Ignite Lansing, Communities, and Schneider

Posted by on Mar 8, 2010 in Dirt, Leadership and Management | 32 Comments

Okay, before I begin, I didn’t attend Ignite 3.0. I did make it to 2.0, so I know what it’s about: I support it whole heartedly. It is part of this larger movement, I’ll call it the #LoveLansing movement, that we have been engaging in the past couple of years. This group of people who love tweetups, happy hour, and breakfast. Who champion community, smart ideas, and supporting local business. Ignite is made up of this community, and today, Ignite got some bad press.

We all read John Schneider’s blog post about Ignite Lansing 3.0. We all agree that John Schneider didn’t get it, and he didn’t get it in a very nice way. We also know that what happens at Ignite (and after Ignite) is incredibly important, and good, for a number of reasons (see above link and comments…thanks @aribadler for a great post). But this is a big moment for our community of #LoveLansing-ers. It’s big because the noise we’ve been making is starting to be heard. John Schneider came to see what the commotion was about, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, he didn’t get it. We can poo-poo him as some old fuddy-duddy who doesn’t get it and won’t get it. Or, we can ask ourselves a much more important, reflexive, and  constructive question:

Why didn’t he get it?

What is it about our community that John Schneider missed? What wasn’t made clear to him? And even more importantly, how do we make it clear next time? These are important questions because, in Lansing, John Schneider is someone you want on your side, because people in Lansing have been reading his column every morning for a long, long time. They trust him and his opinion, and this movement should want their trust as well, because it’s trying to revive a city. And a city is hard to revive when the majority of people in and around the city think our bright idea is a 5-minute presentation, and miss the fact that the bright idea was the whole event itself: the process of a community doing, creating, and sharing something together.

So, we have two choices: blow off John Schneider and dismiss him as a boomer who “just doesn’t understand”, or call him up. Personally invite him to the next one. Give him an inside pass so he can watch (and report on) the whole process from start to finish. Tell him when the next TweetUp is, or breakfast club. Why not ask him to be part of the planning committee for the next Ignite? Engage with him and the community he represents. Learn from him what sort of message will ignite their fire, and bring their ideas to Lansing, so that we can all be a part of this movement together.

  • My thoughts on #IgniteLansing? Engage John Schneider, don’t vilify him. Let’s make this negative a positive! http://bit.ly/9uGbsI
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • My thoughts on #IgniteLansing? Engage John Schneider, don’t vilify him. Let’s make this negative a positive! http://bit.ly/9uGbsI
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • RT @brockter thoughts on #IgniteLansing? Engage John Schneider, don’t vilify him. Let’s make this negative a positive! http://bit.ly/9uGbsI
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • RT @brockter thoughts on #IgniteLansing? Engage John Schneider, don’t vilify him. Let’s make this negative a positive! http://bit.ly/9uGbsI
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • RT @brockter thoughts on #IgniteLansing? Engage John Schneider, don’t vilify him. Let’s make this negative a positive! http://bit.ly/9uGbsI
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • I like your take on all of this, Terry. You make an excellent point: We need allies and supporters of all ages and backgrounds. This movement isn't about entertaining and energizing 600 like-minded people. That's a fantastic start, but it needs to be about all of greater Lansing working together to be truly greater. It can be and it will be. Ultimately, all this back-and-forth will prove to be an essential conversation.

  • I think you make some really good points here, Terry. When I first read Scheider's review, I was angry. Not because he had messed with a sacred cow, but because he had been so plain mean about it. I wrote several drafts of a nasty response, but sent none of them.

    I absolutely agree that his comments are a great opportunity for us as the Ignite Lansing community to ask why he didn't get it. There is no such thing as a perfect event. Improvement should always be the goal of the next incarnation. Scheider was not the only person I heard who suggested that SOME of the presentations weren't up to par. But, that's part of the beauty of Ignite. It's an organic process wherein we as the community vote on the presentations we want to hear. These are not professional speakers and there is no requirement that the topic be some futuristic vision of a new world. It can be as simple as how to build the perfect banana split.

    However, that doesn't mean we can't provide speakers with materials to help them prepare. We can and we should. But, even with that, some speakers are going to fall flat.

    I had a great conversation with Travis Stoliker and Jason Vanderstelt last night about how the review is actually a positive thing. Anytime you're forced to re-examine what you're doing to ensure it's the best it can be, it's a good thing. It also has obviously invigorated the Ignite community's passion, which, if channeled in the right direction is extremely positive.

