Ryan Holiday recently wrote a piece about being a weirdo who spent $139 on a single book — a mindset of buying books no matter what, no matter the price or circumstance.
I apply this same logic to events, which have benefitted me just as much if not more than books.
When I was 15 years’ old I won somewhere in the region of £1,800 running a gambling ring in school (here’s the story).
What did I do with the winnings? Having come across a young and just-starting-out speaker in London, Matthew Hussey, who was the very first person I ever came across in the self-development field, I decided I would go along to one of his events.
I thought my parents might not let me and so, unbeknownst to them, snuck off one Saturday morning and got the train 200 miles from where I grew up to make it happen — setting off at 5 a.m. and sleeping in my parents’ garage the night before with the guise of staying over at a nearby friend’s place.
Booking tickets on the day was expensive (I was too young to have a credit card and so couldn’t online). About £70.
The first event I went along to was cheap, something like £10 a ticket, but I was so impressed with Matthew that when I heard about his three-day follow-on (£500), I decided I had to be part of it.
Hotel rooms in central London are expensive too — about £150 a night — but that was no matter, I was going to be there.
A few months following it, during my school summer holidays, as a result of my enthusiasm (as well as some persistent emailing about how I might get involved), I was invited to do some work with Matthew during the break. Things went so well I dropped out of school at 17 to continue and have been at it for the past seven years since.
More recently, I came to learn of Basecamp’s live event ‘The Basecamp Way to Work’.
Being a big fan of Basecamp’s books, Getting Real, Rework and Remote, as well as reading all founder & CEO Jason Fried’s writing on Medium, I decided I had to go.
On first look tickets were $300.
This time I would have to travel from London to Chicago — £600.
And a hotel for two nights would be around £200.
All fine. I didn’t think twice.
Trouble was, Jason was only releasing tickets through Twitter and they kept selling out too darned quickly for me to get one.
I check Twitter hardly more than once a week and so had to ask my assistant to check Jason’s Twitter page every single day until he next did (it took six weeks), and to call me immediately when tickets were released.
I got a round of calls late one December evening prompting me to go and sign up. By the time I got one the ticket price had risen to $500 — an extra $200.
Assistant fee — around $100.
I didn’t think for a second I might not sign up. I was going.
On my way over, I got grilled going through US pre-clearance (I once overstayed my 90 days and they’ve never forgiven me) and had to get two diversion flights on the day — £500.
All the little extras of travel (taxis, buses, trains) cost about £200.
New total = somewhere in the region of £1,700.
…For an event that’s just five hours.
Having finally attended today, it was worth every penny. Many times over. (And I’m not just saying that to make myself feel better.)
This time I’m not after a work position, but the lessons I’ve picked up (how to preserve calm in a company, why small is better and intelligent project design) will stay with me for a lifetime.
I consider these lessons have been ingrained more deeply than they could have been in any other medium — as well as getting to ask Jason a ton of questions personally.
Ryan’s rule with books has paid off with him now writing many himself. My attending events has produced a similar effect in my now getting invited to deliver talks all over the world (another with The 21 Convention, that’s my best yet by a mile, coming to YouTube very soon).
With Matthew, I had to sleep in a cold garage, get up at 5 a.m., lie to my parents and travel 200 miles at an age when I had no idea how to navigate a city like London once I got there.
With Jason, I had to get three flights, go through the backroom of US border patrol twice in a day (something no non-criminal should ever have to do) and run through three airports to catch every one of my connections.
But, these were just details. I was going to be at them.
When you have a burning desire to go to something, go. Don’t let anything stop you.
Read books and go to events. The returns will dwarf the cost, no matter how high they might seem to others. Find a way. You won’t regret it.
And for those in the US who will have a much easier time making it to Basecamp’s next workshop, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Follow @JasonFried for ticket announcements, or better yet, have your dogged assistant to make sure you get one.