SES Toronto – SEMI Out-takes (& Insights ofcourse…)

Toronto SES was superb!

This post is a bit of ramble but it does contain my picks on:

• Most amusing event
• Most embarrassing comment
• Best session (of course this is not in any way biased)
• COOLEST people I met!

Most Amusing Pick
I realize this is not related to the conference directly, but I was in Toronto, and it was at the end of the Epiar/Yahoo! SES after party…

As we (Epiar) sponsored the after party with Yahoo! it was, on one hand, probably a good thing that we all stayed well into the early hours. On the other hand, by the time we got around to grabbing a taxi from outside the Ultra Supper Club, one of our Epiar party was three-sheets to the wind. That’s not to be unexpected you say? No, I suppose not. But there are a few points worth mentioning:

  • Said person is one of the nicest people I know, he is also very calm and collected… usually
  • Said person appears to have a slightly more ‘instant’ aggressive-response-gene that is triggered only by one or six drinks too many
  • No one told us that garbage collectors in Toronto are part of the mafia… yes that is a salient point.

We were only about a 4 minute drive from my hotel (I was at the Intercontinental with Lyndsay Walker from WestJet. See Comment Pick below.) About 90 seconds into the journey (yes I realize ‘journey’ is something of an exaggeration – but this teensy trip is one I will never forget), when the taxi inadvertently – and with absolutely no malicious intent – blocked a garbage truck from maneuvering out of an alley way. Unfortunately the taxi driver was half asleep, didn’t care, or was simply functioning a few sandwiches short of a picnic. In any event, he just sat there. The garbage truck couldn’t move, and we didn’t move.

Considering that the garbage truck was massive and looked like one of those huge mutant bugs from Starship Troopers (but yellow), our teensy cab must have appeared positively snackish.

To compound it all, the garbage truck was manned by two similarly large specimens of the human variety, while our mini version was manned by one small taxi driver, one small woman with a somewhat petrified expression, and two other males, only one of which could be seen. The male in view was our slightly inebriated colleague in the passenger seat. It appears that he may have been a *smidge* too quick to ‘flick the bird’ at the truckers in response to their rude and angry sound-off at the taxi driver from inside their monstrosity.

The finger thing was all they needed to decide to add a little muscle to the equation. They both lumbered out of the truck. The ‘lumbering’ denotes size, but they sure as heck didn’t lumber slowly. Big dudes move surprisingly fast I notice.

Needless to say they made a bee-line (no pun intended) right towards the aforementioned finger flicker. When we had climbed into the taxi, I had innocently placed myself directly behind the passenger seat, and in a brief moment of panic watching the swift approach of the angry garbage people I made a concerted effort to get away from the approaching menace by scrambling across the back seat and nearly ended up on my fellow backseat passengers lap. Being the cool, calm, collected person he is, he advised the taxi driver that now would be a smashingly good time to start driving away – backwards, forwards, sideways… the direction was not of paramount importance – the away bit was.

Unfortunately the two agro truckers got to the window first and I was treated to the delightful experience of being mooned by a Toronto garbage collector. I can honestly say I would not recommend it if it is in any way possible to avoid. The mooning was accompanied by a lot of far more advanced (and seemingly choreographed) finger flicking, and possibly the vilest stream of invective I have ever heard in real life.

Fortunately, the other two sandwiches arrived, or some instinctive self-preservation instinct kicked in, and the taxi started to move. The driver did not seem terribly phased at all. He nonchalantly waved his hand as we screeched off in the wrong direction and said, ‘You do know that the garbage men in this city are part of the mafia, no?’

Incidentally, dreaming of hairy garbage man bums is also not advised.

Comment Pick
Lyndsay and I went to the Epiar/Yahoo! party relatively early. She was super accommodating as I had to get there to help with some set-up. Anyway, we were chatting to folks as they started to trickle in around 6:45.

Lyndsay knew a few folks from a Toronto company, Alan K’necht and his colleague Joe Dolson came over, and we slowly ended up with a great group of people.

For some reason the conversation came around to where we were staying. Lyndsay said that she and I were sharing a suite at the Intercontinental. Someone then said it must be great to be sharing with a friend and that we must be having an amazing time together. At this Lyndsay smiled at me and innocently announced; “Oh yes, but we haven’t slept together yet.”

The amount of crap we got from that comment alone cannot be imagined.

(Some) Super Cool SEO Folks I met

I will start this with a caveat; I have not gone through all my business cards, so I am mentioning the people I ended up spending quite a bit of time with. Some of the people I have never met or corresponded with before, some I have ‘known’ for ages, but simply never met face-to-face.

Jim Hedger – a personality on his own. It would be great to have more Jim’s around. He’s funny, super-intelligent, an exceptional writer and marketer, and just an all around extraordinary person I am now fortunate enough to call a friend.

Alan K’necht – Another superb personality. Interesting, intuitive, compassionate and also a highly intelligent individual. Alan left us early, but he had good reason – wife and kids at home. Love that.

Richard Zwicky – unfortunately I did not get much time with Richard, but I had been so looking forward to meeting him. His is a handsome, suave, intelligent man who knows his stuff inside and out, and I am so glad to have met him finally.

Glenn Convey – Richard and Alan facilitated this. Glenn is an incredibly interesting man. He retired at 40 and bought a sail-boat/yacht and cruised the Caribbean and Pacific for 6 years. He decided to return to work a few years ago and heads up Metamend, which is well worth checking out if you haven’t yet. Metamend spawned Enquisite. Richard Zwicky is involved in both. Glenn has a fabulous sense of humor, and it was a pleasure to meet him.

David Szetela – David is one of the most down-to-earth, compassionate, and interested and interesting people I have ever met. He gave me some fantastic tips, and while our conversation was mostly on a personal level, he is a true gentleman as well as an expert in his field. I wish him the very best with his approaching wedding, and hope to stay in touch , as I do with all of the folks I have mentioned.

Matt McGowan – Matt sent me a comp pass after Jim hedger’s article. I had heard a lot of great stuff about Matt. It’s all true. He is surely one of the stalwarts of the industry. He made time for me to chat about SEM Canada to give me some thoughts even when he was run off his feet. He party’s hard, and works twice as hard. He is passionate, intelligent and one savvy business dude. He tempers that with a fabulous sense of humor and an easily approachable manner. I am honored to have him as a solid on my SEM family friend’s hit list.

(I met loads of incredible people at SES, but these are a few I really spent a lot of time with, and I wanted to do a public shout out.)

Session Pick
My pick of the sessions was ‘My SEM Toolkit’. Ian McAnerin has some cool general insights, Julien Raby approached it from a totally different angle looking at automating reporting, and Ken Jurina wowed the room with a fantastic array of all free tools. I highly recommend taking a peek at his presentation. Moderated by Amanda Watlington, this was a panel that really gave attendees concrete take-aways.

Final Thoughts
SES Toronto was a blast. I am so sorry to have missed some folks who couldn’t make it; Martin Bowling, the SEOmoz crew, and Todd Friesen to name a few. I hope to connect with you guys soon, as well as my new favorite SEO people.

Gotta Love SES!!!!

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