Episode 122 // Hosting Offline Events

May 2, 2017

Get offline and in-person. Today we’re talking all about hosting and attending offline meet-ups and retreats. We’ve noticed a trend in people shying away from the internet lately and craving more offline time, so we’re talking about how to mix the offline and online in your business.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"People are going to start attaching those connections they made at your meet-up to your brand."
- Kathleen Shannon

Discussed in this Episode

  • Are people running away from the internet?
  • The changing landscape of social media and ecourses
  • In-person lunch dates & coffee dates
  • Local workshops
  • How to find local meetups
  • Attending small retreats
  • Creating your own retreat
  • Pros and cons of hosting your own retreat
  • Making money from retreats & using sponsors
  • Getting help to plan your in-person event
  • Starting small with in-person events

Resources

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.

Transcript

Kathleen Shannon 0:01
Hello, and welcome to being boss,

Emily Thompson 0:04
a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Unknown Speaker 0:07
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Emily Thompson 0:13
Today we're talking about hosting and attending offline meetups and retreats. And as always, you can find all the tools, books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss dot club.

Kathleen Shannon 0:27
Here's the deal. No matter how you feel about social media these days, you kinda need it, especially if you're running an online business. I used to think that I needed to get on Twitter every single day to promote my work, guest interviews and interesting articles until I found Meet Edgar. Edgar is a social media scheduling tool where you upload your content into a library that it will cycle through. It's consistently sharing your best content for you. So you can stay off social media and do the stuff you're best at. Try Edgar for two weeks for free. no credit card required at WWW dot Meet Edgar comm slash being boss. Okay, so Emily, this is something that we've been talking about lately. It's a trend we're noticing. And it's maybe freaking me out a little bit. But have you noticed that everyone's running away from the internet right now?

Emily Thompson 1:21
I mean, do you blame them? I don't we were just in a in a clubhouse office hours talking about how we're all deleting Facebook, from our phones and how we're spending Well, maybe not in there. But I've been talking to people about how people are taking more walks now than ever before people are getting outside and doing things or enjoying reading physical books. Oh, this is a fun trend. I want to talk about physical books. Because I've had multiple people telling me lately that they don't want to read on their Kindles or their phones or their iPad, they want to hold books in their hands. So everyone who was freaking out a couple of years ago thinking that books and libraries were going to disappear forever. I think that that was just a nasty trend that may be swinging back the other way.

Kathleen Shannon 2:05
But we have made our businesses online. And I was just telling you this, I was just in Chattanooga with you for our offline retreat, which was super exciting. And we'll get into that. But I want to talk a little bit more about what's happening with the internet right now. Because I think it's really important. And I was talking to you about how in the grand scheme of things, we're still at the forefront of making money online, like this is still a relatively new thing. And in the time that we've been doing this, I feel like this is one of the first times and maybe it's just perception, maybe it's just that we're coming out of winter, and in the election and all the things that kind of put everybody at a grinding halt. Um, but I still am feeling for the first time like, Hmm, maybe the internet doesn't have legs. I don't think that's true. But do you know what I mean?

Unknown Speaker 2:57
Yeah, for sure. I

Emily Thompson 2:58
mean, I definitely agree that we're at the forefront like the internet's not going anywhere. But I do, I do think it's important to stay very mindful of the trends. And we've talked about this a lot like because we are always online, and not even always, because we do live so much of our lives online. Because we are always tapped in to the internet and what's happening on social media. And all the things we do have like our finger on the pulse of what is happening. And we are seeing a definite trend that people are enjoying getting offline, which I have to tell you, even as someone who makes some money offline or online, I'm so glad to see people disconnecting just a little bit, and experiencing the world around them a little more one on one. So I agree, I think that I think this is a fun thing I am going to enjoy watching. But I'm also going to enjoy not only watching it happened, but what happens from it happening. So for us, and this is something that we've loved tapping into here at being boss always is those offline interactions. It's getting back in touch with face to face conversations. Maybe still meeting people on the internet, which I've realized I've met all of my favorite people on the internet. But making the investment and meeting up with them face to face for real world interactions that involve food together, or walks together or chats together when you're in the same space. Which I think is where retreats come in. I've been seeing so many retreats. I like lots of courses, but also lots of retreats. And I think that I think that's a trend I will certainly ride as long as I can.

Kathleen Shannon 4:46
Yeah, I think that you know we trust ourselves enough that that we're boss enough that we can go with the flow. And if we are feeling like people are running away from the internet filling a space offline is Well, so some of the stresses that I'm feeling with the internet right now are a few things I'd like to address like one is the election and the economy. I feel like no matter what side of the camp you lean on the internet is not as a very stress free place. Like it's very stressful to be on your phone or on Facebook, particularly I noticed in Facebook and seeing people's opinions about politics. And that's great. And all until it just riles up a fire in your soul that you can't seem to extinguish and that you wake up in the middle of night thinking about so for me, I've had to just completely disengage from Facebook, I've even had to be careful about whenever I swipe to the right on my phone. And that little news, yeah.

Emily Thompson 5:46
That that one hurts me too. It's a trick. So

Kathleen Shannon 5:49
I'm definitely writing this balance on the Internet of staying informed and engaged and you know, like as a smart citizen, informed citizen, but then also not becoming consumed by all of the things

Emily Thompson 6:02
right and still living your life, which I think is super important to do.

