Category Archives: advice

How to throw a conference

Hey, Neville here:
I got invited to speak at this thing called HustleCon in San Francisco.

Overall it went off really well, met some cool people, and got a free trip to SanFran.  What’s even more impressive is that the organizer was a 25 year old named Sam Parr who walked away from the conference with over $40,000 of profit in his pocket.

I was originally gonna just write about my own experience there……but I’d rather listen to how Sam pulled together a conference within 2 months that made as much profit for him as an average American in a year.

Here’s Sam!

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Sam Parr Speaking Now: 

Konichia fellow Nevblogg-ers,

Sam here, from Hustle Con, a badass conference focused on nontechnical startup founders.

I decided to host Hustle Con last May but the real work started the first week of June. Before this, I had never actually been to a conference before, let alone organized one…but my blissful ignorance helped me sell 400 tickets in just 7 weeks and generate over $50,000 in revenue.

This blog post explains how I did it.

How I Hustle And Flow-ed

Since I’ve been asked the same questions over and over, I thought I’d write this blog post in question-and-answer format.

hustlecon-1

“How did I find the speakers?
Did I pay them?”

This is the #1 question people ask me, but the answer is quite simple: I just asked. And no, I did not have to pay a single speaker.

In the early planning stage, I thought founders of big successful companies would be way to busy to speak at Hustle Con. When you think about it, founders really don’t need me. I mean, they’re rich, are stupid busy, and get asked for favors dozens of times a week.

At first, when I pitched founders, I’d try to convince them to come by explaining how fun the event would be or how they could grow their business because there’d be 400 people in the audience.

That pitch left me with jack squat.

Then I tried something a little different.

Instead of telling them I’d how much business would be generated from speaking (very little, realistically) I’d ask them to “come spread your company’s gospel to a live audience of 400 people and an online audience of 2,500 (students in our Udemy course).”

This worked WAY better.

Think about it…it feels good to not only talk about yourself in front of a large audience, but also to appear as an authority figure on your topic.

Additionally, high growth startups can’t hire fast enough, which is why startups pay recruiters around $30,000 per hire. And one thing that I didn’t realize is that a founder’s main job is recruiting top talent.

See where I’m going with this?

Convincing a CEO to speak at my conference was MUCH easier when I told them about the audience. There would be 400 highly qualified startupers who are eager to work hard and thirsty for knowledge…aka a CEO’s dream.

Finally, there was one BIG, BIGGGGG thing that set me apart from everyone else asking: persistence. And not the annoying kind of persistence (although I was accused of that once) but the polite, I-respect-this-guy-for-working-so-hard kind of persistence.

You see, I use to send one, maybe two emails to a potential customer, conference speaker, or anyone else I wanted something from. But if you’re trying to get in touch with an influential person you’ll most likely need to send 5 or 10 emails before getting a response back. I emailed some of the higher profile speakers at Hustle Con 7 times before getting a yes or no.

Now, I know what you’re saying “isn’t that kinda annoying?” No. Not if you do it in a respectful way, such as a reminder email every three days for a couple weeks.

If you wanna see the detailed, step-by-step on how I contacted each speaker, then read the post “How We Found Our Speakers: 4 Ways To Get Ahold Of Anyone And Make Them ACT!”I used these methods to not only get in touch with all the speakers of Hustle Con, but also the founder of Twitter, GoPro, Business Insider, and dozens of others.

Oh, and I almost forgot to address if we had to pay speakers or not. We did not. I did pay for Neville’s flight from Austin to San Francisco, but besides him every other speaker paid their own way. I asked a few authors, like Ryan Holiday and James Altucher to speak, but they wanted between $5,000 and $10,000. I declined.

 

How did I sell 400 tickets in 7 weeks?

I could write an entire freakin’ book on this question, but I’ll sum it up in two words: COLLECT EMAILS!

hustlecon-2

Here’s how I did it:

1. Writing/finding blog posts: I wanted to publish around 12 blogs posts…one for each speaker. I wrote a few on my own, while the others were posts each speaker had already written that were applicable to Hustle Con. I found these posts on their blogs and asked for permission to repost.

