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It felt wrong. It was my first time, but since then it’s become a habit. I used to think I should break this dirty habit, but now I don’t want to. Here’s my confession; I skip a lot of conference sessions for conversations. There, I said it.

Don’t act like you haven’t done it too. You spend a large chunk of change to head to a conference and converge on a campus with thousands of other folks excited about similar things. The content is good, but at some point your brain is overloaded. Done. Tired. Finished. On the way to lunch you strike up a conversation and end up sharing lunch. An old friend texts you; “I’m at the conference too! Let’s meet up!” So you do. After a few hours you’ve forgotten about the sessions you were going to attend, and you’re sharing dinner with a group your friend knows. Sound familiar?

Conference content is good, but the best part of a conference is the people. The conversations I’ve had while skipping sessions at conferences have unlocked new frontiers for me. I bet it’s true for you also. We simply cannot absorb three days of content sitting in crappy folding chairs (at least I can’t). While the conference is the excuse to get away the relationships have an inordinate ability to shape us. It’s time to flip the conference model.

Here are three big thoughts around conferences…

Change of place = change of perspective. Simply being in another place gives us a new outlook. New sights, smells and routines literally change us. We think new thoughts and dream new dreams beyond the day-to-day. Many of my best ideas came to me in other states or countries.

We need adjacent relationships. We need strategic connections with others we share common ground with but we aren’t around every day. We process our story as we listen to others share theirs, and we get new ideas as we hear theirs.

We have a bad case of information fatigue. We read amazing thought leaders and consume brilliant ideas on podcasts all week long. Thanks to the internet we don’t need to get on a plane any longer to find new content.

So, what if we designed completely new experiences? Well, we have. Conferences will always be around, but new experiences are popping up in different fields that revolve more around the relationships and less around the content. People are realizing how valuable the clear head space and new relationships can be to their business, church or non-profit.

Our Stay Forth team designed a new line of experiences more focused on refreshing and connecting with others than consuming content. We are calling these Stay Forth >> Go Forth experiences. We have an experience for male pastors following the fatigue of the Easter push called “The Phoenix Fill Up”. We’ll be announcing a fall experience for ladies at a lodge in Colorado soon. The food and drinks will be great. The conversations with be long. The pace will be slow. The focus will be relationship.

As we connect adjacent relationships in beautiful places we’ll crack open conversation, fun and refreshment. So, consider flipping your conference model and investing in the future of your leadership with us.

Are you hungry for something besides folding chairs and brain overload? Yeah, we are too.