What do you do when you get the chance to watch your favorite authors, bloggers, and leaders speak all in one day? If you’re like me, you listen and you furiously take down notes…lots of them!
Yesterday was the first day of my 3-day Catalyst West adventure. I first discovered Catalyst two years ago on the INJOY website when we were planning a youth leadership event in the Philippines. I wanted to research on what other programs were out there, and I was immediately captivated by all the things they were doing at Catalyst. They always had the best speakers and powerful live music (they had Hillsong United last year at Catalyst West), not to mention the fun gimmicks–world’s biggest pillow fight, anybody? Catalyst used to always be held at Atlanta, Georgia, but last year, they started a West Coast version in Irvine, California. As soon as I heard about it, I knew that it was going into my Faith Goals list! Long story short, this year was finally the year! :)
Catalyst West Coast is a 2-day conference, but there’s an extra day prior to the conference (and some say it’s the best part of Catalyst) called Catalyst Labs. There’s a separate registration fee for Catalyst Labs, but for anyone who’s considering attending in the future, let me tell you that it’s worth it.
The Labs kicked off with powerful music c/o Aaron Keyes and giveaways c/o Catalyst podcast host Ken Coleman and Catalyst chief Brad Lomenick. There were all sorts of goodies (e.g. books, CDs, apparel, etc.) being sold at the lobby, but I did my best to RESIST! Let’s see how long I can hold out! After the opening session, all the participants break out into 6 different venues, each one featuring a different speaker or set of speakers. Here are the sessions that I attended:
SESSION 1: “WRITING YOUR SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY: WHY CREATING A MEMOIR IS IMPORTANT”
Speaker: Susan Isaacs, actress, writer, and author of Angry Conversations with God
What I liked most about the session: The reason why I opted to attend her track was because I knew that she would be fun and entertaining. But more than that, I liked that she kept things simple, and how she talked about writing a spiritual memoir as something for everyone, not just seasoned writers or leaders.
Notable quote: “The details of your life are important to you and to God.”
SESSION 2: “PLATFORM: WHAT IT IS, WHY YOU NEED IT, AND HOW YOU BUILD IT”
Speaker: Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing (and my favorite blogger)
What I liked most about the session: Everything! This session was one of the things I was most looking forward to at Catalyst, and it did not disappoint. Like Isaacs, Hyatt makes the topic simple and the challenge doable, and he is incredibly generous with sharing his tips on building an online platform.
Notable quotes: “Without vision, technology is useless. With vision, technology is priceless.” / “The best bloggers invite people into the conversation.” / “What are you going to do with the passion that you have and all the amazing technology at your fingertips?”
SESSION 3: “DEFYING THE ODDS/MAKING IDEAS HAPPEN”
Speaker: Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen
What I liked most about the session: I’ve heard Belsky on the Catalyst podcast prior to the event, and I immediately became more curious about what Behance was doing. Essentially, Behance’s mission is “to organize the creative world to make ideas happen.” I’ve worked on several creative teams in the past, and I know how challenging it can be to make creative ideas happen, because most of them just end up stuck or lost somewhere in someone’s inbox. The session was packed with insights and tips from Belsky. In other words, I liked the topic very much, and I give props to Belsky and his team for what they’re doing.
Notable quote: “You can’t pursue ideas in isolation. None of us is beyond partnership.”
CLOSING SESSION: “THE ME I WANT TO BE: BECOMING GOD’S BEST VERSION OF YOU”
Speaker: John Ortberg, pastor and bestselling author
What I liked most about the session:
Notable quotes: “There is God, it is not you.” / “Spiritual growth is handcrafted, not mass produced.” / “Transformation requires as much grace as salvation does.”
There’s so much more to share, but all in all, I just had to say that Catalyst Labs was a great learning experience! Today (the first day of the main conference) was unbelievably awesome as well. It’s going to take me a week to write about it! But there’s so much I want to share because I think there were powerful insights for everybody (Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Mark Driscoll, Dallas Willard, Charlene Li, and Louie Giglio were just some of the highlights of the day). I promise that I’ll write about it as soon as I can, but tonight, I just need to let it all sink in! So stay tuned, because I’ll be giving a prize away very soon! :) In the meantime, if you’re a blogger (or you’re thinking about starting a blog), check out this post from superblogger and Catalyst Lab speaker Anne Jackson. Enjoy!
If you’re reading this and you were at Catalyst Labs yesterday, what was your favorite part?
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