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The X Factor

The stars aligned this week as the opportunity became available for me to attend the Halifax Pop Explosion Digital conference.

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The stars aligned this week as the opportunity became available for me to attend the Halifax Pop Explosion Digital conference. More affectionately known as HPX, this conference/festival is a mainstay in the Halifax music scene and while I always try to catch some of the diverse music shows, I’ve never had the chance to sit in on the panels and discussions.

I thought that the presentations would be more geared towards the technical people (designers, animators, programmers) but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a lot of useful information for writers, artists and musicians. On day one, Martha Gallagher gave an interesting talk on writing engaging content while Stacey Mulcahy gave a flat-out hilarious presentation entitled “Herding Cats” on the fine art of teamwork and her comical take on “verbal douchebaggery.”

I was also incredibly hooked during keynote speaker Johnny Cupcakes’ presentation. Taking us all the way back to his childhood, he regaled the crowd with stories of his early entrepreneurial skills (think snow-shoveling, candy-selling and yearbooks) to the sharp yet approachable businessman he is today. Through selling t-shirts his way with offbeat yet creative packaging and no holding back on creative madcap details, Cupcakes has built a cult following.

On day two at HPX, my favourites were Saul Colt from Kinetic Café and Sara Blake from ZSO. Colt’s advice for those launching a start-up business with a small budget is to start word-of-mouth conversations and force people to ask questions through evoking emotions and learning to do something to stand out from the crowd. Meanwhile, illustrator Blake’s presentation focused on the law of intention and desire and challenged participants to focus on where our true interests lie. Call me an idealist, but I couldn’t help notice that the over-arching theme from many of the speakers seemed to be encouraging all of us to do what we love. As a writer who sometimes struggles with the balance of practical day-to-day life versus pursuing my own dreams, this message spoke to me. Each speaker I took in seemed to advocate that special something – let’s call it the X factor, which makes each of us unique. Of course, there is a lot of specific business advice thrown in there, but my impression is that what makes these speakers successful is their willingness to do something a little different and pursue their passions. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting from a digital conference but it’s certainly inspiring a little self-reflection on my part…

If you’ve been attending this week, I’d love to hear your impressions in the comments section below… 

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While the rest of us were watching cartoons, Johnny Cupcakes was starting his first business.

While the rest of us were watching cartoons, Johnny Cupcakes was starting his first business.

 

PX Executive Director Johnny Stevens in the unofficial uniform of Pop X.

PX Executive Director Johnny Stevens in the unofficial uniform of Pop X.

 

Sara Blake encouraged listeners to live in the present.

Sara Blake encouraged listeners to live in the present.

 

  • saulcolt

    Thanks for including me in this post!

    -saul

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