I Can Do It! Conference Review

Erin and I had a wonderful time at the Las Vegas I Can Do It! conference this past weekend. Although the conference was only 20 minutes from our home, we stayed at the Venetian Hotel.

This is the 4th ICDI conference I’ve attended. In 2004 I went as a regular attendee. In 2006 and 2007, I went as a blogger covering the conference. And this year I went as an author/speaker.

This conference has always held special meaning for me because it was a major catalyst in helping me retire from computer game publishing and begin a new career in the field of personal development. When I saw Dr. Wayne Dyer speak about the Power of Intention at the 2004 conference, I thought to myself, “Damn… that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m supposed to be on that stage.”

At the time it was too much for me to deal with, so after the conference I tried to suppress those thoughts. But it was already too late. I got no more joy from working on computer games and eventually had to leave it behind. In retrospect it was one of the best decisions I ever made… but also one of the hardest.

Every time I’ve attended ICDI, the conference has been a transformational experience for me, and this year was no exception.

I’ll basically give a chronological review of the conference. However, since I had several speaker-related obligations this time, I wasn’t able to attend as many keynotes and sessions as in previous years, so I don’t have as much to review there. On the other hand, I also have to be careful about respecting the privacy of the various people I met, so I won’t post anything here that was clearly said with the expectation of privacy.

Wednesday, June 25

The conference hadn’t started yet, but on this day I met with Reid Tracy, President of Hay House, at the Palazzo Hotel. He was just finishing up a meeting with Colette Baron-Reid, so we chatted briefly as we transitioned from one meeting to another. Reid and I talked mainly about marketing and sales strategies for my book, Personal Development for Smart People. I won’t go into the details, but the main actionable item is that I’ll be doing a lot of pre-promotion for the book during the next 3-1/2 months, especially since the book is already pre-selling on Amazon.com.

Speaking of the book, I just received the proofs yesterday for final review. I really love the layout and design. The book goes to the printer on July 15th. The official release date is October 15th.

Thursday, June 26

This day there was only an evening keynote from psychic medium Lisa Williams. Erin and I showed up early to pick up our badges. As we walked in, I started chatting with one of the volunteers, and when she learned I was a speaker, she said she’d been practicing and wanted to see if she could guess who I was. “You’re Gary Renard, right?” Eventually she grabbed a program, and with the help of some other volunteers, they were able to figure it out. I guess the volunteers weren’t screened for psychic ability. 🙂

Shortly thereafter, Erin and I met Nancy Levin, Event Director Extraordinaire. She gave us both big hugs and said that my speaker packet was on the way and that we could pick it up later that night. Nancy did an awesome job — the whole weekend seemed to run very smoothly.

I should mention that all of the people from Hay House I met during the weekend were so friendly and open that I began thinking of them as “Hug House.”

As Erin and I were walking through the Palazzo Hotel (connected to the Venetian), we noticed a couple of women gazing at us occasionally as if they recognized us. Soon they walked up to us and said, “Steve?” They turned out to be Donna and Karen from Hay House, who just happened to be bringing my author packet to the conference sign-in desk. While we were chatting, Nancy happened upon us again. I told her I didn’t want to wait, so I figured I’d just go ahead and manifest the author packet now via the Law of Attraction. 🙂

Lisa Williams was pretty good. This was the first time I’ve seen her speak. She did some opening monologue and then started doing readings for people. The first reading was rough getting started, since she had a hard time figuring out who the reading was for. But once she finally found the right person, it was pretty smooth sailing after that. I could tell the audience was enjoying this session a lot. Personally I didn’t get as much out of it because I’m already so immersed in it with Erin. I don’t need to be convinced of psychic/mediumship abilities, so watching other people get readings wasn’t that exciting to me. I’d probably have found this session a lot more interesting if I was skeptical and was looking for proof of something.

Friday, June 27

Erin and I checked into our suite at the Venetian. This is the first time we’ve stayed there. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve stayed in a Vegas hotel since we moved here in 2004. The room was pretty nice. It even had a remote control for the drapes and blinds.

This was the day of the pre-conference workshops. Erin decided to see psychic medium John Holland while I went to Dr. Bruce Lipton’s workshop on “new edge” science.