2. WordPress plugins: Before publishing the posts, I installed the two plugins to collect emails: Interrupt and SumoMe.

3. Creating a drip campaign: After outlining each blog post, I wrote 12 emails that told a funny/interesting story about the speaker that then made the reader want to click and head to my site to read the entire post in hopes that they’d share it with their friends. I then set the emails up as an autoresponder using Mailchimp so new users would get an email every day for 12 days at 10 AM after signing up. This step is KEY and if you have no idea what you’re doing, then I suggest taking Neville’s Autoresponder Kourse.

Here’s nearly every email I sent: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

4. Publish and distribute the blog posts: Ok, so my autoresponder is set up and posts scheduled to be published. When publishing time came, I posted the blog posts on Reddit, Hacker News, dozens of Facebook groups, LinkedIn, Twitter, Growth Hacker, Inbound.org and asked the speakers to share the post written about them.

Bada-bing-bada-boom. That’s it.

Sounds simple, right? Well, kinda. This method took a TON of finesse and time but it really, really worked.

 

A few tidbits I should mention

1. We had linear ticket sales: I’ve never heard of another conference selling tickets as consistently as we did. 99% of conferences sell 80% of the tickets in the last two weeks. But Hustle Con had extremely consistent sales. In fact, we sold out four days before the conference, which is pretty good. Our first ticket sale was on June 9th and the last was July 28th.

hustlecon-3

2. High traffic and strong list: The Hustle Con site launched on June 6th and within just a few weeks we were averaging somewhere around 1,000 to 2,000 unique visitors per day. Our email list jump from 200 (pre-launch) to about 2,500 in 7 weeks. Not bad for such a young site, eh?

3. Branding: People loved our drip campaign because our emails were funny and unique. I know I get like 3,324 emails a day and 99% of them are just flat out crap and go straight to the ole’ trash, so I worked really, REALLY hard to make our emails killer.

My goal for each email was to tell a story, not sell. Storytelling works wonders and this made the Hustle Con brand memorable. In fact, I regularly received replies from folks saying how they couldn’t make it to the event but that they loved the emails and wanted to come next year. Of our list of around 2,500 emails, we average close to a 50% open rate, which is really good.

4. Give away tickets to influencers: To gain some extra traffic, I gave away 50 free tickets to popular friends of mine. This wasn’t a special process…I just found people with tons of Facebook followers and sent them a message inviting them to come for free in return for sharing our page on as their status.Yeah…as in a bribe. I didn’t even bother with asking them to share on Twitter, or as I like to call it, Shitter, because Twitter users rarely ever buy (in my experience).

5. Partner with other lists: Besides the obvious places like StartupDigest, WebWallflower, and Fetch, I made a list of dozens of Meetup groups and bloggers who I knew had huge lists and offered them 35% discounts. Pretty simple.

 

What did my cost breakdown looked like?

Most folks ask “ was Hustle Con was a success?” but I know what they’re really thinking – “how much money did you make?”

Hustle Con took in $56,844 in revenue and $40,212 in profit. I didn’t raise as much sponsorship money as I could have because I didn’t want lame sponsors coming so this number could have been WAYYY higher.

Here’s a breakdown of revenue and expenses

 

How did I get sponsors? How much did I get?

I was shocked so many companies would be willing to pay money to sponsor a conference. We raised around $19,250 in sponsorship money but looking back I think we could have done around $50,000.

In my opinion there are two types of sponsors: those who want brand exposure and those who want leads.

Big companies like, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have a HUGE marketing budget to spend on conferences. These guys are not looking for a return but just want to be part of cool events to build brand awareness. When I contacted these companies I sold them on the event speakers because that’s what made them want to sponsor the event.

Then there are smaller companies like recruiting firms or startups who are looking for some type of return. At Hustle Con we had a few recruiters sponsor because a potential recruit is worth between $10,000 and $30,000 so the possibility of getting a few quality leads is totally worth a sponsoring.

