off? I could live with this. I’d know where I am at then and it would help more than simply not replying anymore. Makes me angry sad, that we think we can simply forget about politeness and manners, just because we are hiding behind computers and emails.

I myself reply to every email that is addressed to me personally. Sometimes only really short to say that I do not have interest in what was offered, but at least the one who has written, knows that I got it and read it. Even though he/she might not give a fuck about it. But I replied.

I think, how you treat someone shows your character as well and how you treat someone with your emails – not with what or how you write, but writing at all – is equally showing the character. I see this like you know this for many other things in life: treat everybody the way you want to be treated.

Get something for what you give

Today I got this email from a German magazine in my inbox:

[…] gerne möchten wir Ihnen heute unser Magazin whatevername zur
kostenlosen und unverbindlichen Auslage auf Ihrer Veranstaltung “beyond tellerrand Düsseldorf” von 09. - 11. Mai 2016 anbieten. Wir sind sicher, dass der Service bei Ihren Teilnehmern gut ankommt.

Which translates into something like:

[…] we’d like to offer you our magazine whatevername to display and give out for free at your event “beyond tellerrand Düsseldorf” from May 9 to 11. We are sure that the service is well received by your attendees.

Nothing bad at this, you know. I always try to get got deals and nice stuff for my attendees. But I also always try to have something that helps all groups involved. So this means, the publisher, the attendees and – of course – me, or better said my event. So I wasn’t expecting to get any money, but thought some kind of countertrade would be fair, when asking:

Thanks for your interest in my event. How could a possible countertrade look like? Is it possible that you do an article about the event before or after the conference for example?

You see, that I’m not expecting much, but somehow I think, when you offer someone or something a platform to get known to more people, even though the magazine in this case costs something and it is for free to my attendees, you should get something back. At least a little bit. And even if it would only be something to get the dates of your event spread or tweeted about or anything. The more disappointed and sad was I, when I got this reply:

[…] da wir unser Angebot eher als Anreicherung Ihrer Veranstaltung, denn als Werbung verstehen, muss ich Ihnen leider mitteilen, dass wir keine Gegengeschäfte eingehen.

… which is in English …

[…] as we see our offer as an enrichment of your event, more than advertising for us, I have do let you know, that we are not going to do a countertrade.

I mean, yes, it is maybe good value for the attendees of beyond tellerrand, but am I wrong, if I say that it definitely is advertising for them, when they have the chance to offer their mag to 500 attendees? And I also can’t get rid of the feeling that somehow this email sounds condescend to me, doesn’t it.

Anyways. I hope that you’ll evaluate anything, no mater how small you think your business (newsletter, blog, website, community, event … whatever) is, it has a certain value. To you, to the people who read or attend it and therefore it should be worth being treated like it has. Maybe sometimes it is worth thinking about if you do something like this more than once, before saying yes too quick. Don’t forget: as if you do agree to things like this once, you’ll be asked for things like this more often. It’s a little bit like working for free … (thanks to Joshua Davis and also to Yuko Shimizu, who both – amongst others – reminded me about this in their talks)

⇾ Finding the right swag for your event

A little blog post I have planned to write for a longer time already. Today Kai Brach triggered this again with his ‪#‎madswag‬ idea and I thought it would be good to write right away.

How you plan your event journeys (survey results)

On January 5th, I created a little survey dealing with questions around how you plan and organise your trips to events like web conferences for example. Nearly 500 (494 to be exact) people took part in the survey. Therefore many thanks to everybody who helped spreading the survey.

The results are quite interesting from an event organisers perspective. I said, I’ll publish the results and here we go. You’ll find the numbers as well as certain answers, if they were given as a reason to an answer.

What's the average lead time you need / prefer for planning your conference visits?

The answers to this question are not only interesting to see how long in advance you should announce your event, but they also give you an impression when to start selling tickets and get as much information for your event together to help possible attendees make their decision.

Interesting to see that most people don’t really need too much time upfront

As you can see, most attendees need a rather short time to plan their event journeys. If you take the first and second answer, 70% need only between 1 and 4 months. It means, that if you have your act together around 4 months before your event opens the doors, it’s good.

Interesting also to see a few of the comments made. Tobias, for example, writes:

I like to plan 2-6 weeks in advance. But due to early ticket sales and getting permission from the employer, I need 6-8 Month.

