When the Ninjas Crossed the Street, I Completely Lost My Train of Thought

SOBCon Blog NinjaBut it made for a great start to a great weekend.

I was riding to the hotel for SOBCon in the airport shuttle. Jason Alba from JibberJobber and I were discussing the start-up life, when two ninjas crossed the street in front of the shuttle.

I haven’t been to Chicago in a couple of years, but I didn’t remember it having a large ninja population.

Turns out, there was an anime convention in the same hotel as SOBCon. I had to check my bag at the airport because I had a 4-ounce bottle of shampoo — but strangely dressed people carrying weapons, freely roamed the street and hotel.

Next time, I’ll try dressing up.

SOBCon – Beta Edition

I’ve been to lots of conferences, conventions, seminars, and meetings over the years. Too many to remember.

I can honestly say this was by far one of the best.

Chris Cree, his amazing wife Lisa, Liz Strauss, and Terry Starbucker did an outstanding job of coordinating everything. They’re also incredible people and good friends.

It’s fitting that a great blogging conference mimics a great blog…

  • Stays on topic, but remains flexible
  • Is informative, but friendly and welcoming
  • Is a conversation, rather than a lecture
  • Makes is hard to leave, but easy to want to come back

That’s exactly what the beta edition of SOBCon was. And like other really good online betas, it was hard to distinguish from a production version.

Too Many Highlights to List Them All…

but here are a few:

Sitting beside Troy Worman on the flight in. I read his blog, we did some Mastermind Group stuff together, and we live in different states. Yet, his connecting flight just happened to be out of North Carolina, so we ended up in seats right next to each other. Weird synchronicity.

Meeting Easton Ellsworth, a fellow work-at-home dad, and the one who left my very first comment.

Seeing in person (and hugging) Wendy Piersall and Kammie Kobyleski two of my earliest blog buddies.

Shaking hands with (and some more hugging) friends and the grand poobahs of the Iowa Gang – Make Sansone, Drew McLellan, and Mike Wagner.

Finally getting to have some face-to-face conversations with my friend Ben Yoskovitz. Also, thanks to the fact that he wanted to get rid of his American money before going back to Canada, he covered my share of the cab fare when I didn’t have cash.

Seeing Christine Kane (who’s music I’ve loved for quite some time), perform. We also hung out, talked, and laughed a lot. She’s helped prove to my girls that I was cool — by writing it on the CD she autographed for them.

Discovering that Phil Gerbyshak is just as crazy cheerful and funny offline as on the interwebs. If he could bottle his positive energy, well, now that would be a start-up.

Having a conversation with Dawud Miracle that easily transitioned from parenting and childbirth, to the benefits of hand-coding, CSS master pages, WordPress, and GIMP.

Meeting Lorelle VanFossen, and selecting her card from the punchbowl to be my blogging buddy. The person next to me said “Oh, you can put that back. I won’t tell anyone. I’d be intimidated to be Lorelle’s blogging buddy.” If you wanted to be a rock star, and you pulled Eric Clapton’s name to do a project with, what would you do?

Having Adam Kayce find and bring a bunch of us to the Tandoor Restaurant. A place that very well may be the best Indian food in Chicago.

Talking with Ashley Cecil about her artwork and activism. I loved hearing her talk about her marketing strategies and business plan. I deal with so many creative folks who struggle and whine about being able to turn their work into a business. They could learn a lot from Ashley.

Discussing small town Georgia and the crazy things kids do with Robyn Tippins. Oh, and she also made some little announcements, that are all over Techmeme.

Seeing Director Tom Clifford without his beret, and Bob Hruzek not as a blue shark.

Talking visual communication and the origins of our kid’s names with David Amano.

Though my friend Doug Karr couldn’t make it, I did get to meet two people I found through his blog, Sean Rox and Jim Walton. Two very cool and talented guys.

For someone who prefers brevity, this is becoming a long post. I’m sure there are highlights and people I missed, but maybe I’ll live-blog next time, so I don’t miss anything.

