So first let's talk a little bit about where NerdCon:Stories came from. I said in my video, I probably shouldn't even have said this that it was my idea now it kind of was, it was also Patrick Rothfuss's idea and if you don't know who Pat Rothfuss is he wrote The Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear, two of the best books in modern fantasy, very much suggest to read them. He's also just a really fantastic dude. He uh, he has, like is cohesive to the fantasy community in some really amazing and inspiring ways, he does charity events and like, in a lot of ways it feels like he's like approaches his community and his success in the same way that John and I have so you know I get along very well with him, you know, we talk a fair amount which is just like that's really cool cause he's one of my favourite authors. It was on the floor I must have been doing something with it, here it is. This is The Name of the Wind. I think I have another copy inside. Oh I was listening to the audio book and then I had to stop and so I pulled the book out so I could read along. Anyway, this isn't the point. So the idea of NerdCon Stories is really strange and we, I feel like we haven't, weren't able to, maybe I should start talking in the past tense but maybe not, zero in exactly on the thing that it like needs to be or needed to be. Because usually conferences focus on some kind of cohesive fandom thing and obviously story is much bigger than that. And I worry, I think that one of the problems that we have, like a big big problem at NerdCon is that we focused a lot of the things that I and to a lesser extent Patrick Rothfuss was super into. And like that's not necessarily what everybody else is into. Like the thing to really avoid is the, ya know, like the feeling that this as impenetrable bubble of weird and you see
Why NerdCon: Stories is Failing
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Also, at the end of this video, I start talking about something very different and much bigger and also probably totally ludicrous.
who's gonna be at NerdCon Stories and you're like I don't know who any of these people are and you like look them up and you're like What? Who is this? What what is this that they're doing? So the impenetrable bubble of weird is I think a really thing and it can be really off putting if you feel like you're gonna go to an event and you're just not gonna get any of the jokes. Like you're not, it's not your thing, not in that community and so the thing that often draws people into an event and this is in no way, I'm not criticizing or being negative here is a big name. And so something that tells them like that's a thing that I identify with and so there's gonna be a bunch of other people at that event that I'm gonna identify with and what is the like the cohesive thing around which I will know that these are my people. And that's really what what making a great event is about like how do you create a space where people feel comfortable in being excited about the things that they're excited about doing this around stories as a very broad idea is I think at the event it works extremely well in terms of marketing it doesn't work well because it's very confusing and very weird. You don't know what this event is gonna be until you're there and the most special amazing beautiful moments are gonna be surprises. Like that that's almost true of all events like you don't, you know, you might see like this person and this person are gonna be on the stage at the same time that's gonna be amazing so you can see that but like often, certainly at the first NerdCon, a lot, maybe all of my top 10 favourite moments from the first NerdCon were things that just happened to happen. Because we put a lot of creative interesting people together in the same place and things happen. So it's weird to be going to a conference for things that you don't know are gonna happen. It's also I think you know
it's an idea that's sort of ahead of it's time. That to create an event that focuses as much on the attendee as a resource as NerdCon does. As NerdCon stories has. So usually like the way a conference is set up, well I guess this is, if you're talking about a fan conference, is you have sort of like very sort of peripheral fan focused community, focused events that are run by fans maybe. You might not have those at all. We have tried to bring much, like many more personal experiences and more community created content in the sort of spirit that people who are attending this conference are themselves a reason to attend the conference. Like you're going because there are other people there who are paying to go who are amazing and thoughtful and like weird and you know, have a lot of the same weirdnesses that you do. And that's like I think that we went like we were like let's just wooohh to this and I like it's such a cool idea but it is not something that like makes you want to buy a ticket unless you've done it a lot and it can also be like really intense and overwhelming sort of the idea that like who's this person like why do I want to go to their thing and am I supposed to participate with this and do I feel even comfortable in this world with all these strangers who I you know, I don't even know if I have anything in common with them. So I think there's that. I mean there are also more practical reasons. Like in general when I've talked about this before like I could have gone if only kind of things and as a like as I person who's running a business, like those are good data points but they don't necessarily like it's hard to say that that's the reason the conference isn't working because you know, if you have a good conference, there are gonna be some people who can't make it and there gonna be some people who definitely can like no matter what they're gonna make it.
