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Show Highlights

Ashkahn and Graham talk about how the Float Conference has been going since they handed off the reigns this year. Big decisions are still incoming, but there’s a lot of ways you can help out or get involved.

If you’d like to offer your help, services, or suggestions for the new Non-profit of the Float Conference, or if you’d just like updates to how it’s going and where it might be held next year, email conference@floathq.com, and the Conference will know to contact you.

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Listen to Just the Audio

Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Ashkahn: All right, welcome everybody.

Graham: Hello?

Ashkahn: Let’s get ready to rumble.

Graham: Are you Graham-maniacs out there? I’m Graham.

Ashkahn: I’m Ashkahn.

Graham: Today’s question is “what happens to the Float Conference now that you’re not hosting it anymore? Do you know where it will be next year?”

Ashkahn: Very mysterious. I don’t know.

Graham: Could it be more mysterious this is?

Ashkahn: I don’t know how we’re going to find the answer. Who would even know the answer to a question like that?

Graham: Yeah, I mean we just turn it right back on the audience, huh? What do you think is going to happen?

Ashkahn: Luckily so we’re in touch with the people who used to run the Float Conference.

Graham: Is my scoff coming across that microphone loud enough?

Ashkahn: Okay, so you may have heard some rumors or directly received an email from us saying that we’re not hosting the Float Conference anymore. For a little bit of context, we put on the first Float Conference in 2012, did it seven times and just recently finished up our most recent one in 2018 in August.

Graham: Yeah, and if you want to check it out and you’re not familiar with it, head on over to floatconference.com, there is all the videos from past years up there for free. This year’s video will be coming out pretty soon, including a talk where we go into a lot of depth about exactly what we’re hopefully planning for the Float Conference future.

Ashkahn: Yeah, we give a whole talk at the conference, specifically about our plans and why we’ve decided to kind of stop being the people organizing it and where it’s headed and all that sort of stuff. That should be online, you can go to floatconference.com/videos and take a look at that for a much more longer form explanation of what the heck we’re thinking.

Graham: And sillier too we’re in tuxedos and yeah, it’s a good time.

Ashkahn: To fill you guys in basically, we decided to, you know it’s a huge project and it takes up a good chunk of our time over the course of the year to do all the organizing necessary, to put on an event like that. It’s been an absolute thrill and pleasure to do all these years, but we’re just not people who like doing the same thing over and over again.

Graham: Yeah, it’s against our nature.

Ashkahn: We really like doing new projects, we really like changing things up and so for us into do something for seven years, just brought our minds to a place of thinking maybe this was time for us to kind of switch things up or devote our time to other things. It was largely a personal decision and a decision to dedicate our time and resources to other projects we have going on, like our Helm software and stuff like that.

Really I mean it was mostly that our intros are getting after the point that I think we’re going to get a record deal and start touring around pretty soon.

Graham: Yeah we’re going pro.

Ashkahn: That’s really going to be taking up a lot of time.

Graham: Yeah, and I guess another, other than the intros taking up more time I should say, another part of this is just, we’re also kind of attached to the things that we create and are really proud of them. We didn’t just want the Float Conference to totally cease to exist, like the goal in us not doing it was not to have the Conference not happen. We made this whole plan to turn it into a non-profit and turn it over to the Float industry.

Ashkahn: It’s an ambitious plan, like we’re taking something that has been run just by us and it’s a lot easier to run things yourself as a private company, because you can just decide things and make them happen.

Graham: You can do whatever you want.

Ashkahn: Yeah, you’re basically a dictator and it’s so much easier to be efficient.

Graham: In our case silly benevolent dictators.

Ashkahn: In this case we’re turning it into something that we’re hoping is more a collaborative effort amongst people who run their own Float centers, geographically separated. All that stuff kind of adds friction to the system and makes things more difficult. I wish we should really preface everything by saying, we’re not really entirely sure this is going to work.

Graham: We have the best intentions and some good plans.

Ashkahn: We’ve put a decent amount of thought into it and I think we’ve come up with a general path forward that I hope will work. I feel like has the foundation to work.

Graham: We’ve read some very promising looking tea leaves.

Ashkahn: Yeah. My hair is like swooping to the direction of success I think.

Graham: I got a really promising fortune cookie as well the other day, it was pretty good.

Ashkahn: Four vultures have been circulating everywhere I go for the last three weeks.

Graham: I don’t know, that’s a bad sign.