I was very impressed with Bruce’s workshop. He delivered an intelligent Power Point presentation that connected many dots between biology and spirituality, and I took copious notes. Did you know that the cells of your body are covered with tiny protein antennae that detect and respond to both chemical and electromagnetic signals, including your own brainwaves? If you want to know why it’s so important to take responsibility for your thoughts, go read his book The Biology of Belief. I think it would be pretty hard to go through all this material and still be skeptical about the mind-body connection. Even reading this article is creating thoughts in your mind that are subtly affecting your cells right now.

Erin and I decided to pop into the speakers’ lounge to grab some lunch. Okay, so she practically shoved me in there, enthusiastically flashing her Author Guest pass to any would-be bouncers. We talked briefly to John Holland, Dr. Brian Weiss, Colette Baron-Reid, and some Hay House staff members. Then we sat down for lunch with Dr. David Hamilton and his girlfriend Elizabeth, a delightful couple from Scotland. David and I are the same age, and we were both first time speakers at ICDI. He’s a biochemist who speaks about the mind-body connection and the placebo effect. We had an interesting conversation at what apparently became the newbie author’s table. Unfortunately we couldn’t attend each other’s sessions because they were both scheduled at the same time.

Lucky for me (and my raw food diet), the speakers’ lounge had a variety of fresh fruit and veggies. They also had plenty of other vegetarian/vegan food — even soy milk. Someone told me that Doreen Virtue is also a raw foodist, but I can’t confirm that because our paths never crossed at the conference. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the other speakers have vegetarian tendencies due to the nature of their work.

Before dinner Erin and I met with the Hay House PR team: Lindsay Condict, Richelle Zizian, and Jacqui Clark. We talked about the PR aspects of my upcoming book launch.

That evening we went to Dr. Wayne Dyer’s keynote, “Excuses Begone.” I really enjoyed it. The first third of the talk seemed a little unclear to me. He told a lot of personal stories, but I wasn’t sure what he was leading to. I always prefer it when a speaker makes a point first and then tells a story to illustrate it, so I know what to listen for. But I found the remainder of his talk very lucid and insightful. I’ve seen him speak several times now, and this time he seemed the most laid back of all. He wore shorts and a t-shirt and was even barefoot for much of the talk. For a moment I thought I was back at the Game Developer’s Conference. 🙂

Near the end of his 2-1/2 hour keynote, he brought one of his daughters up on stage to talk about her experiences quitting her corporate job with Best Buy to start her own business. She seemed very nervous and needed to catch her breath a lot, but the audience was supportive of her. Personally I didn’t find her new career choice (designing and selling leather laptop bags, which were available for sale in the back of the room) to really fit the context of Wayne’s speech, but I know the whole idea of leaving corporate thinking behind is a big issue for a lot of people, and it helps to know it can be done.

Saturday, June 28

I decided to go for a walk along the Strip at 5:15am to get some fresh air. At this time of year the temperature in Las Vegas is warm/hot at all times of day and night. It’s 107 degrees outside right now as I type this. Walking down the Strip early on a Saturday or Sunday morning is akin to playing Frogger. As I approached various drunk people hobbling back to their hotel rooms, I had to predict whether they’d stagger left or right so as to avoid smashing into them. It was moderately challenging. Another sight you’ll see at this time of day is all the prostitutes heading out from a night’s work. I’ve been solicited by them about three times since I moved here.

While walking past Caesar’s Palace, I spied a very drunk couple sitting on the grass, trying in vain to stand up without falling. They seemed to be enjoying themselves though.

Erin and I grabbed an early breakfast (the Grand Lux Cafe serves a really good fruit plate), and then I went to see Robert Holden’s keynote on happiness while Erin did a couple readings in our hotel room. Robert was downright hysterical. He talked about the problem of always wanting more, more, more and how it actually makes us less happy. One statistic I recall him mentioning was that people who make $30K per year think they need $50K to be happy, but people who make $100K think they need $250K. So chasing money for happiness just doesn’t work. He then explained what actually does work to create happiness — more truth, more connection, and more creative self-expression. I couldn’t agree more.

After the keynote I ran into some local friends and talked with them for a while. Then I went upstairs to meet Erin and wolf down some fruit.

At 11:30am I met Summer McStravick at the Hay House Radio area. I met her casually last year, and this time I was participating in a live panel discussion with two other Hay House authors, Alan Cohen and Andrew Harvey. I’d never met either of these authors and wasn’t familiar with their work. The topic for our panel was “Self Development 2.0,” which sounded interesting to me. This was being taped for Hay House Radio and was also being videotaped for possible future uses. The show will be played at some future time, but I don’t know when that is. If I find out, I’ll let you know.

