How Speaking at unGeeked Changed My Life

Over the past few months, I have been asked about unGeeked quite often. Did it live up to my expectations? Did my speaking session go well? I can’t answer those questions lightly. UnGeeked was, and always will be, something much greater than the sum of those questions.

UnGeeked came at a turbulent, and complex, time for me on a personal level. I was buying into what someone previously close to me was paltering. They made me question myself a little too much, and that doubt ate at me from the inside constantly.

I was originally set to lead a break out session about interactive psychology on day one. In it, I would provide direct, actionable techniques for a handful of attendees and their interactive projects.

This platform is second nature to me as I do it on a daily basis for Fortune 500 corporations and start-ups. The break out session was well within my comfort zone.

A week before the event, Cd Vann, Founder of unGeeked, offered me an amazing opportunity. Speak, and lead discussion, on influencing behavior through interactive psychology and color theory in front of all attendees as an unGeeked Elite.

My session would lead in to Olivier Blanchard’s forty-five minute block. Olivier is a phenomenal brand strategist that I have always had a great deal of respect for.

As exciting as this was, I hadn’t spoken to an audience like this in over five years. It wasn’t even for the same industry.

But I couldn’t say no.

Seize the opportunities that life brings you

I often talk about allowing for opportunity in life; whether that be personal or business. The future cannot be planned for; only prepared for.

Momentum ebbs and flows with each moment and it’s important you take advantage of opportunity. Even if that means jumping out of your comfort zone and trusting the faith that others have in you.

If you do not step out of your comfort zone you are already at the apex of your life as you read this. You made a conscious effort to cease the growth of you, as an individual. Is that really what you want your life to be like?

On day one we went around the room introducing ourselves. At that moment you realize you are in a room full of friends and a sense of comfort comes over you. When the mental connection is made between the online avatar and a more tangible person it can be an amazing experience.

I will never forget the reaction from Paula Lee Bright (@Almost60Really) as I announced my Twitter handle (@iamlucid) and the banter that came afterward. It’s the closest feeling I will ever have to being a celebrity and I will forever be humbled by that moment.

What makes unGeeked different?

The sessions provide a great source of education and inspiration, but what sets unGeeked apart is the level of true engagement. It’s an open forum for passionate, respectful discussion. You choose to be engaged at the level you find most comfortable.

unGeeked Chicago PromoIt doesn’t start and end with each session; everyone is there to help each other grow as a whole. I still talk to quite a few of the attendees on a weekly basis.

It’s been said that our minds, our creativity and our passion for life is at its best while in the presence of those that encourage and understand us.

I’ve spent the last ten to fifteen years of my life building a brand around my perspective on business; something that cannot be entirely recreated by anyone else on the planet. Because of this, there is a lot of vulnerability in letting my guard down and welcoming open discussion for 45 minutes.

My ability to inspire discussion and offer uncommon perspective encouraged a lot of people to get involved. I was also the only discussion leader focusing on color theory,  and utilizing design to guide user focus to increase engagement.

The amount of genuine curiosity in what I do made me fully realize the value of what I provide people on a daily basis. I felt validated. Respected.

Attendees of the session still reach out to me, months later, to learn more about design psychology, color theory and influencing behavior of customers.

The most important experiences are not about business or opportunity

There are great moments that I will never forget. Friendships that were established that I hope to be lifelong. Those experiences will always surpass the business opportunities, book deals and partnerships that originated from simply being part of unGeeked.

Here are a few of those moments:

  1. Amanda Hite‘s passion for making the world a better place. For inspiring a room to help someone achieve their dream through #unGeekedLove
  2. Peg Fitzpatrick finding her voice and establishing herself as a social leader. She has since begun blogging, and launched the highly successful #MyBookClub.
  3. The #tapas movement and the incomparable Katie Felten.
  4. Olivier Blanchard’s expression when I answered his question about using design psychology to influence social media engagement with a well designed profile image and a little color theory.
  5. Sharing great conversation with Jen Howver over duck tacos while our waiter tried to get us to leave every five minutes.
  6. Troy Janisch trying to convince everyone I was throwing a kegger in my rented dorm room.
  7. Sam Fiorella hounding me for not buying him coffee.

