Tribe Conference – Where I found the Inspiration and Community I Craved
This past weekend I attended Tribe Conference in Franklin, Tennessee with hundreds of other writers, creatives and artists who want to grow their craft and community. I have been to many conferences- technology ones, blogging, casual games, business and marketing conferences, start up conferences, build a better life conference, and more. I have spoke at some of the conferences and I have attended many more as an attendee. There are only a few that stand out to me and Tribe was at the top of the list for the impact it had on me.
I want to give you a glimpse into what I gained from Tribe Conference and what mattered to me that I think might resonate with others.
I think one of the most beautiful things in the world is an invitation. You see an invitation to join in, an invitation to come along side, an invitation to be part of a group is a special thing. We all want a place to belong and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. I use every opportunity to invite others in, whether it’s to my home, or to join me and others- to feel like they belong. Because we all want to belong to something. And Tribe Conference is an open invitation to join the community of writers and creatives if you feel the conference and it’s community speak to you or if you’d like to get to know them better. I would tell you that you won’t regret rsvping yes to an invitation to be a part of the Tribe community. The invitation has been offered so grab it with both hands and join us next year. For those that say yes to the invitation, I can’t wait to welcome you in.
What I can tell you about Tribe Conference is that I never once felt I was an outsider or like I did not belong. I headed to Franklin, Tennessee not knowing a single person at the conference. Not a single one. Some attendees have attended a previous conference or are in one of Jeff’s writer programs like Tribe Writers, so prior to the conference they likely connected with others online but I had not, and I still felt welcome. I also did everything I could to welcome others in. To look them in the eye and to listen to them because I hoped others would do the same for me and they did. The writers and creatives attending Tribe, the speakers and Jeff and his team were all approachable, warm and inviting. We all came together with a common desire to share of ourselves, and our passion with the world through the art we make.
Stop Hiding Your Cape
For close to forty years, I never thought I could be a writer. Sure, I had written articles and blog posts online for the website, ZiggityZoom, I co-founded with my mom for families and teachers in 2008. And I wrote posts for other sites over the years. But my whole life I told myself an internal lie – I could not be a writer because I was terrible at grammar and punctuation. I was the run on sentence queen. I was the girl who could knock out a ten page paper at lightning speed, but it would need a ton of editing. I did not think I could major in English in college and while I am not sure I would have switched to English I did not even consider it an option. I guess someone should have told me about editors! Here is the thing, when I look back there were signs I was ignoring. When I was 12 I wrote poems that I never shared with a single person. And then a few years ago words came to me as lyrics but I am not a singer. I should also mention I also wanted to be a National Geographic Photographer- I haven’t put the time in yet to move towards this dream but it’s still there and I’m hoping to conquer being an exceptional photographer in the next decade as I love taking photos but I haven’t put in the hard work yet.
I started to realize the books I read weren’t the types of books most of my friends read. I was drawn to the books, and stories, and content that I was called to become a part of. Those books and stories and authors spoke to my soul. They felt like a fresh spring of water welling up within me. They made me feel fully alive. Tim Grahl, one of the speakers and author of Running Down a Dream, spoke of Shadow Careers- that many of us will work beside the thing or career we are actually supposed to do. What. I completely related to that idea. Seriously, I wish I had a tribe, a group of writers years ago to encourage me and to help me find my way from what I’m good at to what I was called to do in this world.
But over the past few years, I have finally admitted to myself where my gifts, and uniqueness and passions intersected were best shared through writing. I started to write blog posts and over the course of a year, I began to feel comfortable writing in my own voice. If I’m honest, I am still scared that my words or stories are not what the world needs, I am still scared it won’t be good enough, or I will write but it will only be received by my readers as nice but will lack having impact. I am still scared, but I have found the courage to stop hiding. To stop denying that within me is a storyteller and I must find a way to bring that part of me out into the world. And before Tribe Conference this year I have not often uttered the words, “I AM A WRITER” but friends I put Writer on the cards I made last Monday before the conference.
I would say to you, find other writers and creatives to support you – whether in your community, or online or at a conference like Tribe and STOP HIDING YOUR CAPE from the world because the world needs more real life heroes who are willing to risk being safe and quiet and will use their stories to light the world on fire with their ideas, stories, and most of all their passion. We need more HEROES.
We are Them, They are Us
If you are a writer, aspiring writer, a creative, an artist or an entrepreneur with something to say, or even if you have not admitted to anyone you have a longing to become a writer or creative because deep in your soul you know you can’t keep ignoring the ache you feel to tell your story- then this is the conference for you.