The first thing I had to do was hair and makeup backstage. Aside from dressing as a clown for Halloween when I was a kid, I’ve never worn makeup before. Erin of course was having a great time watching me in the makeup chair, giggling and snapping photos from the sidelines. Overall it was pretty painless, but I know I heard the word “blackmail” uttered at least once.

I briefly met Alan and Andrew and chatted with them before going on stage. Alan, Summer, Andrew, and I soon took the stage, sitting in large brown chairs around a coffee table. There was seating for a studio audience, but there weren’t many people there. There were other sessions going on at the same time, so that didn’t surprise me.

This roundtable discussion seemed like a fun thing to do, so I just relaxed and enjoyed it. Summer did a great job of getting us going, and the hour went by quickly. I’d love to do more of these interactive discussions in the future.

One funny thing is that because this was being filmed and based on how the stage was set up, I was given a list of requirements for how to dress. This included no black, no pinstripes, no brown, etc. By the time I got to the end of the list and compared it the clothes I’d packed, I realized I’d have to go on stage naked to satisfy the requirements. Fortunately I found a gray shirt I’d packed that seemed suitable, so nudity wasn’t necessary.

After the radio show, I saw Robert Holden and told him how much I enjoyed his presentation that morning. He seemed happy for the feedback. Then Erin and I headed to the speakers’ lounge for lunch.

At lunch we chatted with Andrew Harvey (from the radio interview) and intuitive Robert Ohotto. Among other things we talked about the nature of suffering.

At some point during the day, I popped into the room where I’d be speaking on Sunday to check it out. When I speak I like to go to the room in advance, walk around the stage, see how the chairs are laid out, and get a feel for the room. There were about 400 chairs in the room, 200 per side with a column down the middle. The middle column layout means the energy of the room will be split, so I’ll always have to be talking to one side or the other. It isn’t a problem… just a fact to be dealt with.

While I was walking around the stage pretending to speak to a room of empty chairs, Mollie (a Hay House employee) walks in to check the room for the next speaker. I chatted with her a bit and then left. Everything looked good with the room, so I felt very much at ease about delivering my workshop there the next day.

At some point I took Erin to the room to let her get a feel for it as well. Months prior I’d asked her to introduce me to kick off the workshop. Hay House provides introductions for the keynote speakers but not for the breakout sessions, so I decided to provide my own. I wrote the intro for her, so all she had to do was get up and read it for about one minute. When I brought her to the empty conference room and led her up on stage, she looked out over the sea of empty chairs and said, “Oh, my Goooodddddd.” She suddenly got very nervous and said, “Why did I agree to do this?” The largest audience Erin had ever addressed up to this point was about 20 people.

That afternoon Erin and I attended Robert Ohotto’s session. He’s a very fluid and dynamic speaker. His presentation was about reaching the level of awareness where instead of being a victim of fate, you become a co-creator of your destiny. I especially enjoyed his stories.

Afterwards Erin and I returned to our hotel room to rest a bit and get ready for the speakers’ dinner.

The speakers’ dinner was at Dos Caminos restaurant in the Palazzo Hotel. As we entered the private dining room, we were greeted by Louise Hay and posed for photos with her. That was the first time I got to meet her, although there wasn’t really time for a conversation.

The dining area gradually filled in as more authors and Hay House staff members arrived. I’d estimate about 60 people attended the dinner, but it was hard to tell because wait staff were constantly moving about, serving drinks and appetizers. Unfortunately with all the conversations going on, it got pretty noisy in there, so it was hard to hear anyone. You really needed to be standing right next to someone to participate in a conversation.

During dinner Erin sat next to David Hamilton and Elizabeth, and I sat next to Summer McStravick and her husband, Charles. I think the high point was when David recited Mel Gibson’s speech about freedom from Braveheart. I learned a lot about Hay House from talking to Summer. It became clear that the most important thing they look for in new authors is a powerful message that inspires people. Being a strong writer with a weak or uninspired message won’t get you very far.

Before the conference I’d requested a raw vegan meal for myself and a cooked vegan meal for Erin. We’ve been vegan since 1997, so requesting vegan meals for special events like this is no big deal. Since I wasn’t sure the chef would understand the raw diet, I suggested in advance that a fruit plate would be fine for me. But when I let the waiter know I was the raw foodist guy, he informed me that the chef was actually a vegan himself and wanted to make me something special. I said, “Go for it!” I ended up getting a delicious raw veggie dish. It’s hard to describe, but it was basically a lot of finely chopped veggies with a light sauce on a bed of romaine lettuce. It reminded me of a raw dim sum I used to make a long time ago. It was very good! For dessert I had a truly magnificent fruit plate of fresh berries and thinly sliced apples and watermelon. I should also mention that I enjoyed some wonderful fresh guacamole at the start of the meal.

