The 2011 Internet Summit returns today for its fourth year, and I feel like a social media kid in a candy store. Not only is the conference strapped with some of the top influencers, tech leaders, and creative minds that the web has to offer, but it’s in my own hometown of Raleigh, NC– a city that only a few years ago would have never been mentioned alongside places like Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and Boston.
To me, that’s what makes Raleigh the perfect place for a conference celebrating big ideas and the future of digital media. The Triangle is young and booming. It is both a hotbed for startups and plays home to big companies like Cisco, IBM and Lenovo. In the midst of the great recession, the Triangle is owning its creativity, evolving, and thriving. Maybe that’s why in just the past few months Raleigh has been named Forbes’ Best Places for Business and Careers, ‘Best American City’ by BusinessWeek, and both Raleigh and Durham ranked in the top five of The Daily Beast’s Smartest Cities in America list.
It all brings me back to an awesome insight my grandfather once gave me: In order to be influential, you have to be influenceable. Raleigh, Durham, and this week’s Internet Summit all embody that idea really well. It’s about taking in new ideas in order to build businesses that connect. It’s about bending and occasionally obliterating the status quo and business and usual. Or in the pithy words of keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, “Way too many people in this space are trying to hit ground-rule doubles. I’m trying to hit that sh*t out of the park.”
Stay tuned for updates from the conference and my wrap-up on Thursday.