KalamazooX 2017

I have never seen such bravery from individuals; across my entire life. This is my fourth KalamazooX conference and if you aren’t acquainted please let me share: KalamazooX is a small conference. It is a hidden jewel in the crowded conference season. I’ve been to them all over. You will not find the family that you find here at KalX. Today we grew together.

Today I saw bravery. I saw challenge. I saw rethinking the fundamental you. That’s what this show is about. Tech is what we do. KalX is who we are.

Over the last nine years Mike Eaton has hand picked speakers. Each year a theme follows. It’s never discussed. It’s never planned. We show up and speak our hearts — and the magical thing is that we find it’s the same heart. We all fear. We all tremble and worry that we are broken and not fit.

Today I learned things about myself. After nearly 40 years on this planet and 20 years in the industry. I learned things about me. Fundamental, Earth-shattering lessons about myself. I wasn’t looking for it. I didn’t even know I needed it. I’ve met folks today I will consider friends for a long time to come.

Today I saw worlds clash. I mean really clash. Right there, right in front of everyone. Actual, real, honest, deep thoughts were expressed. This is what makes KalX special. It’s not a safe space. It’s not pretty, but it’s real, and real life is inescapable. It’s OK that folks don’t agree on things; the important thing is that we talk. I’d share the story but part of the beauty of KalX is that it demands that you are present and in the moment. It’s RAW and it’s real.

I have never met a bad human. I have met several folks that have severely differing circumstances and experiences from my own, but they are not “bad”. The point is that we confront the differences.

KalX brings out the rawness in speakers. We curse. We’re mad. We cry. If you don’t cry at KalX you are not paying attention. I was in tears at 8:45 this morning. Out of love. Out of care. Out of empathy. KalX holds a mirror in front of each attendee and speaker. This is who you are. It’s rough. It’s not easy, but it’s fantastically worthwhile. The magic is that you realize that every single person you meet is cracked in a special way. It’s OK. The point is that we talk.

You cannot grow without challenges. You cannot grow without discomfort. It’s OK. Everyone is going through it. EVERYONE. The more open and honest we are with ourselves and publicly, in front of others, the more we are us. It’s nowhere near easy but you can step back and easily see that we are all truly in it together.

Today I witnessed humanity. I saw bravery. I witnessed folks grow over a seven hour period. I couldn’t ask for more.