Wow… just wow! What an amazing weekend… certain to be one of the most memorable of my life. I’m sure you’ll soon see some feedback posted in the forums from people who attended the Conscious Growth Workshop in Las Vegas this past weekend, but for now I’ll share my thoughts on how it went.
This workshop definitely had a lot of variety, and it was clear that people were having fun. In addition to the lecture portions, we had a lot of audience participation. We did one-on-one work with several people on stage, written exercises, group exercises, sharing of results, and Q&A sessions.
I especially loved the Master-and-Servant exercises, which (in case you didn’t know) was inspired by the Depeche Mode song. It was really fun to see the room come alive with so much crazy activity in a matter of minutes.
I also assigned a lot of creative homework assignments to be conducted outside the meeting room in the city of Las Vegas. One exercise involved walking up to a stranger and saying something ludicrous to them like “Excuse me… can you tell me what year it is?” This was an exercise on overcoming approach anxiety and fear of rejection. Hearing the feedback on this was REALLY FUNNY. I especially loved it when Darby went into a sea of slot machines and asked someone to direct him to the nearest slot machine. And shortly before that he asked a cop if gambling was legal in Las Vegas. And yet another story from a different attendee involved insisting that a woman’s green blouse was actually red.
I’m a stickler for staying on schedule, so we did a good job of staying on time and didn’t have any big snafus there. Sometimes it took a while to get everyone settled, especially when people were returning from lunch, but we didn’t suffer problems like running an hour behind schedule or anything like that.
Every single attendee who registered showed up. I’d be told by my speaker friends that even for a workshop like this, I should expect at least a few no-shows. Not with this group.
The people who came to this workshop were just AMAZING. It was an absolute joy to hang out with them, and many people were sad to say goodbye at the end, including me.
I was super-impressed by just how social everyone was. Apparent about 40 people showed up to the 6:30pm pre-workshop meet-up at Caesar’s Palace, and I heard that some people didn’t leave till midnight. Shortly before I took the stage on Day 1, one person told me he already got his money’s worth just from that.
The ENERGY of having so many growth-oriented people together in the same place was WONDERFUL. I was so impressed at how dedicated everyone was to making this weekend a success. It was really unlike any conference or seminar I’ve ever been to. It felt more like a huge family reunion.
The LOVE being shared was also amazing. I was soaking it up and pouring it back out all weekend. There must have been thousands and thousands of hugs shared that weekend, even among people who wouldn’t normally consider themselves to be the huggy type. I definitely had more hugs that weekend than at any other weekend of my life — easily in the hundreds.
My Personal Experience
I really poured my heart and soul into this. Looking back, I can really say that I did my best. Today I feel totally spent.
Giving my best for 3 days straight was challenging to be sure. Quite honestly it was more tiring than doing a marathon. I feel like my mind and body were pushed to the limit. I am really looking forward to a couple days of downtime to rebuild my energy.
I didn’t get much sleep on the workshop nights… maybe 4 hours a night at most. Even though I was very tired at the end of each day, I was too keyed up to sleep much. When I slept I dreamt about the workshop, and my mind kept cycling through different permutations of how I could make things even better for the next day. One night I gave up trying to sleep and got up at 1am to go for a walk along the Vegas Strip.
This workshop was a real emotional roller coaster. There was so much love and connection, and I was definitely feeling that energy. We laughed a lot together and had a lot of fun.
Unexpected Lessons Learned
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was just how much energy I was burning on stage. I started out on Day 1 after a breakfast of 3 bananas (about 300 calories). I figured it was best to eat lightly throughout the workshop, so I’d be mentally alert and not bogged down digesting anything heavy. During some exercises I also took time to snack on more bananas and some grapes. I probably ate around 1500 calories before dinner on the first day. I figured that was reasonable because 2000 calories per day is about normal for me.
That turned out to be a big mistake though. I felt unusually tired at the end of the first day. I was famished at dinner time, gorged myself on more food than I thought I could fit in my stomach, and went to bed at 8:30pm.
The next morning I realized I needed to be eating a lot more, so I stuffed myself on a big breakfast, and my energy was significantly better that day. People noticed. Throughout the rest of the workshop, I stuffed myself with food at every meal. I even got up at 2am one night feeling very hungry, so I scarfed down an extra meal. I probably ate 3000-4000 calories on each of days 2 and 3. That really helped. I was burning through calories like I was doing 10-20 mile runs each day. This was quite a learning experience.