It’s important to follow the momentum of life. Without stepping out of my comfort zone none of these opportunities, friendships or memories would have ever existed.

I would be a different man at this moment had I not been part of unGeeked.

It’s a powerful thought.

Photo credit


  1. Jonathan BarrickReplyAugust 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm 

    Great post, Joshua! Although I was not a speaker, but an attendee at Ungeeked Toronto last year, I still feel the same benefits that you described in your article. It certainly was a pivotal event in my career as a marketing professional, and the benefits have been huge in the short time since.

    I’m really looking forward to being a Discussion Leader at this year’s UnGeeked in Toronto, and meeting another batch of amazing people, including yourself! Cheers!

    • Joshua GarityReplyAugust 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm 

      Thanks Jon! I’ve heard you speak very highly of your experience in Toronto. It’s a city I have always wanted to visit. We will definitely have to connect and stir up trouble during the nightly dinner parties :)

      The melding of incredibly talented minds in an intimate setting like unGeeked encourages is amazing. I can’t wait to see what next year brings for unGeeked…

  2. KatieFeltenReplyAugust 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm 

    A great post on #unGeeked Josh. It even brings a small tear to my eye as I think of all the great relationships I have forged with my fellow unGeeked attendees and presenters. Yes I am a bit of an unGeeked groupie having attended all three unGeeked events, twice as an attendee and once as a speaker, and I’m excited to be headed to Toronto and Boston later this year.

    PS There will be more #tapas at the upcoming events. :-)

    • Joshua GarityReplyAugust 30, 2011 at 7:54 pm 

      Thanks! It was the first event I’ve attended for social media and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I owe you and Peggy a big round of thanks for welcoming me into your cool table like you did :)

      Wish I could make Boston. That will be a fun bunch. You should pay my way so I can go…

      #tapas for everyone! I need to take photos this time.

      • AnonymousReplyAugust 31, 2011 at 12:46 am 

        LOVE this post! Ungeeked changed me too! And FYI I think Katie & I tweeted about the kegger in your room. 

        So honored that you mentioned me Joshua. I need to find my photo of you & tweet it with this post. 

        • Joshua GarityReplyAugust 31, 2011 at 1:18 am 

          Thank you Peg! So proud of all you have done since unGeeked! It all started with the simple username change on Twitter. Now look at where you are only 4 months later :)

          If you find any photos let me know!

    • KRCraftReplySeptember 2, 2011 at 5:02 am 

      I don’t recall any damn #tapas from Toronto.  I just recall lost luggage? ;-P

      #unGeeked was an extraordinary experience for me last year, too.  I was one of the fortunate ones that got to hear you as a speaker, Katie.  I always hold other conferences to the same high standards now for intimacy and engagement, but very few live up to it.  

      • KatieFeltenReplySeptember 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm 

        haha Kelly, that was a Chicago thing ;-). Ugh that’s right, and I wouldn’t have survived without you. Miss you lady.

      • KatieFeltenReplySeptember 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm 

        haha Kelly, that was a Chicago thing ;-). Ugh that’s right, and I wouldn’t have survived without you. Miss you lady.

      • KatieFeltenReplySeptember 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm 

        haha Kelly, that was a Chicago thing ;-). Ugh that’s right, and I wouldn’t have survived without you. Miss you lady.

  3. Brian MayerReplyAugust 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm 

    Josh, as a total newbie to twitter I attended the inaugural #unGeeked in Milwaukee. I could not agree more with your sentiments expressed here. You have NAILED what it’s all about.

    • Joshua GarityReplyAugust 31, 2011 at 1:08 am 

      Thanks Brian! That must have been an amazing experience. The roster for Milwaukee was very impressive :) 

      Are you still using things you learned from last year’s unGeeked?

