Get the behind-the-scenes inside scoop on what went right (and wrong) at T&C 2021.
In today’s episode, co-hosts Roland Frasier and Ryan Deiss pull back the curtain and take a very honest look at what it’s like to pull together a huge conference not only during a pandemic, but when your celebrity guest pulls out at the last minute.
Before they share those details—and what you can learn from them—don’t miss the opportunity to be part of what’s coming up next. You’re invited to Scalable Impact Live on November 2-3, 2021. It’s an event like no other. Roland, Ryan, and Richard will be up close and personal, workshop style, teaching cool stuff, helping you network with amazing people, and getting actual work done. Register here TODAY.
Now listen in as the hosts describe a very intense three days at T&C.
A Last-Minute Scramble for a Celebrity Guest
Traffic & Conversion Summit celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019. Then it got canceled in 2020 because of Covid. Roland and Ryan and their team had high hopes for T&C 2021, with fingers crossed that Covid would be a thing of the past. Their goal was 10k in attendance, a new T&C record.
Then, the week they announced the event—and celebrity guests Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart—the Delta variant was all over the news. Their timing could not have been worse.
Then, on the first day of the event, Roland got a call that Snoop was sick and couldn’t make it. How were they going to deliver a great experience to their guests without him? They had to decide on the spot whether they’d cancel him altogether or keep him for next year. They decided to keep him. And had a day and half to find a comparable replacement.
Meanwhile, Ryan was having recurring nightmares and waking up in cold sweats about walking out to do the keynote at a sold-out event with no one in the audience. On the actual day, backstage, waiting to walk out, he had a near panic attack and texted Roland. (His keynote fortunately went great.)
Roland Gets the Job Done
Ryan is very impressed by Roland’s seeming unflappability in times of great stress. When Snoop Dogg canceled, Roland called in every favor he possibly could and came up with a list of 22 possible replacements. They narrowed it down to Gwyneth Paltrow and Magic Johnson and decided on Magic. Roland wrote the contract on his laptop on the way to the conference center.
That night he slept from 1am to 3am, because he had to cram on Magic interviews and his book, so he could craft a list of questions they’d be asking him (per his PR team’s requirements).
Ryan says Roland is suck it up, buttercup, and never looking for pity. He just gets the job done. When crap goes sideways, it’s a reason to sleep less, but not to give up. You make the thing every bit of what you promised it would be to the people who have invested their time and money to come.
Roland shouts out Martha Stewart for being a suck-it-up person as well. She had just gotten out of the hospital from surgery on her broken ankle. Her doctor told her not to move, but she wasn’t going to back out of the job she signed up for. She had someone helping her walk, but she showed up, and she delivered in a big way.
When Bad Things Happen, Freak Out for a Minute, Then Deliver
Not everyone can be as calm as Roland Frasier, but a good leader needs to stay calm enough to lead the team and make things right for the customers. Ryan noticed that some people on the team were able to do this and pursue solutions. Others seemed drawn to the drama and just added to it. Those people probably weren’t ready for a leadership position.
Ryan also admitted that he had a general sense of disappointment during the whole T&C event. He later realized he was comparing this year’s event to the picture he had in his mind of what T&C 2021 would have been if there was no pandemic. This is an incredibly unhealthy and unhelpful mindset to have.
He told his wife Emily and she said, “I don’t understand. Everyone else seems pretty happy.” And they were. The trade floor was elevated. It looked amazing. There were people all over the place. It was popping. The VIP area was great. Vendors were thrilled. Martha Stewart and Magic Johnson were awesome.
Ryan realized his comparison wasn’t fair to himself or to those who were busting their tails to put on a great event. Or to the customers who were frankly enjoying themselves and getting tremendous value from it. In retrospect, he’s really proud of the team and the content and product they put out there.
The Biggest Takeaways
Roland says don’t panic; just move forward. Everyone did whatever it took. So many people worked their butts off, double time, triple time, didn’t sleep, to bring this event to life. Difficult times build resilience muscle, scar tissue. It’s the only way to do it. Now they know that, if they have a celebrity drop at the last minute, they can get through it.
Every bad thing leads to a better thing. Snoop will come in next year from a good place. They developed a relationship with Magic and talked to him about working with their foundation and DigitalMarketer.
Ryan realized how much his personal ego was wrapped up in stuff. He was worried about low numbers, because he didn’t want to look dumb. If you’re afraid of something, haven’t taken that action, launched that product, made that sales call, how much of it is wrapped in your actual concerns about the business and how much of it is your ego?
If you’re ever at a live event, focus on delivering the absolute best performance you can with the people you’ve got. Don’t get all bent out of shape. Get to work. Do your job. Stop making it about you. If you impact one person in the audience, you had a huge win. Because it was a huge win for them.
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