I had to go back to the Westin and take a break. I was dizzy and disoriented, and in a land like Mexico that is prone to inspiring magical realism, I’m half-convinced I was dreaming.
Coming down to Guadalajara to speak at Jalisco’s Talent Land this week, I was in over my head. That’s always the case to some degree when you don’t speak the language (even if I can muster enough Spanish to get around town), but Talent Land is something else… something special.
Soon after I arrived in the main hall of Expo Guadalajara, getting my wristband and then a card with a scratch-off WiFi code (a nice touch; it’s like WiFi lottery), I headed into Developer Land. That alone was weird. After seeing thousands of people seated watching the keynote, I explored the exhibition hall and saw a couple people dancing with a dairy company’s cow mascot. (I’m probably the only one here who thought of @devincow, let alone tweeted about it.) The cow had some pretty impressive moooooves (sorry).
I kept wandering, and I was looking for my stage, which I knew was in Business Land. I couldn’t find it. On the way, I texted my wife a photo of what looked like a plush Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony trapped inside a 3D printer. She asked, “Is that a computer?” And really, I have no idea.
Then, I realized this was just the start of the event. I had only visited a single land so far. All the other stages were spread out in another hall, or other halls. First, though, I had to pass through a flea market. Really. I was confused, thinking I wandered into a Mexican shopping mall by accident, but this was all part of the show.
Then I saw the Talent Woman stage. And then there was Blockchain Land, right next to Iron Land. In Agro Land, I took a selfie next to a pig (not a real one, sadly). Maybe the cow with the hot dance moves was lost too, and it was just trying to get someone’s attention and see if they’d take her back to Agro Land. Maybe the cow’s a metaphor. Maybe developers are lactose intolerant but supporting the cow in a show of solidarity.
I couldn’t find Business Land. I kept looking at maps of the show floor. I tried going to Dream Land, but I was told I couldn’t based on my wrist band. Then it hit me – at this conference, which literally runs 24 hours (the last official talks each day go on from 12-1am, and then the entertainment starts), Dream Land 1 and 2 are where they have camping areas. You can actually buy tickets to camp out when you get admission. I wish I made friends with someone to show me their tent – and I swear, I mean that in the most G-rated way possible.
Finally, I found Business Land. At the Citibanamex booth, someone was playing a digital version of the memory game Simon. At another booth, someone was playing with giant Jenga blocks. I started to wonder what was in my salsa at the Monterrey airport lounge en route over here.
Even if I can’t understand everything that goes on here at Talent Land, it feels like they’re doing so much right. It seems like the movie “Inside Out” – or perhaps the stretch near the end of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” This is an event where weird things happen, and where people who would never meet can run into each other. When atoms do that, once in awhile, that’s how life planets are formed and life is created.
When I landed in Guadalajara, I shared a cab with two speakers – one author from Venezuela who was telling me how important cryptocurrency is in a country with such a failing economy, and another who described the challenges of being a female PhD candidate focused on crypto in Mexico City. Even with the language barrier, I was able to learn so much from them. This is what we need to do more of at these marketing and tech events.
In a smaller way, that’s why I have so much fun with the Serial Marketerscommunity. Yes, it’s still very focused on marketing, but marketers are wonderfully weird. We come from anywhere and everywhere. It’s something you do, and maybe something you are, but you can be a lawyer or teacher or startup CEO or a dancing cow mascot, and you can also be a marketer. And every week, I hear of people connecting with each other who wouldn’t have done so otherwise. Sometimes magic can happen. And it’s real.
Meanwhile, I did give a talk in Guadalajara, and you can view or download a version of it. It’s an illustrated guide to “The 17 Types of Startup Marketers” (you can also visit bit.ly/17marketers). If it sounds familiar, it’s based on an article I wrote last year, “The 16 Types of Startup Marketers.” I added one more based on someone’s feedback, hired an illustrator, fleshed it out, and then posted the fully annotated slides. I’d love your feedback as the ideas continue to evolve.
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That talk is what I’ve made of myself lately. What have you been making of yourself?