I also thought it would be best to eat 100% raw throughout the workshop so as to keep myself as clear and open as possible. That also turned out to be a mistake. When I ate fruit for breakfast, it made me too sensitive to other people’s emotions. It was causing me to yo-yo emotionally from the reactions people were having during each segment, which was very draining. So for breakfast on Day 2, I had a big salad with some oatmeal and cooked potatoes, and that helped a lot. The cooked food did a great job of buffering me from the various emotional spikes that were happening in the room, so I could focus on conducting the workshop.
I felt at my best mentally and physically when I delivered the final segment on spiritual growth. I felt an especially strong connection to the people in the room during that time as well. And I did that segment after a lunch consisting of two slices of vegan cheese and veggie pizza, a mixed greens and veggie salad, and a root beer. I doubt that segment would have gone nearly as well if I ate a raw meal before it. I’d have been too emotionally sensitive to people’s reactions, and it would have been harder to focus on the message.
This was a tremendous learning experience for me. My writing flows more easily and creatively when I eat 100% raw, but when I write, I’m usually cocooned in my office alone. Apparently for a live presentation, I practically need to do the opposite. I think I understand now why so many psychic mediums eat heavy meals and drink sodas after doing group readings. They need to disconnect from other people’s emotional energy, or they can’t function.
My body has that over-trained feeling right now, like it’s been pushed to the limit and needs to go into recovery mode.
Next time I do a live event, I’m going to remember to eat, eat, eat. And I’ll stick with mostly cooked food so I can avoid being bounced around by other people’s emotional waves.
This is actually a good example of how we align ourselves with the principle of Authority, which has to do with experimenting via trial and error to hone in on the sweet spot of effectiveness.
If you attended the workshop, I would LOVE to get your feedback on what you thought of it and how it impacted you.
The more detailed and specific your feedback, the better. Here are some of the questions I loved to have answers to:
- Which specific topics were most relevant and helpful to you (i.e. career, finances, habits, relationships, etc)?
- What did you think of the written exercises? The various creative exercises? The homework assignments? The one-on-one segments? The group sharing and feedback? The Q&A parts?
- What were you favorite parts of the workshop? What were your least favorite parts? What do you think we could improve?
- What did you think of the location and venue (Las Vegas, Harrah’s, the specific room we were in)?
- What did you think of the overall structure (Day 1 = principles, Days 2 and 3 = application)? Do you think there’s a better structure we could use?
- What did you think of the relationship segment that Erin and I co-delivered? Was it helpful for you to see how Erin and I relate to each other?
- What did you think of the other attendees? Would you have been interested in some structured social opportunities outside the workshop hours, such as having us host a big group party in the meeting room one evening? What if it required raising the price of the workshop a little?
- What did you think of the overall experience? How would you rate it on a scale of 1-10?
- How did this workshop impact you personally? Did it help you in your path of growth?
- What did you think of the price? Do you feel you received a good value from it?
- Would you recommend this workshop to someone else?
- Would you be interested in attending more workshops from us? If so, what topics are most relevant to you?
You don’t have to answer all these questions if it’s too much — just share your thoughts about it.
Even if you post your feedback online somewhere (a few bloggers have already posted their reviews), I’d really appreciate it if you could send me your feedback through the contact form. That way I can compile it all in one place, and Erin and I can use this info to make improvements for next time.
And remember, this is for posterity, so… be honest. 🙂
If you’re curious how well the workshop did from a financial standpoint, we grossed about $61K from it. Many people bought several copies of my book for their friends and family members. I sure signed a lot of books that weekend… way more than I signed when speaking at my book publishers’ conferences.
We didn’t spend a single dime to market or promote the workshop. All we did was announce on my blog, Erin’s blog, in our newsletters, and on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The cost to rent the room was $800 per day ($2400 total). Our biggest expense was for the video and sound guys and the three-camera setup. They were real pros and a pleasure to work with. We had had two paid staff members to handle the product table, mike running, etc. And there was the cost of various supplies (badges, handouts) and a few other odds and ends like stage decorations. Total expenses were in the neighborhood of $15K, so the net profit was about $46K. Not bad for a weekend.
