Yes, there you have it: I am the worst conference organizer in the history of man. Not only is every hand-selected speaker at Schnitzelconf male, and white, between 25 and 35, but they all have essentially the same hair-do.
I am not only racist, sexist, and ageist — I’m stylist, too.
What can I say? I put in an order for sexy bootstrappin’ clones… and the universe delivered.
For starters, I’m a woman. A woman who has spent countless hours helping people, writing, teaching, arguing that bootstrapping is the way to go, that there is no true economic freedom without products.
I have what is known in whacky, unfashionable circles as a mission.
That’s why I’m running this conference to begin with: to spread the good word. It’s a pure act of love. I could have charged 3x the going price and sold out. Instead, I’m organizing for nothin’, and even paying out of my own pocket.
And yet, I knew that the day would come when somebody tries to rip me to shreds for being sexist, racist, or an all-around uncaring self-absorbed bastard.
So, in response: three things.
First off: quit insulting my speakers
They are gutsy. They are smart. They are witty. They are friendly, accessible, and genuinely kind. They are generous. They all teach on their own time, blogging and speaking about how they built their businesses, so that others can learn from them and make their own success. They are not getting paid.
They are indisputably wonderful people first and foremost. That’s why I picked them.
I will hear nothing to disparage my speakers. Which is, of course, what you do if you insinuate that I chose them because of their penises and their skin color.
For the love of all that is tactful: no.
Secondly: what on earth could I gain?
Naturally I’m not excused from being potentially sexist and racist, just because I pack a genuine vagina and, ooh, enough fashionably non-white heritage to get special college grants.
Please, think about it:
Why wouldn’t I want a conference lineup like a United Bennetton ad? What would I gain by deliberately excluding people who were different from the typical idea of an entrepreneur?
Being a bootstrapper is all about being different!
I’ve made a whole career out of being different!
And, of course, my raison d’etre is to bring the idea of bootstrapping to Europe… wherever possible, featuring European or extra-American bootstrappers. That’s certainly different.
But is it different enough? Not if you go by the critics.
The thing is… I couldn’t find any “different” (meaning not white men, regardless of cultural origin) bootstrappers willing to say yes to speaking at my conference before I had to finalize the program.
Believe me, I looked, I searched, I read those “women speaker lists,” and I asked everyone I know. (And I know a lot of people.)
They must be out there — I have to believe that — but they sure as hell aren’t advertising the fact.
Like the mythical unicorn…
Now, I found absolutely oodles of entrepreneurs of various stripes (not white men). But, sadly for me, they were funded, or they sold specialty shoes, or art, or advice for living.
Those things just don’t fit the Schnitzelconf topic of bootstrapped internet product sold for value to (small) business.
Neither does life coaching or any type of freelancing or consulting, two fields full to bursting with not white men.
Fear of entrepreneurship is not the problem…
These men and women who are consultants, life coaches, advisors, gunslingers for hire — they’re clearly unafraid of entrepreneurship. These men & women are gutsy and bold.
Thirdly: Why aren’t they making products?
They’ve already taken risks. They’ve already indicated a faith in their abilities, or at least an inability to live out their lives doing the regular grind.
Why aren’t they doing the one thing that can give them the best financial security of all? The most freedom? The most power?
That’s the question for me. That’s the question people should be asking.
That’s why I’m putting on an affordable, accessible conference about making products.
That’s why I’m blogging and posting free resources about making products.
That’s why I’m teaching an online course about making products, for the same cost as Photography 101 down at the local community college.
That’s why I annoy the crap out of everyone around me, telling them to make a business and not a startup, to make products and charge for them.
The things I create are easy to read, easy to understand, and fun. That’s how I reach out to people who are beyond the “traditional startup Venn diagram.”
Notice a pattern here?
To the man in the arena…
I welcome any suggestions of successful bootstrappers to watch — regardless of race, color, creed, or hair product.
I welcome anyone to copy the model of Schnitzelconf in their city or country. I will gladly link to you and help you announce your event.
I welcome any suggestions on how to encourage those silent, hidden entrepreneurs of various stripes to raise their profiles, so they can be seen and known, to inspire and reach even more people.
If you have something constructive to offer, or a favor to ask, email me.
But, if all you have to offer me is sly insinuations and mud-slinging, get out of my way. I’m trying to change the world.