Category Archives: Events

FinCon 2016

Went to San Diego recently for FinCon 2016.  It’s a financial blogger conference, of which I was one of the first financial bloggers online!

This blog originally started just to track my finances and what I made.  As the numbers got larger, more and more people would just copy everything I did which got frustrating, so I stopped.

However there is now a huge financial blogger community (FinCon this year was 1,000+ attendees) which is neat.

Here’s some of my memories from it:

Ate at El Puesto (twice)!  They even has filet mignon tacos!
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Took at ride in Pat’s Tesla X.  That thing is so fast. Even though it’s a 7-seater family SUV, it can beat any Ferrari or Lamborghini to 60mph!
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There were tons of cool yachts right outside the hotel:
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….may have (or may have not) snuck onto a few of them:
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I liked it when people organized private dinners outside the conference because it made meeting other people much easier and in a quieter and more intimate setting:
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The hotel was great and had balconies and amazing views:
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Photobombed by seagull:
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Went with Patrick, Noah, Jenn, Jordan to a cool taco spot in a hipster-ish area of San Diego and also coffee shop:
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Being a rebel in the gym. Plz don’t rat me out to the police ;)
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Another private dinner:
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Hung with Steve a bunch:
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A group of us took a trip to In-N-Out Burger with Jordan and a couple other peeps! I got a double with cheese and fries.  I got hungry just typing that :)
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Did this cool escape room thing!
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Hahaha…..Noah in his room prepping for his keynote speech.  He gave away $8,000 in cash + lottery tickets during the speech!
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Rented bikes and went for a quick bike ride + beer:
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The weather and sunsets over the San Diego Marina were ridiculously pretty:
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Expert Breakout Sessions:
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Steve’s session:
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Pre Noah’s Keynote with PT:
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Lol @ Noah sitting on the ground before waiting to go up:
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Noah gave literally the best keynote speech I’ve ever seen!  Really stepped it up on this one.  People laughing the whole time, $8,000 + lotto tickets given out to crowd, great message, lots of concrete examples, and super funny!
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Good times!

SF in August

For most of August I took a trip to San Francisco:

1.) Because it’s currently crazily hot in Austin and my brown skin can’t take it. SF weather is perfect for me.
2.) Because SF is the tech hub of the world.  Nothing even remotely compares.

So since I forget everything within a week, here’s some random pics from the trip so Future-Neville can remember it!

First stopped in San Diego:
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Then arrived in SF:sf2

Sid The Dog picked me up:
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Hung out at TheHustle offices:
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Bought a scooter for the trip to ride around Glen Park:
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Even had a little workout station at the house:
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Took a few hikes.  Saw a dude selling refreshments on top of one of them!
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Made a PitBullBurrito:
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The WeWork at Civic Center was home to several work sessions:
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Held an office hours from a little room there:
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Gus the Dog:
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….helping me write a story:
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Yummm:
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Met up with Chandler Bolt:
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This pup!
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Photobombed:
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Happy to go on a boat!
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….then realized he hates boats:
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Out on the Bay:
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Drive-by of Alcatraz:sf20

Sam docking:
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Classy boat dog:
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Boat Dog at Angel Island:
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Under the Golden Gate:
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Dinner with Jordan Harbinger, Noah Kagan & Neville:
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Dinner….we all ordered the same salmon dish!
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Boat:
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Golden Gate Entrepreneur:
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Austin friend JR:
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Lunch with some entrepreneur peeps:
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Had ice cream made with liquid nitrogen:
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….and I totally ate it all!
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Latenight WeWorking:
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Went to the Founders Fund offices to hang:
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….the lunch was awesome:
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Blanket Bull:
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Sid “guarding” my room and guitar:
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Had Soylent’s new coffee version…was actually pretty good:
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Some drunk guy bumped into our group, made awkward conversation, then left.  No biggie.  5 min later waitress brought us 25 shots…..that dude bought them for us for some reason.  Weird!
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Working out of Facebook:sf40

Facebook lobby:
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Facebooking….but the productive kind:
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Drank Facebook coffee.  I’m 98% sure it was just regular coffee :)sf43

Upstairs at FB overlooking the other campus across the highway:sf44

Hangin with Stepan at FB:
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The FB cafeteria:sf46

“What is this….a building for ants!?!”
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FB HACK:
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PitBull Bookstand:
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The Apple Store at Union Square is one of the best designed and architected retail spaces I’ve ever seen!
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Rented a drop-top for cruising around the peninsula:sf50

Top up:
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Hanging out with Steve Chou in Mountain View:sf52

Saw my buddy Ryan Holiday talk at Google:sf53

Google Nev:
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Good times!

