If Only I Got Invited To A Tech Conference I Wanted To Go To.

I get emails. Including invites to tech conferences. Like “NewCo Shift Forum,” for instance. Just received my fifth invite to that (they started coming in June, even though conference is in February 2018.) They must really want me to attend, I guess. “Space is limited” they warn, but then, it must not be that limited because, after all, I’ve gotten five invites since June. (I wonder how many more invites will be going out between October and February? My guess: at least five more.)

They sternly warn that “All registrations will be reviewed by the Shift Forum Executive Committee” because, after all, we wouldn’t want undesirables to attend. (What could such people possibly offer? Can you imagine being stuck at a banquet table with a bunch of nobodies?) They insist that “all participants are highly qualified” but if I click on that “highly qualified” link I discover I’m not qualified, so why the heck are they sending me invites in the first place?

Shift Forum is described as “like being a guest at the best two-day dinner party in the country” but it isn’t, really, is it. First, all the luminaries, you know, the speakers, go for free, right?, while you, the mere attendee, have to pay $3000 or more to attend (if you act fast… read on to see how the fees are “shifting” soon!). Second, most likely none of the “smart, opinionated people unafraid to speak candidly or to shift their thinking” will even give you the time of day, will they, or only reluctantly. Third, can you imagine what a “two-day dinner party” is like after the first night? I’m not sure I’d wanna be around on the second day.

Question is, why would I want to talk to the CEO of Starbucks or hear what he has to say? Why would he want to talk to me? I don’t even drink coffee. Or John Chambers of Cisco? I’ve probably seen him on tech conference stages two, maybe three dozen times, going back 25 years, and frankly I don’t remember a single thing from any of those events. And Karen Lynch of Aetna, who made over $7 million in salary last year? Why would I have any interest in Aetna of all things? Aetna is about as Dark Side of the Force as you can get especially when the future is Medicare for All. And what’s with all the food industry execs?

Shift Forum’s ticket prices “shift,” don’t you know, starting October first, so that $3000 becomes $3500 and then “shifts” to $4000 on December first. And remember, space is limited so hurry up and sign up now, or at least, submit your application now so you can be vetted to see if you meet their very high qualifications for attending!

My kingdom for a cheap, affordable conference full of interesting nobodies, everyone doing interesting things and full of interesting ideas, everyone open to talking to anyone. A conference full of failure stories, being screwed by venture capitalists and angel investors. A conference about the reality of the tech biz. Put it not at the St. Regis Hotel in downtown San Francisco (gonna run you at least $500 a night), but at some hole in the wall like, say, the Larkspur Landing hotel in Pleasanton, California ($110 a night). Right next to the In-n-Out Burger. Right down the street is the Black Bear Diner (“American comfort eats in a homey setting.”) St. Regis can’t compete with that! Seriously: imagine a conference with none of the Silicon Valley trappings, none of the insane prices or Mar-a-Lago-style exclusivity. Imagine a conference where attendees are the 99% of business people, the ones who built something to a certain size and you know what, no need for any further fast growth, no interest in cheating or breaking laws or bribing people or other shenanigans to cut out and kill off the competition in order to grow like a wildfire, taking over every city in the world and then, with all the billions, wonder what’s left to conquer. You know, a conference full of people who were rejected by the NewCo Shift Forums of the world. That I seriously might go to.

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