Ashkahn: That’s a bad sign?

Graham: Vultures circulating.

Ashkahn: Interesting.

Graham: Are you taking vitamins?

Ashkahn: I’ve been tired. Here’s our plan, here’s the plan. The plan is we’re turning it into an actual non-profit entity and we’re trying to take the work involved in putting the event on and kind of splitting it into some distinct groups that we thought would be necessary to actually make sure both all the work that needs to happen actually happens. There’s still the kind of like float insight and expertise involved in making these decisions that I think has led to the Float Conference being kind of an event that feels right for the industry.

To do that we’ve broken things into basically a couple different groups of people, so we’re hoping to put together or we are putting together a board, like non-profits have.

Graham: Like everyone has.

Ashkahn: Like everyone has, I think you have to have one.

Graham: Just like a real organization.

Ashkahn: Yeah, it’s all going to be super real. We have a non-profit board and that board is made up of people that have that sort of deep float knowledge. People who are big names in the industry, run big centers, have been around for some years. I feel like that’s an important part of putting an event like this, is some people in these positions making decisions who are really like intimately familiar with the needs of the float world and what would be good for this kind of industry event.

Graham: Star power.

Ashkahn: Just pure celebrity, yeah. The kind of natural problem is like literally the group of people who have that kind of deep experience and insight, and are the same people who are the busiest and don’t have time to be doing something like putting on a conference. What we’ve tried to do is really restrict the responsibilities of the board to being people who just get to like share their insights.

Graham: Star power.

Ashkahn: Yeah. Basically, they’re just going to give us photos of themselves to use on things, and won’t really be involved passed that. So you know, our vision of the board is that they’ll be making much higher level decisions like what city the event will be moving to and what speakers will be giving presentations and whether it will maybe change the structure of things. Or those kind of things that-

Graham: Multiple tracks or single track.

Ashkahn: Yeah, that stuff that will keep the events kind of organically responding to the industry’s needs and keep it being kind of a well informed event to be put on. As soon as someone actually has to do those things that they’re just sharing opinions on and basically is not their responsibility anymore, because I just don’t think people in that position will actually have the time to enact any of those ideas.

Then for that other side of things, we basically have in kind of two chunks, one chunk is our employees and the people who’ve been helping us put this event on over the years. We have staff-

Graham: We call this the, just to rewind slightly, this used to be like the operational side.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: If the board is the decision maker, kind of like steering the broad course, there’s also just all of the little things that actually need to get done on the ground, all the actual work. Along there’s a lot of small to medium sized decisions that the board just doesn’t have time for and honestly doesn’t need to spend time on.

Ashkahn: A lot of that just has to do with like event planning, getting hotel contracts and finding venues and dealing with attendee data and name tag printing.

Graham: Planning parties.

Ashkahn: Like that sort of stuff, right, so we have people who’ve been working with us over the years to do that sort of stuff and have been a part of the Float Conference.

Graham: Way more competent that we are too yeah.

Ashkahn: The people who have been making us look good and they’re going to be staying on and continuing to help with that. There’s a continuity of kind of that sort of information and effort there. Then the other piece of the puzzle is basically the rest of the float industry, you guys, like you listening to this right now.

Graham: Right now yeah. You can help.

Ashkahn: Yeah, you can.

Graham: It will be great, you’ll love it. We’ll love it, everyone will have a great time.

Ashkahn: Yeah, basically there’s just so many moving pieces that go into events. There’s just things like web designing, graphic design.

Graham: Copywriting.

Ashkahn: Copywriting and dealing with sponsorships.

Graham: Actually calling sponsors, yeah. We said sponsors at the same time, that’s kind of …

Ashkahn: All that sort of work is stuff that is useful for people to contribute to. It’s going to help make the event more realistic to put on every year if people are able to volunteer their effort to go into that work, otherwise to pay for all that stuff just takes a lot more cost and we’ll raise the cost of tickets and all that sort of stuff.

We’re hoping that people can chip in and if they have some sort of expertise or something, like before you open a float center you did photography and you want to like come to the conference and be the photographer this year. Or if you have a background in sales and want to help some sponsorships, like that’s all really valuable and helpful work. It’s something that you can do to contribute to this event and help the Float industry have an event like this and keep the kind of price for everybody down a little bit by volunteering or maybe getting paid a rate much lower than you would expect out of being a professional in that field. You’re trying to be nice and help up this non-profit.

