Last weekend I attended Youpreneur Summit in London, UK. The event is the brainchild of the UK thought leader, author, podcaster, personal branding entrepreneur, Chris Ducker. Its the second Youpreneur Summit I have attended (there has only been 3 total.)
(Photo: Chris Ducker's Facebook page)
2018 was my first time– Honestly, my focus in 2018 was more on my own nerves about being in the UK for the first time (by myself, at a new conference, where I didn’t know anyone) to assess the quality of the conference fairly. Remember my post about being a shy-introvert/INFJ?
What happened last year (2018), despite my nerves, is some incredibly high-achieving and highly-inspiring supportive entrepreneurs who I would have never met otherwise became part of my life. They are 50% of the reason for traveling back to London this year.
Quick poll: Do you believe the universe brings certain people and connections together? I really want to know your answer. DM me on Instagram and let me know.
The other 50% of the reason I went back––even beyond the nervous energy bubbling inside me last year, it was one of the most well-produced events and conferences I have ever been to, and I was not too nervous to recognize it.
Because I plan and host a small conference myself, I understand the pieces of the puzzle and all of the work it takes to execute a high-quality conference or workshop. So many moving parts.
Now it is November 2019, and while writing this, I am on the 9-hour plane ride home back to Northern Illinois, thinking all of the thoughts, and I wanted to give you a rundown of what truly stands out about this conference, plus some takeaways from some very special people whose names you may recognize!
WHAT MAKES YOUPRENEUR SUMMIT GREAT
Tactical Takeaway: Build up your conference presence online through a community like a Facebook Group or Linkedin Group
The Youpreneur team builds up the community surrounding the event before and after the conference like nothing I have ever seen.
They do this through a very vibrant and engaged Facebook group where they email access to the attendees before and after the event. Several emails are sent prior to the event giving attendees important information but encouraging people to join the group page.
The group page is very organized. Threads pop up from Team Youpreneur asking people to discuss their plans, to discuss networking opportunities, or to talk about different topics.
The topics are relevant, unforced, and you end up making friends before the conference begins. They do an intro-video competition and people upload videos into the group page for their chance to be recognized on stage at the summit. It becomes a fun game and I found myself tuning into the videos each day to see which one would be funnier than the next.
This group does include past attendees which is smart. Once attendees start ramping up the group page energy due to the present year’s excitement, I can only imagine how a past attendee who hasn’t bought a ticket may feel -- major FOMO.
The emails Team Youpreneur send out ahead of, during, and after the event are friendly in nature and don’t seem to be from a tired admin who hates their career/life. Sorry, is that dramatic? Haha.
I say this because all too many times, the emails sent out before a conference can be worn, and tired with no excitement or personality. Something about the Youpreneur emails makes it seem to be coming from a warm person.
Tactical Takeaway - As a conference organizer it is your responsibility to cultivate a powerful but warm attendee environment. Round tables are key!
This group page and online presence set the tone for the type of people at the event. High achieving, friendly, warm, comforting, supportive, uplifting. I don’t know if you even need me to explain more here. You get the idea. If you are worried about connecting with people, come to this conference because it is non-cliquey and very kind.
The seating is at round tables which helps initiate a conversation with fellow attendees in a way that doesn’t feel contrived. For an hour on each day of the event, there was a “mastermind” session at each round table. You took 5 minutes to discuss your problems and come up with solutions with people at your table.
I have met some really cool people at these tables who I have stayed invested in their businesses and kept up with throughout the year. In 2018 I met Lauren and Caylee from Get Messy Art Journal and Steve Folland who has a successful podcast called Being Freelance.
This year my table included a powerhouse of women like podcasters Fran Excell, Liz Mellville, and published author, Chloe Burroughs and many other inspiring women. During these sessions we discussed everything from imposter syndrome, to starting podcasts, to meditation, to writing and publishing books, to entrepreneurship retreats in the Netherlands.
Participating in a brainstorming session with new brains who potentially don’t know you and have never heard your story or the limitations you put on yourself has the power to unlock different parts of your brain and help you accept new ideas. The round tables are SO vital to the success of the people who walk away from Youpreneur Summit.
VENUE & EXPERIENTIAL ATMOSPHERE
Tactical Takeaway - Host your event in a venue that tells your attendee it is important and worth your respect and time.
London is pretty cool in general, but Youpreneur Summit is hosted at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre which is a beautiful venue. In comparison to much larger conferences, the room seats (I am guessing) close to 300 people. Both years I have been to this conference it has been sold out… and I am not talking “sold out” but actually sold out with not one empty seat in the place.
The room itself has dimmed lights and a beautiful stage which sets the tone that you are about to see some important speakers and learn important things. The round tables add to the atmosphere because you become close with the people who you are sitting next to.
The backdrop is three floor-to-ceiling projection screens with a sparkly backdrop extending beyond those making it so there is NO bad place to take a photo from the entire audience.
