An open letter about NicheCon from Niche Movement founder Kevin O’Connell

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This really resonated with me two days ago while The Niche Movement team faced a tough decision.

Again, in a very timely blog post from someone I admire, respect and look up to, Seth Godin recently said “The single best way to maintain your reputation is to do things you're proud of.”

That is why I am writing and posting this today, not only on behalf of myself but from everyone involved with NicheCon including our core team Mandi Stewart, Amy Corron, and Camille Sennett.

What we are calling a “logistical snafu” we decided to push back NicheCon to March 10th-11th, 2017.

Same location. Same themes. Better season (#cherryblossoms). Leveled-up experience.

This has been the toughest decision I think I’ve made since I launched my journey as a full-time entrepreneur two years ago this month.

In the last five days, I was losing sleep, over thinking, and stressing about so many things as it relates to our first conference.

So let me explain what our logistical snafu’s are and why pushing back NicheCon five months is going to amplify what was already going to be an amazing experience for and something that everyone involved with The Niche Movement community could be proud of.

Let me start with some clarification.

Even though I have left the reigns of a traditional full-time job, The Niche Movement is still my #sidehustle.

My passion project that just so happens to have organically grown into a grassroots community in very interesting corners of the world. See, I realized this summer that I am a multi-passionate person/entrepreneur and I’ve come to terms with being ok with that - even if people don’t understand or “get” what I do.

My weeks are filled with running FYN Creative helping a variety of clients tell their story, teaching at GWU and General Assembly, running TNM every second I get, while being a supportive husband, son (living 4 hours from your parents isn’t easy), and a friend to so many networks of individuals and family that mean to world to me.

In addition, everyone on our core planning team for NicheCon had their full-time personal and professional responsibilities but still made sacrifices and put in their sweat, used weekends/evenings, and pushed their comfort zones since June time and time again. Thank you, team.

And if you’ve cared enough to read this far, thank you.

Let me get into it:

I remember walking away from our Montreal meet-up in March 2016 feeling overwhelmed, and quite frankly shocked, how our community has grown during the first 3 years. At that moment I decided, it’s time to start planning a conference to bring these amazing professionals together with other college students and professionals to talk about what matters - how to find a job you love and have realistic conversations about how we approach work.

So I took a page out of my wife Courtney’s book and started telling as many people as I could. I originally made a deadline of May 1st to make our announcement but because of life, reality, and work we made our announcement sometime around mid-June.

Enter the logistical snafus:

1. Time - working in student affairs there were several events that we dreamed up or were asked to put together in less than 4 months. So I thought, sure 4 months will be plenty of time. However, as we know every week flys by and to-do lists grow longer. Sadly, we ran out of time and even though up until yesterday we had people still reaching out to attend, get involved, etc. we ran out of time where too much risk would have been on the line for me personally.

2. Money - in regards to working for an organization, most times you are asked to plan an event, conference, or new initiative, you have support from them and you have the cushion of playing with “house money.”

In our case, we literally started with $0 but raised thousands of dollars between our sponsorships, partnerships, ticket sales, and getting creative with our social, etc. However, when it’s your own skin in the game, there has to be a tipping point and decision made how much risk you are willing to take. Our goal with TNM is to provide as much value as possible and find ways (financially or other) to grow our community and offer opportunities that will actually get us one step closer to ending employment unhappiness.

3. Community - one thing we have realized in the last 2 weeks is there is a greater community out there. A community of partners, a community of speakers, and participants, that could make this better. And everyone on my team will be honest, we were pressing and hustling up until Monday evening when we made this decision to push this back to go after partners, speakers, and press that were out of reach.

Now, with five months we can breathe, reset, and put together an even better line-up of speakers and programs and communicate the value of our first conference to these other communities that exist.

This will also bring much-needed sanity, life balance, and clarity back to our entire team.

Lastly, this opens up opportunities for others to get involved. We are already harnessing interns, volunteers, and other professionals who can help us make NicheCon a conference we are truly proud of. One that will help others rethink their career search and how they want to work or lead, and provide us enough room to plan our second conference.

The best news is after spending all day Tuesday on the phone calling our attendees, speakers, sponsors, and partners one by one, they all have been so supportive.

Shocking what happens when you pick up the phone and chose transparency. Many actually offered up more ideas and ways to amplify this experience.

We know there are several of you who wanted to attend in October but had conflicts. Hopefully by running this on a Friday and Saturday on March 10-11 gives you enough time plan.

If you're anything like our Conference Director, Mandi, you love #SnailMail. Click below and we'll get a Save The Date out to you shortly.


And if you’d like to get involved email me

From everyone on TNM team, we thank you for your continued support and we’ll see many of you in March.