    Having said that, I can't say that I agree with the idea that we should re-engage Scheider and ask for him to come and be a part of it again, but that's a conversation we can have at Espresso Royale. 😉

  • Ignite Lansing, Communities and Schneider. @brockter says what needed to be said: http://dirt.terrypbrock.com/?p=1076
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • Ignite Lansing, Communities and Schneider. @brockter says what needed to be said: http://dirt.terrypbrock.com/?p=1076
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • Ignite Lansing, Communities and Schneider. @brockter says what needed to be said: http://dirt.terrypbrock.com/?p=1076
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • RT @beckyjohns: Ignite Lansing, Communities and Schneider. @brockter says what needed to be said: http://dirt.terrypbrock.com/?p=1076
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • RT @beckyjohns: Ignite Lansing, Communities and Schneider. @brockter says what needed to be said: http://dirt.terrypbrock.com/?p=1076
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • Jessi Wortley

    I agree…obviously, if he didn't get it, and he's probably not the only one, what did we do wrong to give him that impression? This has been a great way to open the discussion for how to improve for Ignite 4.0.

    However, that still doesn't mean he had the right to publicly blast us for his own misinterpretation.

    How hard would it have been for him to ask someone for clarification? For instance, John and his wife were sitting behind us at Ignite. Knowing his wife well, she introduced us to John (we'd only previously chatted on the phone for work purposes) and we stood and chatted with them a few minutes before the event started. I am disappointed that at the first intermission, they didn't turn to us and say “Is this really the event? It's not what we were expecting and I just wanted to check with someone who might know more.” That's all it would have taken and I bet we could have convinced him to stay.

    Instead, he just got up and left and then wrote his blog. I guess that what upsets me the most, is that he didn't take the time to try and figure it out, he just up and left. Not very professional if you ask me.

    I've been a loyal reader of John's column since I was a kid, and while I haven't always agreed with everything he writes about, this incident has really left a bad taste in my mouth. Will I continue to read his column and blog? Yes. But I will probably do so with a more critical eye than before.

    I hope he learns from this and comes to the next one with a more open mind to truly see what all the fuss is about. Then maybe he'll understand the meaning behind #LoveLansing

  • I completely agree. RT @brockter: My thoughts on #IgniteLansing? Let’s make this negative a positive! http://bit.ly/9uGbsI
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • I completely agree. RT @brockter: My thoughts on #IgniteLansing? Let’s make this negative a positive! http://bit.ly/9uGbsI
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • I completely agree. RT @brockter: My thoughts on #IgniteLansing? Let’s make this negative a positive! http://bit.ly/9uGbsI
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • Valerie

    I completely agree. It's hard to take criticism like this when you've put a lot of time and effort into something and it's easy to say “Eh, well the old guy is out of touch.” However, Schneider is a columnist and not a journalist. He wasn't there to cover the hard facts without opinion. He's paid by LSJ to write his opinions. It's just unfortunate that having such a wide readership can sometimes give a bad impression to a lot more people who might not have heard of or attended Ignite.

    But I am glad that someone is asking the question “Why didn't he get it?” It is important to not dwell on one person's negative opinion and keep on working to improve the subsequent Ignite as well as other events in Lansing. While it may not have been a perfect event, you can't move forward without trying new things. It makes me happy that there are so many people willing to put these events together and attend. The criticism helps to drive improvement and gives people a reason to prove naysayers wrong.

  • Great observations RT @beckyjohns: Ignite Lansing, Communities and Schneider. @brockter says what needed to be said: http://bit.ly/96qyuk
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • Great observations RT @beckyjohns: Ignite Lansing, Communities and Schneider. @brockter says what needed to be said: http://bit.ly/96qyuk
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • Thanks for your comments! My intention was to simply remind everyone that ignite is a small part of a much larger community, and that the noise it makes is getting heard, and this might mean that it's time to start thinking about how the message can be made more accessible. If we are truly about community, then we need to make sure we're being inclusive, take criticism constructively, and do it in creative ways.

    Consider this conversation tabled until a forthcoming ERC coffee date.

  • Glad you agree! Certainly, he could have posed the question to you. That would have been fantastic of him…but now Ignite has the chance to ask him what he thought, and engage him in this event, and that would be a real classy move, I think. Not to mention, it would be the event even better then it already is. thanks for your comments!