When we believe we are alone in our endeavors. When we believe we are alone in our struggles and pain and in our frustrations and confusion, we can fall into thinking our journey is unique. Our scars go too deep and our shame keeps us from moving forward, but I’m here to tell you that while you are unique there are so many others longing to find their tribe, a group that they belong to and can talk to openly about where they find themselves in this process of sharing our voice and creative endeavors with the world. Tribe conference allows you to connect with others on the same journey. To hear messages that might help you put one foot in front of the other and move towards the place our hearts have been waiting for us to show up.
If you can’t make it to tribe there are plenty of online communities and programs you can join to begin to find a group, or a community who will support you, and help you along. Just remember, we are them. Those going through the same struggles, and challenges, and journey as we are. Yes, we may be in a different stage of our journey, and there will be people further along than you and others following behind where you find yourself, but each of them are on a similar journey, so I say we are them and they are us.
A Passion For…
One underlying theme I heard throughout the conference was you must have passion for your work and for life. And I think that is so important. I believe when you find that place where your passion and talents come together your work will shine brightly for others to see and you will be a beacon to those that need your help; that need to hear your story so they can grow or heal.
Quantity over Quality
One of the speakers, Melissa Dinwiddie talked about producing quantity over quality of work and I think this is a really important take away. Why you ask? When we decide to show up daily to create and try new things. When we aren’t afraid that the creation has to be perfect and we can create without constraints- this is when we find our flow. When we find ourselves marrying new and old ideas together to make something even more beautiful than we ever thought we could. So just focus on showing up every day and doing something creative. And hey, enjoy the process and don’t put so much pressure on yourselves. There will be plenty of days for deadlines, and self-prescribed pressure.
Do the Hard Work
Once we decide we are writers or another type of creative, we must start doing the hard work. The journey won’t be easy, nor will it be short. It’s likely to feel like you are climbing up a steep mountain on the edge of the icy path with no safety rope. But the good news is there are processes we can adopt, and schedules to make it easier to spend time in our craft and most importantly there are people like us we can connect with. And I found all of these things and more during my weekend in Franklin, Tennessee.
What Makes You….
One theme I heard from several speakers and in several of my favorite books is the idea that we need to be in touch with ourselves. We need to know what makes us cry, and what makes us angry as hell, and what breaks our heart that we feel moved to speak or write about it. And we need to know what makes us come alive? If we pay attention to what pulls at our heart strings, and what ideas, or books, and topics or people make us come alive, make us more animated and passionate as we interact in the world- that my friend is a gift. Those are the guideposts we should follow to learn what is important to us and what we should be writing about. Find your way in the world and go be the change this world needs.
And I would also add that what makes us who we are is also what we read, and who we spend time with, and the scripture or important words we read and reread.
In Mark Batterson’s book Chase the Lion he says, “Your favorite scripture will become the script of your life.” Wow, I love that. It’s food for thought if nothing else. I think the idea applies whether you have a favorite scripture or not- what is the theme, the words or cause that keeps coming up in your heart? And in case you are wondering my favorite scripture is Romans 12:13 that says, “Take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.”
The Answers are at your Table
I bought the premium Tribe Conference ticket this year and from Friday afternoon until we wrapped up Sunday, I heard Jeff say, “the answers you need are at your table.” What he meant was don’t look to me or the speakers to have all the answers because every single person at Tribe, even the people sitting next to you, bring skills, and talent, and experiences that may help you. And if you get to know them and open up about your journey and where you need help, likely someone sitting in the seat next to you or joining the same group for lunch will have solutions to your problems. In Mark Batterson’s book, Chase the Lion he says, “Can I make a simple observation? Notice who’s next to you! What you think is a seat assignment might be a divine assignment. The person two inches away may change your destiny or you might change theirs.”
It’s About Time I Go After My….
Jeff Goins opened the conference up dressed as a Lion Tamer and gave a fantastic opening keynote. One idea he emphasized over the weekend and left us with on Sunday was – It’s about time I (insert something here). For instance, it’s about time I called myself a writer. Well this is a powerful message and as we know words have power. Jeff also talked often about our mindset and that we must move towards a positive mindset and belief in ourselves. Yes, I believe most of the attendees, most of the room that was filled with writers and artists and beautiful souls needed to hear those words. Here are a few more It’s about time to get you thinking. I’d suggest you come up with a list of your own.
It’s About Time I go after my passion. It’s about time I go after my dream of writing a book. It’s about time I go after my desire to work for myself. It’s about time I called myself a WRITER. It’s about time I make time for writing. It’s about time I took a risk. It’s about time I share my story
Another take away I got from Jeff was for us to “treat my writing like the calling I know it is.” This resonated with me because once I decided writing is one of the main ways I will share my passion and my gifts with the world I knew deep down I was called to write. I knew it was imprinted on my heart to encourage others through my words. So to hear someone else tell me they feel the same and believe each of us should treat our writing”like the calling we know it is” – it was one more moment during the conference when I thought to myself. I am home. This is where I belong. I have found what I have been longing for- a community of creatives who are ready to encourage and ask for help.
