Why I’m Not Going to SXSW or the World Domination Summit


I’ve had a LOT of people ask me recently if I would be at SXSWi or the World Domination Summit (WDS) lately.

Actually, they’ve kind of just told me that they would see me there. I guess the assumption is that EVERYONE will be there, so we may as well skip the question of attendance.

And really, that’s a pretty fair assumption to make. Most people that I know who are involved with businesses, blogs or somehow living a non-traditional lifestyle (or wanting to) are going to one or both of these events, and that’s awesome. I’m sure everyone will walk away with some new connections, some valuable information and a whole lot of inspiration.

I’m skipping both, though, and I’ll tell you why.

  1. I’m in Iceland. I do this whole 4 months in a new country thing, and though I sometimes hop to nearby countries to check out places I haven’t been yet, Austin and Portland are both old hat to me, and it kind of seems like cheating to bounce back to the States whenever there’s a fun conference going on. There are so many conferences these days, too, that doing so would be a dangerous precedent to set.
  2. The only reason that I would consider going would be to meet up with people, and I can do that anywhere. What’s more, I can do it BETTER anywhere else, because there won’t be the craziness/drunkenness/lack of sleep that always comes tandem with these kinds of conferences, so I’ll get a more legit experience, rather than meeting everyone’s ‘conference persona.’ I have an advantage here in that I travel so much, and I plan to use that advantage.
  3. I’m sure the presentations will be cool, but frankly I haven’t been to a conference yet that told me something new that I couldn’t find online. Mostly these things are excuses to get together and network/party with like-minded people, and the speakers are there to add legitimacy to the experience. I love networking and partying, but I do that most of the time anyway, so I don’t really need an excuse to do it more.
  4. I can’t help but shake the feeling that if everyone is at the same event, everyone will walk away with similar thought processes. I’m a big proponent of zigging when everyone else zags, and I find that generally avoiding big conferences helps me continue to think about things a little bit differently (whether for better or for worse).
  5. Finally, both events are set up to help people find what they are looking for – whether it’s connections or meaning or inspiration or resources – and I’m incredibly happy where I am, what I’m doing. I told a friend the other day that I couldn’t be more thrilled with life because if I died today, I could honestly say I died doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, and that’s a thrilling thought.

Those are the main reasons that I don’t attend, but you may notice that most apply almost exclusively to me.

Both conferences are going to be a hell of an experience for everyone who is going, and I’m especially excited for the folks going to the WDS. I hear from everyone that Chris G. is a hell of a guy, and my friends are attending are fantastic people, so you’ll be in good company.

Just remember not to get caught up in hype, take in what new information you can (and all of it with a grain of salt), and do your best to form some real bonds with amazing, interesting people.

Also: remember to apply all the motivation you’ll walk away with to your life, not just the few days you’re away at a conference. All too often people are only enthused and ‘making moves’ when surrounded by others who are doing the same; the real test is if you can continue to be just as motivated when you’re back in ‘real life,’ surrounded by people who just don’t get it.

Say hi to everyone for me!


  1. Agreed, the conferences seem to be more of a networking/cool party kind of deal.

    I’d rather spend that money on something else, a ticket somewhere else. I’m sure I could make some cool contacts but I’d rather do that in a more personal setting. I’m out going enough.

  2. Well said. I have always been in two minds about events like this in my niche. I have been to one and it had rave reviews. I didn’t rate it. I didn’t learn anything new and came away with a smaller wallet and no new knowledge. Shame really.

  3. It makes it hard for a few days while we sit and hear EVERYBODY that we’re following talking about these events 24 hours a day. The social value of the conversation drops when everybody’s live tweeting about the same thing.

  4. I’m new to this blogging world and often wonder about these conferences. I think one day I should go – just to go – but I have already been able to meet up with people on my own – like you said. I’m not going to lie – everyone is talking about it, so it makes me feel like I’m missing out on something. But your post made me feel better. :)

  5. I understand your decision. You’re choosing to do what will benefit you the most, which is sometimes a hard choice to stick to when both options are fun and people try to convince you to go to the big event.

    I have a similar (although geographically smaller) way of thinking. I’m doing engineering in university, and there are lots of fun events to go to with fellow engineering students. In first year I basically went to everything, but now I choose to go to fewer things. And it’s just a personal choice of what to do with my precious time.

  6. Refreshing to hear someone speak up about why they’re not going. I share a bunch of these reasons — I spend 6 months a year in Medellin, Colombia, and it’s just not affordable to bounce back to the US for conferences, especially as new ones keep popping up each year. I know Chris G’s Summit is going to be awesome though. My experience from the TBEX (travel blog exchange) conference in NYC last year was that there’s a lot of partying and networking (good stuff) but like you said, both can be done where you are now (and I am too)!

  7. Why do people feel the need to go to such events as these? It’s almost like the more popular something becomes, the more relevance it loses…

  8. Xin chao from Vietnam, Colin!

    Traveling gives a whole new perspective, one in which I oftentimes cannot find in my own home. Been to 6 countries in the past 3 months already, and though I wouldn’t consider myself a country-hopping junkie all of a sudden, I AM living my dreams and have also recently told a friend that if I died today, I would be very happy with the way I lived it.

    One day living the dream is one day less of hoping and wishing for the what-if. I’m glad you are living yours. :)

  9. I like your reasoning. I also Feel that this line of thought applies not only to these conferences, but life in general..
    I like that you are not “dissing the conference” but instead honoring the freedom within your life choices.

  10. Thanks for the great post Colin.

    I was feeling a bit disappointed that I would be skipping out on WDS to make my move to Japan this June, but this helped me put things back in perspective.

    Hope your having an awesome time in Iceland.

  11. Boo, Colin! But solid reasons, and I respect your honesty.

    Still, what if your fans wanted the opp to meet you? I don’t exactly plan on being in Iceland anytime soon. Ha! Maybe you wouldn’t get much out of the conference, but there are those of us new to the game that would certainly enjoy meeting people like you. :)

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