Kathleen Shannon 6:07
The other thing is, and I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this, because we both have online courses that people can buy and do. But there is starting to feel like an oversaturation of courses. Now, I don't quite know how I feel about this, because I remember whenever everyone felt like, blogging was a saturated market, and now I can't find a good blog to save my life. That's not entirely true. But I feel like there are so many actually. So maybe I'm proving myself wrong. Like there is so much that it's hard to weed through what's good and what isn't. And I feel like the same thing is happening with online courses. So that kind of freaks me out a little bit. How do you feel about that, Emily,

Emily Thompson 6:47
I so it's funny that we bring this up, because at time of airing this, I will have probably already launched my course for making a course of your own. Because I still wholeheartedly believe in creating courses and having that that extra stream of revenue in a business, especially if you're an information business, but also for product businesses. So if you want to learn more, and the show biography.com, you'll find it there. But I do believe that people go online to get educated now, I think our education system is completely fucked in so many ways. And I think that I think that the internet will continue to be an alternative to traditional education, I do see a shift in or a shift coming and a shift happening right now, in the kind of money that you can make with a course, I think Gone are the days of you being that like unicorn who comes out with this course that's never been heard before heard of before, and you making, you know, eight figures, or whatever on this course, I think it's going to go much more towards creating small courses for your small audiences to give you that little bit of extra income to supplement your one on one services or your product sells or whatever. So I do think that there is an inundation, I do think that everyone has them, I think that that will continue to be a thing, I think people have them because it's important to have that extra stream of revenue. But I do think that the reality of creating a course that's going to blow up overnight or even within the course of a couple of years is going to become less and less of a reality, that is not going to be something where you create a course and that becomes your business model. And that's going to be a lot harder to do. But I do think that it could be very supplemental. So there definitely is a shift in the trend there. But one that I see still being viable for a really long time, I think the internet is the future of education.

Kathleen Shannon 8:45
I love that. So I what I've experienced with my own ecourse, which is the braid method ecourse is that one, it's a really great positioning and marketing tool, it's like good to have a thing to talk about. And it's good to have a thing that people can buy, even if they don't necessarily buy it, I think it's really good for your brand, to have a course. And to do it really well, which is why everyone should probably take your course in courses like you were the person who actually made me do a braid method breathing a course. And it really helped me expand my brand and deepen my point of view. And in doing that has led into writing books. And who knows that course might even turn into a book one day. So I agree with you there. I will say that my strategy has changed. I remember at one point, I thought it would be so amazing if the course made up 50% of my income. And right now it's maybe it's hard to even say like 20% I'm throwing that number out there. I don't even know like what percentage of my income it is, but it's smaller. And I'm not going to put that 50% expectation on it moving forward. So that's the only thing that's really changing for me there. But I have thought like I wonder if I should just shut it down. I don't know I probably won't. But I have Notice this just oversaturation of courses. And I think that's freaking everyone out. But I'm glad all the points that you made are really great. Okay, the other thing I was thinking about whenever it comes to people running away from the internet, is the idea of metrics versus meaning. And I think this is where we start to get into retreats. Because publishing online is, it's become a metrics game. Like it's the buzz feeds and the CN ns and the people who can create content. It's like the Nikes.

Unknown Speaker 10:31
content.

Emily Thompson 10:32
I hate the fact that clickbait is a word like isn't that is even a real thing drives me absolutely insane.

Kathleen Shannon 10:40
But it's a thing like publishing online as a metrics game, while having conversations in person is about meaning. And I think meaning, creating meaning in our lives is what creative entrepreneurs right now are really craving. And what better way to get meaning than in those face to face conversations, where those conversations like there's just an energy that happens whenever you get two people together. But that does not happen in the same way even over Skype. And whenever you're in person together, more jokes might come out.

Emily Thompson 11:14
Lie but you laugh.

Kathleen Shannon 11:17
me laugh non stop whenever we're together in person. Yeah.

Emily Thompson 11:21
And and I think that's I, whenever I think about what I want to be doing with my life, I mean, part of me Sure is like, let's let me sit alone behind my computer and, you know, make money pop out of my, my desktop, like that sounds good and fine. But really, really, it's not about metrics. I hate playing the numbers game, I'm good at it, I'll do it, I understand its value, I know how to use it. But if I could sit all day on my front porch and have cocktails or tea with my friends, like, that's what I would much prefer, I definitely prefer the meaning over the metrics. Alright, so

Kathleen Shannon 11:57
then let's talk about what we're seeing people do offline. I've seen a few things. But I'm curious to hear from you. I wouldn't really distill it and start by like this very teeny, tiniest get together. And so I think of like an in person coffee date being the lowest barrier of entry whenever it comes to getting together with someone offline. So like one on one conversations over coffee. I'm curious, when is the last time you've had a coffee date, Emily? And what was that? Like?

Emily Thompson 12:24
I don't drink coffee. So never

Kathleen Shannon 12:27
tea, drinks, whatever you environment.

Emily Thompson 12:29
Oh, definitely, usually cocktails, it's probably been once the last time I did this, apart from Chattanooga, with all of you guys. Um, maybe three weeks ago, I have several people around town. So we moved here to Chattanooga a year and a half ago, a little over a year and a half ago. And I have like a handful of friends who we make sure we keep in touch with we're all older. We've all we're all transplanted here. We all know the value of keeping in touch with those couple of people in your life that you need to like, you know, keep yourself from becoming the hermit. And so we're all really good about about getting in touch at least once a month to meet up for cocktails or lunch, or porch set whatever it may be. So I would say within the past three weeks for sure. And I usually have one every week or every other week. It's important. What about you?

Kathleen Shannon 13:22
Yeah, I kind of put a moratorium on coffee dates, and lunch dates while I was writing the book. So I just kind of had this have a say no to everything policy. But I did just Schedule A girls date, which is kind of different from a coffee date. But it's with people who are all creative entrepreneurs, and they all own their own businesses. So we're going to go out to dinner more as friends than as in like a networking kind of way. But for the most part, I've actually had to start saying no to the one on one coffee chats. But it's something that I think I would maybe like to pick back up a little bit more, especially if we end up moving out of Oklahoma as a way to connect and make new friends and that sort of thing.

