180 women and men, friends, colleagues, new acquaintances, and wicked smart business owners.
Thousands of miles traveled, thousands of dollars spent to get there. For both of us.
All of that nervous anticipation evaporated when eyes met, hugs were exchanged, tears shed in unison.
3 days of transformation, insights and truth from business owners across the spectrum sharing their experiences.
These are my lessons from running an event for 3 years in a row… and most especially doing it on a larger and more successful and aligned scale this year.
If you’ve been wanting to peek behind the curtain of how we run Off The Charts Live or you plan to run your own events, you’ll definitely appreciate these lessons.
#1 Allow Space For Inspiration To Strike
I got a “download” one night a few months after we had started planning for the Off The Charts event. I often get ideas and inspiration lightning strikes while I’m trying to fall asleep.
This one was particularly clear, and it felt fully formed. I got up and wrote these words down in a notebook by my bed:
I wasn’t sure yet exactly how it would all come together, but the next night I had visions of butterflies… of a caterpillar turning into mush before it transforms into a butterfly. Of each wing being a team for this caterpillar to take off and fly.
These simple words ended up inspiring the entire theme for the conference, and each day I was able to see clearly which speakers and what they were bringing could lend to the theme.
This also kept all the information that my speakers and I were presenting more manageable. There was something to hold onto, and it wasn’t just talk after talk… the pattern was building up toward taking your business off the charts.
#2 Hire The Right Team & Let Them Rock It
This year we hired a professional team of event planners, and it made all the difference. I can list off the things that they did that we didn’t do when we were trying to organize this event ourselves in the past.
One simple thing was to go over the schedule of events for the three days, and really write down practically minute by minute… who is doing what, who had what type of microphone, what music would be playing, and what slides would be shown.
That’s the kind of painstaking level of detail that made the event go off so incredibly smoothly, and if you plan to do any sort of live event I highly recommend you get this in place.
The other benefits of having a professional team of event planners is that they handle logistics and details on a regular basis, and they were able to keep everything running smoothly without breaking a sweat. I’m so grateful to Significant Events of Texas for their incredible work with us on Off The Charts!
Our internal team was truly on it, too and I’m so grateful to everyone who contributed to making this event possible and beyond amazing.
#3 Start Planning Early, and Clear Your Calendar The Month Before The Event
This was our biggest event to date, and we started thinking about it the day after the last one ended in 2014. Yes, we took some downtime because we were moving from NYC to Dallas, Texas… but in the back of our minds we were already making decisions like where we wanted to hold next year’s event.
I’d say that we spent a solid 9 months planning this event, with tasks and items getting checked off every week during that time.
Between updating the event website, securing the speakers, marketing the event, answering questions about the event, running ads, and planning the actual content… there’s a lot that goes into an event of this scale.
I like to block out the month before the event to really focus my time on creating the best content and presentations for the people who are attending. I spend a lot of time listening to what they are asking for, hosting live pre-event experiences, surveying attendees, and just making sure everything is on track.
#4 Know Your Numbers
One of the things that I’m really keen on is knowing my numbers, especially with a big project that requires such an investment of time, team, and money.
This year we spent approximately $50,000 to produce the Off The Charts Live conference. Between the venue, event planners, videography, photography, travel arrangements, cocktail reception, customized gifts, audio/visual equipment rentals… And that’s not counting my time or our internal team’s time spent organizing and coordinating everything.
It’s a doozy of an investment! Planning an event is a lot like planning a wedding, except the idea is that you want to make money from your event…
For the past two years, we’ve broken even on the Off The Charts event, with the understanding that we’re also using the event as an opportunity to offer a high end mastermind that makes up for the cost of running the event.
This year, we didn’t offer the mastermind that we’d been running (The Daring Business Cultivator) even though there was a lot of demand and it was a very successful program. Instead, we opened up applications for our AmbitionAlly Certified Partner program for tech savvy entrepreneurs and freelancers.
I’m so excited to be kick-starting that program off on August 1st, 2015!
