Six Questions with Michael Hostad

HighEdWeb 2012 conference chair and HighEdWeb board member Michael Hostad dishes on what to expect at this year’s conference, what not to miss in Milwaukee and what he and LL Cool J have in common.

 

1)What’s one thing (or place) no visitor to Milwaukee should miss?

As someone who loves my city very much, I cannot narrow it down to just one. So, here are my top three:
1) Lake Michigan: It’s the world’s largest freshwater lake (don’t listen to the Caspian Sea – it doesn’t know what it’s talking about). No matter the weather, we’re proud of our Lake and it shouldn’t be missed.
2) Milwaukee Art Museum: Ranked the world’s sexiest building, the Milwaukee Art Museum has played host to Transformers, the American Idol judges, and Victoria’s Secret Angels. In a city known for beer and cheese, it’s important to note that we have some class, too.
3) Harry’s Bar and Grill: Located just north of downtown near the UW-Milwaukee campus, it’s my second home…well, maybe my first. Tell them you know me, but I can’t be held responsible for the sort of response you’ll receive.

2)The #heweb12 community is stoked to hear the keynote speaker: Mythbusters Adam Savage. What led the conference committee to choose Savage as its keynote?

We’ve been wanting to do a bigger named keynote for several years now. Adam’s name has been tossed around from the beginning because of some of his TED talks and other presentations on encouraging creativity and dealing with failures. Plus, we thought Adam would be a great fit with our group. We considered SO many people…everyone from Steve Wozniak to Kevin Bacon (granted, Mr. Bacon had less to do with the conference and more to do with the conference committee’s obsession with Footloose). In the end, we felt Adam would be both informative and entertaining.

Personally, I’ve always been a believer that it’s okay if your keynote doesn’t perfectly align with your conference topic. When you consider how much our brains take in from track sessions, sometimes it’s nice to listen to a keynote that gives your mind a break from the topics of the day, stretches it in a different direction and challenges it. We believe that Adam’s discussion will accomplish this perfectly.

3)What advice would you give to those who have never attended a heweb conference before? What about seasoned pros? Anything you’d like them to know?

If you’re new to the conference, attend as much of the program as you can. At the end of the day’s scheduled sessions, take advantage of the evening networking opportunities. I know your hotel room is lovely, but take care not to retreat to it immediately following the last track session. What sets this conference apart from others like it is the numerous events that promote networking and relationship building. I promise you’ll meet some amazing people.

As for the seasoned pros, do me a favor and reach out to the first timers. Nearly 700 people will be arriving in Milwaukee in October — our largest turnout ever. For many, it’s their first time at HighEdWeb. Please take a moment to show them what makes our community so great.

4) What opportunities are available to those who would like to get involved with HighEdWeb?

At this year’s update from the Board of Directors on Tuesday, attendees will hear about a number of new ways to get involved with the Association. I can’t give away too much – we like surprises. Beyond the new developments that will be announced at this year’s conference, there are plenty of existing ways to get involved. If you’re reading this right now, you’ve already discovered Link — they’re always looking for new contributors and people with fresh ideas. (Very true! Learn how you can get involved! – LK)

As you can imagine, putting on our annual conference requires a lot of person hours, and we welcome anyone who can lend a hand during the event. If you’re interested, please email reginfo@highedweb.org. Tuesday’s announcements will highlight some incredible new ways to get involved. You won’t want to miss it.

5) The 2009 conference saw the birth of <htmALE> beer. Without giving away any surprises, what cool touch do you think will get attendees talking this year?

I was thrilled with the response to htmALE in 2009. It was something we did on a whim at the last minute and it left quite an impression on our attendees. So, we’ve decided to bring htmALE back again this year. htmALE “The SQL” will be brewed by Milwaukee’s own Sprecher Brewing and served during the welcome reception at SPiN Milwaukee. htmALE was created as a nod to Milwaukee’s rich beer brewing history and we’re excited to share this piece of our city with you. Please enjoy it responsibly. In addition, you can expect this year’s excursion at Discovery World to be explosive. If I told you more, I’d completely give it away. Just don’t miss it. Finally, there will be a ping pong tournament at the welcome reception. The winner will take home a custom htmALE tap handle, among other awesomeness.

6) How many takes did you need to nail the Going Back to ‘Waukee video? Be honest. And when are you releasing your full rap album?

I know it’s probably hard to tell by watching the video, but lip syncing LL Cool J parodies is not exactly my forte. You’re shocked, I know. Cliff Jenkins and Colleen Brennan-Barry were the masterminds behind the video and only they know how much footage ended up on the cutting room floor. I suspect a lot. For example, the part of the video with the black box over my mouth wasn’t because I was spouting inappropriateness, it was because I was that bad at lip syncing. Sadly, that was the best take. Still, it was a great experience and I had a blast doing it!

Also, my rap album is set to be released Marchtember 50th, 2013.

6a.) In the week after the conference, how many hours do you plan to sleep?

How many hours are in a week? That many. Just like my colleagues on the conference and program committees, I’ve poured my heart and soul into planning this conference both in 2009 and now again in 2012. Nothing is more rewarding.

  • We didn’t waste that much footage MH. You were a pro!