Software systems to innovate and grow

Episode 17

Building a Community: Carl Smith with Bureau of Digital

Show Details

Hello Tech People!

Today we have Carl Smith from the Bureau of Digital on the show.

Carl is a friend, but also somebody I admire because of his experience building companies, but also because of his role at the Bureau of Digital which is a community that I belong to.

Without further a due, please welcome Carl.

Show Transcript

Carlos: Hello and welcome to another episode of Tech People. Today we have Carl Smith from the Bureau of Digital on the show. This is going to be a very exciting interview for me. Carl is a friend, but also somebody I admire because of his experience building companies, but also because of his role at the Bureau of Digital which is a community that I belong to. I think this is going to be a very interesting show. We’re going to talk with Carl about communities, community building, and some of the challenges that present themselves as your building a community and such. Without further ado, please welcome Carl.

Carl, thank you so much my friend for coming on the show. How are you doing today?

Carl: I’m doing great Carlos, I appreciate you having me. It’s always fun to be on this side of a podcast instead of asking the questions.

Carlos: There you go, there you go. Carl, for those who don’t know you, tell me a little bit about yourself, who you are and what is it that you do?

Carl: Sure. I can in to the web industry in the mid-’90s, launched a shop that ran for about 14 years and then just in the past few years, I became part of the Bureau. The Bureau is basically an effort to bring the community together, the web industry together so that we can all work together and make each other better.

Carlos: We’re going to get a little bit more in-depth about what the Bureau does and some of those details because our goal today for everybody listening is Carl and I are going to be chatting about the power or being part of a community and that community is a community that you run Carl, also keeping a community engaged. These are topics or hard things that are part of the whole community building. Also talking a little bit about events since you have so much experience with those. Before we get in to that, what is … If we can go a little bit in depth in terms of you can tell us a little bit about events and a little bit about what the community of what the Bureau actually is. What is the Bureau of digital?

Carl: Sure. Bureau of Digital was founded in 2012 by Greg Hoy and Greg Story. What was going on, they were both running Happy Cog, which is still a really great shop and happened to be the shop that established web standards back in the day and did all these things. This was a shop that everybody looked up to. The two of them felt like they didn’t know what they were doing. When you look at a shop that seems to be on top of a pedestal and yet, is still asking a bunch of questions, it shows everyone that there’s always more things to learn. They invited about 20 shops to come together in Portland, Oregon and spend a few days just sharing what was working, what wasn’t working and I happened to be one of the individuals that got invited to represent my company at the time, Engine Works.

After those 4 days, people who were strangers were suddenly great friends. To this day, my best friends have come from that initial owner camp. Nobody wanted it to stop. We didn’t have community and that was what the Bureau was about. It was establishing community in the web industry where it didn’t exist. That started with owners of digital agencies. People that we thought we re doing just great, turned out, were on the verge of bankruptcy. Others who we thought really didn’t know what they were doing, turned out to be absolutely brilliant. It was just this letting down the guard and everybody starting to learn from each other. Then after that, it moved on to digital project managers and bringing them together, they had no community. Creative directors, operators, there were so many people outside of designers and developers that just never had a chance to connect. Technical leads is definitely one of these groups. Quality assurance people.

After all of this went down, they started realizing that there were 2 types of events that made a lot of sense. One was camps and the camps are smaller. They’re really reminiscent of that initial gathering that they had where you have roughly 30 people, up to 35 people get together and spend that time just sharing what’s going on with them, sharing their experiences and trying to help each other.

Then you have larger events like summits where you have some of that breaking into smaller groups and helping each other like you do at the camps, but also you bring really smart people on different topics together to talk to the whole group. A summit could be 100 people, 300 people, we may be approaching 400 people this year with some of the digital PM summit, what that’s looking like. That thing’s on fire. That’s really the Bureau. It’s this effort to build community where it doesn’t exist and how people in that community everyday, basically by leveraging the shared knowledge.

Carlos: What you’re saying, in your own journey, your agency, is that something that you stopped working on?