Later that evening we talked with John Holland, Vincent Barra, Robert Ohotto, and a number of other speakers and Hay House staffers that I met only briefly. Dr. Wayne Dyer didn’t attend the dinner, nor did Doreen Virtue (she was doing a keynote at the same time as the dinner). I saw Gregg Braden there but never got a chance to say hi to him. Overall it was a very fun, social evening.

The only thing Erin and I felt was missing during the speakers’ dinner was some sort of call to order. This is probably because Erin and I are so used to this from dinners/parties with other speakers from Toastmasters and the National Speakers Association. It seemed strange to us to attend a speakers’ dinner without a single speech. I think it would have been worthwhile to take just five minutes for a formal “Welcome and thanks for coming” spiel, especially for a first-time author like myself. That kind of thing often helps people feel more connected. With a room full of speakers, it’s never difficult to find someone willing to grab a mike and say a few words. Due to the layout of this particular restaurant, however, that may not have been feasible. Our private dining room opened into the main dining area on one side, so it would have been somewhat noisy no matter what.

Sunday, June 29

I went to bed on Saturday night at 11pm, and for some reason I woke up at 2am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I wasn’t nervous about my presentation that day, but apparently my subconscious mind decided it would be a good idea to wake me up and spend a few more hours mentally reviewing the material. I can’t see how that was necessary though because I was speaking about the ideas from my book, which are pretty well ingrained in my brain by now.

Erin and I decided to drive to the Luxor Hotel for breakfast. I wanted to eat at a buffet for some extra variety, and (oddly) the Venetian doesn’t have a buffet. The Luxor buffet isn’t the best in town, but it’s one of the few that opens at 7am instead of 8am, so I knew we could go early. On a Sunday morning, there’s normally little or no traffic on the Strip, so it only took us a few minutes to get there.

During breakfast Erin seemed to be channeling a lot of nervous energy and kept wanting to revise my introduction. She was continuously rewriting it, even though I felt the original version was just fine. I wasn’t nervous at all about my speech, but due to our empathic connection, I was feeling nervous about her being nervous. The funny thing was that the rewrites she was attempting kept making the intro worse, not better. Eventually she decided it was best to stick with the original version aside from a very minor edit.

A big part of my relationship with Erin has involved me helping her to learn courage. She’s been in Toastmasters for two years now, so I asked her to do my intro so she could have the experience of getting up on stage in front of a sizeable group. Think of it as one small step on the treadmill of progressive training.

I went back to my room to review my presentation one last time and then headed down to the room with Erin 45 minutes before the start of my workshop. It’s always good to show up early since it puts all the staff at ease to know the speaker is in the room. When I was doing a speech in Palm Springs last year, I showed up to the room 15-20 minutes early, and the conference organizer practically had a heart attack when he saw me, breathing a huge sigh of relief. The day earlier one of their speakers was an hour late, which messed up the schedule for the whole day, so he was unusually worried that someone else would be late. Meeting planning can be a stressful line of work. No one wants to assemble an audience and then disappoint them with bad news.

There were three Hay House volunteers in the room when I got there, so I greeted them and asked if they could give a copy of my handout to every attendee. Then I basically hung around greeting the early arrivals and chatting with some friends who showed up.

When the sound guy showed up, I asked if he had a lavaliere mike. Unfortunately he only had the kind that slips over the ear. I’m not a fan of those mikes because they can pop off too easily. Lisa Williams had that exact problem during her keynote. But I’d rather use the earpiece mike than a hand mike, since I like to have both hands free. The earpiece mike worked out okay, although it did start to come loose after about an hour.

I estimate there were about 200 attendees. I think that’s the largest group I’ve addressed to date, the previous limit being about 150. I wasn’t nervous at all. I love speaking, so I was feeling happy and excited. I signaled Erin to introduce me. She was a bit nervous when she spoke, but that only seemed to endear her to the audience. People applauded as soon as she introduced herself, so it was a really friendly crowd. When she introduced me, I joined her on the stage and gave her a hug and kiss. I was very proud of her for doing something that scared her.