I’m not sure how other conferences do it, but I looked at my event as having three customers: sponsors, speakers, and attendees.

Because of this, I only chose sponsors who I thought truly added value. This way, I could promote the sponsor a ton to the speakers and attendees without being annoying because it’d be valuable for everyone. After the event I followed up with each sponsor and am happy to say that we totally exceeding their expectations. Attention to detail and taking care of the sponsors is key.

The process of contacting potential sponsors went something like this:

1. Prospecting: I made a list of 120 companies I liked who sponsored 2 or more conferences in the past along with their head of marketing’s email

2. Email: I emailed each company to set up a call.

3. The call: I’ve never had a “normal” sales job so I’m not sure how a typical sales call looks like, but I created my own process that worked really well.

My goal with the call wasn’t actually to get sponsorship money but to get them EXCITED about Hustle Con. This way their company would send 3 to 5 employees regardless if they sponsored the event because they saw how fun and valuable the experience would be. I had around 20 calls with potential sponsors. 7 or so actually bought a sponsorship package and nearly all of them sent at least one employee.

 

Did I work on this full time?

Yes. I loved every second of it.

 

Did the process drive you crazy?

Hustle Con was hands down the most fun I’ve ever had on any project…and it just so happened to make money too. In fact, I really didn’t care about money at all on this project. Sure, I wanted it to be profitable but revenue was not my main focus. This type of attitude made HC so much fun to work on and I wasn’t stressed or going crazy.

 

How did you get 25 awesome volunteers for free?

Hustle Con had 400 people in attendance, 15 speakers, 2 cocktail breaks, 2 meal breaks, and 1 after party. There was NO WAY IN HELL I could do it alone, so I enlisted the help of 25 volunteers to  set up the day before and work the entire event the day of.

hustlecon-4

Most of the volunteers were folks who emailed me directly through the contact form on HustleCon.com and asked if I needed any help. The other volunteers came to me after seeing my Facebook post asking for help. Organizing the volunteers was a HUGE task. My roommate Nathan, who has led teams as big as 200 volunteers, was in charge of all of the volunteers. Him and I worked together to create teams of 4 and assigned each team a leader and a job. Then, we did a rehearsal the day before, which made everything run smooth as a baby’s ass.

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Welp, now you know what I know. If you found this useful then tell me in the comments section below.

And if you have any questions you can email me at sam@samparr.com, friend me on Facebook by clicking this link (I’m super active on Facebook), or read my blog, TheAntiMBA.com.

Oh, and Hustle Con is happening again in a few months. We haven’t released this year’s speakers and topics, but make sure to head of to the Hustle Con site and sign up to be alerted when we do!

Peace out!
-Sam

Click here to download Sam’s full article as a PDF

New skills

Mrs. Gansky was my 3rd grade math teacher.  She was deaf.

It was so cool how I could mouth the words to any question like, “Can I go to the bathroom” from across the room and she would read my lips!  It’s like she had a superpower.

She could speak well enough for us to understand, but it was the obvious slurred-voice of a deaf person.  She used her hands to communicate a lot, and was particularly good at it.  To the point where you could pick up information through her hands.

It’s like she spoke a universal form of Sign Language even 3rd graders could understand.

SO….how can we steal the secrets of my deaf 3rd grade math teacher to improve our businesses to make more??  (did saying that make me a horrible person)??

Well I think the secret to Mrs. Gansky’s awesome teaching was partly to do with the unusual nature of the communication (the slurred voice and lots of hand gestures) which made class much more interesting.  In turn, the students learned faster.

Now a STUPID person would simply say:
“OMG if I just start talking with a slurred voice and using hand gestures I’ll communicate better!!”

But a SMART person would quickly notice the real reason behind her success:
Mrs. Gansky was far more energetic than any other teacher, very helpful, and just in GENERAL an all around great teacher.  If she could speak and teach normally she would’ve been just as great of a teacher.  The slurred voice and hand gestures were a temporary novelty, but that would quickly wear off if she was a sucky teacher.