Carl: I’m at this point now, it was in mid-June that Greg Hoy and I decided I would go ahead and take over the Bureau and he was going to go back to Happy Cog. There’s no way I can be committed to the community do what the community needs and try to run a service shop at the same time. I’m 48 years old, I’m heading into this final third of my career and it’s just time to get out of the client service business and really just get in to this community space and help all of these other service shops get better.

Carlos: If you could pinpoint, what is your … If you could pick out one, what is your most important role because I know you wear many hats at the Bureau. Which is your most important role would you say?

Carl: I would say my most important role, the thing that I always put number one on the priority list is community support. If I have somebody reach out to me that is struggling with how to handle a situation, it could be a good situation or a bad situation, sadly they’re normally bad situations, that is always my top priority. It’s what I’ve always done and I think it’s what most of us do. When somebody reaches out to us with a problem, we want to help. I think that’s part of the human condition. That would be number one, when someone reaches out to me and they’ve got something going on and they don’t know what to do.

The beauty is we have over 600 shops and over 1000 digital professionals that have come through the events now, so a lot of time, when I’m talking with them, I’ll somebody else who had a similar situation and I can actually connect them. Because that is what I consider to be my primary role, is that support, I can only scale so much as an individual, but when I can start playing that connector role, and start connecting individuals or companies that have had shared experiences and one needs support, that’s when it really starts to work. Then I can play more like air traffic and just help people get to the where they need to be so that they can find that help.

Carlos: What would you say is the hardest thing about being this community leader?

Carl: I would say the hardest thing right now is truly figuring out the business side of the Bureau. We’re very much an events company that’s merging into a membership based community. That’s because I’ve got kids and a mortgage like everybody else so I think the most difficult thing is when you see the bank account starting to get a little low and you realize, I really need to sell some tickets. Because that’s not your first instinct, your first instinct is not to gather people, although that’s really important, your first instinct is to help people, but you have to be sustainable or else you won’t help anyone.

Carlos: Man, that’s powerful. It’s interesting how, not only you have to serve others but also in a way, you still have to serve yourself.

Carl: Absolutely.

Carlos: But, you’re doing it by serving others.

Carl: It’s such a conflict because it’s like, you don’t want to be sitting there hocking tickets. You want to be connecting people and helping them. The thing is, the events are beautiful. I mean, people walk away from those events, you’ve been to them Carlos, you walk away and you’re just like, Wow.

Carlos: Hands down, the best events I’ve been to are yours.

Carl: It’s just amazing.

Carlos: How would you … Let’s say other people that are … How can building a community for help an agency, or let’s … Maybe we don’t have to just go to an agency. Let’s think of an engineering organization, any organization, any company, what are some benefits that they can gain but also what are some benefits that they can provide to a community and what is a community for somebody else? What examples of community could you give us for some of the listeners that might be thinking of starting communities around their company?

Carl: Sure. I think the first thing that I would take out of that is community is this opportunity to connect with other people who have shared goals, shared experiences and work together. If you were to look at the people who are in the Bureau, a lot of people would be like, But, you’re all in competition with each other. No, we’re in an industry where there’s just a tremendous amount of work. Even though sometimes it slows down and speeds up, we rarely bump into each other. It doesn’t feel like competition, it truly feels like camaraderie and helping each other.

I think the biggest thing about community is … Most of us aren’t doing the kind of work where we’re making a huge difference in the world. I know that sounds horrible to say. We’re not saving babies, we’re not correcting climate change. The opportunity to help somebody else once a week, once a day, once a month, it feels good. It gives us a sense of purpose that we’re taking these experiences that we’ve had and we’re helping somebody else either avoid something that could be bad or improve something that’s good. I think that’s a huge part of community as well.

Ultimately, for me, what I see is I see people no longer feeling alone and that is the scariest part of our industry. We’re an industry that’s not that old. The web started 25 years ago according to a whole bunch of chatter on Twitter. If you think about that, we’re only a couple of generations old, nobody really knows how to run a company in this industry. Now in reality, if you look at it, it’s not that different from other industries but most of us didn’t go to business school. Most of us came out of being artists of some sort or mathematicians or maybe computer scientists or whatever so when you find other people and you realize that everybody’s making it up, you relax. You suddenly realize, Oh, I’m doing fine. I’m doing absolutely as well as anyone else.

