Doc points out that we’re in the midst of the 10 year anniversary of The Cluetrain Manifesto. I can honestly say that Cluetrain changed my life. Here’s how:
When Cluetrain came out, I was a stock-broker living in Denver. I remember sitting at The Park Tavern, reading the book, eating dinner (I devoured the book in one sitting). I’d never read anything like it. In the back of the book were author bios. And one of those bios was for Chris Locke, who, as it turned out, lived in Boulder. Amazingly, it contained his email address. So, I did the only logical thing — emailed him and told him I wanted to buy him a cup of coffee.
Chris was nice enough, and responded to my email by saying that he’d love to, although his schedule was a bit weird. I emailed him several more times trying to set up a meeting - all with no luck. Finally, in a fit of frustration, I sent him an email saying something like - “look, I know you’re a bestselling author and all, but you don’t have to be an asshole — either have coffee with me, or tell me to stop bothering you.” My phone number was in the email’s sig. Two minutes after I sent it, my phone rang. It was an apologetic Chris Locke.
Over the next few months, Chris and I had coffee on a regular basis — talking technology, the internet, Hunter Thompson, music, buddhism — just about everything. Then, one day, Chris told me that he wanted me to work with him on a site - and he thought he could help me make some money doing it (thus began my entrepreneurial life).
The site was personalization.com. The guy paying us was Steve Larsen. The conferences were the personalization summits. The events/meetings/people that came out of working with Chris and Steve include:
1. Met Doc Searls and David Weinberger — still 2 of the smartest people I know.
2. Met Esther Dyson, Clay Shirky, Jerry Michalski, Ann Winblad — and a whole host of Chris and Steve’s “network” (Chris and Steve were part of the original crowd known as “jerry’s kids” that later became PC Forum).
3. Chris called me one day and said, “I just found this new thing that is going to CHANGE THE WORLD.” That thing was Blogger. Back when it was basically run out of Evan Williams’ bedroom. Chris and I ran the personalization.com site off of blogger from there on out (and used to have to email Ev and ask him to reboot the server now and again).
4. Doc intro’d me to Andre Durand, who intro’d me to Phil Becker. Andre started Ping Identity (where I was employee #1), and Andre and Phil asked me to join them on founding and building Digital ID World (DIDW). DIDW was my first real experience running a conference. And it’s still what I do today (obviously).
5. I spent hours in Chris’ kitchen while he reviewed/wrote/ripped apart chapters of Gonzo Marketing.
And countless other things….
I can honestly say that Cluetrain (and interacting with the people around it) changed my life. Not a little. Drastically. And the book was pretty good too!
To Doc, David, Chris (I’ve never met Rick) — thanks guys! It was always more than just a book, and I think it’s probably inspired an entire generation of tech marketers.