Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Introductions, Inspiration, Introspection: My Time at #KillerTribes

I created this blog about 4 months ago. To date, I have 3 subscribers (whom I adore!). My Twitter handle (@ScottB3nn3tt) just eeked its way past the 300 follower mark—about 75 of whom appear to be porn stars.

In blog years, I’m just a baby. And that’s just fine, because I’m still crawling around, gumming on my words, cooing out phrases with my voice, and playing with my “why” in this space. That’s my personal writing life.

In my professional writing life, I spend most of my days on Facebook and Twitter as the voice of an $80 billion company. The Twitter handle I steward has 23,000+ followers, and grows by a couple hundred a week. I tweet, respond, comment and moderate discussions all day long. I write some blog posts for the corporate website, which gets a million page views a month. It’s a dream job.

That’s the stark social media contrast in which I live. I feel like Nehemiah must have felt—bearing a golden goblet for the king by day, and drinking from a clay pot by night. My personal and professional writing worlds are miles apart in their profile and prominence—but not in their purpose.

I gave Killer Tribes a try because I thought it would universally speak into both my professional and personal writing worlds. Both worlds have great potential, with very different paths to greater success. But at their core, they share the same aim: to create 1-to-1 connections with a growing number of people who rally around a common Purpose.

I got what I was after, and then some. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Killer Tribes gave me the opportunity to hear and meet some amazing people. My wife, Joy, has been blogging steadily since 2005. She's very much an adult in blog years. She knew several people who would be attending and/or speaking at the conference, and first introduced the idea of attending Killer Tribes together. I’m so glad I took her up on it.

She introduced me to countless “tribe-mates” of hers, who have inspired her so much over the years. These were everyday, down-to-earth people—many of them published authors—whose voices are heard by thousands who read their blogs and books.

Beyond being so approachable, these people did so much to bolster my confidence. Time after time, I had hallway conversations with well-established word-crafters who would say, “Oh yeah, It took me a good 2 years to find my voice and get in my groove.” Those words were balm for this blogger baby.

Bryan Allain, who organized the Killer Tribes conference, put together a wonderfully diverse line-up of speakers, whose tribe-building successes had taken such varied forms.

I was inspired as Alli Worthington, founder of BlissDom (one of the most prominent blogging conferences today), told endearing stories of her humble beginnings in 2007. She attributed her incredible success to knowing her weaknesses well, then surrounding herself with people who were strong in the areas where she was weak. She told some amazing stories about what that looked like.

I was inspired as Daddy-O, a musical genius who grew up writing and recording in the infancy of hip-hop, gave sage advice on how to build a career that is grounded, continually inspired and self-sustaining.

I was inspired as Sarah Mae, author of several books and founder of the Relevant conference, challenged me to be willing to take a step back and figure out my “why”, even if it means taking a break from writing. She caused me to start with the Idea—the wellspring within myself from which passion and purpose freely flow. I need to do this.

I could write volumes about the nuggets I took away from each speaker. But I was most inspired by the ones who started out just like me, and who took a while to get their groove, just like me. I really needed to hear that.

Killer Tribes caused me to think a lot about what I want to do with my life—not just in the area of blogging, but in the area of being. Why do I have this blog, and what should it be?

I started my blog as a place to reflect on my personal Bible study and devotions. That was good, but I’m second guessing whether blogging about personal theological reflections is all that wise, or helpful to others. I want to uniquely help people, and there’s so much helpful theological stuff out there. I’m still thinking about that one. I haven’t given up on it.

Some of my posts have simply been stories, like the mini-biography I posted on the 20th anniversary of my grandfather’s death. I love to tell stories. But wow, finding and developing them is painstaking. Again, I’m still thinking about that one.

When I think about the stories God has given me to tell, I think about our daughter Elli, who we lost at 8 years old, and that dark trial we walked through with God’s help. I think about the Find a Voice Fund we started in her memory. I wonder if that is what God wants me to write about, and use this space to comfort others with the comfort we received from Him.

I love graphic design and photography. I love the written word, and the Word of God. I love humor—doing impersonations and satire. I love poetry. 

I love being a father and husband, and have written letters to Joy on my blog. We've even talked lately about co-authoring a book about the experience of losing Elli, and how we've managed to stay together even though we have grieved so differently as individuals.

So many things could become That One Thing Sarah Mae calls my Idea. I’m still pondering what that is, keeping my mind and heart open to where the Lord leads. Most of all, I want to love and help people in ways that make God look as glorious as possible. I’m confident that He will reveal that, and He will bless that. Even as I write this, I feel like the answer is right in front of my nose.

And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be a keynote speaker at a Killer Tribes conference—or even creating my own conference. After what I saw on Saturday, there’s always that chance.


  1. Nice post, Scott. Just a thought...I don't know if long-term sustainability needs to be one of the qualifications of your Idea. We all change over time, and the chances that your Idea will morph into something new are probably fairly high. I'd go with what your passionate about NOW, knowing that time will mold the look and feel of it.

    Good luck! Looking forward to following along.

    1. That is great advice, Shawn. I think as you were writing this, I was going back in and tweaking some of the language around that very thing (which I'm not sure is good blogging etiquette :-)). But I'm gratified to know that we were thinking alike.

      When I'm wearing my professional hat, it's all about repetition, consistency and staying on message for the long-term. Your advice helps me realize that I have a lot more room to go from idea to idea in my personal writing. That's a very freeing thought, indeed.

      Thanks, and again - it was great to meet you and Maile Saturday!

  2. Scott, I'm so glad I got to meet you, and see Joy again. It's funny, I'm feeling lost this morning on writing, no inspiration, and then I pop over hear and read your thoughts and I feel inspired again. I think the heart of it all is telling stories...I think I'm going to go tell a story.


    1. It was great to meet you, too, Sarah Mae! I'm thrilled to know I was able to return the favor and inspire you back today. You made my day. Happy storytelling! :)

  3. Popped over b/c Sarah Mae is a friend and tweeted your post. I wasn't at killer tribes, but loved the things you said about it. And I appreciated your vulnerability about losing Elli as well. We just lost our 4th baby in pregnancy 2 weeks ago and I've blogged about it. It's amazing how God can use our vulnerability in our own stories as a way to bring glory to Him as we walk faithfully even when we're up to our eyeballs in grief and hurt. I'm a blogging baby too, but there's definitely something freeing about finding your voice and letting it rip to see just what God may use you to say! Let it rip buddy...and He'll do great things with you!

    1. Logan - thanks so much for writing. Oh, I'm so sad to hear about your difficult trial - so recent. You are so brave to blog through the pain, and I am sure that many were very encouraged by your boldness. I appreciate your advice and encouragement!

  4. Great stuff Scott. Glad we met at Killer Tribes, although I wish we had more time to chat. This post helps me learn more about you, and your voice is a welcome addition to this bloggy world of ours. Keep up the great work!

    1. Clay! It was great to meet you Saturday. I agree - it would have been fun to sit down and chat much longer. We were just getting started. You were one of those who encouraged me more than you probably realized, in just a few minutes. Thanks for your encouragement, and you can count on me to keep up with your writing from now on.


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