FutureMidwest 2011 [Review]

May 1 2011 in Review by Tim Adkins (admin)

FutureMidwest 2011 from iSPY Magazine on Vimeo.

With the weekend finally coming to close, I’ve been able to reflect upon this past Thursday and Friday’s FutureMidwest Conference at Eastern Market in Detroit. Having attended last year’s conference at the Royal Oak Music Theater, I had plenty of expectations and motivational factors for wanting to not only experience the conference, but also play a role in the future of SE Michigan.

This year, for me, was all about the connection and meeting the people I follow daily on Twitter. It’s odd, but seeing someone in real life as opposed to a 16×16 avatar picture is a bit surreal. Actually laughing with others over a beer and sharing stories first hand is such a different experience than RT’s and lol-haha’s (with a pic attached). The highlight for me was easily expanding my network and having real conversations with like minded folks about HOW to implement change and of course Thursday night at the 1701 Cigar Bar was legit. It was also nice to see and interact with presenters off the stage. They were there to learn just as much as the audience was and they were very approachable for discussion.

My favorite presenters were the “Bro-founders” of 9 Cloud, John and Scott Meyer. They brought back the idea of the “small town” to the big, fancy and flashy world of new media marketing. I remember John said something along the lines of, if your new social media guy is an asshole in person, he’ll be an asshole online, and he advised the hire of someone else. I also really enjoyed Jason Schmitt of the Huffington Post, who discussed Detroit’s musical history and the correlation it has with it’s future in tech start-ups.

My favorite tweets from #FMW11:

“Brands are now the sum of conversations happening, not just a logo or single message.”

RT @DaveMurr: Best lesson of the day came from Dan Gilbert, “Building something great is messy.”

RT @nickdenardis: “Detroit is better setup to be a tech hub than Chicago is, but there is something much more organic happening…”

As great as the 2 days were, there was some room for improvement. I was really disappointed in Dan Gilbert’s presentation. I was really hoping to learn more about business in general and less about the Quicken empire. He spent 15-20 minutes talking about things like “Webward” avenue and the space-age future of Detroit and only 5 minutes on actual business principles/strategies. At times he fumbled through his extremely poor slideshow (literally comic sans font on white background) and was very unenthusiastic about being there. I just expected more from him.

All in all, I really felt a little let down at the overall attitude of the grand scheme of things. Last year I was moved to almost tears watching their video about what could be the future of Detroit and this year, so many people were talking and not paying any attention to it playing, I really didn’t get anything out of it, other than the amazing art work that was featured.

Next year, given they do it again, I hope the organizers build upon the Eastern Market venue, make the conference more organic and less focused on the Quicken brand (there are a lot of other companies that would sponsor, I’m sure, and I’ll even help if called upon) and get back to the inspiration of last year. This video of Sam Valenti of Ghostly is the sole reason I came back this year. They need to get back to this.

Sky Dive Tecumseh