Jeff also wrote a book called, The ‘in-between’ moments which he gave us and said it was his worst selling book. He then goes onto tell us why he believe he missed the mark with this book, but the concept of in-between moments speaks to me because I think one of the powerful things about the conference is that it’s designed for us to use the in-between moments to connect, and dream, and begin to put our dreams into steps that will make us take action. So Jeff, thank you for designing the conference with time for us to experience the ‘in-between moments.”
As I mentioned earlier, Tim Grahl brought up the idea of shadow careers and I would challenge you to think about the work you do. Really be honest with yourself. If you did not have to tell anyone and did not have to worry about paying the bills -what would you do if fear didn’t stop you from believing you could do something else?
And what hides in shadows? Monsters and scary things. And our fears. Well Tim goes onto remind us that most of our fears as creators are irrational because if they happen we will still be living, breathing and capable of doing our work. Real fears would be something like a bear chasing us and I’m guess most of us aren’t running away from a bear currently.
The other thing I’ll share about Tim’s talk is being able to take honest feedback. His editor and Jeff both told him his first book draft for Running Down a Dream was more like a series of blog posts not a cohesive book. I’m pretty sure when you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into your project those aren’t easy words to hear but I am sure it was feedback Tim needed to hear. I share this because it’s likely we will all find ourselves at that same place where we are given necessary feedback and we need to know it’s alright and we will get past that hurdle with hard and honest reflection and work on our writing.
Todd Henry, the author of Herding Tigers, the Accidental Creative and Louder than Words spoke about building our body or work, taking risks, not getting stuck in comfort traps and how we can succeed our way to failure if we are not careful. I absolutely connected with his presentation. The idea I’ll share from Todd was for us to put work into the world that matters and to make something you love everyday for someone who will love it. And I loved the idea that we need to make sure our body of work is a reflection of who we really are not only a part of ourselves.
Let’s Get Physical
Marsha Shandur of yesyesmarsha said something I just love. Maybe it’s because I talk with my hands and I am very animated and most of the time I talk too fast because I am a passionate person. She said, “People will always follow your physical ques, that’s what they’ll believe.” Ken Davis told us that he would watch many of us have conversations with each other as we talked about everyday life and he’d see excitement and passion but when attendees had to talk about their work or writing they would become wallflowers, quiet and less passionate. I think the problem is that many people in the room are so close to finding their life’s message but don’t have the confidence to shout it from the rooftops- I think we are getting there but it takes hard work, and asking for help and feedback from a community and then readers.
Create for One
Amy Landino spoke about using podcasting to share your message. All fantastic and girl, I’m on my way to podcasting. I bought a big girl microphone and camera over a year ago and it’s been collecting dust. Here is my public commitment to podcasting in early 2019. Here was my take away from Amy’s session that we should all consider- Can I make something for the one that can affect emotions of many? In other words, have in mind a specific person you are serving or helping with your message, with your products.
Be Uniquely YOU
Chase Jarvis is a professional Photographer, Co-founder of CreativeLive and creator of cool things.
He had tons of things that I could relate to but the one I’ll share is this, “ignoring my creativity was the biggest failure of my soul.” So I would ask you, are you sharing your whole self, the part you are scared to share but know it will bring you the satisfaction. As he said be true your self and do work and find your place in the world that only you can do. And be excited to show up regularly doing work you love because that is contagious.
What a Difference a Year can Make
Joseph Michael talked about the difference a year can make. I love this idea because what if we started thinking about the next 365 days as our best year yet. What if we allowed ourselves to dream those big dreams. If we didn’t stop ourselves from dreaming about our next project or book and we cast our nets wider for our dreams and vision for ourselves? He also talked about how to drill down and get specific about our audience. To go 4 Deep on who your audience is and what problem must they solve that you can help them with- a real problem? So get thinking and think about 4 defining characteristics of your audience. This is critical- this isn’t about saying I write a column for women. Nope that is not specific enough. You need to get into the nitty gritty of who your audience is and what they want- what problem do they need help with that you can help them with in your book, or message or program?
My take away from Heather Teysko was that she created products she loved about English History and guess what people started buying it- it was super niche and those that had the same interest as her built a community around their shared passion. And the bigger take away was the girl can think outside of the box! She challenged herself to come up with 1,000 ideas on things she could sell- wow- that is a lot of ideas. So I say let’s get brain storming and dream of the 500 or 1,000 things we could offer or sell our audience.
