How BBS’s, Nascar, and my Pastor got me into Social Media

I’m no social media expert, people have been doing this social media thing way before I ever started, and have more experience than I do, but I thought it would be good to tell my story. It’s something a recent interview by Another Passion, got me thinking about, and I believe it’s good to know someone’s story, to understand how they think.

The timeline is a little blurry, but you’ll get the idea. Each of these paragraphs could be it’s own blog post, but I’ll try to keep it to the basics.

BBS DashboardI’ve always been interested in technology and online communication. Back when I was in 6th grade (1989) I remember staying up all night and dialing BBS’s and talking with others, playing text games, not to mention downloading a fair share of games (there wasn’t copyrights back then correct?)

The little Hayes 12,000 BPS modem was terribly slow, and to download a simple game or image would take hours if not all night, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people I met online, and even became friends with them offline. Some even happened to attend the same school as me, but we needed BBS’s to connect us for some reason.

Then came Prodigy in Junior High (1990-1991) boy was that a life changer. Suddenly useful/educational information was at my finger tips. Sure it was slow, and the WWW was not connected yet, but I still tons of information at my finger tips, and it was liberating.

The idea of encyclopedia type information like that on your computer was so knew that for one Jr. High Science class I “used” it to do a one page report on a specific topic. Ok, I didn’t “use” it, I simply printed out what the Prodigy encyclopedia had to say on the topic and turned it in. I’m guessing cheating in such a manner was not something the teacher knew about, so he never thought twice, and I got a A- on the project. (ok, maybe I was not on the greatest path here with downloading games, and cheating on homework.)

Well next came my high school and college years and I stayed up on technology. Used the internet to “help” me with my homework, but still very few of my real world friends were using it actively.

When I went to college in the fall of 1996, my friends and I were not even given an email address when we showed up. Actually very few of my friends even had email addresses, and the library was the only place to connect to the internet, other than my rooms 56k modem. I remember a $300 phone bill my first month in College because I accidently used a long distant dialup number.

In college I started out as a Graphic Design major, but once I realized I had no actual design talent, I moved into business with a marketing emphasis, and I was off into the business marketing world.

Not until about 3 or 4 years ago when I read “The Cluetrain Manifesto” and then followed by “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide” did it all start to come together. With these online social tools I had been using since elementary school, you could connect with others, and also help brands not only market themselves but serve their customers better.

It all came together in my head, but I had no outlet, no where to put it. So I simply stored it knowing someday my love for tech and marketing would be combined.

That is where a weird rabbit hole that started in 2005 with the Dakar Rally, led to Nascars’ Robby Gordon and then to Jason Falls in 2007, got me following Jason’s blog and other social media” blogs using RSS feeds.

Robby Gordon Dakar HummerThen sometime in 2008 my Pastor at the time Scott Harris convinced me to get active on Twitter.  At this point I already had an account for some time but never used  it. I ridiculed Scott at first for using it, but after that I jumped on and started to using Twitter actively. I remember struggling to find people to connect with that I knew, (not knowing that was the wrong way to do it) and almost gave up. With Scott’s assistance and Jesse Andersons (another friend active on Twitter) support I kept at it however.

Through this I connected with a lot of people and was learning some great things through Twitter. Something was still missing however, I wanted to learn more and connect with people face to face. One thing Jason Falls talked about occasionally was Social Media Club in Louisville and about how he had meet great people through it and exchanged some great though provoking ideas.

This was exactly what I was looking to do, so I reached out to Social Media Club to see if they had a club in Seattle. Kristie Wells, the founder of Social Media club told me the club they had in Seattle had dissolved, so I asked if they wanted to help to start one.

Not knowing nearly any of the “Go To” social media people at the time, and having very little experience using social media, I was excited that Kristie said she would love me to help them start a club in Seattle.

Considering Jason’s club in Louisville seemed like it had around 40 people meeting in a bar talking social media at the time, I thought it would be easy to start and run a club. (little did I know)

A month later in December of 2008 I conducted the first Social Media Club (SMC) Seattle organizational meeting. I put an all call on Twitter for people who were interested in helping to come to the meeting.

Lucky for me 12 great people showed up. Blake Cahill was one of the first to reach out and offer his support and guidance, but others showed up as well such as Veronica Shoper, Rachel Bergtedt, Cass Nevada, Barry Hurd, Amy Mcdougall, Barb Jacobucci, Gina Spadoni, Tamara Weikel and many others. (If I missed you please let me know)

At our first event when we had close to 200 people show up. This is when I knew I had stumbled onto something way bigger than I had ever planed. Now, over a year later, the amazing board members and others have helped turn SMC Seattle into an amazing community with events of 300+ people and every event being sold out. My favorite part is all the great people I have become friends with, and the fact that I have learned more from this group of people than I ever did in college.

It’s amazing how it has all worked out. Years ago I dreamed about finding ways to combine my love of tech and online communication with my passion for marketing, and doing it in a way where both the businesses and consumers benefit. Through this amazing journey I have found ways to do that, and made many great friends along the way.

I’d say I found the path God has created for me, or merely God put this path in front of me whether I liked it or not. You may say it’s fate, but no matter, I found it and I’m not looking back now.

What’s your story?

Kevin Urie

  • http://twitter.com/jessejanderson Jesse J. Anderson

    I never knew you were a graphic design major – that explains so much. =P

    Cool to hear your backstory – I remember connecting to the Amocat BBS which was the coolest one in the south area (Amocat = Tacoma spelled backwards).

    I too downloaded illegal games and even copy&pasted a homework assignment once. I bet most people that are technology enthusiasts broke the law at some point to get there.

  • http://www.changeitmarketing.com kevinurie

    Thanks Jesse!

    Yes I learned enough in the year of being a Graphic Design major to be a pain for Graphic Designers. Sometimes a little knowledge is worse than no knowledge!

    Only BBS I remember is one where the SYS Admin was Dark Knight. I think the BBS had the same name but don't remember.

    Thanks for being part of the story!

  • http://twitter.com/Shih_Wei Veronica Wei Sopher

    Nascar? Really? Wow, you should ask TJ about his Nascar days while in NC and FL… or not. Hee hee.

    I had no idea you were such a rebel, Kevin! Cheating on homework, running up the phone bill, etc. Now I have a whole new level of respect for you. 😀 I miss the BBS days. Back then, they were called “GT” not “tweetup,” and people even came from other states, with kids in tow. Those were the days.

    Thanks for sharing your story. You're right, it really helps to get the background info. The combination of your experiences in life, school and work has made you a true leader, in both thought and action. I'm honored to have met and worked with you.

  • http://www.changeitmarketing.com kevinurie

    Thanks V! It's people like you that have made the story fun, and have progressed my learning. SMC Seattle would be nothing without you!

    What's funny is how we all have similar stories, especially that most of us used BBS's. Maybe I'll do a Twitter poll on it.

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  • http://twitter.com/barbjacobucci Barb Jacobucci

    Love reading this history. When I was in high school…we called it “data processing” and had the little punch cards! 🙂 Times sure change. It's been amazing hanging on to your coat tails for this little ride that we are on! Thanks for your leadership and passion!

  • http://www.changeitmarketing.com kevinurie

    Thanks Barb! You are not hanging on my coat tails. All I did was schedule the first meeting. You and the rest of the board took care of the rest.

    I just try not to get in the way.

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