MoxieCon 2013


Last Saturday Glynnis and I headed down to Chicago to the 2nd MoxieCon. The conference was in the the coolest co-working space I’ve ever seen, 1871.

We decided to go after seeing Quite Strong at Design Madison back in February. These ladies seriously kick some butt so when they talked about MoxieCon I knew that I wanted to be there.

The conference description “MoxieCon is a day–long crash course on the business side of design and technology. Practical talks and workshops on how to be more assertive, how to self-promote, how to sell your ideas, and how to protect yourself legally.” is somewhat misleading in that most of the talks were totally impractical. But I mean that in a really good way.

Imma summarize/talk about my own reactions to each of the speakers.

Jen Myers – How to Change the World with a Girl and a Computer
Book recommendations: Unlocking the Clubhouse by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher

Most of Jen’s talk was about the shared experience of lack of females in the programming community. She helped start a chapter of Girl Develop It which is an organization that aims to teach the ladies how to code/be confident in their coding abilities. Its not that women are incapable, but they often lack an accepting community who are willing to assist them.

Elle Luna – Here, I made this.
Book recommendations: The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, Joseph Campbell

Girl can tell a story. Elle’s talk was intense. Not just in what she said but the way that it was said. She has a way of speaking that makes you really hear it. I just saw that they will be posting videos from the talks, so hopefully you guys will be able to see what I mean.

Elle has had several dream jobs. She was at IDEO, then at Mailbox. And she left both of those dream jobs. Because she was being called to do another thing.

Some notes I wrote down:

All the structure is gone, but we’re all waiting in line for our prize.

The Calling. Work you can do vs. work you must do. What do you burn for? What are you being called to do? Are you working a job? A career? A calling?
The Leap. Jumping off a cliff is not fun. Its scary. Snakes shed their skin to make room for new growth and go blind at the same time.
The Gift. Your work touches others.

I totally understand/respect Elle’s decision to make the leap and do the scary thing and open her painting studio. My brain keeps returning to the practical “How can Elle afford this? In CA for that matter.” I have no idea how she manages. But after hearing her talk, I can see how blissed out she is making her calling a reality. And I think thats a fine thing to strive for.

Rob Loukotka – Jumping off a cliff without a parachute


Rob’s talk was similar and also not similar to Elle’s. He also talked about taking the leap. I think the best thing he said the whole time was... if you take the leap, what’s the worst that can happen? Death. Yup. But the good thing about death is that we all know we are going to die someday and so we can go ahead and cross that off of the list of things to worry about. Because its true. We all die. Thats a certainty. So stop worrying about that. Most likely, the biggest risk we take is negatively affecting the relationships we have with the people who are the most important to us. His risk was starting his own business. Twice over. And he’s successful in it. Take the risk. Find your boundaries. Invite others to risk with you. Bet on yourself.

Risk early, risk often, fail quickly.

Max Shapiro – Strategy in the Service of Design

Not going to lie. At this point in the day I was just too hangry to listen to much of anything. Max’s talk was good but I really didn’t write anything down in my notes because mostly I was thinking about all the things I could be eating. Sorry for spacing out, Max. I’m a jerk.

Susan Betteridge – Why Words Matter

Again. Mostly just hangry. I did manage to write down “We are all writers. We are all storytellers.” And told myself to watch Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, “Schools kill creativity

Lisa Congdon – Build It and They Will Come: Getting and Sustaining the Work of Your Dreams

I was pretty jazzed about getting to see Lisa’s talk. Her talk was pretty much what the title said. How to get/maintain work. Very practical advice.

  1. Be you. Embrace your own path.

  2. Be prolific. The more work you make, the more work you get.

  3. Be brave. Share your work.

  4. Be communal. Surround yourself with good people.

  5. Be adaptable. Learn not to be rigid.

  6. Be firm. Know your boundaries and speak openly.

  7. Be adventurous. Pursue your “crazy” ideas.

  8. Be dependable. Answer emails and meet deadlines.

  9. Be Gracious. Treat everyone with kindness.

  10. Be (occasionally) disentangled. Relax & refuel

Travis Life – Lawyer Up! Practical Legal Tips for the Creative Business

Travis’ talk was basically a run down of the types of companies a person can be, the difference between them, why you should become one of them, and I feel like it could be summed up with: get a lawyer.

Mare Swallow – Present Yourself with Clarity and Confidence

Mare had some practical tips on how to get a person to call you back. Basically: get a business card (that isn’t free), get a website (that looks good), pay attention to details (reread emails), communicate well (don’t swear/bad mouth), and know the business you’re trying to get an interview with (read up, cyberstalk).  

Max Temkin – 30 Power Tips to Synergize Your Cloud Based Revenue Community/Making Things on the Internet and Giving Them Away for Free
Book Recommendations: David Foster Wallace

**If anyone can find the youtube clip that Max Temkin played at the beginning of the talk of the girl playing ukulele and singing about the Mars rover, please send it to me. I wanted to include it here but no amount of googling is helping me find it.

I was THRILLED to get to see Max Temkin speak. Last Winter my friends introduced me to the most messed up version of Apples to Apples that ever existed. Its called Cards Against Humanity. And Max was one of the founders. So when I saw he was going to be at this conference I was excited. Honestly. I’m not totally sure what I was expecting. I thought it would be funny or goofy. But his talk was not necessarily that.

Max discussed his experience getting Humans vs Zombies started at his college campus. Basically, its a game where people chase each other around and some have nerf guns/socks. It sounds like a lot of fun. It started out small, just a dozen or so players, but its grown to involve up to 500 students over the span of a week. He talked about how they got together and established their values and were able to scale the game without ruining it.

CAH is similar in a lot of ways. Its a game that subverts power structures (which is why its so funny) and is also free. You can purchase the cards, but you can also go to the website and download a pdf of the game and print them out yourself. Which is pretty rad!

What sorts of things can you accomplish if your goal isn’t to make money? This is something that came up in a few of the talks (especially Elle and Rob’s). If money isn’t the object, what is? What do you do in your day to connect people together? “Better to fail than to suck.” Do your thing.

Ann Friedman – Bye, Hater: How to Use Criticism of All Kinds to Improve Your Work Instead of Hinder It

Ann was hilarious. I don’t think I’ve read anything by her but I definitely plan on it now. To sum up her talk: haters gonna hate. Listen to critics who respect you. Listen to people who want to see you succeed. Don’t listen to people who aren’t invested in you. Don’t listen to people who are irrational in their hate. If you’re getting hate, it means someone is paying attention to you. And thats good. If nothing else, its a motivation to improve.

Thanks again to Quite Strong for making MoxieCon happen! I had so much fun. 

Daniella Echeverria

Madison, WI