Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dispatches from the YP Summit – Day One

I began my morning with a drive to Louisville that was shorter than I thought (which is a good thing). Along the way, I listened to a few podcasts by Deloitte. The best one, and the one I was most interested in, was called The Authentic Edge: Getting It Right with Gen Y. The two folks interviewed both said out of the gate that above all, your messaging to Generation Y has got to be authentic. Because this group can smell fakery from a mile away, and because they enter into transactions with a hint of skepticism, authenticity in messaging is key.

What wonderful foreshadowing that would be.

I have never spent much time in Louisville, but after spending a few hours downtown and in the Highlands, it's a place I need to visit more often. I enjoyed an informative lunch at Bistro 301 with two of the great folks at the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. This organization is doing great work to make the nonprofits in Louisville and other nearby areas better at what they do.

That was followed by coffee with a young dreamer at Heine Brothers. This coffee shop is a remarkable place, as it clearly shows the consumer the important impact of fair trade coffee and goods. Instead of simply telling the customer, "Our coffee is fair trade," their café is filled with pictures of Latin American farmers who are in charge of growing the beans that make the tasty coffee. One can clearly see how the coffee goes from bean to cup.

And then, I ventured over to the summit in order to be present at the opening event: welcome reception and bourbon tasting.

I don't really need many excuses to enjoy bourbon, especially in its home state. This event promised to be a good time as it would give us participants a chance to meet each other before we begin all our learning tomorrow.

However, much to the dismay of many, the bourbon tasting was really just a bourbon drink. Instead of having a tasting – allowing a person to sip samples of various kinds of bourbon – attendees were given a ticket for a drink.


Look, I didn't come to Louisville and register for the conference so I could drink my registration fee in bourbon. But, I showed up tonight expecting a tasting because that's what they said was happening. One would think that of all organizations and events, the Young Professionals Summit would certainly understand authentic messaging.

Also, in looking through my registration packet, I didn't see the promised copy of Rebecca Ryan's new book. I assume we'll get that later in the conference.

No matter what story you're telling, you've got to be authentic and tell the truth (see rule number 1 of being remarkable).

I'm staying at a Residence Inn this weekend. I don't expect room service because they don't promise it. So, I'm not mad when I don't have that option. But, if I showed up and my bed wasn't made or there wasn't free wifi, then I'd be upset, because that's what they promised.

No matter how badly you want someone to pay attention, if you can't back up your promises and claims, you'll alienate each and every listener you have. Chances are, you don't want customers, volunteers, donors and employees to shop with you, use you, or show up once – you want them to come back.

It'll happen every time if you just tell the truth.

Comments (0)