I had a really good time delivering the workshop, which was titled “Personal Development for Smart People: The 7 Keys to Genuine Growth.” Everything went about as well as I could have hoped, given that this was the first time I’ve ever delivered it. I opened with a little humor and explained how I came to speak at ICDI. It’s been said that you don’t need to use humor in a speech… unless you want to be paid. I had a very content rich presentation, so I didn’t want to overdo the humor, but I think I’ll add a bit more for the Tampa conference in October.

This is the first time I’ve publicly spoken about the ideas from my book, so I couldn’t predict how the audience would react. Personally I think these ideas are really solid and profound, and the reactions I saw as well as the feedback I received afterwards told me that many of the attendees had some major a-ha moments.

The basic theme of this workshop was the fundamentals of personal development. These are the central principles that can help us grow in every area of life, including health, career, finances, relationships, and spiritual development. The three primary principles are truth, love, and power. The four secondary principles are oneness, authority, courage, and intelligence; they’re secondary because they can all be derived from the first three. There are lots of books that offer advice on how to grow, but I don’t know of anyone else in this field who has attempted to uncover the deepest underlying principles from which all positive growth arises. Consequently, this was a very unique presentation.

I never felt like I lost the audience at any point, but I could see that some people were more interested in certain topics than others. That’s to be expected. Some people have a hard time aligning their lives with love, while others may find courage to be much more challenging. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

I felt very present and centered while speaking. I don’t memorize my speeches. I plan and rehearse them, but when I’m in front of an audience, I prefer to speak from my heart and stay authentic instead of going into robot mode. I sacrifice some elegance in my language by doing this, but what I gain is that I feel much more connected to the audience.

I tried to design this presentation with a good blend of education, explanation, audience exercises, personal stories and examples, and some humor. It’s important to have a good mix to appeal to left-brained and right-brained people. This was a different audience than what I attract online. My online audience is about 65% male, but this conference is closer to 90% female, although someone told me afterwards that my session appeared to be about 70% female. Knowing your audience is a key part of speaking since demographics can make a huge difference in how well a presentation is received.

As the workshop was coming to a close, I felt good because I really did my best. There’s always room for improvement, and I certainly made a few mistakes here and there, but that’s to be expected with a brand new workshop.

To my surprise the audience gave me a standing ovation. I wasn’t expecting that — most of the sessions at this conference don’t end that way — so it really told me that the workshop had a strong impact.

Afterwards I hung around for about 45 minutes, talking to people, answering questions, and posing for photos. Normally the authors do a book signing at this time, but since my book wasn’t out yet, people asked me to sign copies of the handouts or the blank journals they received free at the conference.

I signed everything with a “Live Consciously!” message. After signing several of those, I was struck by a powerful memory. Last year during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I did an exercise I learned from a book on writing. The exercise was to practice doing a book signing. All you do is grab some scratch paper and pretend you’re signing your own books. The idea is to experience the state of mind of being a published author. I’d completely forgotten about the exercise until I realized I was signing everything the same way I’d practiced it seven months earlier. Fascinating. I’m sure I’ll be doing a lot more of this when the book actually comes out.

I’m used to getting some positive feedback after a good speech or workshop, but I have to admit it felt a little strange to sign people’s handouts and journals. Most people chatted with me and asked questions, and I really enjoyed the interaction. However, a couple people just asked for my autograph and then left. That’s never happened to me before.

I really like helping people, but there are certain problems that come with being the guy on the stage. It’s very easy for the audience to disconnect from you because they assume you’re too perfect. Just being able to speak in front of an audience is a huge fear for a lot of people. So I intentionally told some of my worst failure stories, including the time I was arrested for grand theft as a teenager. I wanted people to understand the difference between growth and perfection. No one can be perfect, but everyone can grow. Several people told me afterwards that they really appreciated those stories because it helped them see that they could improve their lives as well. As we finally wrapped up, I was happy but also very tired/spent.

My favorite kind of feedback to hear after a speech is something along the lines of, “You just helped me solve a big problem I’ve been having.” As a speaker you can inspire the heck out of people, but if you don’t help people solve their real-world problems, there won’t be much long-term impact beyond the entertainment value.

We popped into the speaker’s lounge for a quick lunch and talked some more with David and Elizabeth, since he’d just finished his workshop as well. (I heard later from a friend who attended that David was absolutely hysterical and that there was some kind of dance involved.)