Two issues are shown here:

  1. Events releasing early bird prices force possible attendees to act early to get the cheaper price. In this case even though Tobias is employed.
  2. Employees often need longer to get an OK from their boss, which leads to the fact that they have to know of an event early enough to ask for permission. That means if you are too late with announcing your event, you might even fall off this person’s radar.

Łukasz says:

I start planning when I have tickets – it does not matter if that is 2 or 10 months (but above 3 months allows better stay and flight choice)

In this case Łukasz is self employed or freelancer and has the opportunity to act quickly. He might hear of an event, checks line-up and topics and maybe what other people say about it and books his ticket. After this he sorts out travel and hotel. But as you see he also mentions, that if flying is involved, being early is an advantage to get cheaper flights maybe.

In conclusion you can say, the earlier you announce your event, the better. Perfect time might be between 4–6 month before to announce dates and some facts about the topics and focus of the event. With this information the early birds might have a chance to already get an idea of your event and ask their boss. In addition to this, it won’t harm to also have at least a hand full of speakers announced about 4 month prior the event, to give a more detailed impression.

But let’s see what you have said …

What influences the time you need / take to plan your event trip?

To get a better idea why you have chosen the timeframe mentioned above, I asked a few questions about the reasons and influences.

Quite surprising that distance is a way bigger reason than price, isn’t it?

Nearly 300 people have said, that the price is less crucial than the distance. For me this was quite a surprise. I would have said, that price wins over distance. Also interesting is the fact, that nearly on third of you is making a decision based on the time of the year, which means that these people may be very organised and plan their whole year (or parts of the year) early in advance. In relation to this I checked how many of those given time of the year as a reason would be employed or not. I guessed that more would be employed as you have to arrange your time with colleagues, you boss and maybe also with your family in addition. But the results say that this doesn’t matter as exactly 50% are self employed and the other 50% employed.

Over 10% have chosen “other reasons”. So let’s have a closer look at this.

Interesting is that some of you combine private journeys, like holidays, with your work related journey. Like Jody (freelance / self employed), who says:

I typically integrate events into holidays with my wife. She gets a couple days in the city, while I attend. Then we both have a vacation together before/after the conference.

Or as someone else (employed) says:

Other meeting opportunities in the event city and/or possibilities to attach private components, if it is only for sightseeing

Another big mention has been “Kids” and “Family” and with this not only that people mentioning kids and/or family need to book early in advance, but also the other way around: they sometimes book their ticket and, with this, sort their journey out very spontaneously.

I think it is nice to see that events seem to integrate into private live quite well. If time and money allows people seem to spend some extra days to combine conferences with private journeys.

But let’s see how many of you spend some extra days around an event, whether it is for networking opportunities, work related combinations, such as to meet and stay in touch with business partners, or private reasons (meeting family and friends, adding extra time for holidays).

How much time do you usually plan around an event?

Nearly half of you have said they do what I do mostly and stay one day before and after the event.

No big surprises for me here as I guessed that most people don’t want to miss anything

As I said in the post to the survey already, I also like to use events to network with people I know and to meet new people. For me this is really important as otherwise I could also simply watch the videos online.

96 people, which is nearly 25%, have said they like to come earlier, to not miss the first talk in the morning, but leave right after the last talk. This is, when you as an event organiser fear that your event does not run late, so that people have to leave to catch train or flight within the last talk.

Answering this question also heavily depends on a few things. As I said in the question already, it depends on the city of the event. Is it a city that is nice to visit or that I always wanted to visit anyways. Or is a city I always wanted to go to nearby for example. Like Charis says:

Most of the time 1 day before. When the city is nice, eg. Brighton, I might take one or two extra days

… which exactly reflects what I said above.

Or to mention another criterion: time. Like Dan says in his statement, pointing to what i said in the question already:

Pretty much what you've said in the placeholder, depends hugely on where it is, travel / accommodation plans, family commitments

But overall the answers to this question give a good feeling about how people think and decide in general, I think. And for all answers the cut between self employed or employed have been nearly 50/50, so that this really does not matter.

Sum Up

I think with nearly 500 people from all around the world taking part in the survey, this gives a pretty good impression and in the end is useful for anybody who wants to run or is running an event. 58% who took part are employed and 42% are self employed or freelance, which also is a really good rate to get enough answers from both groups.