The last thing I want to share based on what you were asking there, and I saw this the other day, is an African proverb. It says, If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. I think that really summarizes the power of community because you can go so far when you’ve got other people that understand and that are there to pick you up when you fall over, and that you can help as well.

Carlos: Man those are deep words of wisdom right there. Seriously.

Carl: Thank you.

Carlos: That is powerful, that made me like, Whoa.

Carl: I’ve never really spoken about this. I’m glad that I’m not fumbling all over the place.

Carlos: No, it’s … wow. That was amazing. Mainly … I am part of the Bureau. I’m a member and I came in to the community because I went to an event earlier this year, we were in Atlanta, it was one of the summits. Hands down, the best event I’ve ever been to. It’s exactly that same feeling of knowing that there’s other people that are going through similar struggles and that you can reach out to them to … sometime getting the context right. Getting context of certain things that you haven’t experienced makes you understand what it is that you’re dealing with much easier. I think this applies to not only agencies such as [inaudible 00:13:38], but it applies to basically, it could apply to every type of company. Even if it’s … For example, a lot of the people that are listening in could be part of software engineering groups or product engineering teams at different companies and this could still be applied to them. It’s a matter of figuring out how to start a community from scratch even if your, again, it could be for many scenarios.

That leads me to my next question. Let’s say if you were not working with the Bureau and you were working with an engineering group somewhere in a large corporation, and you were brought in as a community builder or sorts, what lessons would you bring from your experience to start a community from scratch?

Carl: The first would be unapologetic honesty. People are attracted to the truth and even if it’s not a clear truth, but it’s an honest truth. What I mean is, I wouldn’t try to build a community based on something that I know or the organization I work with knows. I would start a community based on something we want to know but we don’t because that will attract the others who are trying to get where we want to go. I think that is the only way you can build authenticity into a community. Without authenticity, without something that keeps people coming back, you really don’t have anything.

I think the analogy that works the best is: A true community has so much value in the middle of it that it’s like a giant magnet. It’s just pulling people in. A lot of times what you see in communities, specifically in communities around a certain business, I don’t want to pick on any but let’s just say it’s wearables and they have an online community for whatever the new running watch is. You’ll see that they don’t necessarily have anything going on and they almost build an electric fence like they lock you in to some sort of a deal to join in.

I’ll pick on Fitbit a little bit. They won’t let you export your data. Guys come on, let me export my data. Let me decide if I want to go somewhere else. Because they won’t let me export my data, they’ve locked me in with this electric fence instead of building value like a magnet to keep me there. I love Fitbit and I love the community but that’s an example of trying to lock people in. I think it’s very much trying to find the desired information that everybody’s looking for. The things that you don’t know but you think will make you better and then making sure that you continue to add-on value once the community gets there to attract people instead of trying to just hold on to them for dear life.

Carlos: That makes a lot of sense in one special way also, is that if it’s something that you don’t know about but you want to learn, you are going to be more motivated to be part of that community and push the community versus if you’re the know-it-all expert it’s a different vibe or feeling.

Carl: Yeah and that’s the ultimate value, right? When everybody can contribute to learning and you walk away feeling smarter, or feeling safer or more in control, or whatever it might be. That’s value and that brings you back. Think about Google. Google never, until recently, when Google first started out, they never had any original content or anything. All they did was send people away. You would go there and they would send you away but they’d send you away to the right place so you always came back. I think that’s the same concept is, you’re going to find the information and yeah, you may have to go off but you’re going to come back because this is where you got the good stuff.

Carlos: Before we jump in to how we can … The community aspect is two parts and it’s probably many parts but to simplify it in to our podcast format, we’re picking to community, overarching subject, and then the tech, the actual events, subject. I’m thinking that the events is how we deliver the value but before we get to that though, if you were to start the Bureau of Digital from scratch all over again, what would you do differently?

