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Don’t lose your voice

5 minute read
by Alex Hillman

I’m on the plane back from SXSW Interactive 2008.

I’ve slept a total of 14 hours in 6 days.
I’ve eaten about 3 actual meals in 6 days
I’ve been to 3 panels/sessions throughout all of SXSWi08. I’ve now heard the phrases: “@alexknowshtml, right? I totally follow you on twitter! *high five*” and “someone told me I need to know who you are”. Weird.
I’ve known who the unicorn was all along.
I’ve had more ah-ha moments than I can count.
I’ve jumped the line. More than once.
I’ve rick-rolled an RV full of people.
I’ve hugged people in real life that I’ve only ever interacted with online.
I’ve rolled up on a larger-than-life town with a larger-than-life posse from Philadelphia.
I’ve experienced a real world meetup of the global coworking email list
I’ve disagreed with people, and was disagreed with.
I’ve sucked (like, pathetically sucked) at bowling while the entire IndyHall team kicked an incredible amount of ass, all along showing serious IndyHall pride. In the form of a can-can dance to bohemian rhapsody.
I’ve consumed so much caffeine that I literally began to vibrate.
I’ve been inspired, and I had opportunities to inspire.
I’ve successfully completed the co-leadership of a core conversation about coworking.
I’ve exercised my undeniable ability to throw one hell of a party by taking over an empty bar called the Mooseknuckle, and filling it with a couple hundred of my closest friends + Robert Scoble. 2 nights in a row.
Gary V and his brother AJ fanboy me almost as much I fanboy them.
I’ve shook hands and shared passions with my peers.
I’ve was reminded how smart my friends are.
I’ve was reminded how lucky I am.
I’ve brainstormed.
It thunder-stormed.
I’ve drank wine from at least 4 different types of containers. Only one was really meant for wine. One of them was the bottle the wine came in.
I‘ve slept on a ranch with goats. I mean, the ranch I slept on had goats present. You know what I mean.
I’ve put my foot in my mouth. Sorry.
I’ve found some emotions that I’d ignored for a long time.
I’ve reminded myself of the perspective I’d been searching for.
I’ve been stunned, absolutely honored, by a comment on my previous post from Kathy Sierra.

Uh oh.

What I DON’T have, is the ability to speak out loud. I spent so much time engaging in reality that I completely blew out my vocal chords and have lost my voice progressively over the last 2 days of the conference. In fact it was gone on the 2nd to last day but that did not stop me from continuing to connect with people, despite the pain of what felt like having swallowed a hedgehog. The spiky blue kind, no less.

Where I lost one voice, I discovered more about another voice. Not the one in your throat (though that voice plays a very large part in this other voice), but the one in your heart.

4 cornerstones of the heart-powered voice:

  • Voice is passion.
  • Voice is inspiration and being inspired.
  • Voice is not asking for permission.
  • Voice is ownership. And not the singular kind of ownership that we don’t like.

(note: I’m interested in how else you define voice)

One of the reasons I love this industry so effing much is because of the voices that my peers have. The ability to do all of the things I listed above were things I did in the last 6 days, but they’re things that almost anyone can do, as well, assuming they have the properties of voice I listed above.

Again, I consider myself beyond lucky to work in this community (the internet in general, as a community). I work in an industry of peers. Business hierarchy and “internet celebrity-dom” aside, the “rock stars” of my industry are, as I’m quickly learning, people who share the same types of voice that I do. That we all do. Rather than have the Talent:Fan::Leader:Follower relationship of film, music, and many other creative communities, there is a mutual relationship in which everyone simply respects what one another are working on.

Most of the time. (more on that later)

There is the “compete with rather than compete against” type of interaction where there is enough room for multiple properties in the same space and as a result, people force one another to improve their craft (and the craft around them, as a result) rather than force one another entirely out of the realm of competition.

Most of the time. (again, more on that later)

The events of the last 2 weekends have me setting out to inspire as much as I’ve been inspired. To do as much good as has been done for me. By sharing my voice with so many of you, in real life, on this blog, at SXSW or any other conference…I feel like I’ve been privileged to further this goal faster than ever before.

If you have a voice (the 4 point version, again, not the kind that I lost because I don’t know when to call it quits), I want to hear it. I may not have a specific interest in whatever it is that drives your voice, but I’m interested in the fact that the people around me HAVE voices in the first place.

I realize that I lost my voice this weekend because I spent 6 days sharing my voice with everyone I came in contact with. You know what happens when you share all of the slices of pizza in your pie? You end up not having a pizza yourself.

All I’m asking of you is to share a little bit of your voice with me to help my recovery.

This will help make sure you can find the most useful resources. I respect your privacy & email. Absolutely no spam, and I won't ever share your data. Pinky promise! 🤞

Hey, thanks for reading!

Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.