079: Lessons from Creating a Conference from Scratch in Three Months [Podcast]

When you’re standing on the edge of the unknown, it’s natural to be afraid and shy away from the light of possibilities. The worst thing you can do in those moments is let shame steal your chance to shine.

Lessons from Creating a Conference from Scratch in Three Months

Do you remember the first time you tried something big and new? The sting of anxiety in the pit of your stomach. A sense of excitement for what might happen. The hairs on your arm standing up as you prepare to make the leap.

This year, I tried something I’ve never done before and it was terrifying.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk about my fears before Tribe Conference, a few of my favorite parts of the event, and some helpful advice on working through shame. Listen in as we get inside the mind of a conference organizer and look forward to next year.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email, please click here).

Brace yourself for the unexpected win

In the days leading up to the very first Tribe Conference I was a nervous wreck. With about three months of preparation, we were hosting 150 attendees and over a dozen speakers at The Factory just outside Nashville, TN.

Fear attacked from every side and I didn’t stand a chance. Would everyone show up? Would the speakers go over their time limits? Would people ask for refunds and I’d go broke? Would everything fall apart and I’d end up a failure?

My therapist asked, “So, why are you afraid?” It boiled down to fearing the disappointment of attendees and losing the respect of people I admired.

What he said in response to my fear was it sounded like shame. And that, “S.H.A.M.E. stands for: Should Have Already Mastered Everything.”

He encouraged me to let go of the misguided expectations that I should be great at all these things I’ve never done before, and instead brace for the possibility everything will go better than planned.

And you know what? It did. Tribe Conference was a lot of fun for our team, and everyone I got a chance to talk with loved the event.

It’s easy to fear the unexpected and prepare for the worst. You may find your success rate is much better when you prepare for the best.

Show highlights

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Common fears of conference organizers
  • The stress of coordinating multiple moving parts
  • Preparing for irrational failure
  • When your identity gets tied up in success
  • Assuming you should be good at things you’re not
  • Bracing yourself for possibility of winning it big
  • Discovering freedom by giving yourself permission
  • The hidden ROI of therapy for creatives
  • A simple secret to creating wow moments
  • Why bigger events aren’t necessarily better


  • Let go of perfect.
  • Embrace the mess.
  • Find joy in fun surprises.
  • Community is encouraged when everyone has the same access to information.
  • S.H.A.M.E. stands for: Should Have Already Mastered Everything.


Bonus: Get free access to a new Tribe Writers video series. Enter your email here to reserve your spot and I’ll email you as soon as the first video is available.

What were you afraid to start? How’s it going? What are you afraid to start now? Share in the comments