Emily Thompson 14:05
Yeah, I think once you move, it becomes easier and more important for you to do that. That's definitely something whenever I moved away from my hometown is something that became a practice of mine, I think it's something you can do. Obviously, whenever you are living in the place you've always lived. But it's less of a it's less of a need. Because you see everyone you know, when you go to the grocery store, or whatever it may be, it's easier to run into people you know, but whenever you are living somewhere that you did not grow up or maybe haven't spent, you know, 1520 years, it's you have to be more intentional about running into the people that you want to see.

Kathleen Shannon 14:41
I also think having a toddler kind of killed my social life.

Emily Thompson 14:45
For sure you are coming out on the other end of that I

Kathleen Shannon 14:48
just spend my time during work hours working and the time outside of work hours trying to keep my tiny human alive.

Emily Thompson 14:56
Definitely I think the season plays a lot into it as well. I'm a lot less likely to make any sort of plans when it is cold outside than I am. If it's hot outside, I'll be like out and about every day of the week.

Kathleen Shannon 15:11
Okay, another trend I'm seeing that I love so much are local workshops, and specifically around craft making, and doing things with your hands from learning how to make a cocktail to making fiber art. I'm seeing all these pop up workshops happening and I think it's so cool. And I personally want to attend and participate in more of these.

Emily Thompson 15:34
For sure I did this, um, I guess it was maybe three months ago, I did a workshop at the local tea shop, whose astrology workshop was the first time I'd ever left course it right, of course, it was first time I ever really like dove into something like that. legit, though, I'd picked up a couple of bucks. But it was so fun to meet sort of that community in my town and make those connections. And again, people that now I see around town, we recognize each other, which is a lot of fun. We've had a lot of those workshops and things popping up to I'm keeping my eyes out for more from that tea shop. If the tea shop is listening, you know who you are. And I really need some more workshops in my life. But I've seen some other ones as well. Our local like urban farm does a lot of them which David and Lily have signed up to a couple of those, I hope to be able to attend as well. And oh, there's a local florist that does flower arrangement workshops, which guys, I really want to learn how to arrange a bouquet.

Kathleen Shannon 16:35
Minus fiber art, I want to do some fiber art workshops. But I also think that there's an opportunity here for creative entrepreneurs to attend local workshops meet other creatives. But and we're gonna get into this a little bit more, but like hosting your own meetup and your own workshop. So even thinking about my husband, Jeremy, who is an electronics engineer who's trying to shift his career into self driving cars, he's been attending local meetups just around JavaScript, I have no idea what I'm talking

Emily Thompson 17:04
about. It sounds like a nerd fast. The glasses that meet up.

Kathleen Shannon 17:11
So I love that you're following the tea shop to see when they're hosting workshops. And I have a couple of people that I follow on my phone, or I see a friend that attended a workshop and I see where they attended that workshop. And I'll start following that video because they're really great about posting when things are going to happen. But I almost want to systemize it like on Monday afternoons, dig in and see what workshops are happening for the week, I wish that there was more of like an aggregated something. There's an app idea

Emily Thompson 17:39
for someone, there you go workshops and meetups and if there is one already shoot us an email. So Kathleen, and I can spend our Monday evenings finding our events for the week.

Kathleen Shannon 17:49
And I do think there is one called meetup actually, like this meetup app, it's probably not booming in Oklahoma City, who knows? Maybe it is maybe it is but um, some other and we'll talk more about good ways to find these meetups. But I think that really good ones to just hook into are really well established ones. Let me start that over. Let's just talk about this now. So I think the best way to find some local meetups is like hooking into one that's already established. So creative mornings, we were recently researching that because we're trying to design our own meetup system at being boss. So that all y'all can meet up with each other in your city. We're working on it. But we were looking at some other models of people who are doing this and creative mornings is awesome. Like, I feel like they're all over the world. And their

Emily Thompson 18:40
time spot though, guys, I get it, I do but I'm a creative.

Kathleen Shannon 18:48
And then there's also other groups and clubs like AI ga is one that I participated in a little bit. But I know there's something a little different between joining a club and attending a meetup or workshop. What I love about meetups and workshops is that it's kind of just obligation free, like maybe one time and you're done. Or you can like engage as much as you want to. I always felt a lot of pressure and things like AI ga to then be on the board or to contribute. Right? They

Emily Thompson 19:17
want you to feel that pressure. Good job. They won. Um, I know. And I think there's something there's something good about the difference too, between workshops and meetups, like for me meetups and like total introvert here, like I'm going to go with a friend, I'm not going to go by myself. And when I get there, like I'm going to choose a friend who likes to talk to other people more than I do for sure. Like I'm totally that person or you can find me by the doughnuts. But I love workshops because you're going to go you're going to have your seat you're going to have like people surrounding you, you're going to be making the thing you're not responsible for. You're not responsible for the interaction. And you're going to leave there with something which I think is really great. So I think there's something really powerful between workshop which maybe that's a good idea, or meetups or, or clubs because again it clubs is a whole other thing, which maybe I would probably like clubs more than meetups. I don't know. Everyone basically can decide what you like for yourself and go find it.

Kathleen Shannon 20:16
The idea is to get offline. Okay, so let's talk about small retreats. So I'm thinking like the first time I ever engaged in a small retreat was probably designer vaycay. year one, because there are only 20 people now it's like a bajillion, not a bajillion 100 ish. And I even think about my friend Sarah von bargen, who's been on the show before she did this DIY mastermind retreat for a few people that she's been hanging out with online for a few years, she emailed six of us and was like, Come hang in Mexico. And so it wasn't like an official retreat. But unofficially, we learned a lot. And we felt really energized, after all, hang with each other. And I learned a lot like, I will still give that retreat that we had in Mexico with each other credit for getting me excited about email marketing.

