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Insights from EntreFEST 2015

Insights from EntreFEST 2015
Photo by Justin Torner Photography and courtesy of EntreFEST.

Last week, six of us from Far Reach headed to Iowa City for the two-day EntreFEST conference.  

The organizers promised three days of game-changing training and inspiration. They didn’t disappoint.

I’ve supported the organizers since its start and have attended 6 out of 8 EntreFESTs.

What keeps me coming back?

  • Learning – There’s so much to learn from the more than 100 speakers.
  • People – Connecting and networking with other attendees is my favorite part.
  • Perspective – It’s good to get away from the details of the day-to-day grind. I get to step back and look at the big picture. Where have we been? Where are we now? Most importantly, where are we going?

Here’s what I learned.

Work/Life Balance
I attended a session on work-life balance as an entrepreneur. It confirmed what I thought—there is no work-life balance for entrepreneurs. Well, there is, but it’s different than most people's balance.

My takeaway was each person needs to determine the work-life balance that works for themself and their family. I have a super supportive wife, so my balance shifts more toward business at times.

Truths
Ben Milne discussed his truths, which were a collection of insights. I enjoyed his talk. Two of his truths really resonated with me:

  1. Ideas are worthless—unless you do something about them.
  2. Learning to be happy is scary.

John Pappajohn
I listened to legendary business leader John Pappajohn take part in a Q&A session.

Some key takeaways:

  • The key to success is learning how to solve problems.
  • Success is feeling good about what you did and knowing you did your best work.
  • Happiness is positive cash flow.
  • Help people to help themselves.

The Lean Startup Machine
Trevor Owens, author of "The Lean Enterprise," talked about lean startup methodologies.

 His tips included:

  • Create a minimum viable product (MVP). This minimum version of your product vision lets you quickly and effectively validate your idea.
  • Pinpoint their pain. Early adopters are your first customers. They have a pain you are solving.
  • Make a hypothesis and test. Adjust your hypothesis based on the results. Repeat.
  • Pivot if necessary. Change your strategy, not your vision.

Iowa Coaches Roundtable
The roundtable featured:

  • Mark Farley – University of Northern Iowa head football coach
  • Tom Brands – University of Iowa wrestling coach
  • Lisa Bluder – University of Iowa women's head basketball coach
  • Sandy Hatfield Clubb – Drake University athletic director

My takeaways, which apply to both sports and business, included:

  • Have values and a vision. Execute on them.
  • Values and vision will attract the right type of players.
  • If you get complacent, you will lose. You need to keep tweaking to get better.
  • Treat people as they could be. For example, one panelist told a story about an athlete who began playing with the first-teamers and his game and intensity rose.

Seth Godin
The conference ended with keynote speaker Seth Godin.

His key points were:

  • Marketing/building for the masses = building average stuff.
  • All of us are smarter than any of us.
  • The industrial age is over. Start thinking about the connection economy.
  • Treat different people differently.
  • Art is something that makes a difference and might not work.

Next Year’s Event

EntreFEST 2016 will be May 18-20 in Iowa City. You can register now. I’ll be there. I hope you will be, too.