I started my speaking career in 2011 at FinCon, the financial blogger conference. I got called onto the main stage at the last minute because the keynote speaker was unable to make it. I was kind of thrown into the deep end, and although I was nervous and scared, it was a life-changing moment.
Flash-forward to 2018, when I decided to host my own conference. I pitched the idea to Team SPI, and we decided that in the summer of 2019 we'd put on an event in San Diego for 500 people who wanted to come.
The very first FlynnCon was an amazing experience, a family-friendly event where entrepreneurs could come together and learn and connect (and even play some Mario Kart).
Then of course in 2020, everything changed. We'd hoped to run FlynnCon for a second year, but the pandemic had something to say about that. So we delayed it by a year. But soon we realized that hosting an in-person event in 2021 wasn't going to happen either.
Long story short, FlynnCon was an incredible experience that may or may not happen again. But in the meantime, we're still moving forward on creating highly valuable experiences for entrepreneurs to come together and learn—like this month's Audience Driven Summit, happening October 12-13.
Today, I'll share all the details about how FlynnCon came to be, how we tried to plan its sequel through the pandemic, and why you should join the upcoming summit. It may not be FlynnCon, but it'll still be a blast (and it's free!).
SPI 514: The Fall of FlynnCon...
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And here's your host. He wants to write a short story that one day becomes an animated Pixar short: Pat Flynn.
I started my speaking career in 2011, thanks to Philip Taylor from FinCon, the financial blogger conference. And that was a huge moment. In fact, I got last-minute called onto the keynote stage because the keynote speaker, Trent Dizman, was unable to make it. And so I was kind of thrown in the deep end, and although I was nervous and although I was scared, it was a life-changing moment. I absolutely fell in love with the stage. And even still today, I still speak when I can. It's been a couple of years since COVID, of course. But I still get nervous. Just as nervous as I was back then. I've just learned how to deal with it. Well, in 2018, I decided to go a little bit further with my speaking career and instead of attending another person's conference and speaking there and trying to deliver value, I decided that I was going to put on my own event. And I pitched this to the team, Team SPI, and I, we decided that in 2019, in the summer of 2019, here in San Diego, we'd put on an event for 500 people who wanted to come.
There were some things about it that were very different. I had spoken at a lot of events, so I knew what was great, what was not so great. And I wanted to put on the premier event for entrepreneurs in a family-friendly scene. So it was a family-friendly conference. That means there were no ... everything from no swear words, but also the fact that kids were invited, kids could hang out, and there was even an arcade. Yes. We had an arcade with standup arcade machines, as well as Mario Kart happening. There was a Mario Kart tournament that happened during this conference. And yes, it was a business conference, but this was all integrated with it. As well as my family, my family was integrated. My son and my daughter came on stage. My wife came on stage. We talked about family life and business and the intermixing of those things together.
And the pros and cons of all that, it was a really amazing experience. And 2019 was also the year that we launched Superfans, the latest book that I have come out with and published, and that has been very successful since then, but that was the launch that started it all. And we gave away a free copy to everybody. We surprised everybody because we said the launch was going to happen a couple months later, then boom, there it was. We had a little signing at the pool party after. It was just so much fun, and so many great things came out of it. And although we at Team SPI came out under, as far as finances and stuff, I didn't expect to break even. In fact, in my research, I discovered that many people who put on events are only profitable after the second or third year, if not later.
So of course I wanted to get to that point. So we presold tickets at the 2019 closing keynote. And we had nearly a hundred people sign up for tickets for the next year, which was going to happen, same place, same time, July 2020. And we're getting the planning done. We were getting new sponsors to come on board. It was looking to be pretty profitable, and then come March, it seemed like, well, things were going to not happen the way we expected. And I'm not just talking about the event, but the entire world. I had spoken at the Social Media and Marketing World Conference in February 2020. And that was right around the time of the outbreak. And it was at a point where people weren't sure if we should shake hands anymore. There was a lot of elbow bumping happening, sanitizer everywhere.
Got home from that event, it was in my hometown, so it wasn't a long drive. And a couple of weeks later it was boom, locked down, and we had just missed it. Thankfully, there was no outbreak or anything like that at that conference, but the truth was FlynnCon and everything around that, I mean, there were way more important things to think about. But obviously this was something that was coming up. So we had to plan for it. We had rented out and booked a bunch of hotels in the San Diego area that we had to pay for. We rented out the space, we presold these tickets; what were we going to do? Well, we decided to delay it a year. So it was supposed to happen in 2021. And we are very grateful that everybody who had bought a ticket, or for the most part, everybody was very understanding of that.
We even awarded those people who had purchased preorder tickets, an extra course, or a workshop of ours, as sort of a thank you for waiting, and we come back in 2021 and even stronger. Well, that didn't happen either. And man, it was a kind of financial and logistical nightmare, and big thanks to the entire team and especially Jess for helping to coordinate things in such a way that we could remove ourselves from the contracts that we were in. Also, big shoutout to Christie Birch, who is also on our sort of events team, who we hired on contract. We got out of everything, everything except the tickets that we had sold. And so Jess and I had some conversations and we said, "You know what? We can't just delay this another year. We are holding these people's money." That's the trouble with these events sometimes: you get this money up front, and that was two years ago, and you might spend it or you might put it somewhere.
And of course, thankfully we had a nice bankroll and some emergency funds. We were able to offer everybody a refund, or a special offer to one of our new courses or things like that. Everybody was taken care of, or at least everybody who at least got the email. And if you didn't, please let us know, if you did buy one of those tickets.
