New York City Meet-up Update

October 15th, 2007 by Steve Pavlina

Erin and I are in our hotel room in Midtown Manhattan.  We’ve only been in the city about 30 hours so far, but it’s been a fun trip.  More on that later…  Right now we’re having some challenges with the NYC meet-up we planned to do on Saturday, October 20.  For those who are interested in attending, here’s the current situation.

First, about 85 people have already confirmed their interest in attending the meet-up, and we’re getting several more confirmations each day.  I’m sure there will be some no-shows, but many people are also saying they plan to bring friends and/or family members too, so we could easily have over 100 people.  While it’s great to see such numbers, that many people pose a real challenge.

When we did our Vegas meet-up in May, I think we had about 18 people show up, but only a dozen at any one time.  We just stood around in a circle and talked for a while, and then we broke into small groups or 2 or 3.  That worked very well.  But that approach won’t scale well to 100+ people at the same time.

How would a meet-up even work for this many people?  It could be chaotic.  If people want to talk to Erin and me one on one, we wouldn’t be able to talk to each person for very long if we want to be fair — maybe just a minute or two.  If we stick with one-to-many communication (like a group Q&A), people would have to squeeze in very close to hear us without a sound system.  I suppose the best outcome would be if people come and break into groups to talk to each other, but I can’t predict whether that will happen.

The weather in NYC is really nice right now (highs in the mid-60s F), but it’s supposed to rain the second half of this week.  The forecast currently shows that it may rain on the day of the meet-up.  So that makes it risky to commit to a meeting outdoors.  I’m also concerned that we’d need a permit if we invite 100 people to meet in the park.  It’s not clear to Erin and me if we’d need one or not.

We’ve been scouting for indoor meet-up locations, but we haven’t found anything suitable yet that’s available on Oct 20 and doesn’t charge an exorbitant fee.  A lecture hall setup isn’t ideal.  We didn’t really want to give a lecture or do an impromptu workshop — we just wanted the chance to meet people and talk.  Some places offer free or cheap meeting rooms for non-profits, but we don’t qualify.  While this is a non-profit meet-up (totally free, no product sales or upselling or anything like that), we don’t run a non-profit organization.

To top it off, Erin has received 21 requests for in-person readings during our trip, which would require 21 hours to do them all.  While it’s great to see that, she definitely won’t be able to do that many.  But that’s a separate challenge that is easy enough to resolve.

Erin and I have been trying to figure out what to do for the meet-up, but so far we don’t have a good solution.  Here are some of the options:

Location

  • Outdoors.  Have the meet-up in a public park outdoors, most likely either Bryant Park or somewhere in Central Park.  If it rains, it rains.  This isn’t so great if people have to use the bathroom either.
  • Indoors.  Try to find a suitable indoor meet-up location that will host us cheaply or for free.  Erin and I have limited time to look for a place, but if you happen to know of a good place that’s available Oct 20 and which can comfortably house 100 people (maybe more), let us know.  Otherwise we’re basically stuck with outdoors.
  • Scavenger Hunt.  Tell everyone the meet-up is in Central Park, but don’t be any more specific than that.  Whoever manages to find us can attend the meet-up.  Whoever doesn’t gets some exercise.  This should keep the group size manageable.  Yes, this is just a joke.  ;)

Meet-up structure

  • Chaos.  Just invite everyone to the same spot at the same time, and let it be as chaotic as it wants to be.  Whatever happens, happens.
  • Managed chaos.  Erin and I will try to spend a little time with each person one on one to be fair, even if it isn’t much, while encouraging everyone to talk amongst themselves.
  • Multiple meet-ups.  Erin and I could try to host smaller meet-ups throughout the week.  I’m not sure how much time we’ll have to do this, and there wouldn’t be much advance notice.  This can get complicated if we try to restrict how many people show up to each meet-up.
  • Limit the meet-up size.  Limit the meet-up to 20-30 people max, maybe on a first-come, first-served basis for the people who signed up first.  I really don’t like this option, but I’m throwing it out there.

So what do you think our best option is?  Maybe it’s something we haven’t thought of yet.  The challenge is that we don’t have a good grasp on why each person wants to attend the meet-up.  If you’re one of those people, please let us know what you’d most want from this meet-up.  Do you want the chance to talk to me and Erin one-on-one, do you just want a minute to meet us, do you want to see us do some group Q&A on the topics we write about, or do you want to meet other personal growth enthusiasts who are local to you?

Erin and I don’t want to cancel the meet-up.  But we want to be up front that it could be somewhat chaotic if we stick to the original plan.



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