David Allen, Me, and the Thousand Dollar Tweet

A week ago today, around 4:30pm, I was sitting at the Clockwork kitchen table (kind of like I am right now as I write this) and working. While rocking through emails, I saw a note from David Allen about an upcoming GTD seminar called “Making It All Work.” I perked up immediately, as I’m a huge fan of David Allen. I read his first book, Getting Things Done, about four years ago and have been working on adopting his methodologies ever since. I noticed that the closest city he’d be speaking in was Chicago (I’m in Minneapolis). I daydreamed for a moment about being able to go. But, it was in Chicago. And it was $995 (not including airfare). So I gave up.

But, before really giving up on the dream, I tweeted: “I wish the magical money fairy would give me cash to go see @gtdguy in Chicago!” Then, I sighed wistfully and moved on.

And then, a few minutes later, David Allen direct messaged me back: “Meghan, you’re welcome to come as my guest tomorrow at the Omni. My treat. All for posting your note.”


I nearly passed out. Then, I nearly declined. But, my co-workers were egging me on, “C’mon, Southwest Airlines flies there now! YOU GOTTA DO IT!” So I didn’t say no. I went home and talked to my husband. If I was going to go, we’d need to coordinate me being gone from the wee morning hours until the evening, which meant he’d be on his own for the morning and after-work hours (no easy task with a three-year-old and a six-month-old). He was also presenting that evening at Ignite Minneapolis, and I’d miss his presentation.

Long story short, we worked it all out: I got up on Wednesday morning at 5am to catch a 7am flight to Midway and spent the day with someone I idolize. I stepped off the elevator at the Omni and there he was! In person! I shook his hand and tried not to come off like a dorky fangirl. I got my conference materials and stepped into the conference room, expecting to see 100 people. There were about 25. WHAT? I was about to spend an entire day with with a handful of other people listening to, and talking with, David Allen.

I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of such a last-minute opportunity if it weren’t for three things:
1. an employer who supported my desire to go and
2. the fact that I already follow the GTD methodology enough that I could pick up and go for a whole day and know, confidently, that nothing would blow up and
3. Twitter.

Think about it: in what other universe would a random woman from Minnesota (me) be able to directly contact a best-selling author who travels the world (David Allen) and GET A RESPONSE? Within minutes, even! That is the insane power of Twitter. If the “celebrities” who use it are using it to actually connect and converse with their audience, they can develop an incredibly powerful connection.

Last night, David Armano led a discussion about the future of advertising (I wasn’t there, but I watched in on UStream and followed the tweetstream from home with a baby on my lap — another social media WIN!). My favorite thought from his presentation was the comparison of the mass media audience vs. the social media audience. That advertisers and brands (and let’s face it: authors, celebrities, etc. are brands) need to weigh the value of reaching millions of potential viewers against the value of thousands of engaged consumers.

I was already an engaged consumer of the David Allen “brand.” I’ve even given informal presentations inside our organization around how people can apply his productivity principles to our work.. Through Twitter, I was able to connect with him in a way that would not have been possible years ago. And, by investing just a few minutes of his time in tweeting back to me (and the cost of giving me a complimentary admission to his seminar) David Allen solidified my loyalty to him, his “brand” and his product. More cost effective than a print ad? I have to believe it is. I’ve told this story to anyone who will listen, including to a roomful of people at Social Media Bootcamp last Friday.

Added bonus? As I boarded the plane in Chicago, and as soon as we touched down in Minneapolis I pulled up the #ignitempls tweetstream and was able to follow along what was happeninig with the presentations. The minute I walked in the door, I pulled up the live UStream feed and caught the tail end of the video. The next morning, I checked out my husband’s presentation. So, while I wasn’t there in person to cheer him on, I was able to send him supporting tweets. I was able to “listen in” on what was happening and tweet to people I knew who were there. They gave him the support that I wasn’t there to give. Through social media, we had a shared experience despite our physical separation.

The real power of social media is in it’s versatility: it can be used for a business or a brand, and it can be used to stay connected with the ones we love.

I’m fond of comparing social media to a hammer: you can pound a nail, you can pull a nail or you can hit yourself in the face. How you use it, and therefore your feelings about it’s usefulness, are really up to you.

Lots of people have asked me about GTD: what is it, how do i use it and why do I like it. I’m working on a follow-up post about that.
Update: I finally wrote a GTD post on June 24: read it here.