I applied to speak at MozCon on Monday afternoon. For those that don’t know, SEOMoz had an amazing idea to shuffle around the MozCon 2012 schedule to allow four lucky guests from the community to speak at the event. I’ll be honest: When I first read the announcement, I got more excited than a Star Wars fanboy who’d just been given a chance to go to dinner with George Lucas. I’m a shameless fan of the Moz, so I’m fine with admitting that.
After I recovered from the excitement overload, I started panicking over what I could possibly come up with as a topic to speak on. They were asking for something that was super actionable, engaging, and that hadn’t been covered in the existing schedule. Obviously, it also had to be a topic that hadn’t been beaten to death elsewhere. I spent hours thinking about it every day (and night) for the next week. Then, a few days ago, on the way home from work, it came to me. I’ll hold off on telling you what the topic is until later on in this post.
So, I wanted to explain briefly why I applied to speak at MozCon in the first place.
Live the Dream
When I first got into SEO, I scoured the web for everything I could find on the subject. I found a lot of pretty decent information on SEO and PPC and absorbed that readily. I also found some rather shady information, which I probably shouldn’t have absorbed, but did anyway (I mean, who didn’t at first?). I even found some really great information that I still hold onto to this day. After a few years, I came to realize that much of the consistently awesome information I’d been finding was on a site called SEOMoz.org. Nowadays, SEOMoz is one of the first resources I recommend to people who are interested in learning about SEO. I also check in on the Moz blog multiple times a week and stalk Rand on Twitter.
For me, speaking at Mozcon would be living the dream. After doing SEO for five years, it would be beyond incredible to be able to speak at the same event as the people who have become synonymous with authoritative SEO.
Give What You Get
Over the years, and especially the last three or so, I’ve really got a ton of great insights and inspiration from members of the SEO community. One thing that’s certainly not been lost on me is that in our niche, you get what you give. Some days I feel like a noob and some days I feel like a pro, but everyday I make an effort to be available to help people. I’m on Twitter more than I should be and visit Quora pretty frequently in an effort to offer up the knowledge I have to help people or otherwise spark an engaging discussion.
Speaking at MozCon would be a huge opportunity for me give what I get. I’ve received a lot from attending various events and conferences and having the chance to return the favor would be an incredible honor.
Push the Limit
I really love this one image I saw on Google+ the other day which illustrates a pretty simple fact (via ven diagram). There’s an area in life where the magic happens and your comfort zone. The two don’t overlap. I’ve been a relatively introverted person my whole life and wasn’t a fan of public speaking until I was over 20. In fact, I don’t know if I can really say I’m a fan now, but I jump at the opportunity to speak in public because it pulls me way out of my comfort zone. I have dreams. Some of them involve contributing to the SEO industry in a meaningful way. That dream will never be realized from within my comfort zone.
Speaking at MozCon would rip me so far out of my comfort zone, I doubt I’d be the same person after I was done. For anyone from SEOMoz that might be reading this, don’t worry. Even if I’m not in my comfort zone, I’ll still kill it. 😉
What I’m Going to Speak About
So what did I pitch as my topic for MozCon? How to be an SEO Expert. Does that sound ambitious and a little pretentious? You bet, but hear me out. Being in this industry for five years has revealed something to me: many of us aren’t the experts that we think we are or, alternately, we’ve become complacent in our expertise. I want to help us all discover if we’re really the experts we think we are and, if we fall a little short, form a plan to become experts.
The guest speaking slots at MozCon come right at the end of the three-day search marathon. My goal is to make this a great close to the event by leaving people inspired to go out and realize their full potential as experts in search and inbound. The amazing line up of MozCon speakers will be providing mountains of priceless information. I want the actionable takeaway from my speech to be this: the inspiration to go out and research, test, and apply everything we as attendees will have just learned.
Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you’ll be rooting for me to be one of the four guest speakers at this year’s MozCon! Also, let me know if you think I can pull off this ambitious topic.