10 Takeaways from Craft + Commerce

What I Learned Spending 3 Days with 300 Creators

Read time: 6 minutes

Welcome to The Ascend Archives Friday Edition where I share insights from the brightest minds in business and life and how I'm applying them to my life.

Hello from Stanley, Idaho!

Population: 119

I’m up in the mountains for a solo weekend after spending 3 days at the Craft + Commerce Conference with top creators from across the country.

Once a quarter I like getting off the grid for 2 days. No texts. No phone calls. No social media. Just writing, reading, and hanging in nature. The timing worked out because I have a ton of thoughts to digest following the conference.

The back-to-back events, very limited cell service/WIFI, and a migraine prevented me from getting this out on time. But here we are.

Here are my 10 biggest takeaways from the conference (I wrote these in my journal yesterday after hiking 2 hours to this lake).

Hell Roaring Lake…I could get used to writing from here

1. Creators need help with business stuff

There is a big opportunity to help creators build out the business side of their brand.

There were multiple workshops and presentations from executive coaches and consultants teaching creators how to think like the CEO of their company. The majority of these creators have no business background, no experience managing people, and no idea how to grow. These coaching companies are great for creators who want to learn the business side.

But what about the creators who don’t want to become the CEO?

They just enjoy creating and engaging with their audience. That’s where I could form a partnership to help them grow the brand and lead a team. They can’t totally ignore the business stuff, but they can let me take the majority of the work.

2. Relationships. Relationships. Relationships.

I just wrote about this topic last week. But over and over again, presenters stressed the importance of building relationships with people. They could trace back a lot of their success to the people who helped them along the way.

The number 1 way to build relationships is to be a good person and provide value to others without expecting anything in return.

This led to my biggest tactical takeaway from the conference. I’m going to set dedicated time each week to participate in each of my 3-5 favorite online communities. Comment on posts, set up phone calls, and make recommendations. If I can do that consistently, I think my life will get 10x better in 6 months.

3. Copy with Taste

Nothing in this world is 100% original.

Everything was inspired by something else. The most successful people understand this and capitalize on it. They find what has worked in the past, add some of their own flavor to it, and recreate it.

We learned how Beyonce has been using this tactic for years and has helped her become one of the greatest musicians of all time.

4. I found a room that made me uncomfortable

I attended a workshop titled Scaling Your Impact: How to Scale Your Business and Make a Difference Once You’ve Already “Made it”.

I have no way “made it”… I’m 6 months into this journey and still haven’t covered all my expenses. But I showed up because I wanted to be in the room with the people who had made it.

The host of the workshop Barrett Brooks did a quick survey before he started. 50 people were in the room. 45 people said they were making a full-time living as creators. 30 people had multiple employees. And I recognized the faces of at least 10 people (from reading their books or listening to their podcasts) who were running multi-million dollar businesses.

I was fascinated by the questions people were asking. I learned about the stuff I aspire to do. I want to be handling the situations these folks were discussing. I want to sit in the same room next year and feel like I belong.

Quick side note: Ali Abdaal, the keynote speaker, owner of a $6M+/year business, and guy I mention in my newsletter all the time, was sitting 2 chairs away from me. He had his laptop out taking furious notes and asking several questions. So cool seeing someone at his level continuing to learn and grow.

5. “I was my business”

One of the keynote speakers was telling the story of her creator journey when she admitted that her biggest challenge was separating her identity from her business… ”I was my business”.

Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster. There will be good days and bad days. Years of big profits and years of losses. Since creators are the brand, the business becomes personal. I can see how this takes a mental toll and can be difficult to make rational business decisions.

In the middle of this presentation, my new friend Justin leaned over and said, “That should be the problem you solve. I would pay a lot of money for someone to help me separate my identity from my business.”

This was an aha moment for me and having Justin there next to me solidified it.

6. One day, I’ll tell my story on a stage

Isa Adney got on stage and had me captivated for 30 minutes.

Her storytelling was top-notch. From the opening sentence to the closing slide, she had my attention. The way she used visuals and metaphors. The way she brought in personal anecdotes. The way she was poised and showed emotion.

I don’t enjoy public speaking. I’ve never aspired to get up on stage and tell a story. I never liked sharing about myself before writing this newsletter. And even now I’m only comfortable doing it at a keyboard.

But something happened after watching Isa tell her story on stage that made me want to do my version of that on a stage one day.

7. Mindset is everything

This was a conference hosted by an email marketing company for creators.

But > 50% of the keynotes and workshops were about mindset and soft skills. Not about tactics, hacks, or specific strategies to get more customers or grow your audience. It shows me that mindset is where people struggle the most.

All of the information on how to grow your business is out there. The hard part is getting yourself to take action and make it happen.

8. Don’t Be the Best. Be the Only

One of the speakers mentioned this quote from Kevin Kelly.

She talked about how you can’t be beaten if you are the only, but you can be beaten if you are the best. If you are better than other people at the same thing today, someone will work harder than you and eventually become better. But if you are the only one doing the thing, then it doesn’t matter how hard everyone else works they won’t be able to beat you.

This got me thinking about my ikigai. What is my combination of what I enjoy, what I’m good at, what the world needs, and what the world will pay for? And am I the only one that can provide it?

9. Enjoyment = Efficiency

This came from Ali’s keynote speech.

It simplifies a concept I’ve been trying to apply in my life. How do I optimize for enjoyment in everything that I do? If I make the goal to increase enjoyment instead of increase income/productivity/etc., then everything will be more fun and it will lead to those other things.

I’m seeing this play out in just the past few months so I’m excited to see what will happen after doing this for an entire year.

10. I love connecting with like-minded people

The number of interesting and deep conversations I had in two days with complete strangers is mind-blowing.

But that is exactly what can happen when people have shared values and are willing to be vulnerable. I talked with a guy from Turkey about his parents disowning him after leaving the corporate world. I was at a speakeasy until 1 AM Friday night reflecting on the conference with 5 friends. Every lunch and dinner had discussions around what led us to this world of entrepreneurship and how we can help each other grow.

These chats led to some of the most valuable lessons and I’m excited to go more in-depth on these stories in future newsletters.

Thank you for reading! As always please reply and let me know what resonated, what didn’t, or what you question. I love chatting about this stuff!