That’s like when I get questions like this:
“Hey Neville can you make this page convert better by writing some of that magical Kopy of yours?!?!?”

What I hear them telling me is a moronic statement more like:
“Hey Neville, can you make this shitty one-page offer for a useless product make me money without me having to do any extra work!?!?!”

Very often people have this Magic Bullet Syndrome where they think doing some single Magic Bullet can make their crappy product to bring in bazillions of dollars.

But that doesn’t work.

Anything successful will have a multitude of things going right for it such as:
-the copy on the page.
-the layout of the page.
-the actual thing being promoting.
-the way people got to know about you.
-if people are even in the market for what’s being sold.
-yadda yadda…..

Basically, it’s not just ONE magic thing.

I love the concept of learning skills, especially for people who don’t know what they wanna do in life.

……its the way to ensure you can be of value to society and create a living for yourself.  I’m no exception.

In the last two months I’ve picked up a few skills:

 I bought a full-sized electric piano with weighted keys.  This doesn’t necessarily improve me business-wise, but learning ANYTHING new keeps you sharp.

 I learned how to use Wishlist Member, a piece of membership software for WordPress.

 I learned how to a use a WordPress framework to build a WordPress site instead of just a theme.

Those last two things I learned together.  I could’ve paid someone to do these for me….but I was genuinely interested to see how these work.  At first I stumbled through by watching videos, reading how-to’s and just monkeying around on the software.

Now two months later I’m an EXPERT.  If I need to put together a new course or membership website I can do it in less than 10 minutes.

I’M NOW A MORE VALUABLE PERSON BECAUSE OF THIS SKILL!!!!

So lemme ask you:

What skills are you currently working on to improve your life?? Lemme know in the comments!

Sincerely,
Neville Medhora – Horrible piano player

P.S.  If you’re NOT working on any of your skills, I’m gonna forcibly make you listen to me practice piano chords ;)

you didn’t finish it…..again

Here’s a common scenario you might relate to:

You sit down to do work, you start, then you don’t FINISH!  

This is common.  And there’s a mentality you can learn to help with this.  Let’s solve this problem by citing some examples:

SITTING AT THE COMPUTER EXAMPLE:
Everyone can relate to sitting down to finish something like writing a paper, doing homework, clearing out email, whatever…..and then never finishing it through all the way.

Here’s my estimate of the breakdown:

100% of people are capable of starting a task.
70% of people can start and get halfway through.
20% of people can start and finish the first run.
5% of people can start and finish, and revise, and finish, and do it WELL.

Of those people, guess who’s REALLY going places?  Yup…..that 5% of top performers that can start and follow through and do it well.

So when you start something, then start getting distracted, it’s useful to think in your head in an INSANE and AGGRESSIVE sounding voice “THIS RIGHT HERE IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ME AND ALL THE LAZY SCHMUCKS OUT THERE  I AM WILLING TO PUT THE WORK IN THAT EVERYONE ELSE IS NOT  AND BECAUSE OF THIS I WILL BE SUCCESSFUL AND THEY WILL NOT     >:-)  >:-O    >:-)  !!!!!!!!!!!!”

This is the killer instinct that will push you through to finish a task, and not stop halfway through like 80% of other people.

Video example of the attitude to have:

Will Smith willing to DIE on a treadmill to beat the other person.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doqS35FfcUE

AT THE GYM EXAMPLE:
The biggest realization I had when I started seeing muscle gains from my workouts was that it’s NOT UNTIL YOU’RE IN PAIN that the growth happens.

I’ve been going to this “YoStrong” class at the yoga studio across the street.  It’s like the end result of a yoga class having sex with a weight training class.

In the class they inevitably work your muscles till failure.  And of course right before your muscles can literally do no more…..they hurt and ache.

In the past I would just stop and take a rest at that point.

