Report: The 99% Conference

The 99 Percent

This year's 99% conference proved to be a big hit with attendees .net spoke to

According The 99% website, a recent Webby Awards winner, it's not about ideas, it's about making ideas happen. And so it goes for the conference of the same name, which aims to enable you to "make your ideas happen", transforming vision into reality.

The 2011 event came to a close on Friday, after two days of talks from a variety of speakers. .net got the low-down from a trio of attendees.

For Lisa Reeves (manager, corporate online services, Hilton Worldwide) and Brock Rumer (user experience director, Threadless), the speaker Scott Belsky was a major draw. Belsky is author of bestseller Making Ideas Happen and CEO of Behance, one of the two companies behind the conference (the other being Cool Hunting).


Reeves said that she also "appreciated that the conference attendance was kept small," a breath of fresh air "that provided a place for introspection and inspiration" after the chaotic SXSW. She added that the conference not being industry-specific nor tech-focused made it more enjoyable.

Rumer agreed: "The content was a lot more appealing than a more narrowly focused conference. It's hard for me to make a business case for many conferences: I don't buy that there is a magic bullet or need hot Photoshop tips. But I knew this one would provide a lot of ideas and insight."

Master class

On the specifics, Duane Brown, strategy director for Creative Traction, explained that it's a "one-track conference outside of the master classes on the first day" and that he was impressed by a master class in risk: "I chose it to learn how others in the creative field are dealing with and turning risk into an opportunity and not just seeing it as a problem."

Reeves was similarly enthused by the speakers: "What a line-up! Rather than hear speakers with conjectures based on books read, these were the ones who wrote the books! It was also easy to see how the speakers live with passion and make things happen in their own lives and those of others".

Particular standouts for her were Simon Sinek and Linda Rottenberg, due to their level of passion and "living the 99 Percent mantra" (one per cent inspiration, 99 per cent perspiration), "which is making their ideas happen".

For Reeves, the conference spelled out the importance of taking action and having a process, but that no single process fits all. "You have to find what works for you," she added.

Unexpected voices

Rumer also found the variety of speakers interesting: "There were insights from notable sources, such as Pixar, and inspiration from unexpected voices, such as Andrew Zuckerman's Wisdom Project." He added that while he learned some specific ideas that could be put into practice immediately, the conference was mostly about coming away with "bigger thoughts that will be more of a slow-burn, to fuel making things happen."

And Brown thought 99% was a rare example of a conference that aided reflection: "I've learned about myself and that I'm not alone in this world where a 9-to-5 job isn't the only way to make a living. There are many freelancers and small business owners here at the conference, and as one myself, this is company I love to be in!"

Brown added that one final nugget of information imparted to him will be of interest to freelancers who burn the candles at both ends: "Sleep is more important then we realise… We should all be getting more sleep!"

For an in-depth interview with Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance, check out the upcoming July issue (216) of .net magazine.

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