Graham: It’s everything you know. Often we need ushers for things, we need people who are great with lifting with their legs to help us move float tanks. Yeah, there’s kind of no end of, so I guess what I’m saying is, it doesn’t have to be a specifically trained or a professional role that you’re volunteering. Although yeah again having things like, if you’re a lawyer, or CPA reaching out to help us with books and legal side of things is awesome, just the same helping us just put materials in tote bags, helping us pre-string name tags so they’re ready to go and people show up day of. Things like that are also incredibly helpful.

Ashkahn: Yup. This is really the main thing we have been asking for and ask for in our conference talk to is reach out to us. Get in touch and let us know if you want to help, and we’re still putting the kind of foundation of this thing together, so we might not come back right away and be like, here’s 10 things you can do. We’re trying to build up a group of people that as the year goes on we can reach out and say to, “Hey, we’re looking for someone who can help with this over the next month,” or, “We’re looking for someone who can kind of help with this part of the conference, who’s coming out.”

If you email us at conference@floathq.com and tell us you’re interested or we have a little mailing list going that I can send you back a link to, where we’ll just be making updates on the progress of this non-profit and how it’s forming and letting people know when we do need help, that it’s definitely great and super appreciated. Will be very much appreciated when this event gets put on and everyone gets to come and have a fun time.

Graham: Yeah, well I’ll make a giant macaroni poster together, it will be amazing. I will say one of the coolest things about giving this talk at the conference, I mean we, giving up anything that you’re doing is to be honest just kind of a scary thing and it’s always bitter sweet. I was thinking very concretely of when I build Legos when I was a kid and then there’d come this day where it would be the great Lego reckoning and I’d destroy all the Lego creations that I had done, so that they could be reformed and do something new. I was thinking about that approaching the conference.

After we gave our talk and said the same thing, just for people to reach out. The amount of people reaching out, both with just heartfelt messages, with offers of help, with pretty much, a lot of people just saying, “Hey, anything you need a hand with let me know,” was so overwhelming. It just gave me a great sense of pride for our community and great confidence that going forward I feel like this thing could actually get pulled off really well.

Ashkahn: Yeah, you guys are awesome.

Graham: Yeah, thanks everyone. Yeah, you give me the warm fuzzies all over.

Ashkahn: There’s another part to the question. What city will it be?

Graham: We don’t know. I have no idea.

Ashkahn: I mean we don’t know, like there’s just a couple cities that I think are high on my personal list of places for it to go. I mean I guess we should start by saying this is going to move cities for the first time, it’s been in Portland every single year.

Graham: Yeah, it’s a big one.

Ashkahn: It’s actually going to move around from place to place and it’s, you know well we have ideas of what we think is good. One of the things that I’m excited about is, basically not having us be the people making these decisions, like this conference for all these years has been a lot of us deciding things. We try to really keep that in mind and realize that, it’s our opinions influencing this and try to pull that back and be more representative of a general kind of more floaty thing. At the end of the day we’re humans and we’re opinionated.

Graham: We like what we like.

Ashkahn: Yeah, we like what we like.

Graham: I don’t know if you notice from watching or listening to this podcast, we are in fact opinionated humans as well. Yeah.

Ashkahn: The idea of going forward and having more input and a group of people providing input and making decisions like what city this is going to be in or what the speakers are, what the structure of the very event is going to be like, is kind of exciting to me. It’s exciting to me to have this be something that, to watch the Legos be destroyed and rebuilt.

Graham: I did, we know it’s almost certainly not going to be in Portland Oregon.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: That’s one thing that we know.

Ashkahn: We can say that, like with a good amount of confidence.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: Yeah, other than that stay tuned.

Graham: Yeah, it will be really fun and again hopefully we hear from you. Did you already tell them if they just want to be updated and they don’t want to help out and still go and enter their email address?

Ashkahn: Yeah. I guess I should probably put a place for people to enter this online somewhere, but for now if you email conference@floathq.com I can send you or I can put you on our mailing list. That’s specifically for updates about the non-profit and you can do that just because you want to stay in the loop and not because you necessarily have time to actually chip in.

Graham: Nice. All right and of course as always if you have your own questions about what we’re up to or what our favorite foods are or anything really, head on over to floattanksolutions.com

Ashkahn: /podcast.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: Steak spaghetti just to keep that one out of the way.

Graham: Bye everyone.

Ashkahn: Bye.

Graham: Good bye.

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