Again: Thanks a lot for taking part in this raffle and see you at one of the many events around the world!

⇾ Remy Sharp explains why he loves working with the web

Yesterday Remy Sharp has written his reason for loving to work the Web. And he nailed it.

If you sit back for a moment, and think about just how many lives you can touch simply by publishing something, anything, to the web, it's utterly mind blowing. That's why I love working with the web.

Nothing more to add here.

Events you can meet me at in the first quarter of 2016

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Every year I attend a lot of events. Not so many for speaking – my last appearance to do a talk was in November 2013 – more to meet people, to stay in touch with people I know, to make new contacts, to see how other events are organised, and to see certain speakers presenting. Somehow you can says that, running my own events, this is part of my job. Isn’t this great? I think it’s a great fortune.

Apart from Lanyrd, there are many sites creating their own, well organised lists. A few to mention:

I’m sure there are many more lists and I’m happy to add more, if you let me know about them.

Of all the events – and there are many – I myself am going to be at the following events so far (ordered by date):

awwwards Conference Amsterdam

From January 27th to January 29th I will be in Amsterdam for my first awwards Conference. I love Amsterdam and I’m looking forward to meet a lot of friends who are speaking, as well as the Smashing team, which I will share an AirBNB with – I hope this is not going to be my end ;) It seems like a very web focused event in terms of the speakers and topics I see and I am excited to hear most of the talks. I think all tickets are sold out for this event, sadly.


As I’ve written earlier, I’m going to be in London on February 19th to attend my third Reasons:London, organised by John Davey. Everybody who knows Reasons (or formerly Flash On The Beach) and the host John Davey, also knows, that John always has a good intuition when it comes to exceptional speakers and topics. Over and over I find speakers, that I simply have to ask to come and speak at beyond tellerrand as well. The six speakers he announce so far look very promising, like a really good mix and I heard that there might be another one announced soon. Tickets for this one-day event are only £89 and still available. And flights to London are cheap.

FITC Amsterdam

For nine years FITC, originally from Canada, is coming back to Amsterdam. Except for one or two, I think I visited all of them. Again: I love Amsterdam, it is very easy to get to from my place and it is always a very good chance to meet people I know. This year’s edition takes place from February 22nd to 23rd and tickets are still available for €299 (or €239 for freelancers). The mix of topics looks great and creative and the line-up looks really nice with people like Stefan Sagmeister, Anton & Irene, Mr. Bingo, and many more.

Smashing Conference Oxford

If you think I’m only at all these SmashingConf events, because I’m a supervisory board member of Smashing Magazine and therefore I have to be there, then you are wrong. I very much enjoy meeting the people in front of and behind the stage. Cat, Mariona, Markus, Vitaly, Jan, and all the other members of the team are doing a fantastic job and create a nice atmosphere. The third Oxford edition is taking place from March 14th to 17th with workshops on 14th and 17th and the main event on 15th and 16th. The Web focused line-up looks very tasty and if you don’t want to miss out (Oxford is a lovely city as well), you can still get tickets for $499 / £326.

So, these are the four events I’m currently planning to attend. Of course it could always happen that more events add up to the list. I’ll simply update this post until the first quarter of the year is done.

If you are at any of these events, please let me know. Happy to meet. If not: where will you be?

Use the chance you have

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Maybe you wonder why I had been a bit silent over the last days and weeks. Or at least more silent than you are used to from me. Reason for this was the death of my second brother and a few days ago the death of my beloved 16 year old dog. I took this and a lot of questions I was asking myself as a reason for writing this blog post after I was thinking a lot about, if I should or should not, as I usually do not want to post family related things on the Web. But I see a reason for this and think that maybe I can help some of you avoiding possible mistakes or find a small piece of help.

This post also might be a bit more personal than you expect, but I somehow feel like I have to write it. When I started to write it on December 21st, 2015, I did not actually know, if I would ever publish it. And still today, on January 12th 19th, I am not sure. If you read this right now, I did.

The last 5 to 6 years had been some of the best years I ever had. Not only my private life with my wonderful family is just pure joy – as it always has been – but also business wise it was great. I started beyond tellerrand in 2011 and it turned into my full time business. The best thing at this job: I love organising, planning and running it.