So where does that leave us for today? What happened to FlynnCon? Well, I just told you, but what's going to happen to FlynnCon? Well, as of right now, it is likely not going to happen again. At least not anytime soon. We don't have a hotel. We are not going to plan to do it in 2022. And who knows where it's going to go from there? But to everybody who was there, thank you so much for a memorable and incredible experience.
I mean, I have visions of the book signing and me on stage and standing on ladders and a couple of very powerful moments where I was sitting on a stool, talking about legacy, and the spotlight was on me too. Watching my son give a presentation in front of everybody, to the amazing speakers who were there, from Efdot, an artist who you've seen the serve-first shirts. He's the one who's designed the Serve First shirts, talking very powerfully about what had happened after his apartment burned down and how he turned that into something incredible. To Chalene Johnson, to Stu McLaren, Chris Ducker, of course emceeing, and so many more speakers, incredible speakers, guests. Shane and Jocelyn were there. Mark Mason, one of our very first guests here on the Smart Passive Income podcast was there. Dana Malstaff from Boss Mom. Whew, it was an event to remember. The arcade, and big shoutout to Brendan as well for manning that and the community to the sponsors, Teachable, ConvertKit, man. It was so amazing, and big shoutout and thank you to everybody from Team SPI who was there to take care of everybody and run the show. And big thanks to the VIPs.
It's not happening anymore, but you know what is happening? Next week, in fact, if you're listening to this on the date that this comes out, there is an event happening. If you didn't know, this is your time to know, and guess what? This event is totally free. You don't have to travel to it. You just got to make a little bit of time for it. It's called the Audience Driven Summit. And I am so proud of the entire team for putting this together over the past three to four months, in fact, and pulling together some incredible speakers for our very first SPI Summit. It's run on the HeySummit platform. Definitely check them out because they've made things really, really great and easy.
And this is really cool, because the setup of this is quite different than obviously a in-person live event. This is sort of a mix of live and prerecorded. It is run like a live event online where you sign up, and again, go to AudienceDriven.co to sign up. This is your last chance to sign up. It's free. And again, you can attend all or some, from some of your favorite speakers. Everybody from Neil Patel, talking truly about what's working in traffic building and audience building today and into 2022. Roberto Blake, Rob Maurer from Tesla Daily. We got Keenya Kelly talking about TikTok and IG reels. We also have an incredible YouTuber, Ali Abdaal, with over 2 million subscribers, talking about what's working in video today. You're not going to want to miss this. And like I said, it's a hundred percent free. There is no reason not to sign up. If anything, even just to get a couple of the talks or the replays or things like that.
So again, AudienceDriven.co. Most of the team has been doing the hard work so that it was easy for us and the speakers to just have a great time and show up and deliver value. So, I want to give a big shoutout to Tony Bacigalupo, who's been really the person who's been taking the lead on putting this together. He is a new team member of ours for about a year now, who's joined us ever since SPI Pro has come about. He created the coworking space scene in New York, and he's been an incredible addition to Team SPI. And Gillian, of course, our community manager and Jay Clouse, and so many others here on Team SPI has helped to put this together. This is your last chance. Go ahead and sign up now, because this is what events are going to look like for now in the environment that we're in.
But as you've heard me talk about before, and in fact, a couple of weeks ago, the importance of adapting, right? “Pivot,” as Ross would say, “Pivot,” for any Friends fans out there. We're pivoting, right? We are making a huge pivot, not just from live events in person to now, online summit, but there's a bigger pivot even happening within the brand of SPI and what our positioning is going to be. So you'll hear more about this at the Audience Driven Summit, AudienceDriven.co. Register now, but this is likely the first public announcement that you're hearing about this, that from this point forward, most, if not all of the content that comes out on SPI, on the blog and our focus is going to be on helping you build your audience, audience driven. And the words “audience driven” are really important, because it's not just about collecting subscribers and building followers and big brands.
In fact, it's not about that at all. It's about gathering your best community and driving your business as a result of that community, that you're building. Audience driven, the content that you create, the products that you create, the coaching programs, the consultations, the physical products, all driven from the audience that you build first. Audience first, serve first. Then your business comes from there, and this is inherently what we've always been sort of a proponent for, but now we're putting our flag in the ground, stomping our feet going, "Yo, let us help you build your audience with true growth, targeted audiences." Because yeah, you could have a million people visit your website or your podcasts, but if they're not targeted, I mean, they're not going to convert, but conversion means them taking the next step with you, not just a funnel. Funnels and strategies and things like that are very important.
I mean, we had Jeff Walker on the podcast recently, but when you target the right people and you serve them and you use the things that we're going to teach you from this point forward. And again, we've taught these things before, but now it's clear and it should be clear. Yes, we're still trying to help you build your dream business, which was our tagline for so long. But more tangible, we want to help you grow that audience. So let us help you. AudienceDriven.co is when we're starting, and want you to come in with open eyes and open ears and a notepad. Remember, it's free, and you can grow your audience and monetize it authentically: AudienceDriven.co. Hope to see you there.
I'm going to be there. The whole team's going to be there as well as these incredible speakers that are going to show up for you. It's going to be awesome. It's going to be so much fun. I'll see you there: AudienceDriven.co, happening next week. Sign up now before it's too late, or you can sign up for when the next summit or any other replay information is going to be available. It depends when you listen to this and when you go to that page, but that will always be the URL: AudienceDriven.co. Go there now to get the latest piece.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.