How to be a good host: Lessons from my SixApart discussion

One of my favorite analysts and a great friend Rachel Happe invited me to an event hosted by Jane of SixApart. This was a mixer and positioned as an open discussion.

I really admire and like Anil Dash, and having met him several times, already have a very favorable opinion of the company.

The discussion started at about 6pm with several folks from the senior team at SixApart including David Tokheim, Andrew Anker, Mark Simmons and Michael Sippey. Jane Anderson was our very gracious host. Besides these folks we were joined by Molly from BounceBall and Sean from CNET and another analyst from IDC Mary.

Top 3 observations from our meeting.

1. It really matters that your senior folks in the management team are “real people” wanting to have a authentic discussion instead of hiding behind large resumes and inflated backgrounds. These folks were eager to ask questions, challenge and even question some assumptions they had made of the maturity of blogging, social media and collaboration.

2. Your office space tells a lot about your culture and values. Wide open spaces with lots of room for free discussion (I personally prefer this to “fake privacy” that cubes give you). Another thing that struck me was their use of the walls as “brainstorm space”. Essentially pasting up both pages (for UI design) and post-it sticky notes.

3. Being a good host means a lot more than catering good food – it means making it easy for conversation to happen, asking questions when you already know most of the answers, introducing everyone to the discussion so you know they feel comfortable and most importantly – willing to learn.

I thought SixApart team (especially Jane) did an absolutely awesome job. Kudos. They now have a convert. I promised Anil I am moving to SixApart since I am personally very tired of my blog platform.

While they cannot convert each customer one-at-a-time like they did with me, they have a fan who is more than happy to say awesome things about their people – and oh yeah, their products are good too.

If you are an entrepreneur looking to start a company, this is one very good company to steal ideas, culture and values from.