But I’ve started gaining more muscle due to one mindset trick:
When the exercise starts to hurt, instead of wincing or stopping…..I get this maniacal look on my face, and in my brain I start thinking: “FUCK YOU EXERCISE I WILL BEAT YOU I WILL KILL YOU I WILL WIN I PAID MONEY TO COME TO THIS CLASS AND GET MY ASS KICKED NOT REST AND I WILL KEEP GOING FOREVER   >:-)  >:-O    >:-)  !!!!!!!!!!!!”

Seriously.  It’s kinda insane and masochistic.

But this totally works, and makes me embrace that pain.  Because I know that 1% of the time I’m in pain, is where 90% of the muscle gains come from!

Video example of the attitude to have:
Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about this “end pain” as cumming.  He likes that feeling SO MUCH he gets there all the time and embraces it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdVCfDioTcY

Instead of “working through the pain” Arnold is enjoying the hell out of it.  No wonder he won so many championships!

Next time you start a task (starting now), and it starts tiring you…..power through that pain point and get all insane on it like: “YOU KNOW WHAT I’M GOING TO FINISH THIS RIGHT NOW EVEN IF IT KILLS ME   I GOTTA DO THIS CRAP ANYWAYS WHY WOULD I PROLONG IT WHEN I CAN JUST KILL THIS CRAP OFF RIGHT NOW  >-:-)    >-:-)  >-:-)  >-:-)  >-:-)   !!!!!!!!!!!”

This will help you develop your killer instinct.

Cheers to sounding insane  ;-)
Neville
Follow me: @NevMed

It feels good to be getting stuff done recently!

DAMN it feels good to be getting stuff done recently!!

I’m not saying I’m working a lot more than normal, but I’ve been gaining “momentum” once again (I scheduled my 2013 too lax, and barely got anything done).

There are literally days when I work at home and watch YouTube and read Digg the ENTIRE….ENTIRE….ENTIRE DAY.

It almost amazes me how I can waste that much time.
It’s almost…….impressive!

Anyhow, here’s some things I’ve done this year that have helped me get my mojo back, perhaps you can pick some lessons (my favorite is the last one):

1.) I took a Thailand Workcation.  
This was mixture of play and work.  But the main objective was:


“Do work, by a beach”.  

That was the motto of the trip:

2.) Scheduling creative writing times with other bloggers/entrepreneurs.  
Simply being around other people who are working towards similar things really helps.  On some Wednesdays I invite a couple people over to have “Creative Writing Time”.  The rules are you have to be WRITING something:

Here’s me, Noah Kagan, and Ryan Holiday in a pool (even thought it’s 50 degrees outside):

3.) Keeping accountable with other entrepreneur peeps.
My friend Billy from Forever Jobless and I are meeting with a select group of people every month, and the lessons learned are awesome.  It almost makes you wanna do a lot of stuff before each call.

4.) Co-working when I’m not being productive.  
Simply working around another person makes me more productive.  I dunno why, but it sure works!  I just call people up and see if they want to work.

5.) I put up a giant mirror in front of my workspace.  
Instead of a guitar sitting right there, I now see my monthly/quarterly goals staring me in the face.  Sure kicks me back into gear.

6.) Using Self Control App.
But I think one of my FAVORITE new things I’ve tried, is nuking the time-wasting sites I use.  I do this using Self-Control App.

I added a blacklist of: Digg.com, CNN.com, Facebook.com, and Reddit.com.

When I click the “start” button on SelfControlApp, I can no longer access those sites for a certain amount of time (I’ll generally put it for 5 hours).

However I can still access Gmail, Google Docs, Aweber and all the other useful things I use online:

So….. 
If you haven’t been all that productive lately, at least one of these might help push you in the right direction!

Have a happy Thursday :)
Neville – A very lazy man

P.S.  Oddly enough this Wednesday I spent from 7am till 7pm fiddling around with WordPress stuff.  I actually had a lot of fun doing it!

