Why Attending Conferences Sucks and What to do Instead
So you’re back home from the latest conference feeling super inspired by all the talks and all the people you’ve just met: “Damn! This conference was the best. My new project will be awesome. I’ll get rich and finally retire.” You sit on your desk and you start going through your notes. Suddenly, after a few pages, you realize that the advice you wrote down are not that different from what you’ve heard so far: work harder, work smart, be consistent, hustle, create something that matters… In the end, it turns out that you haven’t heard or learned anything that will change your life.
Don’t get me wrong, there are pretty decent seminars where you can hear a lot of interesting things from influential entrepreneurs but the question is: “Is it really worth it?”
Self-help books, as well as seminars, are considered investments. Ask any speaker or any entrepreneur and he will tell you that you need to read more and visit more seminars.”Yes, you need to read a lot. Like every single day. A book per day. Hell, you need to read now instead of talking to me!”
However, there is something really twisted in this scheme. If you constantly read, and if you spend all of your money on seminars, two things will happen:
First, you won’t have the time to actually build the company, app, online store, membership site, or the thing you really want to do because you’ll be in “improving yourself” state all the time.
Second, you’ll be broke. Conference and airplane tickets are not cheap yo.
As you can see for yourself, none of these two things will make you rich as you hoped.
So, why so many people visit conferences?
Well, they put up a hell of an advertising.
How Conferences are Advertised?
“Experience amazing people, life-changing transformations and magic moments…”
“…events are known for creating magic and connections that change the course of your life.”
“Discover what great leaders do to produce great results…”
“Change your life and become your best self…”
“One of the best live events on Earth for people who want to build epic businesses, live legendary lives and network with the most successful people in the world…”
“…encourage explosive growth in the important areas of your life and support you as you achieve the success that you know you’re meant to achieve.”
“Information that will dramatically accelerate your success…”
The above statements are real excerpts from popular conferences that are happening every year. I haven’t invented what you read above. I can’t write something like this even if I try. I simply copied the messages from their landing pages but I won’t share the actual names of the conferences.
So, let’s look at these messages for a moment:
“Life-changing transformations and magic moments”: So, we’re all adults and we kind of know that magic and Transformers doesn’t exist. We can see these things only on TV.
“Discover what great leaders do”: Great leaders work their ass off. Have you ever wondered why 99 percent of the guys/girls who speak at seminars are over 40? That’s because they worked 20+ years till they reach their current state. Did they went to seminars? Probably. But in most of their time they worked, worked, worked.
“Build epic businesses, live legendary lives”: How the hell you live a legendary life? What are you, Hercules? Or Barney Stinson in How I met your Mother? If you want to become an iconic person so that people will remember you after you’re long gone, you need to serve others. Help them. Build something that will change their lives. If you’re that kind of a person you don’t need a conference. You just have it in you.
Do you want to know how much a single ticket costs for one of those events?
So, the prices vary between $3500 and $10,000.
Of course, this doesn’t include airfare, ground transfers, accommodation, some meals, etc.
Well, that doesn’t sound so expensive. Especially for “epic gathering that will dramatically accelerate your success”, right?
Are you kidding me? 10,000 dollars for a couple of days is a huge investment.
That’s probably your income for a couple of months. Your car probably doesn’t cost so much. Building a website and running an ad on Facebook for one full year will cost you way less.
But let say they’ve got you.
You’re convinced that this seminar will indeed transform your life, make you your best self and actually help you live a legendary life, whatever that means.
You buy the ticket, you buy an airplane ticket, of course, you go to the mall because you “don’t have what to wear“. Once all the preparation is complete, you sit down and you impatiently await for the day to come.
Your expectations before you go to a conference:
Here are a few expectations you might have before you go to the event:
Have a great time;
Learn something new;
Meet experts in your field of interest;
Come up with a new idea.
But secretly, you’ll hope for something else. Something more.
When we go to conferences, we actually think that something magical will happen. We really think that this conference will change our lives. That after the event we’ll have super powers which we can use to make millions of bucks.
Well, it’s not a surprise that you think this way and that you secretly believe that there will be magic involved. They actually put it on their sales page, remember: “creating magic and connections that will change your life.”
So what we do actually is this:
We put the conference we’re attending on a pedestal. We think that this single event will answer all of our questions and solve all of our problems. After this event, we’re certain, we believe with our hearts that we’ll be capable of doing magical things that will transform our lives in reality. To put things really simple, we think that the conference is the main piece of the puzzle and everything else is secondary:
However, this is far from what happens in reality. There is no magic involved and Gandalf won’t wave the magic wand and make you unstoppable.
What Really Happens At Conferences?
You get together with a bunch of stranger who are all super motivated and dream of becoming rich. You talk about starting new businesses and making a difference in the world. However, in reality, you both only want to be rich, without the “making a difference part.”