Blend Your Signature Ingredients
On Sunday Paul Angone spoke about his journey to becoming an author and all the ups and downs to get there. He talked about hitting rock bottom and reminded us that, “Your Worst Failures often get you to success with hard work.” It’s easy to get stuck in those low places on our way to something greater. It’s easy to see hard times as defeating instead of the lessons or opportunities they open us up to because those struggles, and rejections, and difficult life experiences allow us to connect over those shared struggles. And he spoke about understanding your signature ingredients or your gifts, talents, skills, passions and how you can help others in order to find your unique signature sauce.
A good way to use these kernels would be to write down a list of your signature ingredients and also the struggles and painful things you have walked through and take a look at the list. I would also suggest asking friends what they think you do well. You might be surprised by their responses. For instance, one of my gifts is hospitality and I did not even know it until a few years ago- I did not know that did not come easy to others or my heart to welcome people in until friends started mentioning how hard hosting others was for them.
People Follow People
Janet Murray shared with us that “Everything is a Content Opportunity” and what I got from that is a theme I’ve heard before and rings true. People follow people. They don’t follow your site or your brand but they follow you and your message but the messenger is what they follow because people relate to other people. So remember to share with your readers or audience who you are, and give them opportunities to connect with you as a person. Also, remember to Show Don’t Tell in your writing and your social media. Users want to see and read about your experiences not be told what they should do.
What Movement Are You Starting
I think most of us set our sights too low instead of too high. Mike Kim spoke about the seven steps we need to understand about our personal brand in order to find momentum and success. He explains you must first write your personal story. He wants us to think beyond the book idea, or blog we want to start; to go bigger or deeper and figure out the movement we are trying to start because then marketing will be easy. Another way to put it is what is your life’s message? He walked us through determining your personal story, and platform we will use, and then how we will position our brand, and after that we can move onto our product offerings, the price and finally the verbal pitch. While these concepts were not new to me, sticking to the order of these steps was a wake up call because as he explained, if you try to create the products or price before the story and platform your brand will not be aligned and you will struggle with finding the right audience and finding success.
You are Here because you are Special
Ken Davis was the last speaker of the conference and let me say, he was the final speaker because he is so good at delivering an impactful, engaging and funny talk. I seriously laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. He started off by telling us we are special because other people are content being at home watching football or doing what they do everyday. You are not. You have something within you that you need to share with the world and that makes each of you special.
He then told us that the greatest communicators have a clear and singular purpose in their work. Whether you are delivering a talk, or writing a book or blog post their must be a clear and singular purpose of the material. And he reminded us, that, “your talk or book isn’t about you, it’s about how it benefits or impacts your audience’s lives.” Which I think is so important to keep top of mind while doing our work. To keep checking in and ask ourselves, does this section benefit my reader and does it align with the purpose of the book. The last take away that stood out to me from Ken’s talk was about using images in our work. He explains, we can use images to put light on your message- to take what would be in the head and move it to the heart. I love that idea. As Chase Jarvis said during his talk, photography is a universal language that everyone can understand.
Without context a message can be confusing or misunderstood. Charles Lee talked about having a clear business context for your brand and pair that with your story, and business objectives in order to come up with your brand design. You see if your design aligns with those things your brand will successfully speak to your audience and provide them with the experience and feel you have designed for them.
Never Stop Being an Apprentice
Dave Delaney talked about using Improv techniques in our work and our interactions with others. And as I’ve had a few days to think about this, I’ve come to realize if we would all practice impromptu responses when we are in new situations like being at a conference with hundreds of people I don’t know, it would make speaking to people easier. He also talked about practice saying yes instead of a default no. More importantly, he left us with the idea of having an apprentice’s mindset, or said another way, keep learning from those around you. Don’t think of yourself as having arrived, or being an expert but on a journey that you can learn from the people around you and this my friend is magic- if your belief systems keep you positioned as a learner your work will thrive and people will want to help you and cheer you on.
Find Your Intersection
Nicole Gulotta is a writer who combined her love of writing, more specifically poems, with her love of cooking. She wrote a blog and cookbook called Eat this Poem. The message she shared that spoke to me was one that keep coming up but it’s so important. Your unique intersection is where you combine your two passions together- this is your sweet spot- the place you offer the world something unique.