It reminded me of college when I took computer science classes (which I got kicked out of the first year) and would sit at a coffee shop with headphones in and work on my laptop till 6am.

It’s weird how THAT sounds fun to me!
#letsgetnerdy

Have you ever heard someone say…..

Have you ever heard a girl say:


“OMG I HATE DRAMA!!  I can’t STAND people with drama!”

I’ll take a solid bet that crazy b*tch has some DRAMA going on!!!!

If she HATES drama so much, it probably means she goes through so much drama, that she hates it.


Have you ever heard a person say:

“HOLY BEJEEZUS I HATE MONDAYS!!”

One.) Who still says ‘holy bejeezus’??

Two.) What this person MEANS to say is, “Boy do I hate the work I PERSONALLY have to do for 5 weekdays in a row, starting with Monday.”

Three.) This person in blaming “Monday” as being the enemy….not their shitty job.

People who don’t feel what they’re doing is “work” generally don’t complain about it much.


These types of negative attitudes shown above might seem pretty harmless, but when people agree with you after saying those statements, it re-enforces the bad behavior in you.

You: “I hate people with drama.”
Other person: “Yeah people with drama totally suck.”

You: “God I don’t wanna go to work tomorrow, Monday suuccckks!!”
Other person: “I’m withya man.  Wish I could have another day off.”

See what happened?

You completely get off the hook for YOUR shitty mindset.

Instead of doing anything about reducing drama in your life or making your work life better, you just continue on with the negative patterns and blame external things.  

I’m sure you’re guilty of this from time-to-time. I sure am.  

 

So here’s a little self-improvement task:
I want you to notice just one negative thinking pattern you have.

Basically any attitude where you blame SOMETHING ELSE other than yourself.  But in reality it’s YOU that can control that situation.

I want you to tell me what this attitude is because:
1.) I’m nosey.
2.) By writing it out, it’ll help you correct it (if you want to).

Leave a comment below and let me know what you blame on SOMETHING ELSE, but in reality it’s YOU that can control it:

Sincerely,
(Nosey) Neville

 

P.S.  I will be physically shipping FIVE NevBox’s to the best comments (worth $97/each).

I hate you stats (even though I need you)

Statistics can be complex for dumb people like me.  BUT they can be made super easy, if you display the stats in an easy way.

Here’s the kind of stats I personally like seeing:

This is a HEAT-MAP overlay of my site from my CrazyEgg statistics.  The more people click on a certain part of the site, the more it “heats up” on the image:

nevblog-crazyegg-stats-heatmap-550px

 

This is a CONFETTI overlay of NevBlog.com from my CrazyEgg statistics:
nevblog-crazyegg-stats-confetti-550px

Same stats in both pictures, but different types of presentation.

The point is within a SECOND you can tell what’s being clicked on….and what’s not being clicked on.

Now, my blog has been sort of “tweaked” because of these stats, so everything is getting clicked on a fair amount, but it wasn’t always that way.

The main goal was to tweak the site so the email signup gets lots of attention.  The next goal was to make sure all the links were at least semi getting clicked on. Then I removed all the stuff that NEVER got clicked on.

#ghettostats

 

 

BONUS COOL FACT:
On the confetti overlay, you can see these “lines” every few inches.  Those are from mobile users scrolling!  Cool!

top of staircase

Saw this pic on Reddit.  It was titled:

“My wife hung this above our staircase.  My work life and sex life immediately got better.”

show-some-fucking-passion

Cool ass trick to find people talking about your niche

Cool ass tip I just learned for finding people ACTIVELY talking about your niche/product/whatev:

1.) Google a word or subject. Like “wantrepreneur”.
2.) Under “More” in Google search bar, select “Discussions”.
3.) Under “search tools” select “past 24 hours”.

BAM. List of everyone talking about wantrepreneurs in last 24 hours.

You can chime into these discussions, see what they’re saying, use their language for your marketing, get ideas.  Whatever.

Use away.
-Neville

P.S.  Share or “like” this with friends or colleagues.  Extremely powerful research tool.