How To Create Life-Changing Events: 5 Timeless Rules
Well-crafted events can change the world. As I prepare to produce the biggest, most impactful events of my life, I wanted to share my top lessons from producing several dozen events in the past decade
This week, I announced on X, my newest full-time venture, Edge City:
As I embark on a full-time journey into event-hosting this year with the co-founding of Edge City, I figured it would be a good time to share my advice for event creators.
Drawing from a decade of experience and numerous events, I've gathered lessons that transcend the specifics of any single type of gathering, including popup villages, which hold a special place in my efforts.
My goal here is to distill those lessons into actionable insights for anyone aiming to bring people together for complex and meaningful endeavors.
Here's what I've learned:
1. Aim To Create A Life-Elevating Experience
The hallmark of an exceptional event is its ability to transport attendees to an envisioned future, offering an engaging and meaningful escape from the mundane.
The experience of your event should make participants feel that attending was the best possible use of their time, enriching their life while they are there as well as their future with valuable connections and insights.
Creating an event where your attendees are like “that was fine, I guess?” does both you and your attendees a massive disservice.
Make an event worth their while. It’s a big responsibility and opportunity to do so.
By the way, people will rarely tell you if your event missed the mark, even if it sucked.
2. Curate Great People + Make It Easy For Them To Meet
A well-curated guest list is the cornerstone of any successful event.
Just one mismatched attendee can disrupt the harmony and good vibe of an otherwise perfect gathering.
Therefore, thoughtful selection and the ability to maintain a positive atmosphere are critical.
Leveraging your network of influential tastemakers across various niches can help you reach the ideal participants without needing to personally know everyone. This strategy not only ensures a harmonious mix but also enhances the event's appeal through the endorsement of respected voices.
A good mix as well is important. VCs want to meet entrepreneurs who want to meet developers.
Put everyone who wants to meet each other in the room, provide lightweight facilitation and digital tools that make it easy for them introduce themselves to each other, and everyone will feel like they got their money’s worth.
3. Design Each Moment Carefully
From the initial promotion to the final farewell, the event experience should be meticulously crafted.
This includes clear communication of benefits before the event, a seamless check-in process from the first day onward, engaging programming throughout the experience that doesn’t feel like school, and thoughtful follow-up filled with gratitude for each person’s presence.
These elements collectively contribute to an environment where attendees feel valued and cared for. You can help people’s lives feel more meaningful—which is mind-blowing.
Ultimately, it’s all about the details. It's the details that people remember. The memory of these thoughtful details evokes a feeling, and the feeling creates a lasting impression.
4. Secure Win-Win Partnerships
Building strategic partnerships that feel like 1 + 1 = 11 can amplify the reach and richness of your event.
Collaborating with experts and organizations allows you to offer a more diverse and comprehensive experience, tapping into a wider range of topics and activities.
Good partnerships also facilitate resource sharing, making more ambitious events feasible.
Partnering with Uniswap, Scroll, Guild, Stanford Blockchain Accelerator, Mask Network, and others for Edge City Denver made our lives planning 7 days of programming a relative breeze (and JOY!).
5. Value Your Events + Charge For Them
Don’t assume that a free ticket is the right move.
Setting a non-zero price for your event signals the value of the experience you're offering. Charging for events establishes a sense of worth and investment among attendees, enhancing their engagement and appreciation.
Edge City Denver costs $199 for Early Bird and $269 for GA. The price is a reflection of the work we put in.
Not everyone may be able to afford the full price, but if they have the money and will get a sufficient amount of value from the event (it passed the “Net Value” test—per my recent Substack), they should pay full price.
For people who can’t afford the full price but really want to come, you just need to have ways for people to contribute in other ways, like volunteer. You can also give scholarships to people who need financial assistance. Offering multiple pathways to secure a ticket ensures inclusivity.
Conclusion: Recognize Your Power to Create Life-Changing Events
In focusing on bringing Edge City to life, my mind has been filled with reminders of the power of events to connect, inspire, and elevate.
Whether you're a seasoned event organizer or just starting out, I hope these five lessons can guide you towards creating memorable gatherings that leave a lasting impact.
If you're intrigued by the possibilities of popup villages or interested in the cutting edge of event hosting, reach out.
Maybe we can create something magical together.
P.S. Edge City is in a Gitcoin Grants round for the Zuzalu Ecosystem ending on February 14th, 2024. If you are crypto-native and would like to donate to the project to help us have a successful launch year, here is where you go to do that. DM me on X know if you end up donating :)
America 2.0 (by Gary Sheng) is a reader-supported publication exploring how we can accelerate humanity to a Golden Age, faster. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.