Saw Madeline Albright speak

My current interest in politics: 0.0000001%

I’m sure that will change throughout life, but currently it’s super low.

HOWEVER…..I do find the process of running a campaign fascinating.  It involves:

  • Fundraising hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Forming alliances.
  • Playing strategies.
  • A bunch of shady “scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-your-back” deals happen.

Plus I think this is what super rich people do.

It seems when each economic class moves upwards, they discover something:

Poor: “Oh wow! I can learn valuable skills that will make me more money.”

Middle Class: “Oh wow! I can create my own income and don’t have to work for somebody else.”

Rich: “Oh wow! I can actually switch out the people who make the rules.”

For this reason I went to go see Madeline Albright (former secretary of state) speak at a private house.  I had to pay money to attend:

madeline-albright-speaking-house madeline-albright-speaking

 

Visiting an offshore oil rig (on land)

I visited an offshore oil rig my dad helped design, it was pretty cool getting to actually go on one (normally it’s NOT a thing visitors get to do)!

These are huge billion+ dollar projects with thousands of parts from hundreds of different suppliers.  Cool too see projects of this scale come together:

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Something I found interesting:
To get this platform built and setup costs about 1 billion dollars.  It can pump roughly $5,000,000/day in oil.

Assuming there’s only 300 full-production days per year, that’s still $1.5billion/year for 10+ years.  This rig will probably scrounge up $10 – 20 BILLION in oil over the years.

Wow….oil ain’t a bad business!!

LA, India, Japan

Hamma yamma.

I was out of town for about a month starting Dec. 29th, with a ski trip to Vail right before that.

It was Los Angeles for New Year’s, india for a few weeks, then Japan for 8 days.

Unfortunately I’m forgetful and won’t remember any of it, so I’ll post certain pictures here, and in the future when I see a few pics, all the memories will flood back!  Hooray for having a blog!

I’m literally making this post whilst at a SuperBowl party right now, so it’ll be kinda lame:

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A Kopywriting Konference

So this past weekend I was at a conference called “Titans of Direct Response.”

As you may know, the copywriting industry had some of it’s infancy in the the direct-mail industry.

Back in the days before the el interneto, people would send physical mail.  So it was hella expensive to reach a large audience.

So if you wanted to broadcast your message to a large audience in the 1900’s, you could either:

  • Advertise on the TV.
  • Advertise on the radio.
  • Advertise in magazines.
  • Advertise through the mail.

There were a lot of advantages to selling through direct mail.  For one you could TEST different advertising messages to smaller samples, like 1,000 people get mail with pictures, 1,000 people get mail without pictures, and then you can compare which set generated more sales.

The reason copywriters became so crucial back then, was it was EXPENSIVE AS HELL to test this stuff.

Not to mention back in the day it wasn’t so simple to get 1,000’s of letters printed up (today you can literally do it from a desktop printer and a laptop, but not back then).

So it may cost you $2,000+ to send out a single test to 1,000 people.  Since so much money was on the line each time, it was crucial to have someone experienced in sales copy to be writing these letters so you could at least make your money back.

 

…..well the conference I went to this past weekend in Stamford, CT. had all the famous veterans from that industry.

What’s cool is those guys who cut their teeth on direct mail for years generally ALSO kill it when they move to the internet.

The one’s who’ve been around for a long time know that whether it’s direct mail, email, radio, or TV….it’s all about the human psychology behind the purchase.  So they’re adaptable.

So some of the biggest guys in the industry were there including Jay Abraham, Dan Kennedy, and Joe Sugarman (I’ve read the books of every single one of these guys).

Price to get in: $3,500.
Chartered cars: $400
Hotel Room: $400
Flight: $500
Lessons Learned: Priceless.

Ripped-off joke from MasterCard: 100%   :-P

NOW HERE’S NEVILLE’S PERSONAL THEORY ON GOING TO CONFERENCES:
You can pretty much watch ALL of the speakers I saw on YouTube for free.  In fact you can probably get MORE information from each speaker for free on the internet.

So why go?

You don’t need to pay $5,000+ to read/listen/watch these guys speak from a stage.  However it’s NEVER about watching the speakers on stage that makes a conference worth it.

