I apologize to David Meerman Scott for my unforgivable outburst on Twitter on Friday evening.
I thought I had deleted the tweet soon afterwards and did not have access to Internet over the weekend so had not realized it was still online until Monday am. It should not have been sent and does not reflect either Business of Software Conference’s, or my own views. It is not how we go about our business.
This post has been sent to David in draft form prior to publishing and he has kindly accepted my apology and agreed that we can share it publicly.
Deleting doesn’t undo however and I want to take time to both apologize and try to at least explain what happened. Whilst in no way excusing my actions, I hope that it might provide some context.
In summary, I was clearing my inbox for the weekend when I came across an email forwarded to me by a colleague who had connected to David in his capacity as adviser to a company that he believed would be interested to know about Business of Software. Having sent a LinkedIn connection request, David had responded to my colleague to connect and offered his services to speak. Since the conference was to be held in David’s home city, he indicated a very reasonable local event fee to speak.
I completely misread the correspondence between David and my colleague as another note from a professional speaker approaching us to pitch a keynote. He had not. My response would have made my five year old self embarrassed.
We’re pitched for speaking slots all the time. The most common response that people give me when I am introduced to someone at an event as someone that, ‘runs great conferences’, is “Great! You should have me speak.” This is almost always before they have even asked what sort of conferences I run. Like all event organizers, I sweat over the curation of speakers, we think about how we can pull a coherent set of talks together that will offer our attendees ideas that they can put to work in their businesses when they get back to the office. When I have a conversation like this, it always leaves me a little deflated to be honest. We’ve worked very hard to build a community of people around the event and when people put themselves forward as speakers without even knowing what we do, it makes me feel that we are being taken advantage of. I can’t help but take it personally even though this is something that I know I have to work on.
We receive between 5 and 20 such approaches a week from speaking agencies and professional speakers who have little or no connection with the conference, or an understanding of the type of talks we want to offer our attendees. These typically offer an individual for hire as a keynote speaker at a particular rate and we usually decline the approaches as we tend to seek speakers who have shown engagement with our audience and really understand the approach that we have taken in putting a conference together that is different.
I misread David’s response as another unsolicited approach. It wasn’t. He was responding professionally and politely to our connection, something that I had not realized. Even if it had been unsolicited however, no matter who had sent it, it would not have been OK to share this correspondence for which I apologize unreservedly. I certainly hope that anyone that has followed us for the twelve years Business of Software Conference has been running would recognize that this was totally out of character.
The worst thing is, for me, I have a huge amount of time for David’s work. I read the original, ‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR‘. Twice. From cover to cover. It is a brilliant book that changed the conversation around marketing. He is an excellent communicator and the sort of person that we would love to have involved with the community. He is the sort of person I hold in high regard and would usually spend time developing a relationship with to become involved in the event.
I am deeply sorry that I reacted the way I did when I received what I mistook to be an unsolicited, (it wasn’t), approach for a paid speaking slot. I am far more disappointed in my subsequent actions but am most sorry for any upset and offence caused to David. I am very sorry and I am solely responsible for the unforgivable reaction on my part. I behaved like a spoilt child without reason. This does not represent the views of Business of Software as an organization, or anyone associated with it. The mistake was mine alone.
I thank David for his understanding.