Everyone seems super excited and even though they are attending a conference for becoming better, they act as if they have all the answers: “Me and my partner are here to make connections. Our business is booming but I wanted to hear what’s happening.”
But in reality, their business sucks and they are also here for the magic and the transformation part.
Later, people start talking on the stage. They share their experience. They present their story to the crowd and how they made it work.
Probably some of the following lines will be present in their speeches:
I started with $10…
I worked really hard…
I took me 10 years…
Followed by what you’ll learn:
You’ll learn to become super productive and master your craft;
You’ll become a real leader.
Then, followed by what you need to do:
Don’t give up.
As the conference unfolds, you slowly begin to realize that all these things sound super interesting and exciting but in reality, this is what needs to happen: YOU NEED TO WORK YOUR ASS OFF.
Even though everything what the people share in the conference is true, the advice they give don’t help even a bit: “be consistent, work hard“. Like you didn’t know this or you haven’t heard it before.
Your business idea won’t get you any money until you actually put the hours to make the idea a reality. Even then, once the site, the app, or whatever is created, you still have a lot to work to market it.
It’s all up to you.
So, basically, this is how things look like in reality:
A single conference can help, yes. It will surely boost your motivation; Give you some interesting insights; Probably even connect you with people. But you’re still the person who needs to do all the work. A conference is simply a tool, that will potentially help you, but it’s not the main thing.
Why Conferences Suck?
The main goal of the people organizing the event is to earn money. They also need to eat, right? That’s their product. Some people sell groceries, others furniture, third hot dogs, but people who call themselves leaders and gurus sell seats on conferences. Along with that, they sell themselves and what they know. Bottom line, they sell their personal experience presented live.
But this information ain’t new information.
I’ve been to a couple of conferences during my lifetime, I’ve actually spoken a few times on local events. And basically, this is how you prepare for your lecture:
You organize all the information you know into this easily digestible piece of content that’s presented in slides.
Since the speaker can’t actually tell you everything he knows, he organizes the information in tiny bits that are easy to swallow.
Eventually, his main goal is to leave you with one or a few lessons that will help you in your journey.
But do you know what’s really the secret here: People who speak at conferences have sites and are also probably authors of books. And do you know what’s inside these books?
That’s right, the information this dude just presented on stage and you paid 10,000 dollars to see him.
So basically, you’re paying the author of a book to present the information he wrote in his ~20 dollars book, live.
You might as well purchased the book. But you will, because the person on the stage will mention at least a couple of times his books and even show you how to get them.
Not only that he convinced you to pay him X amount of dollars to see him present live, but you will also be upsold for all the extra services.
That’s the real truth.
Why people go then?
A logical question here will be “Why so many people attend conferences?”
To be honest, the answer is really simple: People are looking for an easy way to get rich and famous. No one wants the sweat and the tears. We all want to be Olympic champions but without all the hard work. And this is exactly what we think we’re all buying: An easy way to “win at work, succeed at life, and lead with confidence.”
But it’s never easy.
That pile of papers won’t transform in cash unless you do something.
People who sell conference tickets don’t really sell the tickets, they sell you a dream. They sell you hope and an idea that everyone can be uber successful and productive.
When people hear someone on stage saying that they’ve worked for 10 years to create their million dollar company, ate junk food and slept in their parent’s basement during that time, they feel amazed by this person. They think: “Wow, this dude is fucking amazing. He’s my hero. He is Superman. No, he is better than Superman. I want to put a straw in his brain and suck all of his knowledge.”
However, they never consider the “10 years working part.” They just acknowledge the millions of dollars.
So, my personal suggestions before spending 10,000 bucks, less, more, waste a couple of days with hyper-motivated people who only speak crap, are the following two:
1. Are You Willing to Do the Work?
Ask yourself the hard question: “Are you willing to work hard to make your dream a reality once you’re back from the conference?” Because if you’re not prepared for all the hard work there is no point of going nowhere. Unless, of course, you don’t have 10,000 dollars to spare.
There is no magic pill that will upgrade your body and brain and make you super smart. The words you see and read on the conference page are just a sales pitch.
2. Read the Books
If you’re in a shit hole and you’re looking for inspiration, life advice, ideas, from people who seem to have all the answers, I’ll suggest reading the books first.
Don’t take another loan from the bank to go to an event hoping for “transformation.”
Pretty much all speakers publish books and the information in these books is way better and much more detailed than what they’ll say at the live event.
Also, it will cost you around 20 bucks.
It’s easy to diss something and say that it sucks, like I just did a couple of times in this article.
Even after saying a couple of times that conferences suck, they are still one of the best ways to make contacts and interact with like-minded people.
If you can afford to go to a conference, no doubt, go.
But keep in mind the following: Relying on the event, the speaker, and the attendees to solve your problems and transform your life is unrealistic.
You are the only one capable of making a difference in your life. Even if you go to an event, you still need to work, like really hard, if you want to “reach explosive growth in the important areas of your life.”