Note: This isn't a Spurs-related post, but we'll have several new posts throughout the day.
Jeff and I have made some great friends, have met some of the sports bloggers we look up to and respect the most and even met the team at Bloguin, thanks to the first ever Blogs With Balls event in New York City.
It was also after that event almost two years ago that Jeff and I became extremely motivated and started putting into action our plans to make Project Spurs what it is today.
When I heard Don Povia, Kyle Bunch and the BWB crew were planning to bring BWB to Austin, I knew I had to be there. I was hoping for some badgeless BWB events since the main panel was part of South By Southwest Interactive.
On Monday I made the short trek up to Austin for the Blogs with Balls Digital Tailgate at the Pepsi Max lot.
Darren Rovell of CNBC, Jemele Hill of ESPN and Dan Shanoff of Quickish participated in a digital sports flash panel early on. Foursquare employees were also playing a foursquare game, several ping pong and foosball tables were also set up.
It was great meeting so many new people and catching up with some friends of Project Spurs in Povia and Fansided's Adam Best among others.
I must say though, that the highlight of my day was getting to talk to Gary Vaynerchuck again and getting to pick his brain in a Q&A session.
I originally met Gary at the first Blogs with Balls in NYC. I had been following him on twitter, watched his video podcasts a few times, saw him on diggnation, and even though I'm no wine lover, I got what he was doing, loved his personality and his drive. At the time I had also seen several of his keynotes on youtube from leweb and several other conferences. The first time I heard him deliver a keynote speech, my mind was blown, and I realized early on that he was someone that really got social media and how to use it properly.
It was just by chance that we were taking a break from our live Spurscast show at BWB1 at the time that I walked to the restroom line and he came and sat next to me minutes later waiting as I was. I started talking to him, asking him several questions, asking about his current projects and his newborn daughter among other things.
Minutes later, I got to see him deliver a keynote live that solidified my perception of him. I got a chance to talk to him after and take a picture with him, all the while wearing my Project Spurs t-shirt.
Last year, I heard through an advertisement at the newspaper I worked at in San Marcos, that Gary would be speaking at Texas State University. When I got in line to ask him a question among many others in a crowded auditorium, I was shocked that he was able to recognize me as a Spurs blogger. Once again, at BWB in Austin, when I asked him a question during his Q&A, he knew who I was instantly.
I can't imagine that I'd be a name or a person worthy of remembering, but that's what makes Gary unique. You know he's paying attention to your questions when your asking them and gives great advice instead of spitting out PR answers and beyond that he's also authentic. You can also tell he loves engaging his audience and is grateful for every one of them.
I was lucky enough to be one of the first 100 to register for the digital tailgate, and received a free copy of Gary's latest book, The Thank You Economy.
This may sound corny and all, but Blogs With Balls and Gary have had an enormous positive influence on Project Spurs. As I said earlier, the first event lit a fire under us, and it's also where we met so many people we call friends today. It's also where we first talked to Best about his Three Os approach to blogging (Blog Often, Blog Original, Blog Outstanding.) We continue to make that our motto today and one of the first things we talk about with new writers. Every advice Gary has given me I've used and it's made a big difference in how we build community among other things.
I organize an event every year, so I can get a feel of how much it takes for Povia, Bunch and Chris Lucas from HHR Media to pull off an event like Blogs With Balls, and they exceed my expectations every time. Thanks to all of them for bringing the sports blogging community closer together and providing opportunities for us all. And thanks to Pepsi Max for providing a great venue.
Make sure to follow Povia, Bunch, Lucas and Gary Vaynerchuck on twitter and I would definitely recommend getting your hands on The Thank You Economy.