Re: Increasing your corporate value (long)

Subject: Re: Increasing your corporate value (long)
From: Jobs at ProSpring <jobs -at- prospring -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 05 Jun 2005 09:58:31 -0700

Hi Jack,

Your mentioning LavaCon reminds me of an anecdote: Two years ago, when the
economy was bottoming out and companies were downsizing daily, I got a
postcard for LavaCon and burst out laughing. I mean, go up to my boss and
say, <monty python>"by the by squire, I need to attend a seminar in Hawaii? They'd put
me away.</monty python> I envy LavaCon their location, but they'd probably get better
attendance if they were based in a city that wasn't such a vacation
paradise. Minneapolis (IceCon) or Kansas City (FlatCon) would be much
better; I think I could attend in that case. ;)


I have to admit you are not the first person to tell me that. :-)

However, I need to point out that my purpose for creating LavaCon was never to maximize attendance. I created LavaCon to give frazzled managers a chance to get away from back-to-back deadlines and de-stress long enough to take care of their personal and professional development.

To get AWAY from the office and be able to take a big-picture view of how things are and where they wanted to take their departments.

In fact, many attendees of the first conference used the "I've been working 90 hours a week for the past two years. I'm going to this conference. Sign here!" argument for attending.

Granted, having the first conference on Maui was a tactical error on my part since so many people did what you did---immediately dismissed the location ("My boss would NEVER let me go to a conference on *Maui*...!"), instead of building a business case for attending DESPITE where it was located.

For example, the room rate at the conference hotel in Maui was significantly less than than the rate at the STC 2003 Annual Conference hotel in Dallas and the PMI Global Congress hotels in Baltimore, and at the time it cost LESS to fly from the US West Coast to Hawaii than it did to either Dallas or Baltimore!

Nevertheless, in an effort to learn from my mistakes I held the next LavaCon on the mainland (in New Orleans). However, I found that having the conference on the mainland didn't increase attendance as much as I expected, so I thought #&@$ it, I'm taking the conference back to Hawaii.

BTW, one more thing: one of the advantages of NOT trying to maximize attendance (by holding the conference in a less-desirable location) is to facilitate peer-to-peer networking.

For example, because of the networking at the first conference, I learned something in a session I GAVE on how to write statements of work and contracts. I was explaining that in our standard contract for doing fixed-bid projects, we bill 20% at authorization to proceed, 70% at alpha delivery and 10% on final with a "kill fee" clause saying that if the client killed the project due to no fault of ours, we get to bill 30% of the yet-to-be-billed balance in exchange for work we may have turned away after taking on the project.

At that point someone in the session said, "That's good, but what if they kill the project two weeks before alpha delivery? You're out the difference between the kill fee and the 70%. What we say in our contract is if the client authorizes us to start the next phase of a project, they have to pay us for that phase, even if they kill the project due to no fault of ours before we make the deliverable."

Needless to say that wording is now in my standard letter of agreement!

Another (true!) story is that one of the attendees from the first LavaCon applied what she learned about negotiating contracts and was able to make several THOUSAND more dollars on her next project than she would have otherwise. So the conference more than paid for itself---all because she overcame the *perception* that having the conference in Hawaii would make the trip nothing but a boondoggle.

Yes, I know having the conference in Hawaii every year is going to affect the number of people attending.

But from from the feedback I've been getting from attendees each year, perhaps that's not such a bad thing....


LavaCon: The Third Annual Conference on Tech Comm Management
September 25-28, 2005 Honolulu, Hawaii


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