The Art of Hijacking a Film Festival, Conference or Convention

by Larry Chiang on December 11, 2009

Larry Chiang boils down an MBA into chewable chunks of genius. Harvard Business School’s, Harbus, featured him in a cover story, What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School“.


By Larry Chiang

Palo Alto, Calif — July 28th —

Business school does not have a class on street smarts. My book “What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School” centers around non academically tested methods, also know as street smarts. In this post, I give you stuff no available in my book on how to hijack a conference.

Jeff Slutsky, author of How to Get Clients, talks about speaking to promote your business. I took his mentorship to a whole new level by trying to speak at conferences –even the ones I was not invited to (aka hijacking). This is a critical skill-set lacking in most tier one MBAs.

Disclaimer. NOTE: this is for entertainment purposes but it may serve to double the value of your tier one MBA without adding to your GSB school loan.

-1- Hijack From Across the Street

The oh-so lauded TED conference in the swank LBCC (Long Beach Convention Center) got hijacked in publicity by BIL. When BIL took on TED, it was first a joke but it just picked up more and more momentum. Coatailer caution!: when TED started to peter out, BIL was similarly deflated.

-2- Hijack While In The Room

It is oh-so common to pre-roll a question. By pre-roll I mean, make a  statement or three of who you are what your position is BEFORE your question.

This lowest form of hijack is to avoided. It was innovative an eon ago.

-3- Produce a Concurrent Conference

Foo Camp is a shang-a-ri-la for geeks in technology. It is for alpha, tier one geeks only that are fortunate enough to get invited by conference host Tim O’Reilly. Bar Camp is a similar conference but more frequent and in more locations. Chris Messina, founder of Bar Camp, gained entrance into the Conference hijack hall of fame because he created a sequel to a conference he did not create.

-4- Twitter Stream

Conferences now have a conversation hash tag. For example, I’m speaking at Summit at Stanford and it has a hashtag of #ss09. Another example is LeadsCon Conference where the hashtag is #leadsCon. This twitter stream becomes very much part of the ongoing flow of conversation. Participating in this allows for a value added form of conference hijacking.

-5- Hijack By Hosting a Mid-Day Happy Hour

During the day, there are break-out sessions galore followed by keynotes and panels. The highlight is a coffee break with stale pastries. Hijack with a more fun alternative: a middle-of-the-day happy hour. For example, Mashery rented ballroom space at Palace Hotel during Web 2 Expo. Another example is CampusBackBone renting space at St Francis when HQAP hosted a technology IPO conference. NOTE: this is back when a tech company could sell stock in a ‘public offering’ Insert smart butt wink here.

-6- Hijack By Hosting an AfterParty

After you plan a conference, the pre-conference workshop and post conference cocktail reception, most meeting planners are loathe to plan an after party — that’s where the gap is. I fill it with AfterParty after AfterParty. My next one is January 23, 2010 in Park City where I host Sundance film festival’s after party. Afterparties are entrepreneurial and I blogged about it at Techcrunch here.

-7- Legitimatize: Going From Hijacker to Moderator.

Last year at Summit at Stanford, I provided snark from the Twitter-verse and AlwaysOn message board. This year, I’m hosting the spin room. In the spin room, I’m interviewing Silicon Valley thought leaders. The focus of my questions is “What They Don’t Teach You At Business School”. If your sarcasm is valued added, you success percentage is bumped up (extra credit if you’re funny :-)

Every hijacker has the goal of eventually getting legitimate.

The most critical leverage is not your content but your intent. Ideally, your material should have been on the program officially or unofficially. Add value to the conference, convention or film festival that you’re hijacking.

My Next Hijack
: I am attempting to turn my book’s case study into a movie. I am promoting the movie rights at the Sundance Film Festival where I am a hosting The AfterParty. Consider reading this your golden invite to my Sundance after party Jan 23, 2010.

If you liked this, you may also check:

Larry’s mentor Mark McCormack wrote this in 1983.

His own book comes out 09-09-09. It is called ‘What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School‘.


Larry’s book releases 09-09-09

This post was cranked out in about an hour so email me if you see a spelling or grammatical error(s)… larry@larrychiang com

Larry Chiang credit educates college students with his company, United College Marketing Services’ Duck9 product. Yeah he started it in college and still lives in a dorm room. He has testified before Congress and World Bank on credit.

Text or call him during ‘office hours’ 11:11am or 11:11pm PST +/-11 minutes at 650-283-8008. If you email him, be sure to include your cell number in the subject line.

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