Last week was the Content Entrepreneur Expo 2024. Two days, 50 speakers, and 45-plus hours of instruction on how to succeed as a content entrepreneur. 

I’ve attended all three years of CEX – first in Phoenix, then last year in cloudy Cleveland, and this year in sunny Cleveland. 

I’m a consummate note-taker. I have pages and pages from the different keynotes and workshops. I highlighted and tagged everything I needed to focus on when I got home.

Notes for conference takeaways
Notes taken in Notability App

It’s a bit overwhelming. 

Should I focus on AI and spend the next two weeks building my digital doppelgänger? Is an online community the answer to all my problems? Maybe I should come up with an Instagram/sponsorship/audience growth strategy.

Unfortunately, no single answer is right for everyone. But there likely is a right answer for you. The answer is not: Do all things. 

To figure out the best takeaways, go through this simple process after a conference like CEX, a lengthy online course, a helpful podcast series, or an in-depth book. You can identify the highest-leverage action that you can take today to build the life and content business you want tomorrow. 

Over the last two years, I have used this process to take big ideas from a conference and turn them into new clients and projects. Projects like the 10k Creator Show podcast I did with Joe Pulizzi in 2022, sponsorship for my next book, and more represent tens of thousands of dollars and tons of leverage. 

The post-conference (course, podcast, etc.) process involves three steps:

  1. Define the outcome.
  2. Choose your priority.
  3. Commit and schedule.

What’s the outcome of your conference takeaways?

In his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport writes about the shortcomings of “pursuing your passions.” He offers a different approach called “The Craftsman Mindset.” This outcome-focused strategy for creative work involves identifying what you’re after and what you want your life and business to look like, then taking actions that align with that outcome. 

It’s great to go into a conference or other content-heavy event or product with defined outcomes, but you can define them here as well. Think about what you want for your business. Are you looking for more revenue? Starting a new project? Connecting with other creators to reach more people?

The outcome dictates the strategy, so take a moment to think through the outcome you’re working toward. This will inform the next step of the process to do more with your conference takeaways.

What’s the ONE thing?

I have pages of notes from CEX this year, a combination of big ideas, tasks, and projects. I like to go through everything from top to bottom and highlight the notes that best align with the outcome or outcomes I listed in the first step. 

I’ll do this in passes, first identifying the best notes and second seeing which note or notes need to rise to the top of my priorities list. This list of action items will help me get the outcome I am working toward. 

Gary Keller wrote a book called The One Thing. Its key takeaway is that you make more progress when you identify the one thing to do that makes everything else easier or irrelevant within the context of your outcome. 

For this second pass, look at your highlighted notes. Pay attention to which one(s) has a pull to it – a magnetism or a tension that makes you feel like it’s different from the rest. 

This is it. This is the one thing that will help you get closer to the outcomes you want in your life and business. 

That goes to the top of your priorities list. You can add a few others if more notes deserve to be on there. 

Once you’ve done that, head to the final step, where the magic happens.

Commit and schedule

A goal or idea without matching execution dies a quiet death. Decades ago, Napoleon Hill, the original self-help coach, talked about having a definiteness of purpose or having a plan, purpose, and action. You need to implement that here.

If all you do is attend a conference, watch a course, or listen to a podcast and take a bunch of notes, nothing changes.

Instead, take the final step. Grab your action list and schedule time into your calendar now.

Next to every action item, support it with a purpose and decide how much time it will take you to complete it. It could be a simple task like reaching out to someone for a potential partnership. It could be a larger project that you spread over days or weeks, like “start a podcast” or “set up your online community.”

Once you have a plan and a purpose, schedule the action(s) into your calendar. Try and do at least an hour a week if you have another job or an hour a day if you’re a full-time content entrepreneur.

Commit to showing up for those events in your calendar with the right mindset to take action and make progress toward your goals and outcomes. This is how you change your business, making progress every day. 

That’s it. That simple, three-step process will help you turn ideas from conference takeaways (or notes from online courses, podcasts, etc.) into execution and inspiration into progress. You’ll carve a more direct path to the outcomes you want in your life and business. I’m excited about what you’ll do in the coming days and months.

This is one small part of a larger framework I created and wrote about in my book, Blockbuster, which you can read for free on my website. If you need help identifying the right next step in your creative business, check out this free scorecard I built for creators like you.

Missed CEX? Get all the great stage presentations with the CEX Digital Pass option. Over 40 hours of sessions to watch on demand. Purchase today!

About the author

Daren Smith is a film producer, author, and founder of Craftsman Creative, where he shares his experience with creative entrepreneurs and business owners to help them build and grow their awareness, engagement, and revenue using his MOVIE framework.