For a more in-depth view, check out the live blog notes from Easton, Jesse (updated with his new site), and Jason. They have some pretty detailed coverage. Phil and Chris posted some pics, and I’m sure there are others.

I can’t wait till next year…


  1. Hey Tony.

    Yeah, Ninjas walking around was pretty cool but did you see the pink nuns with blue hair? I’ve seen some strange things in my life but pink nuns?

    It was nice meeting you in person and hanging out… you are a cool and geektastic guy… keep it up πŸ™‚

  2. Tony, The ninjas sorta made sence. I’m still trying to figure out what the girl who had the carrots haning from her butt was all about.

    It has been a long time since Gorgeous and I have laughed so much over a meal. Next time we might just have to seperate you and Christine! πŸ˜†

  3. It was really cool to meet you – I missed the ninjas – just as you mentioned them they were gone. But there was a ninja sitting next to me, I’m pretty sure. If you didn’t see him then that proves he was on his game. :p See you next year!

    Jason Alba
    CEO – JibberJobber.com

  4. Christine – You’re on! Or maybe we can all just dress up for SOBCon.

    Easton – You too! It was nice to hear someone else discuss changing diapers while on a conference call πŸ™‚

    Sean – There were some strange sites. I really think we need to always have it at the same location as an anime expo.

    Chris – After you mentioned her, I kept my eyes out. DidnÒ€ℒt see her though. It was nice to be the one cutting up at dinner. Usually it’s my kids. πŸ™‚

    Jason – They move like the wind apparently. In the Windy City, I guess they move faster πŸ˜‰

  5. Hey Tony,
    I knew I was missing a great conference… but I didn’t realize I was missing out on seeing Ninjas! πŸ™‚ I sure hope there is a SOBCon08. I hope to meet everyone in person.

  6. I’m definitely sorry I didn’t make it! My f/t job had a significant release that went in on Friday night and there was no escaping it. Wish I was there!

  7. Man, that was a good writeup. I’m jealous. πŸ˜‰

    All I can add is:

    HUGS to YOU and everyone else that was there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  8. Tony D~

    Sooo good to finally hug you in person and you are just as genuine as you are on your blog. WAY cool to finally meet you and mingle at the con…thanks for enhancing the experience with your comments and insights!

    Talk soon,

  9. It was a remarkably huggy group, wasn’t it. What is amazing is how much great information was passed around. I mean it’s not like we sat around singing kumbya or anything. πŸ™‚

  10. Tony, I have to admit the anime gathering only added to the surrealness of the whole weekend. First, seeing all my blogging friends face to face , and then, people dressed up like ninjas, aliens, commandos, swat team members, trolls (you get the idea). As they say, ya had to be there! It was great to see you – you are a talented person; I need to get a drawing from you for my very unexciting looking blog. Alll the best!

  11. Terry’s right Ò€” seeing pink-haired, cat-eared, I-dunno-what’s walk through the lobby with purple-haired vampires and samurai-sword wielding schoolgirls added some great other-worldly flair to the whole event.

    And I agree, Tandoor Restaurant rocked… I was glad to be able to bring 15 friends to liven the place up!

    It was great to meet you, and put a face with the artwork.

    And if you do find a way to bottle Phil, I’ll put in order for two cases.

    See you ’round!

  12. Tony,

    It was great meeting you in person. The only downside of the conference was there just wasn’t enough time to hang out and talk.

    But, it was a good start to many conversations that will no doubt be carried on for years!


  13. Tony, it was fantastic to meet you! (You know, you look a lot like your pictures! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!)

    Seriously, it was a fantastic weekend and great fun – but so full of powerful learning I can hardly stand it! Lorelle put it perfectly when she called it “powerful”.

    And to think: this is only the beginning!

    Be seein’ ya!

  14. Kirsten – I wish you could have been there too.

    Doug – I know how rolling out releases can be. Maybe next year.

