For years I've thought about doing a live event for my readers. It's always been on the backburner as I've thought about formats and group sizes, but my friend Leo Babauta challenged me to set a date and just do one, so I did.
Last weekend ten people came into town for a 1.5 day event. They were pretty brave, because I gave almost no information on what the event would be like, since I didn't really know when I posted it.
As the weeks passed and I thought about the event, I decided to keep it simple. We'd hang out together in a big hotel suite and I'd coach them one on one, pairing them up with someone else to act as an accountability buddy. I had done something similar via video chat for a charity a few years before and got good feedback on it.
Not having ever done an event like this, I didn't really know what to expect. Would people get along? Would we have way too much time or not enough? How many breaks should we take? What kind of person would actually show up?
A day and a half later, and I had the answers to those and many other questions.
The guys who attended were amazing. They were different in all sorts of ways, but from the get-go were extremely supportive of each other and acted like they'd been friends forever. I was really impressed with how open, vulnerable, and helpful everyone was. Halfway through I thought, "Maybe I should make this an annual event and invite just the same people every year". I really couldn't have asked for a better group of people, especially for my first event.
Some people had big challenges, others were trying to make smaller optimizations. I thought that the range of problems and questions people brought were really good and had a lot of crossover appeal.
Not everyone has given feedback yet, but so far feedback has been very positive and people have rated the event an average of 9 out of 10.
I learned a tremendous amount, all of which I will bring to future events. Maybe the biggest thing I learned is that I will definitely be doing future events. I'm going to think about it a little bit and announce the next one as soon as I can.
Here's what I learned:
1. I'm weird, so my readers are a little bit weird, too. The weirder you are, the harder it is to meet other people like you. The value of having so many like-minded people in one place is something I greatly underestimated. One of the attendees organized a dinner for everyone the night before, and I wish I had done more stuff like that. Even in the few breaks I took, there were a lot of really great conversations between attendees. I should have left more time for that. I'd say that this event was 90% work and 10% social, but I would probably have future ones be 60-70% work and 30-40% social. No one who took my post-event survey wanted more than 70% work.
2. I will definitely make the next one longer. I think I was a little insecure about being able to fill up multiple days with useful content, so I kept this one to 14 hours. I ended up going overtime and when everyone left I found myself wishing we could have gone on another day or two.
3. Ten hours of being "on" is extremely draining. I find in my coaching practice that the maximum number of sessions I can do in a day is 4-5. This was the equivalent of ten or so. I think I performed well overall, but I was definitely fresher in the morning than in the evening. I would space out the work portions over a few days and give myself an hour or two off per day.
4. I should have left more breaks. I really wanted to deliver a lot of value to people, so I didn't want to have a lot of breaks. I thought that maybe if people were standing around hanging out instead of listening to me, they might feel like I was padding the event. In retrospect I think it was a little too intense, and would have been a better experience if we just stretched the event out over a few days and had some down time.
5. People are good at getting what they want out of an event. People asked questions, asked for clarification, and pushed back against suggestions they already knew they weren't going to do. I suspect that this is more true for my readers than the average person, but I really liked that everyone who showed up was proactive about getting what they wanted out of the experience. I'd like to encourage that for future events.
6. Ten people is the maximum I can do with this format and time allowance. Two more people were supposed to come, but had last minute travel issues, and I ended up being glad in a way. If I want to have bigger events, I will need to modify the format.
While I felt like this event went even better than my highest expectations, I think that I can make future ones even better. I may do the next one in Las Vegas again to make logistics easy, and then start doing them in other cities. I'll probably do 2-4 per year.
I'd ideally like to come up with a way to get much larger groups together at a lower price point, mostly to facilitate connections between readers. I'm not sure what the best format for that is, as I think it's too boring and generic to have an event where I stand up there and lecture for hours straight.
I may incorporate travel. I'm thinking about doing one that's mostly social and would be me bringing people around Budapest, leaving a lot of big blocks of time to have good conversations, help people, answer questions, etc.
I may keep doing these small events and then have one annual event that can host a larger group, so that everyone can meet each other.
If you have any thoughts on what you'd like to see in an event run by me, please let me know. I will probably do the next one late summer or fall in Vegas and will give people plenty of advance notice.
Photo is our group picture from the event!
Two weeks ago, ten people came to Las Vegas to participate in my event, Superhuman 2. When I did the first one a year earlier I was nervous about how everyone would get along and how I would fill the time in a useful way. This year, even with a much longer format, my only real concern was whether or not the attendees would be as awesome as they were the previous year.
In particular, the first year's group was so open and supportive of each other, that I wasn't sure how possible it was to replicate that. I do everything I can to create that sort of environment, but really most of it is out of my hands. I suspect that even one person could mess up the environment if they really wanted to.
Also, this year three of the attendees were women. Last year it was all male, and I was a little bit worried that having women there might cause men to be more hesitant to be vulnerable.
As you could probably guess, all of those concerns were totally moot. Our group this year was absolutely fantastic. What was most interesting to me was that although no individual from this year reminded me at all of any one individual from last year, the groups felt very similar to me.
Two days ago I attended The Santa Barbara Business Expo, my first networking event. Almost all the business blogs and books I’ve read give importance to networking and nothing convinced me more than when I met with my friend Jackie, a real estate agent. I asked her how business was since she had only become a licensed for a few months earlier, and from what I know about real estate, it takes years to get clients. But she told me that she’s busy and business keeps coming. What? How? I asked her what she did for marketing, and how she sought clients.
“Well, it was really easy. I found some real estate agent networking events to go to, and this guy I met told me he was leaving for Shanghai and gave me all his clients”.
My eyes widened. Of course there was some luck to this, and I couldn’t help myself from being jealous. I had spent the past few months, thinking of a business identity and value proposition, targeting my niche, sending out cold emails, meeting with potential middlemen …and Jackie just goes to a networking event and gets handed business.