The ‘No Excuses’ Story
The Untold Story of 2 Young Guys & the Industry Event Which Transformed Lives, Revolutionized How Live Events are Done and Cost Over $1 Million Dollars
This is an excerpt from ‘The Best of BetterNetworker Magazine’ Volume 9 featuring Ferny Ceballos & Raymond Fong on the cover released right before No Excuses Summit II
The Birth of the No Excuses Summit
Written Right Before No Excuses Summit II Took Place
The value of our relationships proved to be especially important last year (2010), with the inception of the original No Excuses Summit event.
Initially, we offered it as a workshop for people who purchased “What’s Working Now” (WWN) via our affiliate link, partnering with a handful of leaders offering it as a bonus as part of an affiliate contest for the launch of the product. We didn’t win first place in the contest, but we did have the responsibility of serving our customers with this live event we promised them.
We began exploring the possibility of actually selling tickets, inviting other industry leaders to speak. We wanted it to be a low-cost event that would blow some minds with two or three days of training, allowing each speaker to offer their products and services to those participants from stage who wanted to learn more. We would take a percentage of all product sales at the event, and potentially earn a bucketful of money.
It was the standard seminar model.
One by one, leaders from around the industry wanted to be a part of it – Mike Dillard, Brian Fanale, Mark Hoverson, Tim Erway, Jonathan Budd, Jim Yaghi, David Schwind — and the list kept growing. Pretty soon, we had to start turning away industry leaders because there were no more speaking slots!
We felt bad saying ‘No’ to the successful people we looked up to who made a lot more money than we did. It was a weird position to be in.
We only had two months to pull off what would become the biggest event this industry had ever seen — including negotiating a contract with The Venetian – a multi-billion dollar 5-star Las Vegas resort — allocating a ballroom for 1000 people, hiring crews to set up the stage, film, and most importantly, sell tickets.
A Different Model?!
The final ingredient that made the No Excuses Summit a truly revolutionary event was introduced by Mike Dillard — three days before ticket sales started. Mike proposed that the ‘No Excuses Summit’ be a ‘no pitch’ event — where speakers aren’t allowed to sell from stage – making it the ultimate good will gesture to our customers by delivering nothing but value for three straight days.
Mike was never comfortable with speakers selling from the stage. He thought it would be hard to keep the speakers in check, and worried that the drive for the ‘almighty dollar’ would overrun the content, despite our best intentions, and the whole thing would become a “pitch fest.”
The proposal instead, was that speakers would instead receive licensing rights to the recordings, allowing them to sell ‘No Excuses Summit’ as a product in their own sales funnels, we get a small % of those sales and the industry would get a HUGE gift from its leaders.
Given the low cost of the event, implementing his idea meant we would be limiting our income drastically, since there would be no revenue from speaker sales — and ticket sales would be just enough to cover our expenses. We would essentially be doing it for free, earning literally nothing from the event and incurring the opportunity cost of putting our other projects on hold for four months.
It’s always hard to give up the potential for a lot of money. We would have been weekend millionaires, but the decision for us was actually pretty simple. We believed in Mike’s vision — and the principles we owe our success to – integrity, authenticity and value. We’d figure out other ways to make money.
As a compromise to the speakers, we would allow them to have booths outside the ballroom where they could display and sell their products. They could also offer them in the breakout sessions, after an hour of Q&A with their most die-hard followers — those most ready to take advantage of the training and take their own businesses to the next level.
The hard part would be convincing the other speakers to buy into this idea, since they stood to make a lot of money selling from the stage.
Although our speakers were great leaders in this industry, we knew that our proposal would carry more weight if it came from Mike. So we asked him to email the other speakers and outline the idea.
Most of them loved it and immediately bought in.
One speaker dropped out.
A couple of speakers did the event reluctantly, clearly upset by the loss of a potential six-figure income for an hour’s work. And surprisingly, many speakers decided not to sell anything at all — including Mike Dillard himself.
You might say that we bore witness to the best and selfishness of some of our industry leaders. The event definitely strained some of our relationships. They are not bad people, they just care more about the bottom-line, which is their right… after all, it’s their business. However, working with folks who don’t share your values and priorities is challenging, but we had to do it for the sake of our customers and the event.
Successes and Challenges
We opened ticket sales with a HUGE maxed-out webinar where all our speakers were LIVE, teaching and telling people what they could expect at the No Excuses Summit. Ticket sales exploded the minute availability was announced!.
The Friday of the event, we felt like we were dealing with the Sopranos when the Venetian slapped us with an unexpected $10,000 bill for rigging and lighting (it was NOT in our contract). If we didn’t pay it, the show wouldn’t go on. So we ponied up.
However, after that, the event itself went off without a hitch. For three incredible days, 1000 people got the very best from 17 of the wealthiest and most successful internet marketers in this industry.
When people approached us with tears of gratitude, overwhelmed by the incredible value they got for the little they paid, we knew we had done something amazing. Lives were transformed. It was by far the best thing we’ve ever done in our lives. We would do this event again, just to feel the euphoria of having contributed so powerfully to other people.
The euphoria soon faded when we learned what happened Saturday night, after the day’s events were over.
The unexpected $10,000 tab was due to a hotel requirement that we use their staff to run our lights. On Saturday night, the workers came to shut off the lights, and for some reason they unplugged equipment belonging to our production crew – which they had no business touching. They caused the hard drive containing the direct audio feed from all of Saturday’s speakers to lock-up in the middle of back-up — and crash.
Our hearts sank when we heard the news. Our speakers lost a product. We lost the opportunity to re-coup our costs and create a potential million-dollar launch for the recordings.
But worse than that, attendees who paid for their DVDs in advance experienced a long delay (four months!) in receiving their recordings.
That hard-drive was sent to two digital forensics companies, one that works with the FBI and the CIA. Neither could recover the data – and we incurred additional expenses while they tried.
We were forced to use low quality ambient audio recorded by one of the cameras, and added sub-titles, racking up more time and yet more expenses to preserve the content and deliver a decent product.
To say the least, it was kind of a bummer — but life goes on.
We can guarantee you one thing: it will NEVER happen again.
Since No Excuses, we’ve assisted with two very similar events – MLSP’s Live the Dream and CarbonCopyPRO’s Master Marketing Events. In both, necessary precautions were taken to avoid the problems we had. We are now, oddly enough, live event experts. We know what it takes to pull off an event, and we know what to watch out for.
Still with all the hassle, the financial liability, and the values clash with some of the speakers, why would we want to do it all again?
Simple. Because we have the opportunity to impact lives and participate in the creation of a new live event model very different from the standard ‘pitch fests’…
“We want to make money and we have some great ideas about how to do that without compromising the integrity of the event. But more important, we want to feel like we felt that weekend last year (2010)”, says Ray.
My take on that feeling is a bit more spiritual… it was like having God put his arm around your shoulder and say, “you did good”… while in Sin City, no less. Ha ha ha!
–end of excerpt–
To get our hands on the complete cover story from ‘The Best of BetterNetworker – Vol. 9’ including exclusive training by industry leaders, Click Here