But you know in the middle, like the vast majority of the people like it's conditional. There attendance at the conference is conditional upon like them having enough money to go or them being near enough to the conference to go or them being able to get off work to go. But there are good data points in there like for example NerdCon starts on a Friday, it's Friday and Saturday, which is probably a mistake. I think there was a good reason why we did that, I can't quite remember to do with the venue and we might not have been able to get dates like the Saturday Sunday dates. But that's definitely a thing, people are gonna have to miss school because it's also during the school year which there's a good reason it's during the school year. The reason we can do NerdCon at all like any of the Nerdcons is because we have VidCon staff that have downtime this time of the year so we can sort of dedicate a bunch of VidCon staff to NerdCon, that's why it's in the off season as we would say in the conference world it's definitely not in con-season. It's in the off season. It's all nice to not have to compete with all the other conferences in the world. Umm, you know I think another practical reason why in addition to the dates, in addition to it being during the school year it's also, very soon in February we're gonna be having NerdCon Nerdfighteria in Boston and that's definitely splitting attendance and it's something, like I honestly didn't think it was gonna split attendance that much and it definitely is, like it makes perfect sense that it would and it is. It's a clearer sell, it's more obvious what NerdCon Nerdfighteria is and the tickets sales for Nerdfighteria are very strong so that's definitely a thing that you know it's a 10th anniversary celebration too like it's only gonna happen one time and whereas NerdCon Stories like it's not quite so clear what it is and maybe it's gonna be around next year you think, well, probably not. I think also like logistically like it may have been a mistake, this is how it always happens when things go wrong like you never know quite what to attribute the problems to and and you think a lot more critically about what the problems might be which is something you don't do when you're super successful and it might be something you should do when you're super successful
because maybe as a business person you're seeing, oh we're so successful but maybe you could be significantly more successful if you would only think about the things that might be going wrong inside of people's heads that you're not even hearing about because you're not looking because things are going well. One thing that I definitely want to say though is like in business you cannot ever blame your customer for your failures. It's always your fault. Like it might be a failure of communication, it might be a failure of marketing, it might be a failure of vision, it might be failure of product, but it is not their fault. So like when people are saying to me like the reason you can't come, that's interesting and useful information to have but like this is not on you I just want to be clear about that. This, yea, this is not about the decision you made whether it's gonna be successful or not. Like it's a collective set of decisions and I don't want anyone to feel responsible who is not me. I am the responsible one. It's later now this is an interjection as I'm editing this video. I forgot a couple of reasons, potential reasons. I got, when I was talking I got completely distracted by this conversations about bell curves that I've cut out of the video that made no sense. As I was saying before I got distracted by bell curves, I think having it in Minneapolis again might have hurt it. Having it, moving it to a different place where like I think some people were like well I've kind of done this before. There's not a lot of new, it doesn't look that different to me, I've been to NerdCon, I've done the NerdCon thing, and like all of the locals, like not all but a substantial portion might have had less, less impetus to go. Also uh, the way that I marketed NerdCon last year was much more intensive. I made a vlogbrothers video that was just about stories that talked about why we did NerdCon Stories
that you know it didn't like do very super well or anything but it you know it hit our core audience and those people were you know excited about this new thing that we were doing. Now this year it's not a new thing that we were doing and it also felt like less, like I felt less justified in making a big vlogbrothers video about it. Things have to take on a life of their own they can't rely on me to always be making a video about them in order to keep it alive because you know vlogbrothers doesn't need to be 100% me telling you to do stuff. You know, telling you about conferences you probably can't go to anyway. So yea it was definitely marketed differently and then the final thing that I didn't put in the this that I should talk about probably is that we were so spoiled by VidCon which was a conference that started as a big wave was forming and rode that big wave and the success of VidCon like the fact that it kept selling out every year no matter how many tickets we had available it kept selling out, is not a thing that happens. Spoiled mofo right here. And I, ya know, I knew that, I knew that I knew that as an objective truth but I hadn't incorporated it into my business strategy which I really obviously should have. So it needed to be marketed very differently than VidCon, it needed to be thought about very differently than VidCon and the combination of us sort of like the high of coming off of how wonderful NerdCon was, how great the response from people who attended was, and also from our guests and also from the people like the staff and the guests and everybody who had worked on the event, it just seemed so wonderful that it seemed like a foregone conclusion that it was gonna do great next time because everybody came away from the event just like it was the best weekend of their lives. But you have to reach a new audience, like you're not gonna get 100% of the people who went last year, they're gonna have stuff to do.
So you have to hit new people with your marketing materials which we just didn't do. I don't like saying this, I feel like it's saying something nasty about the people who attend events it's really not but making a great, making a really great event, making a really great experience for attendees is very different from making a marketable event and that makes it sounds like people are making stupid decisions and that they're not like 'you guys don't know what's good for you' it's but it's just a thing, like it's not this isn't me bemoaning this fact it's like an absolute true set of facts. So yea, now we're gonna go back to the part of the video where I get really off track and I just, you can stop watching now, it's not gonna be about NerdCon anymore. The other thing that I want to say here now is umm, I like to talk about this, I like to talk more about this, I don't have a lot of time to, umm, but now that I've been running a business for 3 years, which I know is not a long time, to have been running a business and I know that I have many things to learn and that I am not, and that I've been very lucky and I have built my business on a number, in, upon a number of foundations that were only accessible to me as a person who was lucky enough to get popular on YouTube and had access to that umm, so I recognize that I have like a very unique and maybe not particularly applicable set of experiences in business but I would, I would like to talk about it more because I would like more people who are like the people who watch like Hankschannel for example to be interested in business because, continuing the statement
corporations have violated their contract with humans. And I don't know that that's how it needs to be but the bigger a company gets the easier it is for that to happen. For the corporation to have no interest in the well being of humanity and you know, I don't know that that's universal to corporations but it does seem as they get bigger that that tends to be the things that happens. I also think that as that has become the reputation of the corporation and the reputation of capitalism that people who are compassionate have disengaged from the system which has only left the system open to the douches of the world. And I want there to be more compassionate small business owners. I know that there are a lot of them and I want but like I also want there to be more small business owners. I want there to be, like I want it to be less weird to have a company that has 10 or 5 or 50 people. And I know that there are a lot of companies like that and indeed they're probably combined are the biggest employer in America still but the share is shrinking and I just like there is a lot of there are a lot of efficiencies to having a larger corporation especially as regulations increase, now this is a weird thing for me as a super liberal dude to say but like owning a business I do recognize that government regulation can make it difficult to run a business. Like it demonstrably creates work for management and it creates work for the employees but I also understand that it's protecting employees but as the number of regulations increase it gets harder to run a business. So I would like for there to be good resources for people to help each other run businesses so that when these things come up it's not like oh god what do I do, it's like oh what did you do.