Mike Brennan shows up and stands out. He has his own style and his art is both amazing and unique. Mike brings his passion to his work and his talent shines. What I took away from Mike was to do what you love and don’t let anyone try to define the work you’ll do or change it. If you love animals and want to write about or create art of animals then go for it. People will follow your passion and talent so find the things you love and must create and go out and do those things. Feedback is good but don’t flounder because someone doesn’t agree. As they say your work should be polarizing. It’s not for everyone and that is ok. Go bring your gifts and talents into the world.
“With God and Google you are unstoppable”
Seriously, is there a better quote than the one Alli Worthington delivered during her talk? “With God and Google you are unstoppable.” Alli shared her journey on being a stay at home mom to five boys and her need to find a way to make money when her husband lost his job and how her life changed when she started googling how to blog and how to make money online so many years ago. Seriously, just take that advice and get busy because if you add in motivation and passion you will be unstoppable.
Stop Trying to Fit In
We all start off as inquisitive, creative, artistic beings when we are young but as we get older we are bombarded with messages that tell us to get in line, get a regular job, to follow these steps or this process. As the years go by some of our creativity is hidden away. Some of our uniqueness has been covered up by layers of trying to fit in. I am here to tell you, you need to wake up that creative child inside of you and start peeling back those layers that hide your special uniqueness with the world because what the world needs is you as you are. Gordon Mackenzie, Hallmark’s “Creative Paradox” said, “From cradle to grave, the pressure is on: be normal.” But it is our job as creatives to stop trying to fit in and starting being US.
You Don’t Have to Be an Expert
Chandler Bolt, author and creator of Self Publishing School and other programs talked to us about launching a book in a weekend or over 90 days. He talked about how to have a successful book launch and how to build a passive income stream. What stood out for me was that he was not an expert but he figured out the book he would want or program he wish he had as he started out. He created those products and the information he had not yet mastered he learned along the way. The point is, if you have a pain point or struggle and you can create a product or book that would help you or someone like you then others will buy your product. So brainstorm some of the challenges you’ve had and what helped you or what information, plan or program could help you?
On the Top of my card under my name I put Encourager because above all else I believe that is what I’m meant to do in the world is encourage others and give them hope. Sometimes it might be through writing, and others times through my current role as a Marketing Technology Director and always as a friend, and neighbor and mom. I say that to remind each of you that the world needs your words and stories and most of all it needs your encouragement. In Chase the Lion, Mark also talks about the power of one compliment and I have believed this for a long time. He says, “One word of encouragement has the potential to change a person’s perspective on life; a person’s plot line for all eternity. And don’t just compliment people to their faces. Brag about them behind their backs. The right word at the right time can be the catalyst for someone else’s dream.” So I say, keep encouraging your community of writers and when you feel moved to compliment the woman passing by then do it- don’t get stuck in your head. Compliments and praise cost you nothing so be present in the moment and connect with others every chance you get.
Be a Somebody Who….
So what I took away from the conference can be summoned up in these words.
Be a Somebody who shows up. Be a Somebody who believes you can do the work you want. Be a Somebody who believes SOMEBODY NEEDS WHAT YOU HAVE. Be a Somebody that joins a community. Be a Somebody that helps others. Be a Somebody that is willing to share your story, even if it’s hard, and scary, and the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Be a somebody who doesn’t give up. Be a Somebody that shares their PASSION. Be a Somebody who finds their MESSAGE and has a clear PURPOSE. Be a somebody that has a PLAN with objectives and deadline. Be a Somebody that asks for HELP and gives it to others in your community. Be a Somebody who finds their strength. Be a Somebody who finds their WHY. Be a Somebody who gets specific with who you can help. Be a Somebody who connects with others. Be a Somebody who stays humble and sincere. Be a Somebody who knows your strength comes from your UNIQUENESS. Be a Somebody who builds others up. Be a Dreamer. Be a Somebody that puts your Energy into One Thing. Be a Somebody that put their Faith above their Fear.
On my last day in Tennessee, I went into Downtown Nashville with a new friend from the conference and this statement was on one of the buildings. So I say to you, If you are a dreamer come in and join us next September. You won’t regret it! I’ve already bought my ticket to Tribe Conference for next year and I don’t think September can come soon enough. Happy writing friends. I am still in the process of working on my brand, and vision for myself and my writing but I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at kristin at abeautifuladventure.co or find me on instagram @abeautifuladventure.co or @kristinfitch.
Kristin writes as a trusted friend- her honest words and positive outlook shines through the hard days on all that is beautiful in our chaotic lives and in the world even when we’ve forgotten because sometimes we need to be reminded of the beauty, love and blessings all around us.
Kristin writes as a trusted friend- her honest words and positive outlook shines through the hard days on all that is beautiful in our chaotic lives and in the world even when we’ve forgotten because sometimes we need to be reminded of the beauty, love and blessings all around us.