If you divide the total revenue by the number of hours I was presenting the workshop, it turns out that I was earning about $1 per second while on stage. That’s a nice improvement upon the 17 cents per hour I earned during my first six months of blogging. 🙂
Obviously this event required many more hours of preparation and execution, but if we repeat it multiple times, then we stand to gain a lot of efficiency there. From a purely financial standpoint, it makes sense to do more workshops, even if we don’t spend any money at all to market them.
I’m sharing these figures for people who are curious about it. I figure people are going to ask me about it anyway, and I don’t have a problem being open about it.
Despite the financial success of the workshop, my primary motivation for doing this wasn’t financial — I think that would be obvious to anyone who attended it. This is simply something I really, really wanted to do. I thought it would be reasonable to share the financial results because I think it helps illustrate once again that it’s possible to enjoy financial abundance doing what you love.
I rather like that we can earn these kinds of sums for a weekend workshop. It suggests that we can expand in this direction and expect it to be financially sustainable for years to come.
Let’s see how many other bloggers start announcing workshops in the next year. I would imagine not too many though, since fear of public speaking (or lack of skill at it) is a big barrier to a lot of people.
Since my Toastmasters club has a meeting tonight, we invited workshop attendees who are still in town to come along as guests and check it out. Sixteen people from the workshop are planning to attend, and some carpooling has been arranged. Fortunately, our club’s meeting location is pretty close to the Strip.
Erin and I will both be at the meeting tonight, which is in just a few hours. Erin is actually our Club President, so people will get to her in a leadership role. It will be fun to see how my club members react when we show up with 16 guests. Our club is already the largest in Las Vegas with about 50 members, although a typical meeting draws about 30 people. But I’ve never seen anyone bring anywhere close to 16 guests before. Many clubs don’t even have that many members total. Most of these guests aren’t prospects for joining this particular club because they live in other cities, but it will give them a taste of what Toastmasters is like.
I just hope people don’t expect me to be very “on” tonight. I’m pretty brain dead from 3 days of presenting extremely deep material and giving my very best to the people there, and my voice is a bit raspy today, so I didn’t sign up for a role at tonight’s meeting. I’m not sure how coherent I’ll be if I get called up for Table Topics (impromptu speaking). My body and mind are running on fumes right now.
Will There Be Another Workshop?
I’d say that all signs point to yes. Some people commented that they couldn’t believe this was our first live event. We definitely set the bar pretty high right out of the gate. Even if we made zero changes, I’d feel really good about repeating this workshop as-is. But of course we’ll aim to make it better each time.
First, however, I want to gather up all the feedback and review it. I’m DELIGHTED with how the workshop turned out, but I’m sure there’s room for improvement. I know how it went from my perspective, but I need to better understand the attendees’ perspective. I spent about 30 minutes on the phone today discussing the workshop with one of the attendees already.
I felt that three days was just about right for this workshop. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don’t know what that would do to you. 😉
When I think about doing another workshop, my body says, “No, please… not that! Anything but that!” But my heart is already saying, “YES! YES! YES!” So I’m sure we’ll do another one. It’s just a question of time.
If there’s enough interest, we could also spin off a variety of related workshops that go deeper into specific topics, like the Conscious Career Workshop, Conscious Wealth Workshop, Conscious Relationships Workshop, Conscious Productivity Workshop, etc.
Since we need to give people enough advance notice for scheduling reasons, most likely the earliest we can do another workshop will be the first quarter of 2010. January might be tough though because we’ve got a week-long trip to Puerto Rico that month. The first limiting step is picking the date and booking the venue.
Most likely we’ll repeat the Conscious Growth Workshop in Las Vegas, at least for the very next one. I’m not sure it’s going to matter that much if we go to different cities because this workshop drew people from all over the world. The complexity goes up a lot when we start going to other cities.
The Big Picture
My ultimate long-term vision here is to help us create a more conscious planet. Conducting these workshops, improving the material, and refining the processes is a key step on this path.
As we all saw at the workshop, the mere act of getting a lot of conscious, growth-oriented people together in the same place is itself enough to spawn lots of growth experiences (it’s the principle of Love in action). I suspect that if we did nothing but gather such people together and let them mingle for a few days, people would find it very valuable and worthwhile. This gives me the idea that it could be fun just to host an unstructured group gathering now and then. We can call it the Conscious Growth Schmooze. 🙂