Emily Thompson 21:06
That's what I'll remember it for to you coming back and just being like, all right, all the things, all the things.

Kathleen Shannon 21:12
And then we just had our offline retreat in Chattanooga,

Emily Thompson 21:16
right? Oh, man, that was so much fun. My my history with retreats is similar. I think I've done maybe one or two in the past. So we're all really small. But this one in China was probably one of the biggest and like, by big I mean, there were 13 of us. It was not huge by any means.

Unknown Speaker 21:32
Wait, did you do one in what did you do in Paris was that blog shop?

Emily Thompson 21:36
Oh, I did do blogs. Yep, that was a workshop workshop. See, okay, workshop I went to, which is really great. I also did a yoga retreat a couple of years ago in Mexico, which I totally loved. So done a fun couple of fun little things. Again, I like activities, like paired with my meeting and hanging out with people give me something to do, and I'll be less likely to scoot away and take a nap. But for hours for Chattanooga, we were able to take like our joint experiences and things that we loved about the retreats and the traveling that we had done, and bring it together to do something that was being boss. And that was for us and the closest of our peoples, which I think was really fantastic. And I think that's, that's one of the things I want to talk about in terms of like the joy of creating retreats, one you have to go on retreat, you have to experience the thing and know what you do and do not like about things. So we were able to we were able to come to the table with creating a retreat with experience under our belt that allowed us to say what it is that we did and or did not like or did or did not want to include in our retreat, and then craft something that was that was very much so hours as opposed to just stealing someone else's model or layout or whatever. And that made Chattanooga a really great experience for both of us and a really unique experience for the people who showed up.

Kathleen Shannon 22:54
Yeah, and we kind of approached being boss Nola, which was our first vacation. So I don't want to call it a conference. Because it's not it is a vacation. It's a vacation. And then we had a vacation in Miami. And what was cool about that is that it, it isn't like anything we've ever done before. Like, there's some beauty and doing something from scratch and not having a whole lot of experience in it. Because you can really make it your own. There are no rules. Like Of course, there are best practices that you can follow and see what you like and what you don't like. But I think that not having experience in hosting retreats or workshops really opens you up to making it yours and making it innovative or out of the box or something a little bit different than anyone's ever experienced before.

Emily Thompson 23:42
Yeah, that's definitely how I felt going into our first vacation. New Orleans a year and a half ago, I

Unknown Speaker 23:48
guess now. Uber 2015. That's right.

Emily Thompson 23:53
Yes. Good job. God, that's a long time ago. Um, yeah. So we went into it with this idea. Like we didn't want to do a conference or retreat or other things like let's just call it a vacation and make it a vacation. And it made it a really unique experience, which made me happy to put it on and to put it on again. So we are planning our next one being balls New Orleans for October 2017. And you can find out more about that being balls, clubs slash events. To see more about New Orleans. But we did go at that one in the same way we had we'd done things before we done conferences, we had done retreats, all the things and it was like if we could make this dream, experience and engagement, what would it look like? And be in a cool city where people could walk around and see the city I like to go places and experience places personally, so many reasons why I don't like conferences is because you go to cool places but rarely have the ability to experience the place which I think is that geographer and me so hardcore. So we wanted them to be able to experience the place but have like a little bit of Oregon. Nice time together so that it was they would also go home with some like a business a goodness. So a fun mix between those two, which made the vacation unlike anything either of us had ever done.

Kathleen Shannon 25:12
Yeah. And so then the next year, we did it in Miami, and it was like apples to oranges to our experience in New Orleans, like it was they were both amazing, but so different that it's hard even deciding which one we liked better. But we're going back to New Orleans, because it feels like home

Emily Thompson 25:29
does feel like home. And if anyone needs to experience a part of America, you're probably not going to go to very readily. It's certainly New Orleans. Um, so yeah, I think that like our retreat and our vacation, for anyone who's wanting to go out and do some sort of live like in person event for your brand or your business or whatever it may be, you have to experience them. First, you have to have some experiences to draw up on in order for you to create an experience that's unique to your brand. Be very cognizant of what you're enjoying and not enjoying what's missing. What just sort of is like the cherry on top of the experience. And then whenever you come home, do some brainstorming and think about how you would do it. If there were no rules, because that's the thing. There are no rules. What would you do? And what would it look like Kivalina really calculated I tried to do a workshop years ago, years ago, remember that neither of us had very much experience with anything. I guess we had met at all some as we had both done a conference or two. And I guess that's about all I had done. I can't really think of anything else I'd done this points to probably five years ago, we decided to do a workshop in Austin and Dallas, because we got really ambitious that we're going to do too. And we sold one ticket.

Kathleen Shannon 26:58
Yeah, it was a total flop total flop. And do you remember that workshop was branded in the shop biography before? Yep. before it had taken that brand for Indy shop biography. So what was cool about it is that it was a learning experience. And you were able to take what we had branded that as into your own brand, be able to repurpose it. And we were really blending what we knew about branding and making money online in this workshop, which now we have a pot and right now

Emily Thompson 27:27
it's just called being boss.

Kathleen Shannon 27:29
And now we have people knocking down our door to come to New Orleans with us or our in person retreats, which is so much fun. Like I'm so glad that we gave that idea for years to marinate. And I also love that. That's how we first came together. And we're now coming back around to it like Okay, let's do it for real this time. Right. So I want to talk a little bit about hosting your own meetup or retreat and kind of how that works and what we've learned along the way. So do you want to start by maybe talking about some pros and cons of hosting your own meetup or retreat?