Oh you did that, I will also do that. And also to have that be among people who are not, who know that they are in it for the good of their customers and for the good of their employees and for the good of maybe the world
We're at a, we're going into like an uncharted territory here in terms of productivity in humans and as productivity increase like individual worker productivity increase like the amount of work that gets done per employee has been going up dramatically. The amount that employees are getting paid has been going up much less dramatically because why raise people's wages when you can make the product a little big cheaper and you can make the profit significantly higher and that's the thing that motivates investment and that's the thing that motivates a lot of types of business people and I want, there if we don't have compassionate people in business, it's gotta tear itself apart. It does seem a little bit like if the only, if the only structure, like the only feedback mechanism is profit the only thing that matters like the only data point that effects decision making is profit and not to say that paying just attention to just profit necessarily makes people unhappy at their work like you know you might want to make your workers happy so that they will be more productive. You might want to make a good product because that will help your profit. There are a number of ways that that looking at that number actually does, looking at that data point actually does make sense but it just cannot be the only data point. And especially as we move into a world where you can cut and cut and cut and cut and the profit continues to go up and the people continue to be not employed.
That eventually breaks down because humans need resources in order to buy things and that is the thing that drives the economy. I mean additionally we need activity we need work we need work value and meaning and like work employment is like the current way that we have been have decided that we're going to ascribe meaning to lives of humans. And I don't think that that's right but that is a place that we're at so that's super worrying and concerning those words mean the same thing. That was a way of saying umm without saying umm if you were wondering. I just used a synonym while I was thinking.
So I think that there needs to be maybe a new system of capitalism maybe, that can like that thinks about meaning of human lives in addition to not like that human lives have value but like the meaning that we take from the work that we do, uhh, and figure out how like consider that as part of you know when you're having an idea as a business person, when you're having an idea for a business you know, there are number of things that you consider in your business plan, having on of the things that you are considering in your business plan being not just is the thing that I'm doing good for the world but like what is the job that's out, what is the, what is the world that's out there that is going to provide the people who are doing that work meaning. And can, in a future world where maybe there is such abundance that we have a lot of stuff and like comforts but we do not have value like we don't feel valuable in the world. This is a super like big concern I have.
Like loneliness and you know, lack of productivity and umm, you know not going outside and doing stuff and just being on the internet getting mad at people and having that be the fuel that drives your personal value. I think is a thing that's happening right now. What is that work and if like does that work even require payment if it can bring people value and what that might mean is like what is a world where every like where people work not for money but for meaning. And that's like a 50 year question. But if it's thought about soon enough there might be a way to have that, have that happen with a smoother transition and also in a way that doesn't only benefit the people who already have the comfort. Which is you know, it's always how it works, like when we have economic shifts that people who benefit from them you know aren't just the people who will get rich but are also the people who are able to participate in the new system early and those people tend to be not rich but well off. Not billionaires but people who's parents saved enough for their college education. People who you know, could be are able to not have to work to sustain themselves you know to feel themselves and their children. So that conversation went way off the rails and turned into my worst medium article ever. That was a bad medium article Hank Green. Rambly. You're like basically relying on people to agree with you in order even have any idea what you're talking about.
This is bad writing which is why I didn't write it I just said it which makes it seem way more impressive than if I had written these things down. You would have read them and been like oh my, this guy needs to do some research and backup his ideas a little bit. Yes. I do. Anyway, NerdCon was what I was talking about before and I want to thank all the people who have worked to make this amazing event. I feel like I should probably like re-like add that to the vlogbrothers video just now. Cause it is gonna be really amazing and like Mary Robinette Kowal and Patrick Rothfuss and Monica who works at NerdCon have put together a fantastic event and all the people who are gonna be there umm yea. But yea just because it's not gonna make money doesn't mean that's not valuable and what is success anyway. Let's leave it there.