Photos from SmashingConf San Francisco 2023
2023 edition of Smashing Conference in San Francisco is over. Here is a set of photos capturing the atmosphere and people at the event.
2023 edition of Smashing Conference in San Francisco is over. Here is a set of photos capturing the atmosphere and people at the event.
I was invited by the lovely people of the German, weekly Working Draft podcast once more. It is always a pleasure and good fun and surely we were also talking about organising events and beyond tellerrand, but also had a deeper look behind the scenes of an event organiser’s life in edition #564.
I was hugely enjoying this conversation, as much as I always enjoy being a guest in Working Draft and/or chatting about all things events ;) Full episode here!
Also right before beyond tellerrand 2023 in Düsseldorf, I was invited to be part of the German Digital Pacemaker Podcast by Ulrich Irnich, CIO of Vodafone Germany and Markus Kuckertz, who is responsible for IT strategy und innovation at Vodafone Germany. This podcast had a totally different focus than others I had been invited to and we were chatting about the question, why I thin kit is important to be open minded when working in design and development and why schools and universities already should have a broader focus, teaching people a general interest and curiosity for other things than what they learn only.
Short before I ran beyond tellerrand in Düsseldorf I was invited to be a guest in Ohne den Hype, a German podcast by Sven Saro about design related topics.
Good fun, lovely conversation with Sven and you can listen to it here.
Opening up my RSS reader, a cup of coffee in hand, […] The act of spending that time in those feeds still feels like a very deliberate, intentional act.
Yes! I agree, Tim.
⇾ Visit: Investing in RSS – Tim Kadlec
I am usually not a person complaining. Especially not about things in the past. But when being asked, I told how hard the pandemic has hit me personally and us as a family. Not only financially, but more importantly emotionally. Because I really love, what I am doing with beyond tellerrand.
Not everybody really knows, that it is a single person organising the events completely. Up to the point, when we set up the events with the lovely team around Guido, Tanja, Patrick, Lulu and many other supporting those gigs, it is only me planning, coordinating and organising everything. Speakers, topics, travel for speakers, partners, venue, side events, workshops, schedule and so on … and I bloody love it! The way those events build up month by months until everything ends in the final piece: the event itself.
Now the pandemic has shown me, that setting all your money on one horse is not ideal. I haven’t created any other revenue stream like a YouTube channel or even a podcast. I did not write books about “my success” or how to run event or alike. I simply have been happy running those events. That lead to the fact, that from one day to the other, all my income I generate through those events for 4 other people in my family and me, was gone. In my positivity, call it naivety, when the lockdown was announced, I thought, that I would run my events soon again. Little did I know and 2,5 years later the small amount of savings in my business bank account, that slowly grew over 8 years of running the event and which would save me, when one event might fail financially and help me planning and ordering swag early, was gone.
When I started running beyond tellerrand again last year, I quickly had to realise that it wasn’t a “let’s continue”, but more a “let’s restart”. And yes it was. A restart from zero. Financially. Getting the word out. Everything. The only real benefit I still ad was a good reputation. It was tough getting the word spread, that beyond tellerrand happens again. Social media these days is more or less dead. Algorithms have broken the natural stream of all platforms and the content people see is not the content of people they follow, but of people who pay to be seen.
Furthermore 3 years are a long time. People’s interests and their jobs chance. Kids were born, people focused on their families (as they should) and many of those who always came to my events simply had a different life and would not come anymore. That led to two events in Düsseldorf and Berlin in 2022 that weren’t sold out. Luckily I did not loose any money, but I also did not make any. I, like in the beginning, needed to plan each event with the money that came from the same event’s ticket sales.
In the past that was not a big problem since people really bought their tickets early and beyond tellerrand sold out sometimes two months or earlier in advance. That gave me the base of ordering swag early and knowing the numbers to plan with. Especially being a single person running this, it is more difficult the later I have those final numbers. The manner how people right now buy their tickets changed. They are not early, but really late and I do understand why. Not only because we don’t know surely if another wave of Covid related shit is hitting us, but also big companies letting go multiple thousand people does not create a save perspective in our industry. And I don’t blame anyone for being late, honestly.
