Path Home Shows 2011 Show Archive March 2011 Show 1112 Interview with Jeff Pulver - 140 Conference

Interview with Jeff Pulver - 140 Conference

We visit with Jeff Pulver the organizer of the 140 conference and discuss all things twitter.
Interview with Jeff Pulver - 140 Conference

Jeff Pulver and Rob McClendon

For more information visit these links:

140 Character Conference

Show Dates

Show 1112: Interview with Jeff Pulver - 140 Conference

Air date: March 20, 2011



Courtenay DeHoff:  So far the 140 Conference has been to both coasts, London, Europe and Israel.  Jeff Pulver is the organizer of the 140 Conference and Rob McClendon had a chance to visit with him to discuss all things Twitter.

Rob McClendon:  So Jeff, when you first started the 140 Character Conference in New York City, did you think that you’d find yourself in the middle of America?

Jeff Pulver:  No; in fact, when I started the conference in June 2009, I was really fascinated by, you know, what was going on in the world, you know.  Because I, I first came up with the idea in February 2009, and I was sort of like trying, quote, BS-en some of this, cause I was thought it was like, too good to be true.  This was at a time, I understand the Presidential elections were won by YouTube, I understood the YouTube Presidency; but, I really did not understand at the time, this uh, contest on CNN between, you know, CNN and Ashton Kutcher, like to raise two million followers, what was up with that?  So I, I was trying to like cut through and look for like the real meat of what was happening on the Internet, and I discovered that everything had changed.  And, I discovered that it wasn’t so much Facebook or Twitter, but people had started adopting to what I quoted, started using and leveraging what I quoted, state-of-now.  And, when I look at the Internet’s history from the time that it became commercial in 93 until, let’s say 2006, it was mostly a platform where people went to to ask questions.  Then, then with the advent of things like the Facebook status updates, and specifically Twitter, it became a place where someone makes a statement.  And, if you make a statement, and she makes a statement, and they make a statement, and it piles on, and all of a sudden someone who never had a voice, has a big voice.  And, that has created an opportunity for people that we’ve never heard about to affect change in a very big way.  And it just so happened that the conference happened on the Tuesday after the ringing elections; so the week before the conference in New York City, Twitter was on the cover of Time Magazine.  And then, the Tuesday after, about 10% of the people came to the first conference were wearing green in support of the Iranian people; and it was a really interesting moment in time where people who were, didn’t know anyone else, starting coming together and expressing and affecting a change.  And so, I was very much trying to quote, BS-en so much of this, and I realized, hey wait a second, you know what, this intermediation and disruption is happening; that if you’re in the PR industry and you represent entertainers, guess what?  You can’t shut them up; they now have a platform.  And, and so, you really are struggling if you’re trying to own the messaging.  And, if you happen to be a brand, that was, that was the first time I ever heard of the term, Chief Listening Officer.  Because until now, it’s always been Chief Marketing Officer, where you go in and put in a message; well guess what, because of this state-of-now, people have to listen.  If you are a big enough company to have a Chief Marketing Officer, and they don’t have a Chief Listening Officer, you’re missing out.  And so, when I started out on the conference circuit, I started with the media centers, I was looking for celebrities; I was looking for the people who were in the media, people who made media, people who describe what’s happening.  I never thought that I’d end up in Hutchison, Kansas.  And so, last year I did four cities, I did New York, London, Tel Aviv, and Los Angeles, and each of those cities had a different feel to it.  In 2010, I’ve expanded into a lot of other locations, but for the first time in 16 years of ever doing events, ever, I’m in a small town; and you know, Becky McCray who is a friend of mine, pointed out that in America today there are 300 million people who live here, but only 65 million people live in a big town.  That means, everybody else, lives in a small town; and so, when she proposed to me in July 31st, I think that just as a tease out of the business proposition, I should consider doing 140 small town and jumped on it.  And something hit me and said, you know what, this makes sense in that, that we’re all people, the world became flat, because this real-time web that we’re living in now, anyone and everyone can be a disruptive force.  And so, why not go the places where everyone else is and provide a voice for them, and, and, and check it out.  And so I was very fortunate in that, in August, I met some aggie farmers who were using, who created Ag Chat, and who, I opened my eyes and I realized that, you know, explained to them at conference and to me that a 100 years ago 60% of Americans were in agriculture and these days it only 1.7%.  And I realized I had to take that message for agriculture and bring it to the world.  So one of the reasons why I said yes to coming here is to provide a platform for people that are in businesses I’ve never, that I’m not that familiar with and see how, how the real-time web affects their lives.  And at the end of the day, it turns out, we’re all people, and that was the biggest take-away I’ve had so far of this whole conference is, is serendipity and humanity.  And what my conferences have become is a platform for people who have a story to share their story.  For me, it’s all about people, it’s all about connecting, it’s about being real.

Rob:  From an online business perspective, if you build a community, will the builds, business model, will it come as well?

Jeff:  It depends upon how you’re trying to define the business model.  I mean, my friend Jose Bardee will joke and say that business models get in the way of everything; they do.  What he’ll argue about it’s actually revenue that gets in the way; and he’s right.  You see, there’s so many times when you start a company, if you’re so focused on trying to have a business model, you forget about growing the business, you forget about the innovation you need to get to the ah-ha that defines you differently from your competition.  And so, I think that if you can allow yourself the creativity to actually feel yourself out, because don’t forget, Google for the first two, three years of its business, had no business model.  Ultimately, it’s turned into one of the largest companies in the world, creating billions in dollars of revenue, but they gave themselves a chance to figure themselves out.  Most successful businesses in the world are not successful in the, in the one thing they started out to do, they allowed themselves to warp and to change and to figure out that space for them.  So, in terms of you know, online communities and business models, yeah, sure if you hit it right; but more importantly, if you hit it wrong.  It’s, I’ve learned more from my failures than my successes.  I’ve learned more from being around innovative driven people who see things a little differently than everybody else.  And so, is it possible to make money from building community?  Absolutely; the, the biggest thing you have to know about is not to listen to other people.  If you feel a need to and drive to do something, do it.  It’s, it’s like, you know, things in motion stay in motion, but sometimes you have to get yourself off your tush and go and get yourself in motion.  And I noticed on Facebook and on Twitter how people were sharing messages and how.  Always looking at how communications happen, I started noticing that maybe if you tweet somebody, maybe your phone would ring.  Or, if you say something, maybe people would reach out to you.  And I believe, fundamentally, the world of business is changing the face of how we communicate.  The evolution of social communications is having a direct affect on the future of how businesses communicate with businesses.  This is a very, very big thing.  And so, through the 140 Conferences I’m seeing a peripheral, but I also have another focus of mine looking at how the evolution of social communications changes everything.  And so, can we build online communities and make money?  Yeah, I mean the, one of the secrets of 140 Conference, I, I’ve been able to create a global brand, hold the event literally in cities around the world; my entire advertising and marketing budget today has been zero; zero.

Courtenay:  Now to see how one Oklahoma business woman is using Twitter to save small town rural America, simply head to our website at where we have a link to social networking entrepreneur, Becky McCray.