Seth Godin’s Poke the Box is one of the more successful - and controversial - business books of the last few years. Love it, hate it, it’s unlikely that you don’t have a strong opinion and even less likely that you haven’t heard of it.
Godin has a paragraph in the book which conference organizers are sure to identify with:
The promoter and the organizer
My friend Jessica wants to be a conference organizer. You can hire her and she’ll sweat every single detail of your event. Give her the attendee list, the venue, and the agenda, and the conference will go off without a hitch.
The problem with this plan is that it involves getting picked by the conference organizer. If she gets picked often, it’s a fine living. But Jessica must pitch the promoter, hat in hand.
The promoter, on the other hand, has all the power. The promoter initiates the conference. The promoter, who has skills very similar to the organizer’s, actually gets to pick the organizer. The promoter is the picker, not the one waiting to get picked.
So… why not be the promoter, the initiator, the one in charge and responsible?
Conference organizers are some of the hardest-working people in today’s business world. Months of preparation and an all-out sprint the day of the event. But if they aren’t running the show, they’re still ultimately accountable to someone else.
Organizing is a fine way to learn the trade; someone’s got to do it. But use simplifying technology, smart choices, and a dose of confidence to your advantage, and you’ll soon put yourself in position to run your own show.
Promoting is, after all, nothing more than what an organizer does. There’s simply a lot more reward.
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