...and breaking promises.

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Have you ever been in a situation where you need to break a promise?

After taking over the reigns of WorkSnug last year there's something that I've been dreading addressing. I considered ignoring it but that made me very uncomfortable. Now it's been over a year I really can't avoid bringing it up any longer.

Years ago the founders of WorkSnug adopted ten principles. They did a great job of articulating the things that made WorkSnug different from other businesses. And they reassured me that I was investing my time in a company with good intentions. But I've struggled to see how I could possibly stay true to two of the principles:

  • "We're trying to reduce business travel"
  • "As a business, we don't fly"

How much of your success can you attribute to business travel?

It's rarely possible to get everything you need for your business in a single place. People rave about being able to achieve that while living in places like London, New York and Silicon Valley. But I love the place I live, just outside Brighton on the South Coast of England, more than anywhere else. I'm sure you feel the same about the part of the world you call home.

Travel has been central to my business success. When I first left full-time employment, just under ten years ago, I had to travel to London to win my first clients. When I became interested in building consumer web applications I had to fly to San Francisco to raise investment. And if it wasn't for the two flights it took me to reach Austin, Texas, I would have very likely closed The Skiff back in 2010. Since then there have been many other trips. Had I not taken them, I'm sure I would have held back the development of my businesses.

In recent years I particularly valued travelling to conferences that bring together two groups of people. Firstly, people who create great places to work by building coworking communities. And, secondly, people who building independent digital product businesses. Businesses that give people the freedom to work when they want and where they want.

There's nothing quite like being surrounded by people who share your ambitions. I've been able to to build relationships with people who I might have otherwise been limited to exchanging tweets with. As a result, there are now a handful of conferences around the world that have become fixtures in my calendar. I didn't ever want to miss catching up with the other regular participants.

So what do you do if you can't travel?

Not long after taking over WorkSnug I learned that I was to become a father. I knew it would change everything but it took me a while to realise how much. While I was worrying about fulfilling those WorkSnug principles I found myself canceling trips for other reasons. My wife Anna and I wanted to find a home we'd be comfortable bringing up a child in. And I had a to fulfil a bigger promise that I had made to her. I had to learn to drive.

We successfully moved two months before our son was born. And I passed my test (on the third attempt) the day before he was due. Now I'm happily eight weeks into fatherhood. As much as I want to catch up with colleagues from around the world, I suddenly have very little interest in travelling.

Fortunately I've discovered two things I can do instead. And you could do them too!

1. Participate in an online conference *next week*

One of the people who I met in Austin in 2010 has come up with a brilliant new idea for a conference. I credit Alex Hillman with saving The Skiff. He convinced me to keep going with it when I had serious doubts. I can't imagine what life would be like now for myself and our 150 other members if I had given up back then.

Alex realised that there are lots of people who can't travel to the many coworking conferences around the world. And those same people are the ones who would benefit the most if they could attend. So he's teamed up with others from his community, Indy Hall in Philadelphia, to create People at Work Summit.

People at Work Summit is an online conference about work and collaboration. 24 consecutive hours, 7 continents. All you need is a ticket, an internet connection, and a friendly disposition.

If you've read much about coworking you've almost certainly come across Alex's work. His blog is a treasure trove for anyone starting or growing a coworking community. I have no doubt that he and his team will make the Thursday 21st April a spectacular day where ever you are. 

Find out more at: https://www.peopleatworksummit.com/

2. Bring people to you

Lots of great things happen in the city I consider home. The annual Brighton Digital Festival has become a highlight of the year. It's a wonderful intersection of technology and the arts.

But it feels like there’s something missing. Brighton’s booming with digital businesses. There’s a fantastic freelance community and an impressive collection of agencies. The services they provide have given Brighton international recognition as a digital cluster. But the vast majority of those businesses are slaves to the clock. They make money selling their time. There’s plenty to learn from them, but what makes me excited is selling digital products.

I want to spend more time with people who are running digital product businesses. And I want to introduce them to people who aspire to do the same. Not just software businesses, either. There's so much to learn from people who are making a living by teaching with products like ebooks and online courses.

So I've teamed up with Andy Croll, an experienced conference organiser with similar ideas.

  • We've booked the Brighton Corn Exchange for Wednesday 6th July.
  • We've convinced some of the people we admire the most to come to Brighton.
  • We're organising for them to travel from Russia, USA, Japan - and a few places closer to home.
  • We've come up with a name and deployed the simplest website possible.

It's called Life Time Value Conference

Find out more: https://ti.to/ltvconf/2016/ (There are still a handful of Super Early Bird tickets with a 33% discount)

Could you do something similar where you live?


Keep working snugly,


PS If you're in the UK and interested in participating in People at Work Summit, you're very welcome to experience it with me in Brighton next week. The Skiff is an official cohost. Grab your discounted ticket here: https://ti.to/indyhall/people-at-work-summit/discount/theskiff