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June 19, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Inaugural “Ready Set Boost” draws nearly 150

Nearly 150 people turned out for the inaugural “Ready Set Boost” business conference on Tuesday in Greeneville.

The day-long session was marketed as a “business conference that will motivate, educate and inspire.” Attendees included a number of individuals who remained in Greeneville for today’s ArmDJ 5.0 event that annually draws disc jockeys who do weddings and other special events.

Featured speakers for Tuesday’s sessions included keynoter Gary Vaynerchuk, a New York Times bestselling author who has never spoken in this region; Jose Castillo of Johnson City, a speaker and consultant on the convergence of technology and marketing; Alan Bracken, a speaker, coach and teacher; and Todd Mitchem, Vice President for Business Development for Eagle’s Flight and founder of Mitchem Interactive. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Castillo and his wife were spotlighted on earlier this month.)

During his keynote address, Vaynerchuk used humor, irreverence and life examples to emphasize the significant impact social media is having on our lives. The 35-year old entrepreneur, who started his first “chain” – a group of “lemonade stands” in New Jersey when he was five, admitted that his lifetime goal is to own the New York Jets.

The reference to a “chain,” not just a single stand, drew a hearty laugh from the attendees.

Vaynerchuk admitted that he never owned a personal computer and “had no comprehension that modems existed” when he reached 18 years of age. Yet, one would never know this fact as he talked continually about Facebook, LinkedIn and other similar sites.

“Social media is the current term we use to describe the Internet,” Vaynerchuk said, citing earlier terms like Web 2.0.

“We are living in a world called the streaming economy,” he explained in noting that information comes at us constantly through television, computers and a variety of mobile devices.

“It is the biggest culture shift of our time,” he says.

Vaynerchuk is the author of several books about social media. He speaks and consults regularly on the topic.

While he advocates that entrepreneurs need to be patient and approach their endeavor like a marathon rather than a sprint, Vaynerchuk has a fast-paced delivery laced with significant words of advice. He spoke for about 90 minutes and interacted in a question and answer session for another 30 minutes.

He is clearly passionate about three Cs – content, context and customer interaction. “Content is king,” Vaynerchuk said on a number of occasions. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Teknovation will post a longer article about Vaynerchuk’s presentation the week of July 2.)

Castillo followed Vaynerchuk, telling the crowd that “the world we live in is bland. We are all going around doing the same thing.” In his view, “We have bankrupted ideas . . . killed creativity.” His solution is simple –developing “spicy ideas.”

His recipe to reverse the blandness included three “spicy” ingredients – generating excitement, adding flavor and changing the world.

“It’s all about attitude,” Castillo said about the excitement part. “Having fun first is infectious.” He said that entrepreneurs should “be yourself (and) respond to the crowd” by being an active user of social media sites.

Using the metaphor of “taste and taste again” to underscore the flavor component, Castillo challenged the attendees to “be unsatisfied with technology until you get the result you want,” adding that people should not “buy things because they are cool but because they help us achieve our goals.”

Like Vaynerchuk before him, Castillo advocated the marathon versus sprint approach, saying that entrepreneurs should “be in it (social media) for the long haul.”

His third “spicy idea” – changing the world – is “what we’ve been called to do,” Castillo believes. Citing his father’s upcoming appearance on the “America’s Got Talent” television show, the younger Castillo said that “you can be an expert overnight,” just as his father has become as a sand artist.

Castillo challenged the attendees to experiment constantly and “share, share, share.”

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