During lunch we met British author/speaker Tim Freke (pronounced freak). He gave me a copy of his book Lucid Living. I read the book Monday night — it’s a very quick read — and recognized he was talking about the perspective of subjective reality. Lucid living and subjective reality are essentially the same thing — a certain way of looking at life that can be very empowering. Our friend Chris went to Tim’s presentation later that day and really enjoyed it.

I decided to head back to our hotel room to drop off a few items before meeting Erin for John Holland’s workshop where he was going to connect with deceased people to relay messages for the living. I stopped three times on the way to talk to people who’d attended my morning workshop. Erin and I were both recognized several more times throughout the rest of the conference. We always enjoy talking to people, so we didn’t mind this at all.

I was 10 minutes late meeting Erin, and I found her sitting in the back of John Holland’s workshop. This was the first time I’ve seen him speak, but Erin has seen him at previous conferences. His opening monologue was over-the-top funny, especially when he talked about psychic amnesia — a problem that happens when people go blank and even forget their own children while receiving a reading. Sometimes being the center of attention in a room filled with hundreds of people makes people freak out, and they can barely remember their own name.

I thought he did a great job with the readings. He’s very active and energetic when he reads, moving around the stage quite a bit. He got some strong validation hits like specific names and locations, and I don’t think there was anyone he read for that wasn’t brought to tears. At one point he read for a woman sitting in front of us, and after a few minutes she was shaking and could barely speak.

John was just outstanding at the way he managed to keep the interest of both the audience and the person he was reading for. Often when people do mediumship readings, it’s easy to lose the audience because you get tied up with the person you’re reading for. But John kept mixing in humor and explanation for the audience even while he did the individual readings. Most people probably didn’t realize how masterful that was.

At the end of John’s session, a couple of women came up to me and Erin to tell us how much they enjoyed our workshop earlier that day. They told us they really appreciated how authentic we were. We talked to them a little and then went out to meet our friend Chris from New York City. We first met Chris at last year’s ICDI and also met up with him during our New York City trip in October.

Before Chris showed up, we chatted with a number of people in the hallway, including our friend Vicki. John Holland was doing book signings at a table in that hallway, and he had a massive line of people. A volunteer was advising people to fill out sticky notes with their names in order to make the signings go more smoothly. I stood off to the side, and John’s friend Vincent (Vincent is a talented psychic himself who’s been doing readings for 30 years) saw me and waved me over. I walked up and talked briefly with Vincent and then with John as well. I hugged them both goodbye and told them I’d see them in Tampa in a few months.

We took Chris up to our hotel room to chat for a while. I was pretty tired, so I snacked on flax crackers and rested while we talked. After what was probably about 90 minutes, we headed back downstairs for my photo shoot.

I’ve never done a professional photo shoot before. I’d talked to the photographer, David Beeler, a couple weeks before the conference, who gave me some tips for improving the experience. Those tips included “show up” and “relax.” Hay House Creative Director Christy Salinas met us there, and soon I was back for another round of hair and makeup. I had a fun time joking around with the makeup artist. She even darkened my eyebrows. My eyebrows are very blond, so they tend to look almost invisible in photos.

Over the next 90 minutes, we took 395 photos. This is for a one-inch photo on the back of the book plus some publicity shots. I had a good time with it. I was impressed with the attention to detail, including the variety of lighting setups, trying different shirts, different poses, and different angles (including the use of a ladder). I realize my knowledge of photography is pretty much non-existent.

At one point they noticed that whenever Erin moved closer to me, I smiled even bigger and the photos came out better, so they actually had me look at her for a second and then turn to face the camera for many of the photos.

The photo shoot was over at 7:15pm, so Erin, Chris, and I decided to have dinner at the Wynn Hotel across the street. We ate a very leisurely meal. I had a big salad and a bowl of fresh berries for dessert. We were all pretty tired at the end, especially Chris since he was still on New York time (three hours ahead of Las Vegas). I think Erin and I sank into bed around 11pm.

Monday, June 30

Erin and I had an early breakfast downstairs and then returned to our room to pack up our suitcases. The conference ended Sunday evening, but Erin had a couple more readings to do this morning. I greeted her first client as he arrived, grabbed my laptop, and headed downstairs to do some work.

While Erin did readings, I worked a little on some PR materials in the food court at the hotel. After about an hour, I realized I was too burned out to be doing quality work, so I put the laptop in the car and went for a walk for the remaining 90 minutes. My brain felt pretty fried, but I still had plenty of physical energy.

