I was a little bit nervous the night before I held my first Superhuman event in Las Vegas. People had paid a fair amount of money and had traveled long distances for an event, but I hadn't planned anything. It was very important to me that everyone have an amazing time at the event. Still, I restrained myself from trying to plan out what I would say.
The few times I'd go to a conference or workshop that was carefully scripted, I was disappointed. If you already know what you're going to say and don't intend on having an interactive experience with the audience, you may as well just put it up on video.
This is how I do almost everything, and have been doing it for years. I don't think that it is the right strategy for everyone and I am very aware that it has weaknesses, but it works great for me and I wouldn't do it any other way.
My basic premise is this: I want to develop my skills and mind to the point that I can execute at a high level at a moment's notice, even if I'm doing something that I don't normally do. I focus on root skills that are broadly applicable rather than specific one-time-use skills or plans.
For example, when Todd and I went to Japan for the first time we didn't book anywhere to stay until the night before the flight. We figured out everything we wanted to do once we got there. I've done a number of trips in the same way, and often change my plans at the last minute.
Every first date I went on in the couple years preceding meeting my wife was just me and the girl sitting at tea talking. No activity to distract.
When I write books I just sit down, make a quick malleable outline, and start writing. With blog posts I just write down the title and start going, rarely doing any significant editing.
If I'm building something on the island or at my house, I just get some tools and materials and figure it out along the way.
This approach means that I sometimes have to revise. I'll build something and then realize it's too tall so I have to cut something down. I'll write a blog post and then realize it's not good enough to post so I have to scrap it. There were a few things at my first Superhuman event that should have gone more smoothly, so I changed them for the next year. It's not a perfect system.
It has its advantages, though, and for me they overshadow the disadvantages. I am extremely able to adapt, because my plan was never that rigid to begin with. I planned (the week before) a seven day train trip for my friends and I. When we arrived at the ferry dock to see no ferry waiting for us due to a typhoon, I spent a few minutes and made a new plan. If I was totally reliant on a written plan I would have freaked out.
I'll still get nerves when I'm about to freestyle something big that matters to me, like a live event, but this method decouples the work and performance of putting an event on. I know that I've done the work in my life to have the answers for people, so I don't have any serious anxiety or stress about it. When I was on my Japan trip it didn't matter to me that something went wrong, except that I was really looking forward to going to the island that we couldn't reach.
General domain confidence is valuable, but the freestyle method gives you general confidence. I know that because I have a strong set of fundamental skills, I'm likely to be reasonably good at just about everything as a beginner. I've gotten a lot of compliments at my performance at tea ceremony, but it's not because I'm actually good at it, it's because I've learned how to learn quickly, how to move somewhat gracefully, and how to remain calm and on track when a make an error.
Some people do much better as planners, and that method is no worse than the freestyle method. Each comes with its own pros and cons, and its up to the individual to determine which suits them better. For me, though, I'll keep freestyling.
Photo is an amazing tea-themed hotel at Mengdingshan in China. They had all sorts of crazy tea rooms that you could use, like this one on the roof.
My next Superhuman event is going to be in Vegas in a few weeks. After that I'll plan a Budapest one soon!
As I mentioned before, Superhuman #1 went extremely well. Everyone left not only with actionable steps to reach their goals, but also with connections to some other really great people. I was a little bit exhausted by the end, but it was really a great experience to get to do deep work with some of my most serious readers, and to get to know them on a personal level.
I collected feedback from most of the attendees. No one rated the event less than 8/10, and 95% of the critical feedback was on logistics and timing, which I admittedly did not do a great job of. Using their feedback plus our mutual experience, I am ready to put on a second event which should be even better!
The biggest change is that this event will be 2.5 days long instead of 1.5 days long. On the first event I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fill so much time with useful content, but now I realize that more time would have been much better. People also universally wished that we had more social time (with all but one person suggesting 70% work and 30% social vis the 90/10 split we had this time). So this time around we will have much more social time.
The goals of this event will be for each attendee to have actionable next steps on their most important goals, to be paired with a like-minded peer to hold them accountable, and to get to know me and their fellow attendees.
INTERNAL SCORECARD #11 -- HIGH PRODUCTION, SHAKY HABITS
A little over three months ago, it occurred to me to write up some notes on what actions and production are happening on my end -- this could help readers see the real nitty-gritty of triumphs and setbacks as I put initiatives into place in organization-building, productivity, habits, results. You could also see get various recommendations on technology and processes. And it's quite good for me to stay accountable.
The experiment seems to have been a success and people really love these and look forward to them.
This is the eleventh Internal Scorecard I've published. For reasons that will become quite apparent in a moment, this is a scorecard that covers double the normal length, the two-week span from 28 July to 10 August.
RINGING THE CASH REGISTER