MLOVE, I love you

03 Jul
03/07/2011

MLOVE 2011 is over and somehow I wish, it could have lasted forever.

Last year, my MLOVE post was titled “It’s all about the people“.

This year, I struggled finding a headline, that would potentially express it even better. I couldn’t. MLOVE 2011 still was all about the people and hopefully that aspect will never change.

Covering the spirit and nature of MLOVE in a blog post is virtually impossible. You have to be there and experience it yourself to completely understand it.

So this year, here is my unordered list of feelings and observations that I’d like to share with you:

  • MLOVE still is the one and only industry event – if one can even name it like this – that I’d pay for privately to attend. I’ve had the pleasure to visit SXSW, LeWeb, eComm, NEXT Conference, WWDC and many others in my professional life. Don’t get me wrong. Those are great conferences. But they are not family. And MLOVE sort of is.
  • Thanks god, MLOVE does not suffer from “tech celebrification”. The speaker and attendee lineup was impressive. But it’s not the MG Sieglers or Michael Arringtons that you meet during MLOVE. In fact, at LeWeb 2010 those guys were escorted like superstars, as if they had to escape their audience. At MLOVE, Thomas Goetz the Executive Editor for WIRED Magazine and Chamillionaire, a Grammy-winning rapper, could very well end up next to you during dinner or in one of the Future Cubes, applying design thinking methodologies to complex problems. After all, we’re all just humans and in this together.
  • Big company names just mean nothing. The MLOVE team made a good decision not even printing the name of the company you belong to on your badge. At MLOVE whether you’ve been sent by a giant telco or just launched your one-man-passion-startup, everybody gets treated equally. In other words: You get an audience because of what you have to say, not whom you work for.
  • What happens at MLOVE, stays at MLOVE. During his opening remarks, Harald Neidhardt put it this way: “We try to make you leave your comfort zone. And hopefully find a new one here at MLOVE.” And while it takes MLOVE newbies some getting used to, I’ve never seen so many people whom I just met opening up like this. A truly rewarding experience.
  • It’s like coming home. MLOVE is a truly international event. People from all over the world gather in the MLOVE castle. I’m connected through various Social Networks with many, but unfortunately, some I only see in person once a year. At MLOVE. And it always feels like family. Returning to the castle. Returning to this inspiring group. That is a fantastic feeling!
  • Though I don’t have any official numbers, MLOVE felt bigger this year. In 2010 we were a group of approx. 150. The crowd since has grown to roughly 250. While adding more diverse viewpoints, perspectives and stories of life is a good thing, I hope MLOVE will stay with this size or even downsize a bit. Why? Because everybody is worth spending at least some time with. If MLOVE keeps growing, you don’t have a chance to spend much time with most of the attendees but instead risk feeling in a constant hurry.
  • No corporate BS. Financing an event like this without falling into the trap of giving sponsors tons of time to present corporate slides is extremely difficult. MLOVE has always been different in this regard. Even Nokia’s German MD, the company was an MLOVE 2011 sponsor, talked about sustainability. And donated grassland and a wish tree to the MLOVE castle. I hope that MLOVE will find a way to keep the balance between size and not being 100% dependent on corporate sponsorship.

Then there was Bernd Kolb.

From the MLOVE website: “Kolb left behind these accolades [he was a chief executive with German Telekom and is the founder of I-D Media, RR] to work as a ‘social entrepreneur’ and ‘change agent’ helping to navigate the complex challenges amongst us and to develop innovative new solutions to deal with those challenges. In founding the ‘Club of Marrakesh’, Kolb gathers international thinkers, scientists, politicians and entrepreneurs to develop integrated ground-breaking projects and to implement them. The approach is entrepreneurial in nature and follows the principle that sustainability can be only achieved through profitability.”

Bernd’s talk about the fundamental global challenges our planet and society are facing and his passion to transform the world towards sustainability was one of those rare defining moments in life for me.

It’s not, that Bernd presented any facts that haven’t been around or available before. It again, was all about the people. I happened to sit in the first row during Bernd’s talk and could literally feel his dedication, passion and strong believe in our ability, to help driving that transformation.

It was mind blowing, touching and a wake-up call much deserved.

When Harald thanked Bernd for contributing this to MLOVE, he could hardly hold back his tears. The crowd gave standing ovations.

Finally, the MLOVE Teen Camp.

Last year, Harald’s daughter Toni Neidhardt gave a talk about the impact of Mobile to her teen life. At the age of 15. It’s available at vimeo and I strongly encourage you to watch it.

That discussion sparked the idea of doing a Teen Camp at MLOVE 2011.

On day three the young MLOVErs from countries all over the world presented their work. And boy did they deliver.

To me, the strong contrast between Bernd pointing out the global challenges we all are facing and shortly thereafter seeing these wonderful, brilliant young people shaping their ideas for their future, that made it an even more intense experience.

And sort of reemphasized our mutual responsibility and the fact that each and everyone of us can and must help. As Aape Pohjavirta put it during his talk: “We have no excuses.”

Besides this, I think these kids should go out to German schools and teach the teachers to teach.

Thank you.

I’d like to thank Harald and his wonderful team for putting this together and letting us feel their passion. Back into my home office, I hope I will be able to carry some of it over to my professional and private life.

Namaste.


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4 replies
  1. Giovanni Ambrogio says:

    You speak from the bottom of my heart

    Reply
  2. Andrew J Scott says:

    Great overview – I was going to write my own blog post and now I feel like I almost don’t need too! thanks Ralf

    Reply
  3. Nora Herting says:

    You articulated all the reasons that made MLove such an unique experience. Thanks for sharing. We are already looking forward to 2012!

    Reply
  4. Daniel Doherty says:

    Great post, was a pleasure to be a part of MLove 2011. I went in 2010 and wow, MLove is slightly addictive.

    On the first day in 2010 I watched from the sidelines, as all these people arrived hugging and doing high 5’s as they greeted each other like long lost family (you know where they all like each other too).

    On the last day/early morning, I was hugging and doing high 5’s, (well mainly hugging) 30+ people on the roof of the castle at 7am as they waved good bye.

    Thank you everyone for a great MLove 2011, it was amazing and I have only just got my voice back

    Reply

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