  • jmiddlin

    Terry,

    Great post, I made that offer to John, haven't heard anything yet…

    http://jmiddlin.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/a-repl

  • Here's to hoping he does!

  • I think you make some really good points here, Terry. When I first read Scheider's review, I was angry. Not because he had messed with a sacred cow, but because he had been so plain mean about it. I wrote several drafts of a nasty response, but sent none of them.

    I absolutely agree that his comments are a great opportunity for us as the Ignite Lansing community to ask why he didn't get it. There is no such thing as a perfect event. Improvement should always be the goal of the next incarnation. Scheider was not the only person I heard who suggested that SOME of the presentations weren't up to par. But, that's part of the beauty of Ignite. It's an organic process wherein we as the community vote on the presentations we want to hear. These are not professional speakers and there is no requirement that the topic be some futuristic vision of a new world. It can be as simple as how to build the perfect banana split.

    However, that doesn't mean we can't provide speakers with materials to help them prepare. We can and we should. But, even with that, some speakers are going to fall flat.

    I had a great conversation with Travis Stoliker and Jason Vanderstelt last night about how the review is actually a positive thing. Anytime you're forced to re-examine what you're doing to ensure it's the best it can be, it's a good thing. It also has obviously invigorated the Ignite community's passion, which, if channeled in the right direction is extremely positive.

    Having said that, I can't say that I agree with the idea that we should re-engage Scheider and ask for him to come and be a part of it again, but that's a conversation we can have at Espresso Royale. 😉

  • Jessi Wortley

    I agree…obviously, if he didn't get it, and he's probably not the only one, what did we do wrong to give him that impression? This has been a great way to open the discussion for how to improve for Ignite 4.0.

    However, that still doesn't mean he had the right to publicly blast us for his own misinterpretation.

    How hard would it have been for him to ask someone for clarification? For instance, John and his wife were sitting behind us at Ignite. Knowing his wife well, she introduced us to John (we'd only previously chatted on the phone for work purposes) and we stood and chatted with them a few minutes before the event started. I am disappointed that at the first intermission, they didn't turn to us and say “Is this really the event? It's not what we were expecting and I just wanted to check with someone who might know more.” That's all it would have taken and I bet we could have convinced him to stay.

    Instead, he just got up and left and then wrote his blog. I guess that what upsets me the most, is that he didn't take the time to try and figure it out, he just up and left. Not very professional if you ask me.

    I've been a loyal reader of John's column since I was a kid, and while I haven't always agreed with everything he writes about, this incident has really left a bad taste in my mouth. Will I continue to read his column and blog? Yes. But I will probably do so with a more critical eye than before.

    I hope he learns from this and comes to the next one with a more open mind to truly see what all the fuss is about. Then maybe he'll understand the meaning behind #LoveLansing

  • Valerie

    I completely agree. It's hard to take criticism like this when you've put a lot of time and effort into something and it's easy to say “Eh, well the old guy is out of touch.” However, Schneider is a columnist and not a journalist. He wasn't there to cover the hard facts without opinion. He's paid by LSJ to write his opinions. It's just unfortunate that having such a wide readership can sometimes give a bad impression to a lot more people who might not have heard of or attended Ignite.

    But I am glad that someone is asking the question “Why didn't he get it?” It is important to not dwell on one person's negative opinion and keep on working to improve the subsequent Ignite as well as other events in Lansing. While it may not have been a perfect event, you can't move forward without trying new things. It makes me happy that there are so many people willing to put these events together and attend. The criticism helps to drive improvement and gives people a reason to prove naysayers wrong.

  • Thanks for your comments! My intention was to simply remind everyone that ignite is a small part of a much larger community, and that the noise it makes is getting heard, and this might mean that it's time to start thinking about how the message can be made more accessible. If we are truly about community, then we need to make sure we're being inclusive, take criticism constructively, and do it in creative ways.

    Consider this conversation tabled until a forthcoming ERC coffee date.

  • Glad you agree! Certainly, he could have posed the question to you. That would have been fantastic of him…but now Ignite has the chance to ask him what he thought, and engage him in this event, and that would be a real classy move, I think. Not to mention, it would be the event even better then it already is. thanks for your comments!

  • jmiddlin

    Terry,

    Great post, I made that offer to John, haven't heard anything yet…

    http://jmiddlin.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/a-repl

  • Here's to hoping he does!

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