Carl: That’s a really great and a really tough question. To clarify, I was there at the beginning as an attendee, I wasn’t there at the beginning as any type of ownership or anything. What I would say is I don’t think you could necessarily start differently because the events lead to the relationships and as human beings when we meet in person it’s so different from when we meet online or on the phone or via email. We pick up on different vibes. We can see each other, we can notice that weird little look, we can pick up on somebody laughing when we laughed and we share something in common because we thought something was funny.

I think to start, those events had to happen the way that they did. I think it was a happy accident. I don’t think in any way did Greg Hoy or Greg Story think this was going to become, there have been almost 25 events now, maybe more than that? Maybe close to 30. All of these people, over 4,000 people that are keeping up with everything. I think you start the same way, what I think could have happened earlier was an opportunity to connect people online in a more, how do I say this? In a more collaborative way.

We use Slack and Base Camp. Base Camp from the very beginning and then right about a year in, maybe a year and a half in, Slack came in to the picture, but what you find is Base Camp is great for evergreen content and Slack is great for in the moment. Everybody’s getting Slacked out. I’m personally on like 16 Slacks, I’m in maybe 17 Base Camps. It’s like a wonderful little race going on for my attention. That’s something we’re working on now is building a space that you can go where you can have easier conversations that don’t feel so important because most people are very busy, but you can come back to them. Then also have that evergreen area where we have learned so much, we’re coming up on our thirteenth owner camp, we’ve had … we’re coming up on our 5th operations camp, we’ve got all of these camps with all of this content through shared note taking, we’ve got to curate that content and we’ve got to put it in a format so that others can come in and learn from it.

That I would say is the biggest change, would be knowing from the beginning, which sadly we did, I’ll have to share with you at some point this mind map that we put together. We knew we had to curate that content and I think that would be the biggest change, making sure that we capture, curate and share the content that the collective group was coming up with just in a easy to access manner. Accessibility’s huge. I’d say that’s the other thing is making sure that anyone, regardless of the size of their shop or even if they have a shop yet, has a way to get in touch and understand the challenges and the opportunities in front of them.

Carlos: What you’re seeing is you’ll … To use your answer and apply it to almost everything is you’ve got start at the beginning. You can’t start at step 10, you can’t start at a … What you’re doing today, you can’t start how you are today, you have to start at the beginning.

Carl: Right.

Carlos: I was reading an article recently from one of the community members, [Oresmus 00:22:13] A Dome of Issues.

Carl: Yeah, Oremus, yes.

Carlos: I’m butchering his last name, I apologize.

Carl: No, it’s a tough one.

Carlos: Oremus mentioned something recently in an article similar to that where he has a sales article, but also talking ideal deal size based on maturity. It’s almost, you got to start at the beginning, you can’t go for X goals when you’re small. It’s sort of the same thing, you got to start at the beginning, you can’t run, you can’t start the Bureau all of a sudden farther than the beginning. Anyways. Let’s go in to events. I think you’ve been doing this for years now, but again, you spent several years on the presenting side of events. How does that experience flow over to organizing events?

Carl: It is really interesting in that, and I know there are a lot of people who have gotten on stage a lot more than I have, I have been on stage 100 plus times and sometimes it’s 5 people in a room and sometimes it’s 7,500 and I think the similarities are the nervousness. The difference is, when you’re on stage for 20 minutes to an hour you get off the stage and you’re not nervous anymore. When you’re running the event you’ve got that on … You’re on deck the whole time. You think about it the whole time. What I would say I brought is an appreciation for what the speaker is going through when I am helping organize. I want to make sure that they have everything that they need. I want them to have that space where they can go and cry or punch the wall or whatever they need to do before they walk out. I want to make sure they have that convenience monitor so that they can see the slides. I want to make sure that there’s no surprises for them. By the same token, being a speaker, I want to know that they actually prepared because I know I’ve been through those moments where I was just like, I’ll just figure it out. I want it to appropriate and not appropriate, that sounds wrong, but valuable. I want it to connect with the audience.