    Wendy – Thanks and back at ‘cha!

    David – I enjoyed our conversations.

    Kammie – Thanks for the kind words. Glad I got to see your smile in person πŸ™‚

    Chris – That’s a great point. There was such a nice mix of info. I also loved the fact that there were so many business bloggers there. We were able to share some really valuable info (between all the hugging ;)).

  15. Terry – I agree. Maybe we should just do an anime theme for next year πŸ™‚

    Adam – As a foodie, I base most of my trips on food. And between the great food at the conference and Tandoor, this is a 5 star trip.

    Drew – You’re right. Next time, we should sandwich the conference between 2 Open Mic Night Cocktail Parties.

    Robert – Thanks πŸ™‚ And even scarier, Sailor Moon are actually guys!

  16. Tony,

    That is scary about Sailor Moon!

    And I was just getting ready to say I still see Bob as a blue shark, then I saw him in your MyBlogLog widget. Now I have some idea who’s who. Thank you for the post.

  17. Um Tony, I thought YOU were a ninja, right “partner”?

    Seriously, you are super awesome and full of energy, and it was amazing to meet you in person. I look forward to collaborating with you in the future to make things even GREATER!

    And if you find a way to bottle crazy and cheerful, I’ll split the proceeds with you πŸ™‚

  18. Who says I wanted to get rid of my US money? *grin*

    It was a blast Tony. Great to meet you and chat.

    I’m having a hard time coming up with my own writeup because everyone’s done such a great job.

    I do agree with Drew – more time was needed to hang out and chat – even with a small crowd. Imagine when this hits 200+ …

    Stay in touch, and when you’re in Montreal I’ll take all your nice, colorful money from ya, no problem.

  19. PS – Only you could pull off the Ninja comment so flawlessly! πŸ˜‰ And ditto to Ben – I’ve had a really hard time putting the conference into words. Somehow a blog post just doesn’t do justice to the experience!


  20. Rick – Bob did mention that he was going to change his avatar. When I met him, I thought “Huh, I imagined you bluer…” πŸ™‚

    Phil – I’ll get to work on trying to figure out the bottling thing.

    Shane – Thanks. I guess the secret’s out that I’m not actually a cartoon.

    Ben – Absolutely. More time to hang out would have been great. I promise when I’m up that way to give you my spare Canadian cash. Though it’s so pretty, it might be hard to give up πŸ™‚

    Wendy – I know what you mean. I had a hard time just picking a few things to highlight. I could probably do a whole book on it.

    Priscilla – I tried to talk Liz, Chris, Lisa, and Terry to do one next weekend, but no dice. I guess we’ll have to wait ’til next year πŸ™‚

  21. When we got there, Adam and I had to check out why all these people were there. We walked over to the Rosemont and saw all kinds of oddities. Interesting sub-culture.

    Man it was great meeting you. Some time we’ll have to hang out and do more daddy-talk. I loved your right up. It inspired me on mine.

  22. Well, that settles it. Next year I’m wearing my hot pink feather boa and big ol’ hat. We can’t let those anime kids have all the fun!

    Tony, I’m glad I got to meet you at SOBCon. Have added your blog to my reader, along with a number of other bloggers I met for the first time.

    Hey, drawing Lorelle for a blogging buddy rocks! Just get her to do her impression of the Drama Queen Genealogist and you’ll have writing material for a month. πŸ™‚

  23. I’m with you Connie. And I think we should schedule next year’s SOBCon at the same time as the Anime Conference.

    The little bit of time I got to speak with you was quite a joy. Thank you for your warmth – and your great Texas accent. Makes me miss my friends in Austin.

  24. Dawud – I think the consensus is that every SOBCon going forward needs to coincide with and anime expo. Or maybe next time, a Trek convention πŸ™‚

    Connie – Yes, do wear the boa! The only one I saw was on an elf girl. Maybe get you some pointy ears, too πŸ˜‰

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