Why Anti-Conferences Should Be the New Type of Conference

The old way of conferences may be a bit antiquated... thanks to the innovation of HawkeFest

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If you’re anything like me, you love personal development – especially when it can benefit my business. And, while conferences are an incredible way to do this between the programming, meeting like-minded people, and being immersed in incredible content, conferences can often feel unnecessarily long and drawn out. Which is the perfect recipe for a yawn when the days are long already.

So, when I heard that Hawke Media was creating an “Anti-Conference,” I was pretty excited. Hawkefest, which just happened on October 3rd, can simply be described in contrast to a conference…

Location: Whereas most conferences happen in, well, conference centers with amped up AC and white walls, Hawkefest went down in the Houdini Estate in Hollywood Hills. The stunning estate also doubles as a wedding venue – and with twinkly-light-strung palm trees and Italian architecture, you can’t help but think, “How am I ever going to go back to a boring old convention center again?” 

Programming: Again, programming is really where I usually thrive. I’m front and center, notebook and ballpoint pen ready, to take some mad notes and get my learn on. But, there’s nothing worse than a keynote that takes over an hour with 40 PowerPoint slides. Hawkefest had one simple rule: no one speaks longer than 20 minutes. Even Gareb Shamus, CEO and co-founder of Comic Con. Serious stuff. 

Additional “Cherries on Top”: I’ve gotten some pretty great goodies from past conferences – including a pen that wrote like SILK from the GirlBoss rally. All those goodies pale in comparison to the surprises Hawkefest had in store: an impromptu magic show, gourmet cuisine, and…puppies for adoption?! Again, is this a conference, or a festival/my surprise birthday party?

None of the above: it’s simply an “anti-conference” devoted to bringing a highly curated group of 300 together to talk e-commerce. And as far as I’m concerned, it should be the new way of conferences. After all, if they exist to foster connection and promote learning what counts, why shouldn’t conference organizers get creative and think outside the box when it comes to the details? Why should keynote speakers drone on when their best content can be cut down to twenty minutes? And why shouldn’t we be surrounded by Tuscan columns, and feel like we’re on vacation?

There’s no reason why not, as far as I’m concerned. I have no doubt that Hawke Media is forging a brand new type of conference. And I can’t wait to attend their next one.

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