BONUS Tactical Takeaway: It is seriously such a great marketing tool to make sure your environment is photo-friendly. Have a venue where people want to take photos of your speakers and where every photo looks good.
The speakers for the event have reserved tables in the back, but they are inside the general audience. This is important. Whenever I see speakers in the room, listening to the other speakers, it gives me a happy feeling inside. It shows me the speakers respect the event, the audience, the event organizer, and respect the others on stage. It is a similar concept to when bands play in a lineup and stay to support the bands who come after them or play before them.
Tactical Takeaway - Bring on the speakers with great music and have an energetic emcee.
There is great energetic music to bring on every speaker, and it seems to bring the attention of the attendees back to the stage after a break and make them excited. Music has a lot of power in emotional impact.
The AV and production crew at Youpreneur Summit works like clockwork. In both years I have only seen total (maybe) 3 technical difficulties with a microphone or clicker not working for a matter of a minute… and it was handled with ease and without panic.
Note about tech difficulties: EVERY CONFERENCE HAS THEM. No conference is immune. None, no matter how awesome you or your production team is.
TRUE, the more prepared you are, the less microphone, slide clicker, AV tech issues are likely, BUT you can be as prepared as possible and there will still be a snag here and there, so if you’re planning an event, this is nothing to beat yourself up over. In fact, I bet no one even noticed the small microphone snag or thought twice about it besides me and other conference planners who simply noticed out of sheer empathy.
This conference’s production team is obviously on top of their game. I am thoroughly impressed. Dimming of music, lights, switching from presentations, etc, seems effortless and I know it isn’t. Congratulations to the Youpreneur Team for this because the Tech Gods absolutely love to screw with conferences.
Youpreneur had a great emcee named Jenny Flintoff. She brought the energy and focus back to the event in between breaks, spoke without slides, and helped people be timely with their breaks between speakers by keeping us updated with a schedule
OFFICIAL YOUPRENEUR SUMMIT NETWORKING EVENTS
Tactical Takeaway– Give people great vibes and great entertainment and they won’t want to stop networking.
This could have gone in the In-person community section but it deserves it’s own bubble. The Youpreneur Summit upped it’s official networking nights from 1 night last year to 2 nights this year and the results were fabulous.
This year Networking Night one included a blues band, based on the movie, The Commitments. Knowing Chris Ducker is a big blues fan, I can tell this networking event made his year. Seeing not only Chris and Erz but also the attendees dance and have fun was so much fun.
The band was a great touch. Being very into the world of sound and music (see: Culture Shock, our record store) my only just very slight suggestion was just that all of the instruments could have been turned down a few decibels. It was a little hard to talk––But very easy to dance. And I think maybe that was the point, so it really wasn’t a problem. Haha.
Chris Ducker even surprised us all when he was pulled on stage and sang Mustang Sally. And WOW––Chris can sing. Like…. Mind-blown––that guy has some serious pipes!!!
At the networking nights both evenings, everyone was given 2 drink tickets – a nice touch.
It lasts just enough time for people to head out afterward if they want drinks or more food and here is the thing… Youpreneur Summit cultivates such an amazing family of attendees, no one ever wants to stop networking so we all spent after-networking time going to whatever pubs or hotels would host us to continue networking until we were too tired to function.
This is not NORMAL or average. It’s intentional. When I leave this conference I feel sad, like I am leaving summer camp, because every waking moment is spent with other attendees, we all feel close like a family by the end of the weekend.
Tactical Takeaway - Let attendees market your event for you.
Every slideshow had the HASHTAG at the bottom of it for the Summit. Every name tag had a HASHTAG at the bottom of the nametag. Every sign had Instagram and Twitter handles on them. SO. FREAKING. SMART.
It baffles me when a conference’s hashtag is nowhere to be found. At Youpreneur it’s everywhere, and because it is everywhere, #youpreneursummit was trending all weekend on Twitter with a room full of only 300 people.
Let attendees market your event for you. They are ready!
In between EVERY SESSION, the emcee or Chris asked us to post our takeaway to Twitter or Instagram. What does this do? It shows the internet of all of our connections far and wide #youpreneursummit is the place to be at.
This year Youpreneur also hired a social media manager for the day of the event. May King, social media correspondent, and FOMO creator made the event exciting online by doing interviews, covering speakers, attendees, networking, and everything and anything in between.
It helped energize the social media content of the event and helped Youpreneur share the attendees audiences online.
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK AT YOUPRENEUR SUMMIT
Tactical Takeaway - Get yourself an obnoxiously capable team who understand the importance of the event the way you do.
The Youpreneur team is what makes this event happen. Chris Ducker is a true visionary, but his small and extremely powerful team works at a magnitude which would take 20x the amount of people to create at any average conference.
