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Thriving after Craft + Commerce 2019

We survived Craft + Commerce!

No, that’s not right, we are thriving because of Craft + Commerce!

As I mentioned in my 4 Goals for Craft + Commerce 2019 blog post before the event, we doubled our attendance this year from two to four team members, and I can empirically say that this year’s Craft + Commerce event was another massive success on many levels.

Let me share a few highlights.

Geniuslink Team at Craft + Commerce
Joey, Mario, Matt and I were jumping in front of the JUMP center where the event was held. Huge thanks to Darlene Hildebrandt from for snapping these.

New Creations

When you go to a conference that is focused on creators, you are bound to pick up some cool creations along the way. Let me highlight two of my favorites.

Ryan McRae is the type of guy who instantly pulls a smile to your face. I had the pleasure of being introduced to him at a meetup on Friday. There I heard his incredible story of spending a year in Afghanistan and how he turned first to blogging, then writing Haikus to pass the time and make people’s lives better. His full story and the awesome project he’s doing can be found on KickStarter – Wartime Haikus. After buying him a drink and chatting a bit further, Ryan agreed to write a handful of Haikus for our team at Geniuslink! Here are a few of my favorites; which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Here at
Our customer support reigns!
Confusion is slain!

Are you selling books?
Amazon? Barnes and Noble?
Offer both choices!

Conversion is key!
Viewers are now customers.
See that money now?

Put the user first!
Make monetization last!
See what we did there?

Your domain is here!
Customers will trust you more!
No weird, shady links!

Eric Friedensohn (aka EFdot) was one of the mainstage speakers at the event. His crazy stories included going from rock bottom (having a fire destroy everything he owned) back to the top (becoming a professional artist) and then having one of the most important things in his world taken away (a major bone break threatening to permanently keep him off of his skateboard) to then beat the odds with a full recovery. It was an incredibly inspiring story that resonated with me (having also had a significant accident that severely limited my extreme sports aspirations and having been through the rollercoaster ride most entrepreneurs go through starting a startup).

I got the chance to chat with Eric later and found that he’s good friends with a number of our favorite clients in NYC, including Chris Hall and Kraig Adams. Small world!

Eric had a few minutes to bust us out a quick drawing!

Erics quick drawing
Custom work from EFdot showcasing Geniuslink’s ability to help push links beyond their boundaries.

Beating Goals

Knowing that the conference was going to be a whirlwind, I published a few goals before getting enveloped in the experience. Here is how those panned out.

1/ Meeting Clients
Yes! It was a pleasant surprise to meet clients both old and new, well-acquainted clients and ones I’d never had a chance to exchange emails with or meet face to face.

Few things make me more proud about being an entrepreneur than meeting someone for the first time, getting asked what I do and then being told they use our service and get value from it.

2/ Run
While 6:30 am is early, especially after a late night of “networking,” I think it was the colder weather this year led to a smaller turnout than initially expected based on last year’s runs. However, while the quantity was down the caliber was incredibly high, and the new headbands helped keep ears warm. The people that joined us for the run quickly became friends, and many good conversations came out of those early runs.

Geniuslink Team Running
A few of the brave who joined us for a beautiful morning run along the greenbelt and through the park.

A huge thanks to those that pulled themselves out of a warm bed at the crack of dawn to break a sweat in the 40* weather!

3/ Make New Friends
Absolutely! While it was easy to bond with those that joined us for the early morning runs (as anyone who has run a race or joined a jogging group knows) the attendees, in general, were incredibly approachable and we all came away with many new friendships. Cheers Joon!

4/ Learning Something New
It was impossible not to learn! The knowledge bombs kept getting lobbed left and right — from the main stage, the workshops, the random conversations while rehydrating, or over food. Some of the most impactful things for me personally included:

Matt Ragland’s approach to better time management through journaling, scheduling, and time timers. Matt also had a quote that I enjoyed that went something like, “You can do Anything IF you have the courage to avoid doing Everything.”

Russ Perry’s outline on the Core Four routine to start your day off with vigor.

Pat Flynn and Caleb Wojcik dropped a couple of things that resonated. First, the philosophy about Just In Time Learning that revolved around the simple concept of not worrying about learning and planning everything in advance but focusing on one step at a time. I also really appreciated their focus on focus – “have a very clear solution for a very clear group of people” – so that you can do one thing well as that’s better than doing lots of things poorly.

Tim Grahl had a good quote that went something like, “If I knew how hard projects are and how long they actually take, I would never do anything.” While this was mentioned with regards to writing his book, it seemed to ring especially true with everything I’ve experienced in business. Further, his “accelerant curve” of selling products all along it made sense.

Tarzan Kay had a couple significant bits of advice for email. First was the “rule of one” where you use one email to do one job and have all links go to the same place. The second was that “formatting is foreplay.”

Geniuslink Team at the conference
The Geniuslink crew taking it all in between MainStage sessions.


The main sponsor was a company called Design Pickle. While I’d heard of them in the past I wasn’t familiar with their service (which is actually really cool and helpful), but this isn’t all about them (but a hat tip for their financial contribution to the making of an awesome event), it’s about pickles.

Jesse Lakes eating his Pickle
I love pickles! Enjoying the last of them back in the Seattle office.

I love pickles. As I was growing up, every year, my mom would grow cucumbers in our garden and make them into a few dozen jars of spicy, garlic-dill pickle nirvana. And multiple times every year I’d get in trouble for climbing up to the top of the shelves in the pantry where I’d liberate a large jar and scurry to a hiding spot and consume the whole jar – all the pickles, the multiple whole garlic cloves, the lone hot pepper, and then the brine.

The inclusion of a sizeable spicy pickle in the welcome bags was the first sign the conference was going to be awesome. As not everyone loves pickles, I was able to score nearly a dozen from fellow attendees before the conference was over. Thank you, everyone, who happily gave theirs up!

The pickles adorning the champagne were an interesting touch (I wouldn’t have paired them but I enjoyed it) and the pickles crowning the cupcakes may have gone a bit too far though I did probably enjoy a dozen of them over the course of the conference.


Jesse and Matt Celebrating
Matt and I dancing like no one is watching.

I’m a horrible dancer. But, I really enjoy dancing. It was great to see other people fall into the same camp and the dance floor was a good time, and I felt welcome to do my off-beat and awkward interpretation of dancing. The finale party was a rocking good time (2 for 2!), and the swag branded sweatbands we had made for our runs came in handy as the dancefloor got quite warm.


A huge thanks to the ConvertKit team with additional shout outs to Tyler and Nathan. Another big thank you to the speakers for sharing actionable information and deeply personal stories. And finally the biggest thank you to all of the participants that make the conference a real joy to attend and not just another ego festival I find at so many of dozen or so conferences I attend each year.