Up until 6 weeks ago I did not even sell 50% of the tickets I have for beyond tellerrand. I was not sure, if that would work out. Not only financially, but a half full room is not the best for the overall atmosphere, for the speakers on stage and also for my partners expecting a certain amount of people to be there. It never has been easy to advertise my event. It is an event without a focus on a specific things. Neither just design or typography, nor just tech or web design/development. It is a broad mix.
I, though, love how one of the teachers, who always brought around 30 to 40 students from Belgium to beyond tellerrand puts it, when asked what the benefit for him and his students is to be at the event:
[…] the joy to create such great inspiring moments in the lives of the students. You know, all the students I had who came to btconf turned out to be better professionals and to have more interesting careers than those who did not. That’s the impact of such an experience. They turned out to become more opinionated, more passionate, more demanding to themselves, more international too. This sort of trip gives lifelong memories for them. I was glad to be an enabler of that, and you made it very easy for me.
That is so lovely! ☺️
Thanks to so many people spreading the word, re-posting my posts on social media, telling others about the event I feel such aa massive relief now as I am proud to say that only about 30 tickets are left for beyond tellerrand 2023 by the time writing these lines. It is late and gives me some hard tasks to get things sorted, but the great excitement that I have will make it possible somehow.
I am so relieved and happy and am extremely looking forward to kick off another beyond tellerrand show in Düsseldorf in about 4 weeks from now.
Thanks so much for those who support me and beyond tellerrand with anything. Financially, with reposting bist I post, with telling other people about the event … with everything!
See you in Düsseldorf.
Like Gruber says:
Long story short: If you’re a subscriber to either Tweetbot or Twitterrific, you can help them out with three simple steps:
- Reinstall the app if you’ve already deleted it; otherwise, make sure you’re running the latest version.
- Tap the “I Don’t Need a Refund” button.
- Feel good and go buy yourself a treat, knowing you helped the good folks at a small company whose work you’ve appreciated (and will continue to).
It’s January 31st. I stop my car in front of a Japanese shop in the area of Düsseldorf’s central station. It is a grey day and the person I am picking up is my friend Vitaly Friedman. He took the train from Berlin to Düsseldorf to meet me there. From Düsseldorf we drove over to Belgium to explore and check a few venues for a possible new adventure. When entering my car Vitaly says:
Ahh. Marc, that feels like in the old days, when we were checking venues for our very first event in Freiburg. Do you remember?
Indeed it had a similar feeling. The event business is on some kind of re-start. Especially when I hear from web related events, a lot of them struggle to sell tickets these days and not because their line-up is bad or their marketing. Many reasons exist – too many to go into details here – why this is the case and those who don’t stop running their events wonder what they could do to get the word out and sell tickets. And selling tickets, plus getting financial support by companies who team up with events like mine, is crucial for those events to survive, as they are mostly community based or community driven events. Maybe even only by a very small team or single person.
But back to where we were … so Vitaly and I ended up in my car for 3 hours chatting about all things events and Smashing Magazine. About the difficulties mentioned above, but also about the curiosity and excitement of running those events. We both share this passion to bring people together on those days and create something that is valuable and wonderful. Time was flying and we arrived in Antwerp, where we wanted to check two possible venues.
The first venue we arrived at was the Bourla Schouwburg. Two very nice people welcomed us and showed us the venue. What a lovely, old theatre. Vitaly and I directly loved it and were giggling about ideas we had for different areas in the venue, imagining where what could happen during the days of the event and felt that this one had the right atmosphere and spirit.
Our next stop was the Zuiderpershuis. Again a very lovely person welcomed us and showed us around. This one is not a real theatre, but more like an event venue. Very nice and authentic also and we could directly see the kind of events that would take place here. Festivals that would be containing of more hands-on experiences than talks. Smaller workshops, shorter presentations and hands-on in depth sessions. But for what we were thinking of there would be too much we would need to get done and many details missing and to be added, so that we decided not to go with this one.
For our next stop we had to drive roughly another hour to arrive in the wonderful city of Gent, after we had some tasty fries iN Antwerp. I have never been in Gent before, but the city centre is just amazing. So were the two people waiting for us, when we arrived at the NTGent. An what a lovely venue was waiting for us again. Similar to the Bourla in Antwerp it has wonderful balconies and both of us, Vitaly and I, were directly in love with the theatre, the opportunities the rooms next to the theatre offered us and the wonderful view from the balcony of one of the rooms at the theatre.
