Community Leadership Summit 2012: My Take

After three visits to the Community Leadership Summit, it’s quite clear that the world of community management is maturing.

A few years ago, CLS struggled to get 100 people in the room, especially the second day of the event. This year, there were well over 200 people at CLS, and Day 2 was just as busy as Day 1. Attendance is growing more international as well; not just the US and Europe, but also community managers from China and India were on site (and probably more countries I missed).

The most important thing about CLS, and what keeps me coming back every year, is the quality of the content and the fantastic conversations that take place there. The CLS wiki has crowdsourced notes from many of the sessions, but it’s a pale shadow of the value you get from actually being there.

Each year, new community managers come in, but there’s also a growing base of practitioners who’ve been in the field for some time now and are taking a more in-depth approach to the discipline. That cross-pollination of ideas is great for everyone.

This year I facilitated a session on tools for community management on Saturday as well as gave a plenary talk on Sunday. The Sunday talk was something I haven’t done before – I talked about crisis communities and used the recent events at Horace Mann as an example of community formation in a crisis. It was hard to talk about something so personal at a professional event but judging from the feedback I got, it went over well.

Each year, I come home more convinced that it doesn’t matter if you’re a manager of an open source community or a corporate one, a huge community or a tiny one, community programs and community managers have far more in common that not.

We all struggle with issues around tooling and support, and managing difficult personalities. We’re all trying to find more and better metrics for judging the success and health of our communities. We all deal with burnout and stress. And we’re all looking for ways to bring in new community members while trying to keep longtime contributors active and engaged.

If we all keep talking to each other, we can leverage all that intelligence and passion we have for our work to make all of our lives easier and our communities stronger.

TL; DR: the Community Leadership Summit is a great event, and if you’re a community manager, you should put it onto your calendar for next year.

Versions of this post are cross-posted here and on my work blog.

Strong Medicine

A very wise man who sadly is no longer with us wrote these words just a few short weeks ago:

When an organism — a person, a society — gets really, deeply ill, gentle medicine may not be sufficient. The easy, comfortable path — well, maybe if you’d known a few years ago, but not now. Now you need the strong shit.

But the strong shit HURTS. You look around blearily and cannot comprehend why you’re enduring this. You make what you think are sane ultimatums: no more, unless we can get these side effects under control. No more unless the tests show it’s working. No more unless you can eat ice cream again. But this is not sane; this is despair creeping in.

Remember, then, why you are doing it — why you’re trying the strong shit. For some it is a fight. For some it is just…the thing to do. For me, for you, it is love: love of a person, of people, of a society. Hold on to that love. It does not make the pain, the shock, the outrage go away — but it provides a direction.

Hatred, despair, negativity, these have no direction — they go everywhere and nowhere and you end up in the same damn place.

Love flows always forwards. As a person, as a society, hold on to that love. Hold on to each other. Love each other. Always.

RIP Steve Jobs

Today we learned of the passing of Steve Jobs. We’re not going to see his like again for a very long time.

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones,
we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough
to think they can change the world…
are the ones who do.

Cherry Blossoms

We had a few weeks of really nice weather and the cherry blossoms decided to pay us a visit.

Unfortunately another winter storm blew through a day or so after I shot these, and they’re not looking so pretty now.