I returned to our hotel room to meet Erin, we checked out, and we called Angela to tell her we’d meet her for lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe. Angela is one of the (awesome) moderators from our discussion forums who drove up from L.A. for the conference. We’d met her earlier but wanted to take her to lunch just to connect.

We got to the Grand Lux Cafe right on time, but after waiting 10 minutes, Angela was nowhere in sight. We called her cell phone, but there was no answer, so we left a message. Suddenly I blurted out, “Wait a minute… did you tell her which Grand Lux Cafe to meet us at?” Erin said, “Huh, there’s more than one?” I remembered that the Palazzo Hotel also has a Grand Lux Cafe. The Palazzo is a fairly recent addition to the Venetian, making the whole thing an enormous mega resort. Then I asked Erin, “Which hotel is Angela staying in?” “The Palazzo.” “Doh!”

I told Erin to wait while I made the 5-minute walk to the other Grand Lux to see if Angela was there. Sure enough… I saw her pacing in front as I walked up, probably wondering why we were so late. I explained to her what happened and escorted her back to the Venetian’s Grand Lux to meet Erin, and the three of us had a nice lunch together. Angela’s husband (aka Danger Man) also popped in briefly to say hi, but he didn’t join us for lunch because he had other plans with their son.

After lunch Erin and I drove home, I did some work, and then I went to a Toastmasters party later that evening. Erin was originally going to go with me, but she wasn’t feeling well, so she opted to cancel the babysitter and stay home.

Technically this was an officer installation party for the new slate of officers for my Toastmasters club, which is one of the largest in Las Vegas with 35 members. For me it was more of a celebration party after the conference.

During the party I was talking to Darren LaCroix about how my presentation went. He’s fairly well-known in Toastmaster circles because he’s the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, and he also does a lot of presentation skills coaching. I’ve learned a lot from him about the do’s and don’ts of professional speaking.

When I told Darren that my book wasn’t available for sale after my workshop because the release date was still 3-1/2 months away, he said, “Yeah… but you handed all the attendees pre-ordering forms and then collected them after the workshop, right?”


Tuesday, July 1

After dropping the kids off at school, Erin and I drove back to the Wynn Hotel for breakfast at their buffet. This was the first time we’ve eaten there. It isn’t cheap ($18 per person for breakfast, $30 for weekend brunch), but none of the good buffets here are cheap anymore. It was one of the best buffets for us because there were lots of vegan and raw options, including fresh guacamole and lots of fruits including raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and papaya. They even had herbal tea.

Next we went to the Venetian Hotel (across the street from the Wynn) to hit the spa. Hay House generously treated the speakers to two spa treatments of their choice. I used one for myself and the other one for Erin. If I used both for myself, I’d be a little too relaxed (relaxed as in dead because Erin would have killed me). 🙂

Aside from the presence of a rock-climbing wall, the inside of the Venetian Spa was typical compared to the other Vegas spas I’ve been to, including a sauna, steam room, and whirlpool bath. However, the massage was just incredible.

I haven’t been to spas very often — this was probably the sixth time in my whole life — but I usually enjoy them. I was really looking forward to it this time because I wanted to relax and unwind after the busy conference.

I sat down in the men’s lounge with a cup of raspberry tea (no caffeine or sugar), a banana, and a copy of Gregg Braden’s Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer. But before I could get past the first page of the book, I started getting ideas for how I could improve my workshop for the Tampa conference. After a few minutes of being hit by idea after idea, I went to the attendant and asked if he had some pen and paper I could use. He was happy to oblige, and I returned to my lounge chair and just wrote down ideas for the next hour until it was time for my massage. Sometimes inspiration doesn’t know that you’re on vacation. 🙂

For my massage I got a double abhyanga, an ayurvedic massage where two people massage you at the same time. Since their movements are synchronized, it feels like getting a massage from one person with four hands. It was probably the best massage I’ve ever had. At the end the two women left the room to make some herbal tea, and I stayed on the table for what seemed like 10 minutes. I felt a strong surge of emotion which soon became an intense psychic experience. I won’t go into the details about that, since it would probably double the size of this already enormous review. When the women returned with the tea, I hugged them both and staggered out the door.

After that Erin and I had lunch at the Venetian and then headed home. It was quite a week!

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Erin and I both enjoyed this conference immensely. Seeing everything from the speaker side made this a unique experience.