We left this theatre impressed, but with a sour taste in our mouths. A sour taste not because all those venues were nice, but because we did not know which one would be best of our two favourites.
On our 3-hours ride back to Düsseldorf we spoke a lot about pro and con of Bourla vs NTGent, we left voice messages for Charis, Amanda and the rest of the Smashing Team to describe those benefits and possible negative bits.
In the end we did not decide against the NTGent as a venue, but for Antwerp as the city. It is better known, better reachable from most places and offers more of what we need, in the summary, compared to Gent and the NTGent.
Well and now? Now we are on to a new adventure in Belgium. Today we announced Smashing Conference Antwerp, a conference focusing on Design and UX topics. Early birds tickets are online (48 left by the time writing these lines!) and we are all extremely looking forward to exploring the options we have in Antwerp. New lessons learned at a new city in a new venue and you can be part of this and help us to make this a memorable experience for everybody coming!
See you at October 9–11 in Antwerp for a new Smashing Conference and thanks for reading this little memorable story about how Vitaly and I visited the venues in Belgium!
For a longer time my friends of Storyblok and I are working on the idea of bringing free meetup-like community events to you. What was cooking for a while finally is starting now with our first two stops in Brighton and Leeds, in the UK.
“Oh come on Marc! Advertising events of a company that you sell us as community events. Not interested in getting promotional talks about a headless CMS…”
This or similar is maybe what you think, when hearing about a roadshow like this. But …
Storyblok is doing so many things for the web community, that it feels needless for me to actually write this, but: they don’t need this and love the Web.
I myself would never sell my soul or attendees to anything I don’t believe in and think it would be great fun. Plus: did you have a look at the people joining us? I think that speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
Therefore I am super happy to let you know that this is a start of a journey for 2023, where we visit a couple of cities in Europe with various speakers from the community to create inspiring evening events for you, where you can meet other people that work for, in, on and with the Web.
For the first stops in the UK, we are super happy to be joined by Cassie Evans, Jeremy Keith, Arisa Fukuzaki, Harry Roberts, James Hall (who also kindly offered their offices to be our venue for the Leeds stop) and Phil Hawksworth.
Keep an eye on the beyond tellerrand website or on the Storyblok website for updates on the planned stops. Whatever fits your needs better.
I feel like repeating myself here, but for me events have a value far beyond seeing the talks. In my 24 years of being freelancer/self-employed I took most of what I am today from attending events. New projects, ideas, energy, new contacts, even new long-time friends! I believe there is so much that this provides, but I guess you heard this from me already, right? ;)
Well, I am very much looking forward to get back on the road and meet you!
In general we all live roughly 4000 weeks on this planet. I have used up most of mine – 2531, to be exact – already and reading this makes me think of course.
Concerning that I already used up so many weeks, I am in a certain time of my life and the website states:
That’s likely a majority of the weeks you’ll see. The psychologist Erik Erikson suggests that at this phase of life you focus on the virtue of care. Spend your weeks “making your mark” by intentionally nurturing things that will outlast you, raising children, mentoring others, becoming involved in your community and organizations, and creating positive change that benefits others.
Well, I can state that I, at least in my opinion, already am doing this. I have three wonderful children, something I call my job, I have a true passion for – even though it is in a tough situation at the moment with what the pandemic caused – and I think with this, I also am making a mark, I am mentoring others and am creating positive change that benefits others.
I feel ok now.
I read this on a website by Lee Byron, which is a tribute to the book “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” by Oliver Burkeman, in case you also want to read it.
I recently watched a YouTube video on the channel of “Kurzgesagt” which addresses a similar topic. You can watch it (English or German) below.
English version: What are you doing with your life? The Tail End.
German version: Was machst du mit deinem Leben? Eine Perspektive.
I am not posting this to demotivate anyone or tell them that more than half of their life is over 🤣 … no, I mean it in a more positive way and to get motivated to use the time you have in a way that makes sense to you (and maybe even to others like your beloved ones).