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Joshua

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Founder’s Letter

Here is a letter I wrote 5 years ago after I was asked by one of our attendees if we had anything they could share with someone they thought should be at our next in-person gathering.

Please take the 3 – 5 mins and dive in!

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I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting in a smoke-filled Las Vegas casino, having just stepped offstage at yet another conference that promised real human connection.

The organizers had said they were committed to real-world change and impact; but, the stark reality was that their words were nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

This was just like all the other dozens upon dozens of conferences I had spoken at or attended for the past decade.

Sitting there, in that smokey, dark casino, I began to vomit my frustration to a colleague – a man I had brought to this event under the pretense that it would be something different, something more.

After a few minutes of hearty release, I was challenged by this colleague to design what I thought the perfect event would be.

At that moment I had zero desire to get into the event world. I had just exited my eight-figure marketing firm after more than two decades of sweat and tears.

I was deemed successful and self-made. I had done all this despite battling a childhood where I would wake up daily to sexual, physical, and mental abuse. It was a childhood that would make even the darkest Hollywood film seem tame by comparison. But I had made it out.

After exiting my company, I embarked on a mission to create global change in the areas of mental health and well-being. That was my focus. And I wasn’t in the mindset to build anything new. The last thing on my to-do list was to start an event company or anything similar.

Yet, the more I sat with the idea the more my natural-born instincts to solve systemic issues kicked in. I began putting notes on napkins and bouncing ideas off my inner circle.

I knew if I was going to do something I couldn’t do it alone, as I had limited experience in this vertical. I dove into my Rolodex and found a colleague that knew a thing or two about events.

This colleague also had been obsessed for years with disrupting the event space. His name is Joshua Jordison.

Joshua is also a man who has overcome childhood trials to build a world of success. His father had survived an attempted murder. His next-door neighbor hired 4 men to kill him because he mistakenly thought Joshua’s father had reported him for selling narcotics. Joshua was 7 years old. He woke up late one night to the sound of his mother screaming and walked out into the living room to find dozens of police officers and paramedics working to save his father’s life.

That event shaped Joshua’s 7-year-old brain and programmed him to do one thing: to harness those emotions and the seemingly powerless experience into a driving force to quite literally save his family.

He knew that he was going to have to be responsible for getting his family out of that neighborhood – out of poverty.

And so, Joshua had spent his entire adult life building a network of powerful relationships like none I had seen before. He had successfully produced and curated dozens of events in both the for-profit and philanthropic world, raising millions of dollars for important causes. And he also co-founded one of the largest music festivals in California.

After a few conversations, Joshua and I started to see the same glaring shortcomings in the world of events and conferences. We both agreed that the entire industry was broken.

And then, Joshua asked me a question that would soon change the landscape of my opinion on this new venture.

He asked, “If you could assemble a community of real, authentic, vulnerable, and successful humans, would it help you leave the mark on the world you so desperately fight to achieve?”

It was a simple question that sent a powerful ripple through my soul.

Of course, the answer was a resounding yes.

It was at that moment that we both realized the true power of humanity is not our singular greatness; it is what can come from our collective and communal efforts that produce real power and change.

The world we now live in makes it easy to hide behind smoke and mirrors. It is so easy to obtain the title of influencer while having no influence at all. This new world of business celebrates revenue and short-term success over impact and longevity. It is also so easy for real doers to be torn down by a fake post on Reddit or be targets of the out-of-control “cancel culture”. The world of “real” seems to be becoming less and less distinguishable and making the need for a massive disruption in community/events.

As we sat in my living room overlooking the vast landscape of the great outdoors, we bounced around the ideas I had written on those napkins. Additionally, we added those Joshua had gathered over his time contemplating the disruption of the event space.

I knew Joshua had more than a decade of experience in events under his belt and he and I could create something special with our combined talents and passion.

What we wrote down that day was simply magic. I can’t fully explain how we were able to tap into what we tapped into. But it happened. It just flowed out of us.

We started to outline the things that we thought would be the most important for disrupting the space. For example, No keynotes, No name badges, and No hotel ballrooms or stale venues.

It would need to be a truly curated attendee list. Each person would have to have a common mission. The attendees would need to be a diverse group of professionals from all walks of life.

We would need to commune together in all aspects and do it all in a peaceful location that would feel like home.

Most importantly of all, those attending would need to be able to trust each other and truly connect.

We began to postulate what we thought would be the optimal number of people who would be allowed to attend. And then, we started to think about the name.

We spent hours scribbling out names. I will spare you some of the scribbles we thought were in the top 10, as now I see them as quite comical.

As we reviewed our notes, we kept seeing the words “human” and “gathering”. They were never written together, but always in a common space.

Like something out of a Hollywood film, at the same moment, we both wrote out: Human Gathering.