Emily Thompson 28:02
For sure. I mean, I think whatever I go back to those first experiences and what probably didn't work as we got a little ambitious, over ambitious. And I think there's a lot to say about, about hosting something where you live. So I think part of the reason why perhaps those first events didn't work is because we were putting them in a third location that neither of us had easy access to. Whereas this time whenever we did the retreat, the the being boss clubhouse retreat we did in Chattanooga, which is where I am, which gave us the ability to be super hands on with the planning more so than if we had been in a third location somewhere. So I think just like a nice little tip is think about doing something where you are before you try to go off somewhere else.

Kathleen Shannon 28:53
Yeah, and I mean, you can do it no matter where you live there credos from all over. You could even just hop in the beam boss Facebook group and say, okay, who lives here? Like I remember the other day, someone was shocked to find out that I live in Oklahoma City. And they were hosting a meetup. And they were like, can you come and I was like, sure, hopped in my car and went to a meetup at a bar. And it was super intimate and small and perfect. It was just kind of like beers, with gals hanging out, no big deal. And so my point there is that it doesn't have to be a big deal. Like you can start really small. I think that we would have been better served to attend a retreat together, like instead of hosting our own, like, Hey, why don't we go to a retreat together, get to know each other a little better. and have a good time. So that's another thing I want to mention is that hosting a retreat is very different from attending a retreat. Yeah, there's a lot more responsibility involved. So if you think it's going to be a good time, it will be a good time but in a different way. And I think another thing that is really important to think about is that retreats and conferences cost more than you think they will. And yeah, probably you'll lose money on them. So you really want to think about how hosting retreat or conference fits into your business model like don't host a retreat or conference to make bank. Because Because you'll spend bank to experience like, that's not what it's about. It's not about making bank, it's really about establishing your brand, or connecting with people or, or connecting people to each other in a really meaningful way. So you really want to think about what you want people to do next, after they attend your retreat, or after they attend your conference. How do you want them to continue to engage with your brand or with each other?

Emily Thompson 30:42
For sure, I mean, we definitely went into New Orleans and even our retreat with this idea that, you know, this is not the big moneymaker for our for our business model. And whenever people come to us, asking us about them, so always the first thing we say, because it's not, we definitely have them as a has an outlet to get to know our people, which will make them long term listeners. So to help us get sponsors, or will make them clubhouse members, like there is the next step, which I think is important, which also brings me to sponsors, a lot of people think that they will make money with their sponsors. But cording sponsors is a long term process. And it's something where as no at least, I've always felt really icky about the normal sponsor model, which was give us your money, and we're going to put your logo on our flyer for us. And the way we like to do things, that's not how we like to do things. So we decided, again, to think outside the box, in terms of how it is that we work with sponsors, and even then for our retreats, not using them at all. So knowing when to use sponsors and when not to use sponsors is really important.

Kathleen Shannon 31:52
Yeah. Like I will never forget the yacht that freshbooks bought us. I mean, they they're all because I will never stop talking. I really getting freshbooks to sponsor a yacht for us was so cool and so memorable. And so even going into New Orleans, it gave us leverage to think about Okay, what can we do there? I don't know this, our sponsor could host a parade for us.

Emily Thompson 32:18
That's what I want. Guys, if you guys really want to come join calculated eyes, we parade through the French Quarter. Thank you, maybe Thank you fresh books.

Kathleen Shannon 32:32
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Emily Thompson 33:58
conversation memorable

Kathleen Shannon 34:00
or stick with you for a really long time. So I was thinking about our retreat in Chattanooga, I was sitting next to you a clubhouse member named Kelly. And she was telling me about I was asking her if she was hosting a dinner party who would she invites. So it could be anybody or real fiction, whatever. And this is an exercise that we use over at braid creative as a branding exercise to see what personal brands you admire. And one of hers was Queen Elizabeth. And the thing that she really loved about Queen Elizabeth was that every morning without fail, holidays, whatever, she's delivered a red box with the key. And she's the only person that has access to the red box and she opens it and it's like all of her important correspondence contract she has to sign letters that she has to respond to. And her father the king told her you have to do this every day or you will completely fall behind. And so I've been thinking about this red box and Like, okay, what is my red box? Should my emails be my red box and looking at my financials and just it's like visual. I mean, that's a whole other conversation, but having a conversation about a red box and Queen Elizabeth will stick with me for ever. And I will always remember having that conversation with Kelly, I probably need to like send her red box in the mail. But just stuff like that. That's really funny, or our little horror movie that we were trying to recreate.

Emily Thompson 35:29
I've never laughed so hard, I'm alive. I know well, and I think of like, even more so than conversation, just experiences. And I'm going to go back to that yacht in Miami. And really getting off the yacht, one of my very favorite memories of all time is singing The Little Mermaid, with you and Tara and about 10 other bosses that were with us, top of our lungs, from appear in Miami at night was magic, absolute magic. And so like I couldn't think back of those little times. I also think about the couple of times, there seems to be this one restaurant in New Orleans, that we always end up at with our bosses having really great conversations about business, I can think of like three different times I've been sitting at this restaurant. Yes, it was different bosses talking about business. Like there are definitely things like that, that like, I'll carry those experiences with me forever. I don't remember the last like time we Skyped in what we talked about, or let me you know, like I like those are not memories that I have or that stick with me as strongly as those face to face in a cool city or in a cool hotel or whatever it may be those conversations are the ones and those conversations and those experiences are the ones that definitely stick with me. Which brings me to just like the energy of offline events, like you have in our notes up there, which you didn't touch on, which I think is hysterical. Because I'm glad but now I'm going to bring it up. And it is virtual summits.

