My Latest Experiment: Launching a Conference — Why I’m Scared & Doing It Anyway

Today, I’ve got an exciting announcement. On August 29-30, 2015, I’m going to host my first-ever conference, and I’d love to tell you it’s going to be amazing. But I have to be honest.

Photo Credit: The Open University (OU) via Compfight cc

I wish I could tell you this is going to be a success. I’d love to tell you it’ll sell out and that hundreds of people are going to show up. But the truth is I don’t know any of that. And there’s an important lesson in that.

Of course, I hope you’ll join us and that the thing won’t be a total flop, but honestly that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing this because the safe thing to do is not do it. And I believe the things worth doing in life are often the things that scare us the most.

So before I tell you all about the conference, I want to say something about doing scary things.

A life without risks is no life at all

Two years ago at a conference called World Domination Summit, I had a revelation. For three days, I ran into ordinary people who were living incredible. And they all had one thing in common: They were all taking risks.

Naturally, I began to wonder, “What’s something risky I’m doing?” I couldn’t think of anything. And that bothered me.

Now, mind you: I’m not a big risk-taker. I don’t go “all in” and bet everything on a single whim or idea. That’s often a recipe for disaster. But sometimes, I just play it too safe and miss out on the abundance that an adventurous life can bring.

So I had an idea. It was a simple idea, but one that felt risky, nonetheless. I wanted to start a conference. I had had this thought before, even been urged by my community to do it. But I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I was content to play it safe.

But when I finally gave myself permission to dream this dream, I got excited.

Lesson: Don’t wait for the perfect moment to pursue something you’ve been thinking about doing. Just get started.

Ideas without action are just dreams you eventually wake up from

That next year, I took some bigger risks. I went to Africa, taught a two-day course on email marketing for Creative Live, and started building a team for my business.

But still, I sat on the conference idea. I waited for the perfect moment, and it never came.

Eventually, I decided to just make a go of it, anyway.

Last November, I hosted a small workshop called the Tribe Intensive. It sold out a month before the event, and attendees loved it. I had a blast doing it and realized I enjoyed bringing people together to help them.

But what I really learned was I could do this. I could pull off an event, albeit a small one. That confidence led to a decision to follow through on this larger-scale conference idea.

So I met with my team to plan out the next six months of 2015, and we set aside some time to host a conference in Nashville.

Lesson: Big dreams don’t have to be all or nothing. Try to start small and learn as you go. Experience is the best teacher.

Everything worth doing is met with resistance

So we had a conference on the calendar. No budget. Very little experience. And no idea what this thing was going to be. But at least we had a date.

Then my book launch happened. And for four months, everything I did was centered around The Art of Work. I ate, slept, and breathed that thing. And in the haste of trying to launch the book right and deal with all kinds of unexpected issues with the launch (read more about that here), the conference got pushed back.

I stalled, wondering how I would possible pull something like this off. I worried I had missed my window of time, and we would just have to postpone until next year.

But I didn’t want to wait till next year.

So I called my friend Katie, who is a master at event planning and has helped me pull off several smaller-scaled events, like book launch parties and the workshop I mentioned. She asked how much time we had.

“Three months,” I told her. “Is that enough to plan an event?”

“It’s tight,” she said, “but doable.”

“Let’s do it,” I said.

And thus, the Tribe Conference was born.

Lesson: There’s never a ideal time to start something, but don’t be unrealistic with your dreams. Consult the experts, get the OK, and then move forward.

The only promise I’m going to make

Will it have this or that? The answer is maybe. It could have anything you want. Or nothing. Because we are still imagining what this thing could be. And instead of telling you we have it all figured out, I’m just going to be honest.

This is a work-in-progress, and you’re going to get to play a part of that progress.

I don’t want to convince you to come to the Tribe Conference. I want to invite you to participate in it. I want us to create something beautiful together.

We don’t need another social media extravaganza or another get-together where writers hear antiquated ways of getting published. You don’t need to see another hotel conference room or eat another stale bagel.

And the last thing you need is to listen to 20 forgettable keynotes you’ll barely remember the next day.

I don’t have anything wrong with events like that. We just don’t need another one of them. This will be different. And maybe because of that difference, it will fail. I don’t know.

But it will hopefully be unlike anything you have ever seen before. And if we do that, we will have succeeded. Because normal is boring. And doing something different is what gets me up in the morning.

That’s my only promise. And whatever I learn, whatever we do, I will be completely transparent about it. I’ll share it all here on my blog as it comes together. So if you want to see what it takes to pull off an event, stay tuned (be sure you’re signed up for email updates!).

Lesson: Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Do what excites you, and maybe others will come along, too.

Join us in August for the first Tribe Conference!

So if you’re intrigued, if you’re as curious as I am as to what this kind of conference could look like, and if you want to be part of something new and interesting, then I encourage you to come to the Tribe Conference.


For this week only, we’re offering a super early bird rate, which is the cheapest price it will ever be. We’re also offering a limited number of spots for this round of tickets, so they may go quickly.

If you’re still not sure what this is, here are some more details: The Tribe Conference is a two-day event (I’m calling it a marketing conference for non-marketers) packed full with inspiring speakers and practical content.

You’ll hear from guest speakers like Joshua Becker, Joe Bunting, Ally Vesterfelt, Whitney English, Tim Grahl, me, and maybe some more surprise guests!

The conference will be held at The Factory in Franklin, TN. We’ve arranged for a special discounted room rate at the Aloft Hotel. To make room reservations call 877-462-5638 and request the Tribe Conference block. Or click here to make your reservation online.

Register for the Tribe Conference Today.

What’s something risky you’ve attempted recently, and what did you learn? Share in the comments.