I think that the one role that I’ve played the least is the audience. I think ultimately you have to look at it from all three angles and say, Is this providing the value to bring people back? From the organizer’s perspective, Is this providing the value so that we can come back? Events are very expensive. It’s interesting because you look at like the UK and the cost for events is much less. They’re very price-sensitive. You look in the States and our events aren’t cheap, by any stretch of the imagination and then you’ve got an event a part and you’ve got some other where that price point is up there. It’s one of those things that if you’re not bringing the value through new content, not just entertainment, because I think that becomes a big issue, because a lot of times events are just entertaining, I love Aaron Draplin and I love James White. They bring a lot of value because they make you think different. A lot of people would say. Oh that’s just entertainment. I’ll be like, It is entertainment, but it reminds you, it reminds you that you’re in control and that all of your experiences add up to something.

Whereas I’ve seen other speakers who get up there and they’re hilarious but at the end, you’re just like, Well that was funny. I know I’m all over the place here a little bit, it’s a really great question, but I think ultimately, from being on stage to trying to be managing, it’s all about making sure that it’s cohesive. I’ll tell you, Brett Harnett does an amazing job of this. He manages Digital PM Summit and he’s taught me a lot about what we’re doing with Owner’s Summit, which Greg Hoy had played a tremendous role in as well. That’s trying to make sure that you’ve got your programming in a way that is logical. That everything lines up so that it’s building on itself.

Carlos: How do you curate that? How do you … Let me expand on that question. Let’s say I was at the event in Atlanta and there were some talks that did not apply to me that I was … that it was not part of my contextual experience, if you would, but I’m sure that it was for many other people and they were probably, those talks were full. That’s why you have multiple events at a time or multiple chats at a time. How do you pick that? How do you find a common denominator and how do you then also bring in things that are part of, again, not people’s common denominator so that they are exposed to something new? How do you keep that balance?

Carl: I’ll tell you a little bit of the secret sauce. We look in the Base Camps and the Slacks, we look at what is being published on Medium that is really popular, we look at what’s being talked about on Twitter. We try to find what are the topics? What are the things that are happening? Then we know because a lot of our speakers come from the camps. We know who’s really passionate about a topic, we know who’s real intelligent about a topic and we try to line them up. I think a great example from the event that you were at, at Owner’s Summit, is Lori Gold Patterson. Lori Gold Patterson spoke about diversity and inclusion. What a lot of people don’t realize was that was the first time she had ever given that talk.

Lori was at Owner Camp 10 in San Francisco and that conversation came up organically. Afterwards, I walked over to her and I said, You know, we have an event coming up in February and I would love to get you on stage because what you just expressed, I think, summed up so many things we didn’t know. You just shed light on all of these areas we weren’t aware of. That’s a huge part of it is when we hear somebody say something or stand up for something or share something that resonates with us because most of us had a shop at some point, we make a note of that and approach that person right away.

Then the other part would be sometimes there are people that the industry, in our community, is a little infatuated with and so we’ll reach out. We’ll just see, does this make sense? Is this person interesting? Last year for Owner’s Summit, earlier this year, Blair Enns. Blair actually reached out to us. That was an interesting thing because we weren’t sure, we knew we had hear his book Win Without Pitching had been mentioned during a lot of camps. When I went back to look in the notes, it was referenced at least every other camp, it was put in the resources. It was like, All right, that’s the community telling us what they want.

I’ll tell you Carlos, one of the big changes that you’ll notice going into 2017, we’re going to talk with the community a lot more about what we bring and for me, this goes back to an article I read in the ’90s and it was the head of a very large computer company at the time, Gateway. They’ve gone under or were acquired so hopefully that doesn’t mean anything about this information but they were talking about the person who was in charge of all of the specs on the machines, the way that everything worked. The speed, the storage, everything. They said, is that not a tremendously intimidating job? And he said, No, I just listen to what my customers want and I just give it to them. I think that’s exactly the same thing with the Bureau. We’re going to open up more channels and we’re going to ask and listen and we’re going to try to give the community what it wants, not necessarily specifics, but just understanding themes and knowledge points.