Kathleen Shannon 37:02
Yeah, because I feel like I mean, part of our goal has been to blend the offline vibe into the online space. Ever since that first vacation that we had, we've been thinking how can we like more of this, please? And how can because we are online business owners, and we will be and we will continue to be even if people are running from the internet, we're hanging tight. We're holding down the fort online. We'll

Emily Thompson 37:26
be here when you get back.

Kathleen Shannon 37:28
We want to continue to bring meaning and genuine connection into our online space. And so I was kind of thinking about how our clubhouse that we host we have a two day online retreat for our clubhouse. And it's kind of like mastermind meets group coaching, meets mentoring. And it's definitely an intense two days where you're learning lots of stuff, but you're seeing everybody else's face. And there's a lot of interaction and conversation. So then I was thinking about our vacations. And that's bigger. That's like 75 people, and how would we bring that into an online space? And I just don't know that. So then I obviously started thinking about virtual summit. And those just strike a red flag for me anytime I think I'm being courted. I've even noticed that people who are courting me to attend their virtual summit almost disguise it. So if you're having to disguise your virtual summit, because you're embarrassed, right, like that's a problem. I agree. So anyway, I'm like very anti virtual summits. But I could be swayed another way.

Emily Thompson 38:34
Yeah, if given given the right example, for sure. And I'll say like our we definitely built the clubhouse and like our I guess signature program with this, I you know, bringing the offline vibe online, I think we've done that pretty well with the clubhouse. And I do love it. It's two days, we have so much fun whether people were looking at faces, I'm learning their businesses, their faces their names all at the same time, which for me is difficult, but I do it. But then I think of the Chattanooga retreat, and we're all sitting there around a table doing these exercises going through like our session or whatever. And there's a bald eagle out the window. Shit, you guys. And we all like freak out and get up and run to the window because they went to this really cute cabin on the river. And there's a bald eagle perched in a tree just outside our window. And most of us had never seen a bald eagle in real life before, like out of a zoo or whatever. And these two little birds are attacking it. It's very funny. And then the bird flies away. And so it was magic. It was totally magical. So we're sitting there looking at this at this eagle and you can't have that experience when you're all sitting in your different places looking at a computer screen even if it's at each other's faces.

Kathleen Shannon 39:46
So that's just like or you can but no one else can see as I might be like you guys, my cats actually this happened during our loss on retreat. My cat started fighting. Right next.

Emily Thompson 39:57
We all hear it. We're like Kathleen, are

Kathleen Shannon 39:58
you hungry? Is the animal network over here with my cats fighting?

Emily Thompson 40:06
It was great. So um, so yeah, there's just there's this offline vibe that is so real and palpable, and so unlike anything that you experience in even group online things where you're looking at each other's faces, and even like it even brings the introverts out, which I totally love.

Kathleen Shannon 40:24
I want to point this out, because I think that a lot of our listeners are introverts. A lot of people who run online businesses identify as introverts. And that's great. I personally am not an introvert. Even though sometimes after conferences and retreats, I crash, I like sleep for 12 hours. So even me being an extrovert, I've got to recharge my batteries too. But I wanted to say that even the introverts seem to have a really good time because it's not about small talk, it's not about going to a random networking event and just exchanging business cards. It's about really getting to know people. And I think that most introverts I know are allergic to small talk. And that's the biggest drain and the biggest problem, right? Even,

Emily Thompson 41:09
I just, I don't know what I think. But what I know is that, at least me personally is not afraid, being afraid or allergic to small talk, it's having problems initiating it, once you get most of us going, will talk your little ears off about whatever it is we're talking about, but it is getting started. And that's harder to do in an online space and easier to do when you're all sitting around a dinner table. And conversations are just happening. And there's space open for people to have those conversations in real time and space. So so there's offline, this offline vibes are, I think better for introverts than online ones.

Kathleen Shannon 41:51
Here's something I want to talk about, I want to talk about justifying the expense not of hosting, retreat or conference, but attending one because this is something that I had a really hard time with earlier in my career. And I'm writing about it right now, actually, in our being boss book. So it's fresh top of mind. But going to a conference, I remember that very first one, whenever I came home with creative connections that have afforded me new clients, new collaborations and new opportunities, it always more than pays for itself. So now I just trust that if I go somewhere, something good is gonna happen from it. And something good, that's going to help my bottom line in the long run. So I think that, you know, just having confidence in that has really helped me justify the cost of going to these things. And I would say the same thing for hosting a meetup or retreat or an event for us, it is worth the investment. It costs money, not because we're necessarily going to get new clients out of it, though, if y'all want to join the clubhouse, come to New Orleans, join the clubhouse. It's a big party, love smart people. But I will say that what it's done for our brand and positioning ourselves as leaders and connectors in our industry is huge. And I think that you can do that on a smaller scale too. So whenever you are a brand that is, you know, whether you're opening your own co working space or hosting meetups, people are going to start to attach those connections that they made to your brand, which is amazing. Like, it's awesome. It's just good karma for your business.

Emily Thompson 43:36
I agree. And I want to talk one. First, I want to go back to conversations a second and especially around introverts, because one of the pieces of feedback that we've gotten from all of our events is people actually want more facilitated conversation. They need more prompts and more reasons to get the Convo going. So if you are planning on, if you are planning on hosting an event, whether it's a meetup, or a workshop, or vacation or retreat or whatever, give yourself more opportunity or more like more support in starting conversations, whether it's conversation cards or prompts for the car ride or whatever it may be like having having those things ready. It's better to have them ready and not need them, then for there to be silence and you not know what to say. So people are always requesting for more facilitated conversations. The next thing I want to talk about is getting someone else to plan it for you. Because that's something that we've done this year. So I personally plan New Orleans. Well, I got my assistant to plan Miami with me and David as well. But this time around, I was like, you know what if we're gonna do these events, I'm not doing these events. So we got someone to help us and I'll tell you that kicked up the quality of our retreat to new awesome, amazing levels. So if planning things is Not your forte one, give it a go see what happens. No one hated New Orleans or Miami, it was fine. But it was a much better experience. Once I got someone on board to help me make those little details amazing.