It’s about the friends you make at the conference.
It’s about the small connections you make that might turn into something more.
It’s about the “oh yeah I know that guy” conversations you have after the conference.
It’s about getting to hang out with the bigshots in the room in a casual environment.
(And my number one….): It’s about taking hella notes in the conference and then getting to read them later!

I. Love. Taking. Notes.

Mainly because I suck at remembering things.  Like, I really suck.
So taking notes is the only way I remember stuff.

In a month I’ll look back at my notes and allllll the information will come flooding back.  But without the notes my memory is probably 98% erased from the conference.

So my notes are the most prized possession I have from the conference.  What’s funny is that MY notes may not actually mean much to YOU.  But to me they resonate.

So I’d like to share my notes right here.  Who knows, maybe you’ll get something out of them.

Neville's Financial Blog: Tracking the road to financial success

.zip download of 26 jpg images
-or-
.pdf download

Download the Transcribed notes if you can’t read my handwriting:
.pdf download
Word download

(Special thanks to David Lowry at kickball.com for getting these transcribed)!

So obviously one of the main reasons to attend a conference is to mingle with other like-minded nerds.  My friend Ryan did something cool whilst at the Titans of Direct Response conference:

He hosted a fancy dinner at The Capital Grille for 30 people.

He took care of the entire bill, and kind of “moderated” the dinner by assigning seats with people he thought would be good to meet each other.  He also made everyone go around the room and take 30 seconds to introduce themselves, and tell people what help they need.

I thought this would be super-annoying but it actually turned out to be pretty cool.  You got to hear a brief blurb about everyone’s companies, and they get to pose one question they need help with.

Often it was something like “We need help finding more people who do Google AdWords.”  Almost immediately several people would chime in saying, “Hey I know the right guy for you.”

Instant connections made!

Neville's Financial Blog: Tracking the road to financial success

Neville's Financial Blog: Tracking the road to financial success

The highlight was Jay Abraham was at the same restaurant having dinner with his family, and he stopped by to say a few words and even bought the entire group bottles of champagne!

Neville's Financial Blog: Tracking the road to financial success

Neville's Financial Blog: Tracking the road to financial success

Incidentally Jay Abraham was the author of one of my favorite business books ever (Ask Noah, I mention this book all the damn time).  So I brought my well-used copy of the book along to the conference hoping Jay Abraham would sign it.

Success!  Clearly excited for him to autograph my book:

Neville's Financial Blog: Tracking the road to financial success

titans-joe-and-jay

Neville's Financial Blog: Tracking the road to financial success

An interesting side note about this little inscription.  He wrote it with a regular pen on the inside cover whilst standing up.  This means it was VERY difficult to write on since it isn’t a hardback cover.

And it took him quite a while to write out this inscription.  Halfway through I told him, “You know…..I kind of just expected you to write “Jay” on the inside, you don’t have to write much more.”

He responded with something like: “You know, I could easily just write something short, but if I take 30 extra seconds to sign this properly, you’ll much more likely remember this forever.”

(that was paraphrased based off my poor memory).

It’s kind of cool that the most in-demand guy in the room was the one who took the MOST time.

Notice he even wrote out “Kopywriting career”!!!

Welp….that was my experience at Titans Of Direct response.  If you have the patience to read through my poorly-scribbled 26 pages of notes, be my guest!

You can download the notes here:

Neville's Financial Blog: Tracking the road to financial success

.zip download of 26 jpg images

-or-

.pdf download

Download the Transcribed notes if you can’t read my handwriting:
.pdf download
Word download

(Special thanks to David Lowry at kickball.com for getting these transcribed)!

Sincerely,
Neville Medhora – Future Titan

HustleCon 2014 – I went, I spoke, but Sam made $40K from it

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.

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“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!

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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.

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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.

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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

Burning Man was Awesome

I thought Burning Man was a festival for weird-ass hippies.

I mean here’s what happens:

  1. People drive hundreds of miles out into the middle of the Nevada desert.
  2. They endure hot days and cold nights.
  3. There are no permanent utilities around.  So no water/electricity/phone.
  4. They must bring everything with them, and leave with everything also.

Who the hell would do that for FUN??

But then I was constantly hearing of people I admire going to Burning Man over-and-over, and it got me curious that maybe there’s something more to this event.

SO this year (2014) I got invited by a couple of friends who had already been many times.

They got a hold of a couple of nice RV’s and also got a ticket for me (which are generally quite hard to get a hold of).  They also had everything planned out.

