"What’s Your Tuva?" Guest blog from Lisa Wells, Product Principles

A nice guest blog by Lisa Wells, Product Principles on this year's Lightning Talks.

Every Fall for the last three years I’ve made a pilgrimage to absorb wisdom face-to-face from software greats like Seth Godin, Joel Spolsky, and Eric Ries at the Business of Software (BoS) conference.

What is your Tuva

It’s an expensive conference, but it’s worth every penny to get the latest, greatest insights from movers and shakers who understand both business and technology, and whose ideas are shaping the future of software entrepreneurship. And the opportunity to mingle with like-minded entrepreneurs is priceless!

BoS also has a Lightning Talk competition – short, fast-paced talks that consist of 15 slides, set to auto-advance every 30 seconds. Giving a Lightning Talk is not for the faint of heart. This year, prospective speakers were required to submit audition videos. Those selected as finalists are invited to give their talks at the conference itself, where the audience votes to determine the “Best Lightning Talk” for the year.

I've been nudging my colleague Justin Goeres from JKI for years to come along and he could never swing it. This year though, he decided to 'earn' his way by submitting a Lightning Talk (also he likes to do this sort of crazy stuff). So he put together a video and sent it along. And in the face of stiff competition, he got accepted to speak!

So this October, both Justin and I trekked to Boston to attend Business of Software 2011. Like the last two years, the conference was incredible! For the first two days, we were awed by speakers like Dr. Clayton Christensen, the Harvard professor who wrote The Innovator’s Dilemma and other award winning books. Praxeology expert Rory Sutherland blew us away with his insights applying human behavioral science and economics to business situations. Dharmesh Shah, Hubspotfounder and author of Inbound Marketing, showed us in detail how to build a bad-ass software business. Jason Cohen, author of popular blog A Smart Bear, rocked the house with his insights on Naked Business: How Honesty Makes Money. (Justin’s and my detailed notes for the sessions are online here).

[Great notes by the way, you should take a look – Mark Littlewood]

The Lightning Talk competition happened towards the end of the second day. This year there were five talks, all by really smart people who can present really really well:

  • Corey Reid, Cat-herder at Freshbooks on Hiring Developers
  • Karl Treier, CTO/Partner at Prospect Stream on Tips on Starting a Software Company
  • Justin’s talk – the only “non-business” one: Getting to Nowhere – the story of Richard Feynman's 'last journey' to a country called Tannu Tuva, and what a lifelong quest means for all of us
  • Patrick Foley, Evangelist and popular blogger from Microsoft on Confessions of a Wannapreneur
  • Tyler Rooney, Founder/CEO of 4ormat on Things I Learned the Hard Way at Amazon.com

All of the talks were outstanding – which makes it even more of an accomplishment that the BoS audience voted Justin’s talk the winner of the contest! As he introduced the speaker after Justin, Conference Organizer and emcee Mark Littlewood said Justin’s talk brought tears to his eyes. For the rest of the conference, I heard people asking each other, “What’s your Tuva?” In other words, what’s the quest that gives meaning and adventure to your life?

Just getting up in front of this crowd of software superstars and not embarrassing oneself is reason for celebration, but winning the competition is truly a special accomplishment! So from all of us here at JKI, a big congratulations goes out to Justin, who had the focus and courage to step out in search of his Tuva.

[We loved his talk too and can't wait to get them back from the editing suite so we can share them! Thanks Lisa].