What If You Attended a Conference as if None of It Mattered?

You can relax now, photo © Richard Seagraves

That’s what I did recently, at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. Here is a different type of “UN-conference” experience! Go expecting nothing, putting no pressure on yourself to accomplish anything, just show up and let the truly relevant connections of the present moment present themselves to you for an enriching event.

It really helped me to detach from all expectations beforehand.

I made a conscious intention NOT to see how much I could squeeze into my 5 foot 6 inch mind-body space but instead, to attend only those sessions that strongly attracted me, in the moment. I am happy to report I survived the massive swirl of confused new age energy and had a wonderful weekend in San Francisco!

I was able to connect with a number of people individually, including a long walk on the UC Berkeley campus on sunny Sunday afternoon – I graduated there in ’74! In fact, I did not attend any sessions on Sunday. Some would say this was a “waste of money” and that would be normal thinking. Some would say I disregarded the opening advice to experience as much as possible, go to every session, network, attend the evening parties and gathering!

But I’ve learned, after a lot of miserable conference experiences, that too much of a good thing can sour me, drain me, and separate me, when what I want is inspiration, meaningful connections, and to be refreshed not drained and exhausted. So I decided to remember that I am a soul who has a body, and that my soul could steer me in the perfect directions. I didn’t have to labor about making plans, I could let plans come to me. I didn’t have to email a dozen times and try to figure out “a good time to meet” in advance. Instead, I could just show up with my intention and let the people who mattered to me, cross my path.

I realized when I attend TEDx talks, that I can only take a few “ideas worth sharing” in one sitting. That when I have been to SXSW, I actually want to escape not hang out in the tech version of a mosh pit. Less IS more if you trust that the right connections will be made for you, that you don’t have to die an early death due to FOMO, and that it doesn’t matter whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it may just be that your soul wants to attend X conference for a tiny precious morsel of inspiration not a gorge fest of empty promises.

So here are a few of the magical moments

All of these, I experienced, without trying, that filled me up with friendship, that drained me of headaches, and that gifted me with a top ten San Francisco Bay sunset!

Pink Hugs

I hadn’t gotten around to setting a meeting time with my friend, John Styn. Instead, our souls found each other in the midst of 2500 people, and our heart to heart friendship was re-fueled.

You are such a light, Roxanne! thank you for the perfectly timed words.

John Styn and Roxanne Darling, Pink Hugs

Not Doing Any Work, with Byron Katie

I wanted to be around Byron Katie in person – to see how her personal energy lined up with her amazing process, The Work. As it turned out, I scrambled her session and missed it. But I saw her at the lobby coffee shop, where I went for a cup of caffeine to address a headache. I sat next to her before ordering, hoping to say hello after she finished her conversation. My headache literally lifted right out of my crown chakra within a few minutes. She was doing this interview at the time. When they were finished, David, of The Rose Journals, captured this lovely picture of Byron and me. He’s a professional photographer. What a blessing!

Roxanne Darling and Byron Katie

Sports and Coming Out of the Mindfulness Closet

So the session that landed in my lap, due to my taking a time out in the Inspiration Village, was an interview with Michael Gervais and George Mumford, two leading sports coaches who are deeply practicing mindfulness and self-awareness with their teams (the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bulls.) Turns out, this was one of my favorite sessions! I hadn’t been familiar with their work; now I am a huge fan.

Michael Gervais and George Mumford

A-Wear-Ness with Eileen Fisher

Meanwhile, I love wearing Eileen Fisher clothes. I knew she was cool; but I learned she is really cool here at the conference. I love meeting people who are so excellent at their craft yet who also have a bigger perspective on what they do. And, also a smaller perspective on what they do. She stays focused behind her own eyes, in how she chooses to run her company.

Eileen Fisher

Stockholm Surprise

I never dreamed that my close friends Lydia Winters and Vu Bui who live in Stockholm — would be in San Francisco. But heh, they showed up for an entirely different conference. And were staying only a block away.

Rox, Lydia, Vu

San Francisco Rainbow Sunset

We had fun walking to dinner at sunset, and then this happened:
San Francisco Sunset Rainbow

Flower Child Love

It’s been a few months since I’ve seen my partner, Shane. But even he showed up here, in spirit. Just look at these beautiful pink and lavender roses he had delivered to my room. They really enjoyed the view, looking out on the hills of San Francisco.

Roses from Shane

The journey continues

On Sunday, as I said, I skipped the conference altogether and met individually with three friends/colleagues for walks on campus and coffee chats and rich interpersonal aha’s. The conference ended, proving once again, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. It’s not the product, it’s the process. It’s not the end, it’s the road.

The end is nothing, the road is all.

So, yeah, you can relax now. Listen to my friend Shaina Noll sing the song here.

Top Photo Credit: copyright 2015 Richard Seagraves. See more at the InspirationCampaign.org.

I started this meme back at SXSW many years ago. (Watch the video here.) I love how I’ve settled into it as a truly wonderful strategy for attending a conference. I hope you’ll share your conference stories with me.

UPDATE: I’ve decided to call this the Serendipity Strategy, soul-powered.

roxanne darling's signature

About Roxanne

I use a specialized form of coaching to help people be more of who they are and less of who they're not. I lived in Hawaii for 17 years and now reside in Santa Fe, NM. I work with clients around the world. I invite you to join my "Get Blissed" email list for updates.


  1. Rox, thanks a lot for your insights. What you told about your conference experience I like calling it “conferencing by accident”. Very often the best moments and experiences don’t happened when I plan to have them but occur just by accident. Meeting at the cantine, having a walk outside the building in a park… that’s mostly when the magic moments happen – not when sitting in a chair watching and listening to a speaker talking to the audience and talking and talking…

    Aloha, Frank

    • That is a great way to think of it, Frank, “conferencing by accident.” There is this added piece of trusting that things are unfolding in a perfect manner – that for me – adds it’s own sense of focus. Thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. […] Attending a Conference as if None Of It Matters – In The Transition with Rox “That’s what I did recently, at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. I was able to connect with a number of people individually, including a long walk on the UC Berkeley campus on sunny Sunday afternoon – I graduated there in ‘74! In fact, I did not attend any sessions on Sunday.” […]