Two more sleeps until The Content Marketing Academy annual conference starts. My thoughts are turning to logistics. What do I need to take? Where’s the hotel? Do I have enough of the local currency? And the biggest question of all – how many pairs of pants do I need for a three-night stay in Edinburgh? Important questions, I’m sure you’d agree.

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Yesterday, I visited TCMA towers to hand in my contribution to the TCMA 16 goody bag. It was another item checked off my lengthy pre-conference to-do list. I could have easily mailed it, but the truth was, I wanted to see Chris & Tammie ahead of the conference. I also wanted to see them in their natural habitat. To observe these remarkable creatures in the wild is a truly magical experience. And, I got a nice cup of tea as well.

The chat I had with them inspired yesterday’s post. Even though they both had tonnes to do, they had time for me. We talked about the conference, the speakers and I even got a sneak peek of one of the conference banners that includes my logo. I left TCMA HQ with complete confidence that this year’s event is going to be even more transformational than last year.

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I almost didn’t attend the conference last year. I wasn’t sure if I could afford it, both in financial terms AND in time. I compromised and went to the second day of the conference. I didn’t appreciate then, just how big a part TCMA was to play in my life. If you’re interested in reading my account of TCMA 2015 – you can read the blog I wrote on the train home –

Many of the people I met on that day are now close friends. The TCMA community is like no other. The content marketing advice I have at my fingertips: from far more seasoned practitioners than me, is incredible. But it’s more than that. I’ve had conversations with a collection of people that have helped shape the direction of my entire business. It can be a lonely life working for yourself, but knowing I have a pool of people I can turn to, helps me so much.

The thing Chris and The Content Marketing Academy has given me, more than anything, is confidence. The confidence to be me and the confidence to grow the right business.

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The final task before I leave for Edinburgh tomorrow is to email my talk to Chris and Tammie. I finished it last week, but I want to rehearse it a few more times before sending it. That’s today’s job.

It’s a Pecha Kucha-style talk, which means I’ll only be speaking for 7 minutes. But those are an important 7 minutes for me. I’ll be speaking after Ann Handley. She’s one of the keynote speakers and is someone I admire. Her book, Everybody Writes, is one of those that I return to again, and again.

Ann Handley | My ‘warmup’ act

So, it’s a bit like me getting up to do a Karaoke version of Nothingman by Pearl Jam after the crowd has had the sheer pleasure of listening to Eddie Vedder perform the song himself.

But that’s a negative way to think. In reality, it’d be an honour to be on the same stage as Sir Eddie, and it’s an honour to share the stage with Ann Handley and all the other speakers. I’m not competing with anyone. I’m telling a story and sharing one key lesson that I’ve learned over the last two years.

NOT Ann Handley
NOT Ann Handley

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I’ll let you into a secret. The presentation I’ll be delivering is version 2.0. I’d completed the original version three months ago. Not going to lie, I felt quite smug. I was waayyyyy ahead of schedule. I was ALL over it. But when I read it back after the World Class Communications workshop from Marcus Sheridan, it didn’t feel right. It felt like I was trying too hard. So I binned it and started again.

I thought you’d like to read a version of that presentation. Here’s the abridged version.

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“Kevin tries hard; however, I feel his talents must lie elsewhere.” Those are the only words I remember from my school days. They were delivered by my 2nd-year art teacher in my report card. I’d like to say Mr Adams was wrong. But I can’t. I am no artist.

Some people I’ve worked with have a similar experience. But their educational hangover is writing. They remember English at school. Remember being judged. They hated English at school. Therefore, they can’t possibly write content for their business.

It sounds logical, but like so many assumptions, it’s wrong. You can, and should write your own content. I ‘gained’ a ‘C’ for my Higher English. And I’m now teaching people to write. Don’t let that hold you back. You’re a natural storyteller. Tell your story your way. You’re not being judged. It’s not a competition. There are no ‘grades’. Find your voice and let your personality come through in your writing.

And, Mr Adams, if you’re reading this. I forgive you. And do me a favour – let me know what you think of my self-portrait?


NOT Ann Handley OR Eddie Vedder.

Now of course – I didn’t draw that, this was the work of a very talented artist and good friend of mine Paul Stephens.

This story would have worked for my 7 minutes of fame. But, it didn’t feel right. And, it’s also the perfect time to share my origin story.

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To those coming to the conference, I wish you a safe, and stress-free journey. I look forward to meeting new people, reacquainting myself with some remarkable friends and meeting ‘virtual’ friends, in person, for the first time. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

See you all soon.

P.S. The answer to the KEY question I posed in the first paragraph is 4. Obviously. Or is it? Thoughts, please?
P.P.S. I warn all attendees, I am a hugger. If you wish to remain unhugged, please use the safe word, which this week is – WIGWAM.

If you’ve not got your tickets, but still want to come – visit  – you won’t regret it! 

Published by Kev Anderson

I'm a storyteller, case study specialist and the founder of The Story Edge. I want more people to tell more stories. I write stories, teach people to do the same and generally encourage people to use storytelling in their business.

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