Reflections on SOBCon2010: The Power of the Do Tank (Or, When You Get To the Fork in the Road, Take It)

Liz & Starbucker Open SOBCon2010 (Photo by Erno Hannick)

Another SOBCon has come and gone, and once again I come away astounded by the experience.  Utterly and totally astounded.   Liz Strauss and I put 150 people in a room, and started a two and a half day conversation.   And when we finished, all of us were transformed.

I know, transformed is a pretty strong word, and for those of you who have never been to a SOBCon, I can understand some skepticism here.   How can that happen?  It’s just a conference, right?  And we all know what happens there – speakers speaking, panelists pontificating, and audience members watching passively (and checking their watches looking forward to the next coffee break).


SOBCon has evolved into something totally and utterly different.   It’s a powerful vortex of positive energy that brings out the best of all who come under its influence.  Its force is strong enough to totally change perspectives and embolden the mind and heart.    In the past we’ve likened this to a “Think Tank”, but it’s really much more than that – it’s a “Do Tank”.

That’s where the transformation comes in.  A person comes in with a dream, a concept, a half-finished business plan, or an existing business looking for a breakthrough, and comes out with a new vision, renewed initiative, and a strong bias for action.

The Do Tank takes fears and faces them head on, and with a collective “push” banishes them to the outer reaches of our consciousness, replaced by the realization that fearlessness is the only way to turn our dreams into reality.

Inherent in all this is one of the hidden powers of humanity – if you can gather a room full of people who WANT to make a breakthrough, have open minds and hearts, and, provide the right catalysts to stir up all that desire and create an atmosphere of trust by the power of their own passion, you can move a lot of mountains (and even convert a lot of skeptics).

Think about that one for a second – yes, that’s the SOBCon “Do Tank” model,  but can you see how that can be applied by just about ANY group of people – a business, a non-profit, a club, a family, a community, or any other assemblage of humans.  And guess who those “catalysts” are?


This past weekend our leaders, the speakers and panelists,  beget many more leaders by the addition of our mastermind sessions, where every table got their chance to stir the pot and challenge each other.  By the time we started our inspiring non-profit session on Sunday, we had a roomful of leaders, ready to fearlessly do what they love, and the transformation was complete.

There is tremendous power to an atmosphere of trust and love.  SOBCon2010 was living proof that this isn’t a theory, or some farfetched utopian dream – it’s the real basis for positive change.

And yes, we also talked about what makes businesses successful, and how the social media tools that many of us use can play an important role in that success, but the real takeaway this year was that collective kick in the rear we all got to just “do”.

That kick inspired me, as we closed the event on Sunday, to quote the baseball hall of famer Yogi Berra, who said “when you get to the fork in the road, take it”.

We all got there at SOBCon2010, and boy did we take it.  In whatever direction our hearts pointed us.

I extend my grateful thanks to the attendees, speakers and panelists.   I offer special thanks to those wonderful people who contributed time and effort to help us pull this off again.

And to you Liz, my dear friend and partner, I say this:  The barn is up!


  1. says

    Terry, you are so right about the DO tank. As I sat in bed most of the weekend and watched the Live stream and the Twitter stream I heard so many great ideas. There were so many things I could take home and I was already at home. I was grateful for the feeds. I am at a fork and I am ready to take it.

  2. says

    Terry – Thanks for sharing. I so badly wanted to come, but things didn’t work out. Reading posts such as this are great for non-attendees. I appreciate you writing it. See you next year.

  3. says

    “Do” Tank. Nicely put. And very accurate summary of the spirit of SOBCon. That was a roomful of great thinkers (certainly), but folks with restless feet who are ready to make things happen. That’s why there is so much energy building with each hour of the conference (and thanks to you and Liz for planning and pulling it off!)

  4. says

    I love your term “Do Tank” because it is absolutely correct. Almost immediately, there was a sense of trust and camaraderie that helped all of us do more. Thanks for not only planning and putting this together but also for releasing enough control to let ideas bloom and people in the room do more than they ever thought possible. And for the singing. Definitely for the singing.

  5. Clovis Guerreiro says

    From far away in the northeast of Brazil i sat with my laptop and read everything i could about the SobCon. Great Event, Congratulations to you all. Maybe next year i will be there, let´s hope so.

  6. says

    Like every year I can’t belive it went by so quickly or that we got so much done! Whew!

    Thank your for inspiring me to be the best “Liz” I can and to offer that up. We wouldn’t still be doing this if it weren’t for you … and that would be such a loss.

  7. says


    Loved meeting you irl 🙂 and you freely parting of your insights/experience. Another one of my favorite quotes is by Henry Ford – “If you Think You Can, or You Think You Can’t….You’re Right”

    I think we the “DO tank” CAN! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your DO with all of us Terry 🙂

  8. says

    Terry, this is such a TRUE description of what took place last weekend. Transformed is what every last person there was, including myself. You and Liz created a space that amplified my mission in my cause community, within my individual organizations, and to the greater non-profit community in general. A new business was born there for me (started working on it already) and the baby steps of leadership I’ve taken over the last few months are about to get a lot bigger…thanks to you & Liz, what you both created, the people who came, the people who taught, the people who shared, and the people who trusted – fearlessly.

    When does registration open for next year? 😉

  9. says

    “Do Tank,” I like that. Nice, Yogi quote too. 😉

    SOBCon sounds like it was success and I wish I could’ve been there. It was pleasure meeting you Terry at the Social Media Club on Thursday and I had a feeling that SOBCon was going to be a great event after hearing you and Liz talk.

    I’m excited to see what everybody does with the inspiration and energy and I hope to be a part of SOBCon next year.

  10. says

    Dear Terry Starbucker,

    I’d like to contact you because my distance learning organization,, would like to recognize your efforts in leadership and career advice blogging. Could you please contact me at MaryFrancesS [AT] dmipartners [DOT] com? Thanks very much.

    Mary Frances Stotler


  1. […] The Mindblowing Experience of the “Do Tank” – I assure you, after attending SOBCon you will have an overwhelming desire to DO SOMETHING.  Just like Jeanne Walters said after Chicago 2010:  “If there’s one takeaway from SOBCon, it’s this: “Effing Launch It.” Don’t wait for perfection. Don’t expect everything to work the first time. Just get it done!”. I call this phenomenon the “Do Tank” – here’s the fuller description I wrote after our most recent Chicago event. […]

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