“We’re all Gutenbergs!”

Today was ProductCamp Socal 2012! The event was held at my campus, Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo Hall. One of the discussions I participated in today inspired me to create a blog and write about… well, anything! But we’ll talk about that more later. ProductCamp is a collaborative “unconference” where product managers, marketers, and the like, come together to discuss visitor-created topics from web analytics to personal branding. Today was one of eighty sessions held worldwide. I heard about this event from my club, American Marketing Association, and decided to sign up as a volunteer! I arrived at about 11AM this morning and was immediately excited about the turnout. Businessmen and women, professors, and students peppered the lobby with so much excitement and chatter.

The first discussion I attended, “Once Upon A Blog” was led by Professor Stuart Atkins. Atkins discussed the importance and benefits of blogging, especially in management and marketing. He showed a video of several business gurus talking about the profound effect blogging has made on their careers and lifestyles. Atkins also talked about famous printer and publisher Johannes Gutenberg and his contribution to the “widespread distribution of ideas”. Atkins called every single person in the room a “Gutenberg”! Hence, the creation of my first blog post!

My favorite discussion was called “Crushing Job Search: Break the Rules, Cut the Line, Beat the Rest” by career strategist and author, Darrell Gurney. I hadn’t heard of anything similar to his insights about snagging a position in today’s competitive job market. Gurney stressed the significance of networking every single day and even compared it to seeking a significant other.

Gurney: Hello there, I like your shoes. Where’d you get those?

Unsuspecting student: Oh, thanks. I got ’em online.

Gurney: Nice. Which website?

Unsuspecting student: Karmaloop.com.

Gurney: Karmaloop… heard of them. Do you work for them, or you just like their stuff?

Unsuspecting¬†student: I don’t work for them. I’m a student here at Cal State Fullerton.

Gurney: Ya see, folks. I found out what he did for a living within five seconds, three questions.

What interested me most about “Crushing Job Search…” was the inclusion of the “learned childhood rules” and “rules implied by life” that have socialized all of us into fearing rejection.

The last discussion I attended was led by CSUF American Marketing Association’s President and Vice President. They talked about understanding Generation Y, and utilizing this understanding to the marketer’s benefit. I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of professional “Generation X’ers” in the room. Interesting to hear some of the words and phrases to describe us millennials: innovative, energetic, hard-working, and my personal favorite: “all flash and no substance”. Couldn’t say I agreed with the gentleman, but I couldn’t say I disagreed either. It definitely made me think. Our generation was raised during times of recession and stagnation. We’ve been taught to keep up with the hustle and bustle, and we’ve been taught to shamelessly sell ourselves. We are the generation of the profile picture and retweeted tweet. The flash part is correct. No substance? Not so sure. Today’s typical student life consists of: part-time work, full-time classes, club involvement, and part-time internships. Throw in a side business or two, and we’ve definitely got the ingredients for “substance”. So yes, we love to take pictures of what we’re doing, reading, and eating. But that unapologetic self-branding is a valuable skill implied in every “unconference session” I attended today.

Besides, if we don’t sell ourselves… who will?