Essentially all I had to do was pack a suitcase and get myself to Sacramento, CA.

SIDE NOTE:
My interest in going to Burning Man was right about here:

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If my friends hadn’t invited me with the promise of relatively low effort on my part, I wouldn’t have gone.

They DID say despite the fact we’ll have a nice RV and plenty of supplies, it would STILL be uncomfortable and difficult to be there at times.

But hey, I’m an Eagle Scout.  I should be able to handle this!

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(If you can wear THIS in public without getting beat up, you can handle some dust and heat)!

Our plan was to meet in Sacramento, pickup this nice RV, raid a Whole Foods, raid a WalMart for general supplies and bikes, then drive out to the desert.  We were like a yuppie version of the Beverly Hillbillys!

So anywhoozle, the day before Burning Man I started gathering supplies.  I went to a costume store called Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds and bought some outfits and masks.  I gathered up warm clothes for the cold nights, and protective clothing for hot days.

I took along plenty of toilet paper and portable Wet Wipes.  I bought a CamelBack for water on the go.  I bought synthetic fiber boxers that would withstand long walking commutes mixed with very hot weather.

In general I over-prepared for the event.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m gonna travel way lighter next time (keep in mind having an RV helped with this a lot).

I watched about 3 different documentaries about Burning Man that day, and read about 10 different articles.

After consuming all that information, I was still confused about what the hell Burning Man was!  However it seemed cool and I started getting more and more excited.

So on a Thursday I hopped a flight to Sacramento, CA. and took an Über over to the Whole Foods parking lot 30 minutes from the airport.

The parking lot was not fit for large vehicles, so I kind of insinuated my ride was here when this massive 40 foot RV pulled up:

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So basically we brought a house with us and filled it with good food (some of my camp-mates complained they only brought really crappy food one time, so this time we loaded up with good stuff).

We stuffed up two full shopping carts from Whole Foods, then jaunted on down to a Wal-Mart.

At Wal-Mart we picked up goggles (a MUST have at Burning Man), bicycles (another MUST have), lots of water, lots of glow stuff (a MUST have at Burning Man for safety reasons), and other general supplies you’d normally associate with camping.

Besides the obvious stuff like water and food…..I think the GREATEST purchases I made for the Burning Man trip were: A cheap $79 bicycle, glowing stuff for the bikes, my CamelBack backpack, eye goggles with a nice tight seal around your face.

So now we were finally ready for the trek out into the desert.

We thankfully got to the entrance gate very late at night, so there was no traffic.  Otherwise it was common to wait in the hot sun for 6 to 12 hours just to get through the FIRST gate!!!  Yikes.

I’m gonna fast forward now over some details, but I’m gonna write this short bullet-point list for my own personal memories for the future when my brain forgets:

  • The “Lost Tickets Incident” and how we pulled it off with the W Hotel concierge selfie with our tickets.
  • Our not-so-welcome entrance in the wrong spot and our very drunk neighbor from Amsterdam.
  • Team Proton RV.

So finally we get parked and settled (keep in mind most people are already at Burning Man, and we were late-comers, so people don’t particularly like it when you park a 40ft RV next to them mid-way through Burning Man.

We had a rough (but fun) entrance into Burning Man.  We were a 4-person crew in our RV and we all worked well together.  Everyone pulled weight and no one complained.  It was a solid team.

And then….it was time to explore!!  I believe we went out around 11pm, which is super early to go out.  We walked for our first excursion.

  • Goggles.  Check.
  • CamelBack.  Check.
  • Weird costumes.  Check.
  • No ID.  No money.  Check.
  • Time to go!

The sheer amount of “stuff” just going on around you at Burning Man is incredible.  Whether you’re in a “residential” area with camps, or the main playa……there’s literally stuff everyyywwwhheereee.

Want to find a party?  Walk 8 ft.

Want to see people in crazy outfits.  Look in any direction.

Want to howl at the moon like a crazy person, go for it.  No one will bat an eye….and people might even join you.

Want to go up to a random person and hug them?  They’ll hug you back.

Want to climb up on a giant moving art sculpture that seems really dangerous?  Go for it.

The idea behind Burning Man is radical self-expression and self-reliance.

At night every single person is glowing in some form, because it gets so damn dark in the desert at night that you can’t see a thing.  So if you’re not glowing, it’s actually kind of a hazard to yourself and others.  You’ll probably get clocked by a bicycle.