A few minutes later we had secured the .com’s and knew we had the name to best illustrate our vision.

We ran a beta test of the event in my living room and it was a huge success. Each attendee was blown away by our layout, our thoughtfulness, and our ability to not just have ideas but create actions for those ideas. The phrase “Action > Ideas” (action is greater than ideas) started to circle in our beta community.

We knew we had tapped into something that was missing in the marketplace. Moreover, we had filled a void in our own lives. For the first time, we weren’t the most connected people in the room and we were among our real peers, not people pretending to be what they are not.

With that successful beta test completed, we planned the first public event. We booked a venue that we thought would best hold the vision of an “expanded living room”. We invited some of our closest friends to be “Storytellers” and spend time with our attendees talking about the issues they held dearest to them.

The event was a huge success. Friendships were made. Tears were shed. Ideas turned to actions and so many powerful moments came from those three days together.

But both Joshua and I knew that something wasn’t right. While what we had created was great and had been recognized as one of the most important leadership conferences recently assembled, It wasn’t enough.

Both Joshua and I had thought that disrupting the event world was what we needed to do. After that first public event, we realized we were wrong. It was incomplete; and, we knew something was missing.

We went back to my living room – back to that view of the vast landscape of the great outdoors. We went back to the napkins and began searching for something more.

We both felt the piece we were missing had to be something abstract. And we knew it had to be encapsulated in a single word.

We found that single word and concept that we were missing on a cocktail napkin that had been balled up and on it read the word: Community.

That little napkin held the final piece of what we had begun to create but had yet to perfect. A true community can not be created in 3 days.

It can not be created in the confounds and borders of an event. The community must be cultivated. It must be nourished and it must be placed outside of any agenda or framework.

For the next 2 years, Joshua and I would perfect the model of creating a true community. Through research, trials, and execution we found that while 3 days is not enough to fully execute the essence of community, it is enough to spark a flame.

We realized we could create a safe space for our members to connect, both at a gathering and throughout the year as well.

We knew that we would have to stay diligent in all areas of our vision to ensure the success of building a truly powerful and influential community of the right people.

We could not make the same mistakes of those that had come before us, promising intimacy and connection, only to soon after grow their communities to a size where real human connection breaks down.

We knew we would have to do what no one else had ever been willing to do.

We knew we would have to stay small, forever.

We knew that building it would not be easy. We would need to spend hundreds to thousands of hours curating our community and doing the work necessary to make sure every single person is first and foremost a genuinely good person.

Over the past decade, we have done just that. We have expanded our reach. We have grown our influence and we have impacted the world in so many wondrous and meaningful ways.

We have graduated from the simple idea of disrupting an industry to building one of the most powerful communities currently assembled.

Our members are incredibly successful and genuinely good people. Our community thrives in knowing we can impact the globe all while never posting on a single feed of social media for validation.

With each day, our community grows. But we will never grow beyond a point where real human connection breaks down. We will stay small, forever.

We will never sacrifice true connection.

Now it comes to you reading this. You have taken the first step in getting to know more about us. Our mission, our why, and where we have come from.

So what is in it for you to be a part of The Human Gathering?

While I can not promise you the Human Gathering will make you richer, or that your new best friend is just waiting to meet you, I can tell you this: We are real. We are a family. We are making a difference and you were invited for a reason. You said yes to setting up a call, for a reason.

I also know with conviction that The Human Gathering will impact your life. It will open new opportunities for you no matter your resume or your status.

Each year of The Human Gathering shifts me. It enhances me. It grounds me. Every year, a new part of me is discovered and then shared with the world.

The same may be waiting for you. You may just be days away from that opportunity.

As you read this letter, Joshua and our team are reviewing more about you. They are excited for your call and enthusiastic to meet you via the now four-letter word, ZOOM! lol 🙂

I hope to see you in Malibu and get to know more and more about you not just as a professional but as a person.

Your call with Joshua and our team is just your first step. You will not be asked to buy anything and you will not be invited to join us… yet.

Every attendee since we started The Human Gathering has been asked to have a call to verify what our preliminary findings have shown us. Then each human is vetted by both Joshua and I. This is incredibly important and will never change.

After that our team will inform you that either an invitation to join us in Malibu has been extended or it has not. No one skips the line, no one is forced in and everyone goes through the exact same process from start to finish.

You said yes to the call for a reason. You have read this letter to this point for a reason. There are no coincidences. I look forward to you spending time with Joshua and our team on your Zoom call and I will tell you this… you are here for a reason whether you join us in Malibu or not.

You are here on this planet to leave a mark, to make the world around you better for all those around you and I wish you nothing but success and joy on your journey… my hope is your journey crosses mine and we shake hands on the cliffs of Malibu this coming year!

 

Sincerely,

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Wes Chapman

Co-Founder

The Human Gathering