I am writing this from downtown Pulga. It’s the calm before the storm of 80 badass women descending on this town—80 badass women undeterred by the fact that this area suffered unimaginable loss from the Camp fire last year, 80 badass women who made the decision to invest in themselves for four days, 80 badass women who found the space to be selfish.
Yesterday, we were sitting on the porch assembling the gift bags and got into a discussion about things you are good at that you hate doing. Folding laundry, chopping vegetables rapidly…these were some of the things people said.
For me it’s events. I am great at doing events, but I hate the events business. Too much is outside your control. Did you pick a good time of year? Can the right speakers make it? Will the weather cooperate? Will flights get cancelled, causing you to lose half your speakers at the last minute? Will vendors defraud you? Will the wifi break? And mostly, if you build this grand, beautiful vision and put it out into the universe, will anyone show up? Will anyone care? (For the record, each of those nightmare scenarios has happened to me.)
I thought when I left journalism I was done with the events business. I didn’t even like it then.
There’s the fantasy among people who’ve never run events that they are a great business model. I can’t tell you how many VCs who obsess about the scalability of a business insist that all journalists need to be profitable are more events! They are so lucrative! But events don’t scale. Events are so dependent on factors outside your control. And even a hot, must-attend event franchise has an expiration date at a point.
So why am I here putting on such an elaborate event that we’ve essentially built a town for our attendees? Because events are good at exactly one thing: They are your ultimate focus group. It’s hard enough to get someone to pay $5 a month for a service. But if you get them to spend $2000 and get on a shuttle to the middle of nowhere, these are your ride-or-dies. And, dear God, building a company is hard enough and thankless enough. Who doesn’t want a few days to soak in your ride-or-dies?
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- Should I let my son skip his class trip (and travel with me instead?)
- Tips for surviving a 360 degree review that’s likely to have some gendered feedback?
- Halloween inspiration: What is everyone dressing up as?