Photo: A Content Marketing World tweetup (in Cleveland), featuring participants from three Twitter chats: #CMWorld, #ContentChat and #TacoChat.

I discovered Content Marketing Institute in 2013.

I became a loyal reader of the site and joined the weekly #CMWorld Twitter chats. I connected on Twitter with CMI staff, along with the wonderful members of the CM World community (this continues to the present day, BTW).

2014 was the first time I requested approval to make the trip to Content Marketing World in Cleveland. For one reason or another, I was never able to get approval to make the trip. Each Fall, I’d live vicariously through the #CMWorld Twitter stream, taking in the activities that were happening in Cleveland.

After the conference, I’d read recaps of presentations. “One of these days,” I kept telling myself. “One of these days.”

One of these days is here!

In the past year, I’ve gone out on my own as a marketing consultant. I also landed a speaking spot at Content Marketing World 2019, co-presenting with Erika Heald.


2019 would be my first time at Content Marketing World. It would also be my first visit to Cleveland!

On Labor Day 2019, I flew from San Francisco to Cleveland. I settled in to my hotel, then went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was going to be a great week, I knew.

It was so neat to meet CM World community members in person — folks I’ve come to know (quite well!) over the years. Going from online to face-to-face is so special.

I also met a lot of new people.

I met Sydni Craig-Hart (@SydniCraigHart). Sydni is CEO and Co-Founder of Smart Simple Marketing and a long-time member of the CM World community. We both live in the Bay Area, so of course it took a business trip to Cleveland for us to meet! Here’s a photo:

Sydni Craig Hart And Dennis Shiao at Content Marketing World

Photo: that’s me (left) with Sydni Craig-Hart. As you might know, orange is the official color of Content Marketing World.

Here are my takeaways from the conference.

You’ll notice the title of this post refers to takeaways that “No One is Talking About.” That’s because these takeaways are unique to my experience.

How to live life

A tweet about Henry Rollins’ keynote:

I’ll start with a rather deep one — it comes from the keynote by Henry Rollins. While I enjoyed all of Rollins’ frenetic and fast-paced, 30 minute talk, the final question asked during the Q&A had the biggest impact on me.

The question from an attendee was (paraphrased), “You seem to have no fear. How do you think about fear in your life?”

Rollins answered by describing the times he nearly lost his life. Once, he was hit by gunfire. A friend of his was also struck, and died. Another time, he was bitten by a rattlesnake. He was in critical condition in the hospital before doctors saved him.

These experiences led Rollins to live life to the fullest. He’s content with his life — if he died today, he’d die happy and satisfied. There’s a saying that goes “live each day like it’s your last,” and Rollins truly does.

He made me reconsider how I think about life.

Also: Check out Mark Bornstein’s post on the Content Marketing World blog, “Why Henry Rollins Inspires Me and Why He Should Inspire You.”

Conference serendipity

A lot of attendees told me that meeting and networking with others is as important to them as the conference sessions. I agree!

The sessions at the 2019 conference were great and I tried to attend a session during every available slot. I got as much enjoyment roaming the halls, bumping into people I knew (from Twitter) and meeting people I didn’t know.

“Conference serendipity” happens when you’re out on the floor, roaming around. That includes the hallways, the exhibit hall, the food areas and the escalators. You never know whom you might bump into or what you might discover.

I had a lot of 1:1 hallway conversations. I also had moments when a group of us would gather and chat.

On the last day of the conference (Friday), a bunch of us gathered in the hallway outside the session rooms. Our flights weren’t for a few hours, so we lingered and reflected on the past week:

Interest in meetups

This is based on anecdotes and not a data-driven insight.

I’m also biased, since I run a marketing meetup and spoke about meetups during my presentation with Erika.

A few attendees of our session told me they’re planning to launch a meetup back home. I visited one sponsor booth and they told me they’re planning to launch a meetup for marketers in the Seattle area.

Panelists on stage at Content Marketing World 2019

Photo: Joe Pulizzi talks about the first ever Content Marketing World during a 2019 session titled “Getting the Most from CM World 2019.” Also pictured are Cathy McPhillips (left) and Sydni Craig-Hart (right). Photo via Content Marketing Institute.

Joe Pulizzi, speaking of the original idea behind Content Marketing World, said (paraphrased), “We knew you were all out there, we just didn’t know how to reach you.” So he and the team launched the conference and a lot of you showed up that first year (and every year since then).

I think of meetups as “mini Content Marketing Worlds,” where we gather in our local communities, rather than a single destination.

The meetup that I run just turned four years old! Here are some lessons that I learned running it.

Also: The meetup group held an “Ask Me Anything” about content marketing earlier this year. Read my summary of that meetup.

What folks ARE talking about

Logo For This Old Marketing Podcast

Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi shared their takeaways from Content Marketing World in Episode #217 of the This Old Marketing podcast.

According to Robert, “The big theme this year was scaling. How do we make this a scalable thing in our business. Everybody is trying to meet the demands of ‘the business of content’ and in varying degrees, it’s not working out very well.”

According to Joe, “I had breakfast with Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners and his comment to me was, ‘We won. Now what?’” In other words, says Joe, “People agree that content marketing is the right way to market. Now how do we take the next step?”

Jeremy Bednarski is one of the community members I’ve gotten to know over the years, then met face-to-face first the first time in Cleveland. Jeremy wrote an excellent recap of the conference:

Stephanie Stahl, whom I also met for the first time, has a great recap. Stephanie’s article has links to several more:

Jill Golden provides details of Henry Rollins’ keynote and more:

Julia McCoy published a rather epic recap, including details of Joe Pulizzi’s keynote:

Like me, MaDonna Flowers Sheehy was a first-time attendee. MaDonna wrote a wonderful post for Brandpoint, detailing nine lessons learned from Content Marketing World:

And finally — I wrote an article for CMSWire that features some of the friends I made at the conference:

Looking ahead to 2020

Next Fall, CMI will host the 10th Content Marketing World. Thanks to the CMI team and everyone who helped make the 2019 conference possible. I enjoyed it so much, I’m sure to return in 2020!