LessConf - A Beautiful Gathering of Misfits
Nate and I became internet friends with Allan Branch & Steve Bristol of LessEverything about 6 years ago when they wrote a short post about our “Don't Hire Us” page. Many tweets and recriprocal blog posts later, we finally got to meet them at their second LessConf. And we found an even closer friendship with those guys. They totally got us.
Back to LessConf, though - we really enjoyed that conference and came back every year after that, but I think it wasn't until the 5th and final one last week that I fully understood what LessConf was.
You see, Allan & Steve like to make a spectacle. They know how to create things that people talk about. Seven hour hugs on stage. Gourmet popsicles. Milk and cookie breaks. Complimentary massages. The list could go on. Trust me.
And when there's so much spectacle, sometimes it's easy to miss what a conference is really all about: people.
Now don't get me wrong. LessConf #5 was full of mighty spectacle. Dunebuggy rides. Ziplines. Talks on the beach. Talks in the ocean. A circus act. Knife throwing. Tight-rope walking. Sand sculptures. Live music. Handcrafted marshmallows.
Beneath the crazy this year's LessConf had a loudly beating heart. So loud that it eclipsed the spectacle.
But that was all just icing on the cake. You see beneath the crazy this year's LessConf had a loudly beating heart. So loud that it eclipsed the spectacle. It had become was a safe place for those of us that didn't fit in anywhere else.
It was the talks that cemented this for me. I've never been so mesmerized, challenged or pulled out of my comfort zone as I have those two days.
There was an ex-military fighter pilot who built a 24 hour coding team for his product. An ex-con who spent 2 years in prison for insider trading, got out, married his wife and started a web company. A former financial guy making 6 figures on Wall Street who quit it all to travel with his wife, find his art and passion, and help those who need it. A marketing guy that challenged the whole way I use email. A guy who built a brand with his beard and watched it get torn to shreds by telveision editing.
And that was just the first few talks on the first day. Other speakers bared their souls and told us about things like depression, bipolar and ADD, the emptiness that comes with being successful and how biased we are against working with other cultures and countries. And failing. Lots of failing.
Somehow, even though I knew so few of the attendees last week, we felt like a family. A fearless assembline of rebels, hoodlums and crazy people. A beautiful gathering of misfits.
And that is what I will miss the most about LessConf. Thank you Allan & Steve for being brave enough to bring all of us together. We hope you change your mind and bring it back soon.