Carlos: How can somebody starting a new event, let’s use my company as an example. Let’s say we want to start giving back to the Miami community and putting some educational tech events around engineering. That’s a hunch we’ve got by the way. How can we make sure that we are putting an event like that together but not only pushing our agenda forward, but also making sure that … We want our agenda to be there, we can’t ignore it, but at the same time, we don’t want it to be the only thing that is exposed. How does a company leverage that?

Carl: Obviously if you go out, and you’re right, you can’t go out just with your own agenda, because if you do, people will know. It’s pretty obvious. I would say talk with the people in your company because it really depends on who you’re trying to attract. If you’re trying to attract customers, if you’re trying to attract recruits, however it might be, but I would talk to those individuals. I would go to other events where you think those people will be and I would see what’s resonating and what’s not resonating. Ultimately it’s about understanding what’s there now and what’s not. If there’s specific, even if it is part of your agenda, if there’s specific things you want to accomplish, look and see who’s already accomplished them. See if you can get in touch with them. See what you can find out. Even if you start small with a meetup type format just to test things out.

That’s something that a lot of speakers, I don’t think it’s any kind of secret, but a lot of times when you have a new talk, you’ll go to a local meet up and give it just to see how things went. Did people think things were funny I thought were? Were the ah-ha moments where I expected them? I think it’s the same thing when you’re putting on an event. You can start small and grow in to it. Converge, which is a great event out of Columbia, South Carolina really started because Gene Crawford was part of 5 different meetups and he was tired of traveling so much. He was constantly in his car driving from meet up to the other so he asked all 5 meetups if they’d be willing to just meet at the same time and that became the origin of Converge.

Carlos: They converged. That’s interesting.

Carl: Exactly, right? I think that would be the biggest advice, is start small with the topics that you think are going to help achieve whatever the goals are and find people who are passionate and or knowledgeable. Sometimes you have people that are very passionate that aren’t very knowledgeable but you still learn a tremendous amount from listening to them. Let it grow from there.

Carlos: In fact, the first version of this that we’re going to put together is basically turning this podcast, Tech People, in to a live … like a community, a in-person community where eventually it turns into a conference and so forth. That’s something down the line but I’m really trying to figure out what is the first step and I think putting a meetup together as a first thing might be a good move, but still that seems like such a large undertaking of unknowns.

Carl: It’s a commitment and before you do it, make sure you’re ready. I’ll say this about letting the podcast be the origin, I think that’s brilliant. I have a podcast with Gene Crawford called BizCraft, it’s much like Big Foot. You never know when or where you might see it. It occasionally shows up, but we did some live episodes and I walked in to this room and there were over 100 people in the room and I turned around to leave because I thought I was in the wrong room. I was like, There’s no way. We’ve had up to 5,000 people listen, but you don’t expect 100 real people to show up. One of the things we saw in there was the pricing episode was the most popular episode so it made sense to let that be some of the content that we generated on the live version of the podcast as well. If you go back and look which episodes of your podcast had the most listenership and the deepest listens, that’s a great way to basically program those initial meetups.

Carlos: Yeah. In fact, the podcast is starting to be somewhat of a idea generator for even articles and talks and …

Carl: That’s great.

Carlos: It’s kind of an input to ideas. We get to have these conversations that it’s going to sound … I get to learn a lot. Not only does the audience get to learn a lot but I learn a lot because I pre-interview you. I prepare the questions, it makes me think about our conversation and ultimately try to get the most value for people listening. It’s teaching me a whole lot.

Carl: I have mad respect for you that you prepare because my whole career I’ve just shown up and I think if I were to prepare, things could be a lot better. Thank you for being on top of it.

Carlos: Oh no, that’s something I’ve been trying to do a little but more and more. Carl, I think we covered most of the topics that we were going to talk about in terms of community and events. Now, I have three last questions that are towards you. What advice would you give your younger less-experienced self?