Kathleen Shannon 45:13
One person did hate the first New Orleans, yes, this is a con, you're not going to please everybody. And the stakes feel a lot higher. whenever it's in person, it's a lot more vulnerable. So somebody doesn't like you. They don't like you in real life. A lot harder to take them whenever someone just is writing a nasty comment to you online. So not to give too much attention to the haters. But just know that in person events with that will come in, especially if you're empathic and you feel that someone is feeling awkward, like you're going to feel that too. And I think for me, that's that's the hardest part about offline events is just wanting to make sure that everyone feels taken care of and that everyone's having a good time. So if you're that kind of host, I think that hiring someone to do a lot of the event planning will free you up to be able to actually mingle more and have more conversations, because you're not handling all the details for Sean in your room stuffing swag bags. And whenever you could be out in the lobby, greeting everyone as they come honey,

Emily Thompson 46:16
for sure. Well, and I also want to take that negative comment back to what you were saying a minute ago about how like you go to these events, trusting that you will, you know, come back with whatever experience you need. And that's, that's totally a mindset, like you can go into an event and not be that open to having a good time that one person in New Orleans, I believe that their comments were anonymous, so there wasn't much that we can do in return. But that was one out of 75 people and not to like make this about them. But in that sort of case, they were probably going into the event closed off to the great experiences, especially when everyone else's feedback was completely shining and had a blast. So keep that in mind. One, you're not going to make everyone super happy to have some help so that you can try to make people happier. And three, whenever you are attending, you are responsible for having a good time, you can go to like the shittiest resort, eat the shittiest food and still have a blast, if your mindset is in the right place.

Kathleen Shannon 47:15
And I think the we've had conversations around this before on past podcasts or minisodes, about attending conferences and like kind of prepping yourself for that. So we'll be sure to include more ideas and thoughts on making sure that you have a good time and that you're prepped for a conference in the show notes. Oh, even our our conversation that we had with Christie, I'll still

Emily Thompson 47:35
Yes, who is our event planner to bt dubs.

Kathleen Shannon 47:39
So we will include more resources on attending conferences and how to get the most out of a conference that you attend in the show notes. But focusing back on hosting your own event. One thing I want to point out that I think speaks volumes are the details. I think that whenever the details are really ironed out, that's what really creates a memorable experience. So for me the details that were really important for our retreat, was having music. Small one

Emily Thompson 48:11
handles another small one, but immensely flowers.

Kathleen Shannon 48:15
Yes. Like I wanted it to feel romantic. It did, I

Emily Thompson 48:19
loved you even more. Um, another one for me is really great swag. So I even think bags are some of the feedback we still get from New Orleans in Miami. Like we're not just letting anyone in anything indoor swag bags like this, this should is curated. And it's really good stuff. And so I love seeing, for example, one of the girls showed up at the retreat in Chattanooga with a swag bag that she got in Miami because it's still the bag that she carries everywhere. Or, um, or if I'm meeting up with like a New Orleans person. You know, I think these were in Miami. But if I'm meeting up with a Miami person online, they're wearing those really awesome earrings. They're in the swag bags. Like I like having swag that is meaningful and thoughtful so that people are going home with these extras that are not going to find their way immediately into the trash can.

Kathleen Shannon 49:11
Another thing that we did for our retreat was bringing in guest experts. So in the past at New Orleans and Miami, we have been the talent and the coordinators right you coordinating on your site. Thank you so much for all that, of course. But we've also hosted a live podcast recording, which we love doing. I don't think that's going anywhere. And then we've also hosted master classes and roundtables. And that's where I start to feel a little bit drained. So taking that information whenever it came to our offline retreat, we wanted to bring in the experts that have helped us take our businesses to the next level. So we brought in terrigen Tilly and Tara Street to share their gifts of knowledge with our attendees. And so that's something I'd even be interested in doing maybe for New Orleans is bringing in a guest beaker Yes. And so it's just really looking at things like that, like what works, what doesn't. And that felt really good to me. And it also felt really boss,

Emily Thompson 50:08
it did well. And it also comes back to us thinking about the kind of experience we want to have, you know, did we want to be speaking and then immediately running to the back room to like, drink water and chill out for a minute, because we can't think anymore, or did we want to be sitting right there next to the people who had like, paid to come learn these things and be able to workshop with them afterwards, and be totally engaged in the conversation. And so we got really clear with not only the kind of experience that we wanted to give the people who attended, but the kind of experiences that we wanted to have. were, you know, in New Orleans in Miami, I don't mind taking a hike off by myself after giving a whole day presentation because we're in a city and no one's gonna miss me anyway, because there's like 50 other people to hang out with. But in something like the retreat, where there is a very limited number, and we're all hanging out in the same space, I didn't want to be shut down, I wanted to have someone else be smart and amazing, and me be conversational, and super approachable. So I think that thinking about your events in that capacity, not only the experience that you wanted to give your people or that you want to give your people. But the kind of experience that you want to have an even in conjunction with your people is really important. It has certainly shaped both the vacations that we do, as well as the retreats. And that one difference of bringing in talent or being the talent can make all the difference in the world.