Across the main Playa there are art cars, pedestrians and bikes all zipping around in all different directions.  And if you’re not lit up in some way, no one can see you.

On top of that it gets dusty outside sometimes, so everyone is wearing goggles on their face.  So you look around as walk, and it’s like you’re at a big glow-party on the moon!

Then you might see a MASSIVE pirate ship with a concert-grade sound system and thousands of lights slowly chugging along the desert floor.  And naturally you run after it and join the dance party as it traverses the desert.

I’m not exactly sure who funds these massive art cars or how they even get here (the quality of engineering and sound and light coming from those things was incredible), but they are awesome.

It was mainly a big party at night.

I would have no phone, no camera, no cash on me.  Just the elements for survival (aka water).

It was also cool to see the love in the air at Burning Man (that sounded way hippie).

It would be very frequent to see this occurrence play out:

Two people lock eyes.  They say “Welcome home brother.”  Give each other a big hug.  They both go on their own separate ways.

Seems cheesy, but it was quite nice.  It has no sexual connotation to it.  Rather it was very loving in the agape sense.

(FYI “Welcome Home” is a common phrase there because the story is once you go to Burning Man, it is your home).  I thought it was a cheesy thing at first, but it quickly grew on me.

You unplug.
You are friendly to everyone.
You are surrounded by creativity.
It just physically looks crazy awesome.
You are self-reliant, yet need everyone else there to make it happen.

AppSumo Napa Valley Workcation 2014

Soooo this last week was pretty cool :)

The whole AppSumo Team was going on a Workcation to Napa Valley on April 21st – 26th, and put this post out:
napa-appsumo

So not only does the whole AppSumo Crew get to go on a workcation, but we invite 10 people to come work with us and we’ll help them with their businesses.

Needless to say, just like the AppSumo Seattle Getaway in 2013, it sold out hella fast.

So on April 21st, 2014 we hopped a plane to San Francisco.  Here’s some of us at the airport:IMG_4135

Picking noses:
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We tried to fit 6 team members into an SUV, but with luggage it didn’t workout…..so instead I rented a 2014 BMW and drove that the whole time.

Don’t worry, we drove it “very gently”  ;-)IMG_4140

After a 1 1/2 hour drive from the airport we arrived at the country house which is in the Napa Valley area.

There were two houses rented so everyone could sleep relatively comfortably (at the last house in Seattle a lot of people ended up sleeping in random-ass places because there wasn’t enough space in all the rooms).

The main house was AWESOME!!  It was a 33 acre estate with a:

  • Vineyard
  • Private lake
  • Paddle boards and kayaks
  • Water trampoline
  • Land trampoline
  • Outdoor gas fireplace and wood fireplace
  • Hot tub
  • Olympic-sized pool
  • Bocce Ball court
  • Basketball court
  • Tennis court
  • Workout room
  • Wine cave
  • HUGE house with 8 or 10 rooms plus billiards room
  • Private chef
  • Full outdoor seating and cooking area

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Everyone sitting around the fire pit for introductions:
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Private tour and tasting of vineyard wine by The Wine Spies:
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Noah looking hella shady:
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Aaron Batalion on the left (one of the founders of LivingSocial) was hanging with us at the house, spoke to people about bidnaz, and went on the winery tour with us:
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TAKING A SELFIE OF OTHER PEOPLE TAKING A SELFIE:
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The second house:
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Everyone congregating and working and discussing:
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Chilling by the fire was my favorite thing.  I realized that a gas fireplace is SO much better because it requires no cleanup like a traditional fire, and your clothes don’t stink like smoke!
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Private tour of the greenhouse and farm before eating at Ad Hoc.  Andrew Warner of Mixergy was with us:
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Oh man the food was good!!  It looks so “normal”, but it was truly an awesome meal:
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Goofing off while Andrew Warner speaks to everyone:
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He should interview me about how to do handstands!
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I stole someone’s dog while taking notes:
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On the way back home I flew Virgin Air for the first time….and it was AWESOME.  Since I just had such a cool trip in a mansion in Napa Valley, and dropped off my white BMW….I figured I may as well upgrade to 1st Klass (only $139 extra from San Francisco to Austin)!?

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It was actually the best domestic first class I’ve ever been in.  Good job Virgin Air!IMG_4278IMG_4280

 

Aaaannnddd that was my trip for the Napa Valley Workcation.  A good combination of getting work done, helping people with their businesses, and goofing around.