Carl: I would say relax. It’s going to be fine.

Carlos: Chill.

Carl: I started out with this mad fevered pitch of the world was going to fall apart if I didn’t work 80 hours a week.

Carlos: That’s how I feel.

Carl: And it’s just so not true. Things are going to happen. It just takes time. That would be my advice, I would just tell myself to relax and enjoy my youth a little bit more.

Carlos: Powerful stuff. What’s a book you recommend?

Carl: It all depends on where you are in your life. I will tell you that a book that I recommend specifically to my friends who are in leadership or organizing some sort of an event is The Starfish and the Spider. The Starfish and the Spider is this amazing book about organizational structures. The idea is that a spider is a traditional hierarchy where a spider has a head and a starfish has no head. The examples would be, Microsoft would be a spider and when Bill Gates was in charge of it, had something happened to Bill Gates, Microsoft would have been in trouble. Right? If you look at, I’m forgetting the name of it now, but it wasn’t Napster, it was who came after Napster, eMule or one of these, where there’s truly nobody in charge, it’s the community and so it just goes on and on and on. A great example of that actually, is the Apache Indians.

The Apache Indians repelled the Spanish when Cortez came in, when he first came in and he went to Montezuma, and the Aztecs, he told Montezuma to give him all the gold or he was going to kill him. Montezuma gives him the gold and he kills him and poisons the water supply and no more Aztecs. Right? Go to the Apache and he says take me to your leader, and they didn’t understand the question because the Apache didn’t have leaders. They had Nontons who were spiritual leaders, but just like if there’s somebody that’s the smartest person in the room, when that person gets up and leaves the room, there’s still a smartest person in the room. That’s the idea of the starfish, is that even if it gets cut in half, it grows in to 2 new starfish.

When you can build an organization that can replicate itself, that doesn’t need leadership, and I don’t mean in the way of Zappos and Holacracy, because I think there’s a whole lot of marketing going on there, I mean in the way of people being able to opt in and self organize and truly have shared vision to a point. I think that’s when you get powerful organizations. Starfish and the Spider, I know I went off a little bit, but that would definitely be it.

Carlos: No, but that’s a good recommendation. I have never heard of that book. I’m going to check it out. How can people find you and your work? Tell us a little bit about what’s some of the upcoming events for the Bureau. You’ve got a lot of things going on. Tell us a little bit about that.

Carl: Yeah, so you can find me on Twitter. It’s just Carl Smith, C-A-R-L Smith. That’s probably the easiest. Anything that I’m doing I’ll generally push out from there. Then we’ve got Owner Camp 13 in Scottsdale, is happening this September 14 through 17. Excited to have Jesse James Garett from Adaptive Path there to hear about selling Adaptive Path to Capital One and what that was like. He’s still there so I’m not sure exactly who much he can share but I get the feeling he’ll share quite a bit. Then we’ve got Digital PM Summit coming up in October, that’s October 12 through 14 so that’ll be about 300 plus digital PM’s getting together, sharing with each other and a lot of great speakers are going to be there. All around managing projects and different angles of that.

We’ve got a new keynote that we haven’t signed yet but is going to be amazing so check in the Digital PM Summit and see what that’s all about. Then we just announced, quietly, that Operations Camp 5 is going to take place December 4 through 7 and that’s going to be in Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is a magical city already and to be there right around the holiday-type time is going to be pretty amazing. Yeah that’s what we’ve got left for this year.

Carlos: That’s very exciting. I’m really trying to make it, I got your email recently, I think today about Owner Camp. I want to, hopefully I get to come this year.

Carl: Oh dude, that would be great. It would so good to have you there Carlos.

Carlos: I’d love to. Well Carl, I want to thank you man, so much, this has been an amazing interview. You covered a lot of stuff that … and taught us a lot about community building, about events, about again the context in which you live, and how it affects so many people. Thank you so much.

Carl: Oh Carlos, thank you. This was an absolute pleasure.