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

Pigeons, Ducks and Swans on Reykjavik Lake


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!