In 2008 Patrick and I were invited to speak at Greek Blogger Camp. It was difficult to resist an invitation to attend a meeting at a dream island together with 30 Greek bloggers, Matt Mullenweg and Timothy Ferriss included. We ended up having a great time and were treated as VIPs.
Halfway during Timothy’s talk both Patrick and I had an epiphany.
At the same time. Really.
Timothy was talking about how most people ‘say’ they want to be rich but all they really want is to do the things that rich people do: travel to beautiful places, go big mountain skying or drive expensive cars. He went on to explain how he had chosen to take the short path to reaching those goals by writing his book, getting sponsored by a big car brand to test-drive their expensive models and how his lifestyle enabled him to go big mountains skiing whenever he wanted to. He didn’t have to be rich to live the rich man’s life.
At that exact moment Patrick and I looked at each other, smiled and we both knew that we had come to the same conclusion: we were there, on a beautiful island, being treated like VIPs, mingling with the stars (okay, our stars: Timothy Ferriss and Matt Mullenweg). We were living our dream and we knew we didn’t have to wait until we were 65 to start doing what we loved.
Ever since that long weekend we kept in touch with Timothy and agreed that we would ask him to speak at The Next Web Conference one day.
Now you might think that inviting Timothy is easy. It isn’t. Here is a guy who once became the National Chinese Kickboxing Champion by shoving opponents out of the ring (he didn’t fight them, he just pushed them, and won) and holds the Guinness Book of World Records’ record for the most consecutive tango-spins in one minute. He wrote a bestseller (The 4-Hour Workweek), sold his company and is an early investor in Twitter, Posterous, DailyBurn (formerly Gyminee), Reputation Defender, Foodzie, Badongo, Rescue Time, and SimpleGeo.
In other words: Timothy Ferriss is not someone you simply book. This is a guy that needs to find a reason to come. Since we don’t have big mountains to ski here in The Netherlands or access to expensive cars we had to come up with something else that piqued his interest.
We think we have one of the most interesting conferences in the world because we focus a lot on what our speakers will talk about. We don’t have big brand CEOs on stage who can only talk about how great their past quarters were. We try to get people on stage who can talk about the future, without worrying what their PR departments or stockholders will say. That means we have the strategy makers, book writers and independent entrepreneurs on stage who can really look forward.
We’ve noticed that the audience seems to appreciate this. They are more inspired, learn more and are more often surprised with the keynotes than at any other conference. At least, that is what we are told. We explained this to Timothy and challenged him to challenge the ideas of our audience and really blow their socks off. That seemed to have helped in his decision to join us on stage this year.
Okay, to tell you the truth I guess it also helped that we end the conference with the biggest yearly party in The Netherlands: Queensday.
During Queensday we celebrate our queens birthday and about a million people descend on Amsterdam, dressed in orange only, to celebrate ALL day. In fact, the party starts on Thursday evening, goes on all night, lasts through Friday and ends Saturday morning.
Read next: The 500 worst passwords. Can you find yours?