September 8, 2009

Naturally Boulder 2009.

My report on the first night, an Awards Dinner honored Mark Retzloff, is here.

Today, I missed the morning ’cause I had to fill out elephant’s weekly PR Newswire (we were picked as their official spiritual/eco blog of the year, and they pump out our content for free, god bless ’em) and write up and push out a bunch of blogs to our readership via facebook, google, and twitter. At one point I hopped on my bike and raced Redford up to Open Space, tired him out a bit, and raced back. Only half an hour for my energetic hound.

I arrived at Naturally Boulder toward the end of lunch. Within five minutes I was having wonderful conversations with a half dozen natural products tycoons and entrepreneurs, and Mo Siegel, founder of Celestial Seasonsings, had told me to shut my trap (Sandja, at his table, and I, at the neighboring table, were yapping about something cross tables, and Mo was trying to listen to someone present about something at his table…we later ran into each other and made a few casual dumb jokes, it’s allll good at Naturally Boulder). I rapped with Barr, Brook (of Bhakti), and Camilla and her evil green twin, Courtney, both of whom work for FIG, my fave green natural products pr marketing firm on the planet.

Then, it was time for some panels…I went to one hosted by elephant’s longtime friend,

  • Steve Hoffman, the president of the Organic Center. The members of the illustrious panel were Official Natural Products Legend
  • Steve Demos (who gave us his familiar line about, way back when, being the boy mothers didn’t want their daughters knowing, as he went through his bio);
  • the drummer of Rage Against the Machine, who’s now founder of a yummy lemonade stevia drink suitable for diabetics and health-conscious, sugar-avoiding families;
  • the gent behind Bear Naked, and…
  • Tami Simon, founder of Sounds True, who talked about levitating, crystals (Mr. Phil deFresh, sitting in front of me, rolled his eyes and punched his neighbor in the shoulder)…and she made a few good jokes, too.

After I’d heard the gist of the panel, and saw that none of them were inclined to scratch beneath the surface and do more than give their usual, yet still valuable raps (Demos talked about the notion of Right Livelihood, which is fascinating, but I would’ve loved to learn how, after Bear Naked sold for millions to Kellogg, the sale has or has not effected the integrity of the original great brand; and Silk Soy’s owner Dean Foods just came out with a new, non-organic line called “natural”).

So I went upstairs to the social media panel.

Just in time, as it turned out: I walked into a crowded room, and there on this big screen was my @elephantjournal twitter profile, with everyone in the room looking at it as Gwen Bell talked and gestured.

Gwen, the evergenerous Mistress of Social Media herself, was the expert charged with inspiring we green revolutionaries with learning the wild, much-hyped ways of twitter, facebook, etc.

The panel was led by the ever charming Sylvia of FIG (thank god…humor always helps when you’re being buzzed down upon by 200 florescent lights—please, Millenium, greenovate already). Also on the panel was a representative from Whole Foods, Mara Fleishman,  and Bill Roden, Creative Director, Sterling Rice Group, who both knew their stuff. Gwen answered most of the tough and dumb questions (“what’s Flickr?” is a dumb question, when asked at a time-tight conference, and you could google the question any time of the day/week/year). The Whole Foods lady went through how Whole Foods tweeted…repeat after me:

it’s all about your voice: be authentic, don’t be PRish, be personal

And, since @wholefoods is just about the only green mover and shaker rocking twitter, their words are gospel. Sylvia also, sweetly, asked me to talk about twitter a bit, as did Gwen. Lots of love given to elephant, and everyone after wanted me to teach them how to tweet. I told them to talk to Gwen, she’s the real expert, I just do it ’cause I got to. Click below photo to check out Gwen’s Flickr photostream.

For those who want to tweet, I have written a few hopefully helpful blogs on the subject, and there’s lots of links for who you should follow and how you can tweet most effectively (use Tweetdeck or some interface, if you’re on twitter.com you’re not using twitter).

Then, it was time to check out all the tents, there was a big outdoor mall, the Millenium has a peerless backyard adjacent to the Boulder Creek. I ran into Bob Morehouse, a mentor, advertiser, and the man behind Vermilion, my fave design firm (they work with Izze, others). I talked with two great journalists who I’ve talking with about starting a new web site.

Then, I walked through the tents, shook lots of hands, did the card exchange bit, ate lots of food from the stalls of new green startups, traded lots of jokes, got into a few earnest conversations (one about TOMS shoes, and how they were falling short environmentally and labor-wise, though still better than the rest). I talked with John Simmons, of Third Street Chai, for a long time. I talked with the four or five women who attend Naturally Boulder and are below 30, and they ignored me (there’s about four or five under-30 gents, too, it’s an aging group).

Then, it was time for the Pitch Slam, the traditional highlight of Naturally Boulder Days. Whoever the announcer was, FAIL. Though a great guy, I’m sure…my neighbors and I missed the charming, one-margarita-too-many hosting of Sylvia Tawse. Perhaps they should get me up there, I got the experience, humor, requisite love for the limelight and don’t make tea-bagging jokes.

The Pitch Slam: the winning entrepreneurs from the previous day enter a final round. Voices shaking, they get up in front of a panel of experienced, successful natural products tycoons and 100s of attendees…and get grilled. It’s pretty vicious, honest (which is rare in any industry), valuable (the judges are experts)…and it’s fun, and helpful—would make for a great reality show on Planet Green.

For a great wrap on the Pitch Slam, the winners, the losers, and the whole conference, check out Ryan at The Reluctant Eater.

Then, we all repaired to food and drink and more schmoozing. I had some more great convos, one with Dave of Greenmont, who had a cool idea about videos that I’d tell you about, but then I’d have to kill you.

I’d been sitting around all week blogging and conferencing and eating little cubes of cheese, and I was wearing a too-tight black Wild Oats Boulder little league baseball tee from back in the day…so after a single Mothership Wit (I’m getting old, and don’t drink much anymore) I snuck out the backdoor and went climbing, where I’m writing this now.

Read 2 Comments and Reply

Read 2 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Waylon Lewis  |  Contribution: 1,549,685