      • Brian MayerReplyAugust 31, 2011 at 7:27 pm 

        Using? That would be an understatement. As a newbie, it was the foundation I used to get started in Social Media.  I’ve spent the last year and half practicing, and now I’m finally about to get serious about everything I’ve learned and use twitter and a blog to build out my new career.

        Interestingly, the lineup was indeed fantastic, but as a biz owner who wasn’t a blogger or on twitter, the names were irrelevant to me when I registered and showed up.  As a matter of fact, so much so, that I had to pester CD for WHY I should go to this.  The names were a draw for many, but I was just looking for “how will this help my business.”  I can’t say that it helped my current business a lot, but personally it helped me a ton to set the foundation of what I will be doing going forward.

        • Joshua GarityReplyAugust 31, 2011 at 8:25 pm 

          I think that is the key takeaway. The knowledge, and experience, you gain from unGeeked in only 3 days can ignite action for the future as a whole. It’s great to hear how everyone has felt the impact of the event in some way.

          Are you going to any of the future unGeeked events like Toronto or Boston?

          • Brian MayerAugust 31, 2011 at 8:28 pm 

            Possibly, but not in the immediate future. Unfortunately, my current schedule and responsibilities don’t allow for travel.

  4. Jen HowverReplyAugust 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm 

    Joshua, first of all, let me say that you have a way with words… I knew you were a color theory/psychology guy, but didn’t realize you were also a great writer. Love this post!

    I still think about unGeeked on a regular basis, and how the conversations and interactions forced me to look at my business differently. And of course, duck tacos and our obnoxious waiter…I had forgotten about him! It was great getting to know you, and learning from you at the event. I can’t make Boston either, so maybe we should meet halfway between you and me for an unofficial unGeeked gathering while the rest of our friends are yucking it up in Boston!

    • Joshua GarityReplyAugust 31, 2011 at 2:42 pm 

      Thank you for many kind words Jen! You should poke around my blog if you like this post. I think you would like what you find :)

      Couldn’t agree more about thinking of unGeeked often. It was such an amazing experience.

      We should definitely have an unGeeked tweetup. That would be a lot of fun! Maybe in between the official events?

  5. AnonymousReplyAugust 31, 2011 at 5:21 pm 


    What an awesome way to describe your experience with unGeeked.  I had been out of the industry for alot of years when my friends encouraged me to attend the first unGeeked in Milwaukee.  For me, it too changed my life.  I learned so much in those 3 days, and continued to learn by following, talking, and reading from those in attendance as both speakers and attendees.  I am looking forward to unGeeked Toronto, where I know I will be inspired as well as help facilitate new inspiration.  I hope that anyone who can make it to Toronto or Boston does.  There are so many life changing stories from these events, and Cd is truly a visionary for how “conferences” should be.

    • Joshua GarityReplyAugust 31, 2011 at 8:19 pm 

      Thank you Jon!

      It’s amazing to see the reaction this blog post has received. I’ve yet to hear someone say they had a different experience. That says a lot about what Cd has created.

      Conferences rarely make an impact on the lives of attendees. unGeeked seems to impact everyone and alter the course of their career, and general direction in life. It’s quite amazing.

      Looking forward to seeing you in Toronto!

  6. Jody PadarReplySeptember 2, 2011 at 1:57 am 


    As it is the back of my head front and center of this picture…I was definitely there with you. I absolutely loved unGeeked and it had a huge positive impact on my life as well. What a great description and capture of the spirit of the small room we shared for three days. Thanks for sharing!

    • Joshua GarityReplySeptember 6, 2011 at 2:51 am 

      Thank you so much for the kind words Jody. I’ll never forget how engaged you were during the event. You were always involved and asking questions. I hope all of the insight has proven to be greatly beneficial in the last few months!

      Hope to see you at future unGeeked events :)

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