Then, two and a half year ago in August, all over sudden one of my brothers died. It hit us all without any notice and my brother has not been ill before this, so that you can say you would have expected it. I remember, I had a broken leg and we were on the way to the funeral of our grandma, when my mum called me and told me they found my brother dead. I never thought that my brain would not be able to process anything – this was the first time. I simply did not understand this. Later, when I realised what happened, I was asking myself a lot of questions.

Why didn’t I visit him in the last time?

Why didn’t I call him lately?

Should I have checked if he is ok more often?

… and so on.

I call these questions the “Why didn’t I” questions. Of course you will always ask yourself some of these questions, even if you did everything from an outside view, that was possible, but – maybe – if you use your chance todo something instead of saying “I should call my brother again these days.” or “I did not speak to my friend for a while, I should visit him to have a coffee somewhen.”, you’ll at least not argue too much with yourself.

I used the death of my first brother as a chance to try and find my dad (who is not the dad of my two brothers) again whom I have seen last about 25 years ago, just to speak to him and to find out if he is still alive. I managed to find him, only to hear that he does not want to have contact, which I accepted, but I was glad, I did not miss out the chance to find him before this chance does not exist anymore. And I made very clear that he still is able to get in touch with me, even though he said he does not want me to contact him (the background story of all this is way too complex and irrelevant to mention and explain it right here)

Then, last December right before Christmas, my second brother died. This time we knew that this would be coming as he was fighting cancer for 10 years already. Even though it was hard and very sad, I was so pleased that I had the chance to peacefully say good bye to him before he went. It still is sad and still not understandable, but the it was not as unexpected as with the death of my first brother and therefore somehow no as painful – at least for me. He died at home with his family being with him, just as he wished to.

I, again, used this chance to contact my dad, to let him know that also my other brother is going to die and I simply would not forgive myself, if I did not try my best to see if we could not meet one day. He got back to me and agreed, that we should sooner or later and that I was right.

So, what I want to say with telling you this story is not, that you all should be sorry for me now. It is really sad, but really only I want to state, that you should really use the chances you have to do what you are thinking about. Do not only think that you should visit one of your friends again. Simply do it! Do not only think about calling your friend one day, get your f***ing mobile out of your pocket and call now! It never has been easier to stay in touch with someone than these days. And I promise, that you won’t forgive yourself if you hear that your friend got hit by a bus just two days after you thought you should call or visit her/him again.

To finish, I want to add how important it also is to try to find something positive, even in the worst situation. That this helps – at least me – to see things in a much better light.

About your Brand and Competitors

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When I watched one of the episodes of Sean McCabe, called “Make Your Competitors Irrelevant”, I felt that I went through a lot of these questions as well before. Since ages I want to start a podcast, but I was asking myself a few questions over and over again:

For the first question I find enough pro and contra and I think in the end it is connected to the second question.

To answer the second questions a lot of things come into play. Do I want it to be connected with my brand? Does the content I produce fit to the brand I created with the other things I am doing under the brand? Many arguments of Sean are valid, if you want to strengthen your brand.

I also like what Sean says about competitors and community.

Community is the gathering of people with similar interest. It’s the partnering up of people who do similar things. You can’t ever have that, if everyone you see is a competitor to you.

Very true in my opinion. Thanks, Sean.

Atomic Design Book

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In August last year Brad Frost announced that he is writing a book about atomic design. Obviously I directly preordered the book as I am sure it will be a great and useful read. Oh, if you don’t know what it is about: creating and also maintaining interface design systems. Today, about 30 minutes ago, an update about the progress landet in my inbox and I’m more and more excited while reading it. He explained the planned and written content for chapter three as well as for chapter four.

The third chapter is all about pattern library tools, where the important detail for me is, that it actually is not only or mainly about the tools you can use, but more about how the tools are used. The fourth chapter is giving you information about the workflow of working with and – what I think is great – selling the idea of design systems.

Brad also announced that there will be a fifth chapter, originally planned to be part of the fourth chapter, which deals with maintenance of design systems.

So I was happily and excited reading the updates. As you can see.

More information about the Atomic Design Book.

⇾ Offscreen Issue 13

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Looking forward to hold my copy of Offscreen issue 13 in my hands. Did you already subscribe?