Kathleen Shannon 51:26
So one interesting thing that I'm really thinking about, because we're about to launch our next retreat, which is in September to our current clubhouse members. And one of the trickiest things about hosting your own retreat, is that there are costs involved with securing the venue. And at what point do you secure the venue? And at what point are you selling? And so that's kind of tricky to me. So what are your thoughts on selling the retreat before it's actually real? Or do you make it real first and then sell it?

Emily Thompson 51:56
What are your I love selling things before? They're real? Personal? Which, yeah, you guys can think about that. whatever you'd like. I'm in New Orleans we sold before it was real. So we had a date and a city period. And we filled in the details as we realize that it was actually going to be a thing you also have to think of like we were coming off of five years ago doing a retreat that did nothing. So Kathleen, and I were like, no, we're not putting any money into this until we know that this is going to work. So we picked dates have a place like a city and a price point. Like we had done some research, we knew where we were going to go if we sold the tickets and what we were going to be doing. So we had like a solid price point. But we did sell it before it was real. And once it started selling, we made it real and it was all really great. Miami happened almost simultaneously, I think, I think it was about the same. I think there was a little more realness to it before we started selling New Orleans this year will be more real probably before we start selling. Because we're also like we're a bigger business now that the New Orleans vacation was the first thing we sold. That's so funny. Like being boss wasn't even really making real money whenever we decided to do vacation.

Kathleen Shannon 53:09
So it's kind of the experience and confidence that allows us to sell something before it's real, but also make something real before we sell it, the retreats are kind of a newer model for us. So we're kind of selling it before we develop it out because the number of attendees might directly impact the Airbnb that we end up renting, that we feel confident enough that we can sell something and sell the city and date and then hammer out the logistics because I mean, we can always find somewhere beautiful to sleep,

Emily Thompson 53:40
right? Just sleep under the stars. That's beautiful enough to me, um, for sure. And so I think there is a little bit of leeway in there. Obviously, do your research know, we always knew where we were going. We knew what the place was. We knew what the budget was, we knew we had already made the phone calls and had the pricing like it was all lined up before we started selling. So it was pretty real in all cases. But I think it just may be smart business to not put down deposits until you actually have people attending.

Kathleen Shannon 54:13
I remember when we were going through our hotel contracts, just making sure that if a room wasn't filled, how much money do we owe, and really feeling insistent that it was no money owed.

Emily Thompson 54:25
Right, exactly. And that's another thing too, as you get more used to doing events, you become more in tune with the kinds of expectations from the venues. Which guys, as someone who's done this and is not an event planner doesn't love doing this venues are the worst part, contracts, negotiations and big egos and teams that don't talk to each other, all the things, it becomes a little painful. But the more you do it, the more the more boss you can be you can go to them and say I hate these shit terms. You're gonna give me different ones or what Maybe and people are usually pretty open to negotiating. So um, so don't let lack of experience hold you back from giving it a go, just be smart and do your best. Okay, well,

Kathleen Shannon 55:13
a couple more things that I just want to mention whenever it comes to hosting your own retreat, or meetup is starting small.

Emily Thompson 55:19
Yeah. And I think we did the exact opposite. We started with vacation, which was so much fun. But actually, even then I do want to backtrack like we because it was a vacation because we didn't have a huge venue. Because we were pairing these like small, small business focus things with vacations that just allowed people to roam, we did not start with a conference, we started with really a pretty minimal viable product in terms of we're just going to go invite people to come with us, they could show up if they want to or not. So yes, we start started

Unknown Speaker 55:52
really small as far as just making enough money to cover our costs.

Emily Thompson 55:57
Yes.

Kathleen Shannon 55:58
And so I think that that's another good way to think of starting small is that really, your goal is to fill the thing, not to make a million dollars off the thing,

Emily Thompson 56:07
fill the thing and give people experience?

Kathleen Shannon 56:10
Yeah, give people a great experience, you're going to get great photos, you're going to get great testimonials. And then you can start to build from there. And I've seen a lot of smaller conferences and retreats really build out profitable business models, by starting this way.

Emily Thompson 56:25
For sure. So yeah, I love the idea of everyone thinking about how you can take your online business offline. And maybe it's not having your own like series of multi city workshops or anything crazy like that. Maybe there's just an easy meetup that you start or you go go to your local coffee shop and ask them if you can host a workshop for 10 people or something and make it really small. See how you can build your business offline so that as people are moving offline a bit you can still actually you can like capitalize on that event. And give yourself some of that offline business clout that I think is, I think is a missing puzzle piece and all the super online business owners you have to exist in the real world as well. Amen. Amen. And if anyone would like to experience them being boss goodness, being Boston, New Orleans is in October, you can learn about the clubhouse at being boss club slash clubhouse, and the New Orleans vacation which is going to be so dope. That being boss club slash events.

Kathleen Shannon 57:37
And as always, we are always sharing these events and opportunities with our newsletter list first, so make sure that you get on our newsletter if you haven't yet. We'll let you know first. This episode of being boss was brought to you by fresh books cloud accounting and try it for free by going to fresh books comm slash being boss and special shout out to Meet Edgar you can try them at Meet Edgar calm slash being boss. Thank you for listening to being boss. Find Articles show notes and downloads at WWW dot being boss club.

Emily Thompson 58:14
If you're a creative entrepreneur, Freelancer or small business owner who is ready to take your goals to the next level, check out the being boss clubhouse, a two day online retreat followed by a year of community support monthly masterclasses book club secret episodes and optional in person retreats. Find more at www dot being boss dot club slash clubhouse.

Kathleen Shannon 58:37
Thank you so much to our team and sponsors who make being boss possible our sound engineer and web developer Corey winter. Our editorial director and content manager Caitlin brain our community manager and social media director Sharon lukey. And are being countered David Austin, with support from braid creative and indie shop biography.

Emily Thompson 58:56
Do the work be boss, and we'll see you next week.