Shout out to Chris and Erz Ducker and the entire team of people working to make this conference successful. I see how hard you worked and having a small and very mighty team for my conference as well, I actually KNOW and understand how hard you’re working. You really really did it.
WELL, THERE IT IS...
This is my full review from Youpreneur Summit and the reasons it is one of the most well-produced conferences I have attended.
I have never been a person to attend something without analyzing what it takes to put it together… not as if everyone should analyze it the way I do. My brain just works that way.
Everything Chris Ducker does seems to be VERY intentional and to someone like me, this sticks out as I see the puzzle pieces fit together.
FREEBIE: My messy notes -- I did take notes, Disclaimer–I did not clean them up, flesh them out, or fix typos/edit them, they aren't special, they are just my real, raw, notes right from the notepad of my phone...but you can see what takeaways I wrote down from each speaker. Just download those here.
Here is the extra fun part… the funner part?
I asked a combination of speakers, podcasters, authors, thought-leaders who you respect and trust what their most unique or valuable takeaway was from this event. I purposely asked people who have been to or spoken at multiple events or have great networks of people because I want to bring you information from people who have experienced a lot in this space. Here is what I dug up for you.
JEFF GOINS - Bestselling Author, Writer, Speaker, Entrepreneur
Jeff, me, and a few friends had the pleasure of having drinks and dinner after Youpreneur the night before he spoke at the conference. He nailed his talk on How to Write a Best-Selling Book. After the conference, I asked him as someone who speaks often, and organizes an event, what his biggest takeaway was. This is what he said:
“I took away from the conference a key insight from Todd Herman that each area in life requires us to play a slightly different role and our job is to never assume we are the character but the one who is performing. He made me think differently about my work and life and how to integrate them in a way where I am honoring all of my responsibilities and dreams well.”
NATALIE NORTON - Bestselling Author, Host of The Show Up Podcast
I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Natalie and Richie Norton after this event and they blew my mind with their story. Natalie has a huge network of people in the speaking and conference industry as well as a great podcast called The Show Up Podcast. After the conference, I asked Natalie for her takeaway from the event and this is what she said:
“Honestly the thing that Richie and I keep talking about over and over again, is just the sense of community and camaraderie and such a genuine feeling of belonging and collaboration, and I don't think–in fact I KNOW you don’t– see that at every conference you attend. That, as much as all the knowledge shared, is the greatest value-add. This feeling is not something that can be contrived or manipulated and comes from great leadership –Something Chris has done really well.”
BOB GENTLE - Host of the Amplify Podcast, Business Coach
Bob is one of those people (like how I was saying above) I feel the universe brought into my life at the right time. I met him at Youpreneur Summit in 2018 and we have been friends ever since, but we spent a great deal of time talking about our businesses at this conference together. He is the former owner of the biggest digital marketing agency in Scotland and now spends his time exclusively coaching entrepreneurs all over the world and some leading businesses in Scotland. Bob also has one of the top podcasts for digital agencies on Itunes. He is an influential mentor to me and a great friend. I asked Bob for a takeaway and he gave me quite a few great ones. Here are a few:
“Pascal Fintoni talking about emotional abandonment in your content hit home. As one of the least 'well known' speakers, the spirit he spoke from really resonated with me.
I liked that big-name speakers like Hal Elrod and JJ Virgin didn't focus on the normal speaker stuff. They lifted the curtain and spoke about the back-end businesses and how they were grown.
Jeff Goins was also a highlight. He made something which looks incredibly difficult seem very achievable.
The summit isn't just about speakers. They frame the event and set context but the real value in the event is the people who attend and the reflection, challenge and validation they offer.”
ALEX CURTIS - Founder of The Lead Engine
Alex is another person I had the pleasure of meeting in 2018 at Youpreneur Summit but got to know him much better at the 2019 conference. Alex is a Youtuber, a digital marketing expert, and is leaning into his personal brand much heavier in months to come. I asked Alex to give me his top takeaway and this is what he said:
“People can't get their head around something that is 100% different. Whether it's a book or an e-book or a blog post the ideal balance is 80% the same 20% different. Challenge the status quo but not radically different.”
ANDY STORCH - Host of the Talent Development Hot Seat Podcast
Andy Storch is another person I met last year at Youpreneur Summit 2018 and we have stayed friends and been working together ever since. I would call Andy the most masterful networker I have ever met. He is the king of making connections. When I asked Andy for his takeaway, this is what he said:
“Anything is possible. I can write a book, build a membership, start a movement and change the world. If not now, when?”
As you can see, everyone took away something unique but very valuable from this fantastic conference. Did you attend this event? What did you think? I’d love for you to leave a comment on my Instagram post about Youpreneur right here.
FREEBIE: My messy notes -- I did take notes, Disclaimer–I did not clean them up or fix typos or edit them, they are not terribly special, they are just my real, raw, notes right from the notepad of my phone...but you can see what takeaways I wrote down from each speaker. Just download those here.