#5 Negotiate Conference Room Fees Via Room Block Agreements
One of the things I learned from Lisa Sasevich’s “Event Profit Secrets” program is that there are different ways for you to negotiate your conference room fees.
In our case, when we were selecting a venue we wanted somewhere walkable with lots of great restaurants that everyone could enjoy. We ended up finding the perfect hotel that had a great conference room.
Instead of paying full price for our conference room, we agreed that we could fill a room block with our attendees in exchange for a price break on the event space.
This meant that we had to fill 75 rooms for 3 nights each, and it put some additional pressure on us to get enough attendees to the event.
Luckily, we knew we’d be able to get enough people to join us live from our past two years’ experience, and because we had the room block we were also able to secure a lower nightly rate for our guests.
This was definitely an exercise in trust, because with an event you’ll always see people buying tickets and booking flights or hotels closer to the event date. Of course, our amazing community tends to be really organized, so they were on the ball and we knew we were in the clear and we wouldn’t have to pay for any empty rooms before the event date rolled around!
#6 Create Community Before The Event
One of the things that we have been doing successfully from the start is creating community online before we get together in person.
This year was no different, and we had a vibrant community of folks who were finding roommates and booking shuttles to get to the hotel together. That’s the kind of team-work and connection that warms my heart!
When people started arriving at the hotel, you could just see these amazing groups of entrepreneurs forming and having dinner, drinks, and getting to know each other even before the first day of the event.
There were also all kinds of selfies and great group photos being shared! It was beautiful.
#7 Geek Out On The Small Stuff
One thing I’ve always been obsessed with is notebooks and pretty paper. As a little girl my mom gave me a purse, and I used it to collect notebooks, pads of paper, and post it notes… You might call that Virgo porn, but this paper obsession finally came in handy.
For the first two years of Off The Charts live, I went with a simple Moleskin notebook with an “Off The Charts” logo stamped on the front of it. It was functional, affordable, and did the trick.
This year, I wanted to really geek out on our notebook design. So I worked with our incredible designer and came up with a theme that would mirror my first talk at Off The Charts: The Spiral Staircase.
I wanted to include exercises in this notebook that matched my presentation, and that could be used by attendees in different ways after the event too.
We spent time researching notebook printing companies and finally found one that could do both customized covers and inside pages, too. We received a sample notebook a few months before the event, and I squealed!
So we ordered more notebooks, and we’ll be using them in different ways as fun bonuses in our business going forward, too!
#8 Watch The Magic Unfold
On the days of the event, it was time for me to completely surrender. We had done all the hard work, and now it was time to be fully present with what we had created.
During those first few moments on stage the first day, I fumbled. The clicker for the slides wasn’t working as expected, and I felt really self-conscious to be in front of all of these amazing entrepreneurs.
But about 30 minutes in, my heartbeat was steady again, and I recognized all of the amazing people who were there… and I felt my shoulders relax.
Then during the rest of the event, I felt like I was coming home to my group of friends every time I took the stage. The words flowed, the connections were amazing, and everything was smooth like butter.
I felt like each of the speakers were perfectly poised to share exactly the right stuff for everyone in the audience at the right time.
There was laughter, stunned silence, tears, and nods all around. And it was all beautifully captured on camera, for your viewing pleasure.
#9 Join In On The Action
If you weren’t able to join us at Off The Charts Live, either because of the timing, travel, or because you just found out about it…
No problem! We’ve packaged up the recordings from the 3 day event, and turned them into an instant access offering that delivers massive mindset shifts and business results.
Just click here to order now. We’ve made these recordings incredibly affordable at just $197.
We’d love to have you join in on the action, and get the benefits of attending without all the travel, expense, and time away from home.
You’ll learn from incredible speakers like Licia Morelli, Liz DiAlto, Christa Meola, Sarah Jenks, Kimra Luna, Nikki Elledge Brown, and many more up and coming entrepreneurs who have a lot of share.
I can’t wait for you to experience the magic that we created, and to see the ripple effects that take place in your business and life as a result!