Nine years ago, I stumbled onto the philosophy that has guided all of the successful and enduring visions I’ve been a part in creating. I met Dave Delaney while working at Emma. He was on his way in as a member of the marketing team, and I was on my way out to start the process of becoming an entrepreneur. We both held a belief that Nashville would benefit from an event that brought people who loved and worked in all things digital, together.

Having just come back from SXSW 2007, I was enamored with the experience of a free, haphazard event happening a couple of blocks away from the convention center called BarCamp Austin. If you’ve never heard of it, a BarCamp is a technology-centric event where everyone is welcome, anyone can present/speak about anything they wanted, and it is usually an exceptionally laid back yet engaging event. Being my first BarCamp, BarCamp Austin was unlike any other conference I had attended.

Dave agreed that a BarCamp would be great in Nashville, and so we partnered up to launch one. Dave was very new to Nashville, so he did not have the relationships in Nashville that I did at the time. However he was very engaged in the new media space (remember, this is 2007 before Facebook was big and the year Twitter started to take shape), and so he knew some pretty big named bloggers and podcasters. I was a software guy who knew lots of software folks. He was a marketer who could attract marketers to the event.

Our strengths didn’t overlap, they complimented the other.

We then went about evangelizing this idea to people near and wide, and within 2 months, we had a stack of sponsors, more speakers than we could handle (including folks from Canada and NY like Mitch Joel and Joseph Jaffe), and 800 registered attendees. I remember the actual event like it was yesterday. I barely got to enjoy the speakers because I was focused on making sure things were going well for our sponsors and attendees. I was as exhausted at the end of that day as I’ve ever been, probably because it was a 12 hour event. But it was an incredible experience to see it all come together.

Last week I got an email from my friend Edwin, one of the organizers of Barcamp Nashville (I haven’t been an organizer of the event since year one), and he invited me to participate since it was the tenth year of BarCamp Nashville: bcnx. Ten years. WTF.

First off, damn time flies!

But how incredible is it to see this idea that Dave and I believed in live for ten years and continue to serve as a great place for people new to town to find their community, and for aspiring speakers to get their first shot. It’s an amazing feeling to see a vision endure beyond your involvement for ten years.

This experience was the foundation of my hustle rules: Believe, Partner Up and Orchestrate.

I’ve since followed those rules in Jumpstart Foundry which has endured for 7 years, and more recently in The Unlikely Company and Nashville SC. It may not be a universal philosophy, but it sure has worked for me. Partnering well is important on so many levels, not the least of being mental health when things get tough. As hard as it was to put the first BarCamp Nashville together, I couldn’t be more proud that it has meant enough to the community that it will become 10 years old in a couple of weeks.

Happy birthday BarCamp Nashville, and here’s to you Dave.

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