Avoiding the uninspiring Flying Solo Unconference

At the Cape Town 27Dinner event in June 2008, Jo Duxbury made a great pitch for people to attend the first Flying Solo Unconference in Cape Town and Johannesburg. I really liked the idea because it was all about sharing ideas on growing your business with like minded people. And the idea of the unconference is that unlike the traditional conference there would be more panel discussions and interaction with the audience.

Over the last 5 years I have experienced various ups and downs in my own business growth. For the most part I was self-employed as described in Cashflow Quadrant. And it’s only in the last 6 months I have taken the idea of working on my business more seriously than working inside my business. This is not something that happened over night and I have bumped my head time and time again trying different things to grow my business. Maybe the best part of the experience is that I have now figured out how to generate cash flow at will. And for the most part this has to do with being clear about my products and services that I offer.

Anyway Jo Duxbury and Pam Sykes are organising this unconference and asked for volunteers to do short presentation on their areas of expertise. I jumped at this opportunity because I get more practise as a speaker in front of a new audience. And with their feedback, I can constantly improve my material. So since the above mentioned 27Dinner event I have been reworking my business networking presentation and more importantly the way I want to deliver that to this audience. In all my other training programms I offer the delegates a free CD with resources I have collected and collated from the Internet. This ads tremendous value because they now have something specific to go through upon completing my seminar or workshop.

What turned out to be a surprise for me was this message requesting a deposit of R200 that goes toward the food and drinks for the day. I emailed Jo and Pam to ask if the speakers also had to put down this deposit – and I received ZERO response from them. I take my presentations and talks very, very seriously as a member of Toastmasters and the Professional Speakers Association. More over I also subscribe fully to the principle of Fair Exchange as advocated by Dr John Demartini in his excellent book, How To Make One Hell Of a Profit and Still Get To Heaven. At the very least I would expect any fees to be waivered for the speakers because I am forfitting my fee and paying for my own travel to Cape Town.

Oh just before I forget to mention this: I fully understand the Wild Fig restaurant is sponsoring the venue, however, forcing people to buy your food is not the way to go. What about all the people who may have wanted to bring their own picnic basket or fast good?

Anyway what do you think is fair exchange for speakers to speaker at no cost at this event or any other?


Author: RJ Thomas

RJ Thomas is an International Relationship Builder. He was born in South Africa, and moved to China in 2013.

  • Rox

    Sheesh, I thought it was bad enough that attendees had to pay – even though you are meant to be able to mingle and come and go as you like, and it’s meant to be a chilled affair… but to ask speakers to pay as well seems a bit much.

    I won’t be able to make it anyway due to conflicting plans, but I have to admit that the ‘contribution’ when I probably wouldn’t have eaten anyway did put me off a bit.

    Pity, as you said it’s a great idea and sounded inspiring.

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  • Adrian Galley

    A most inspiring day .. the venue was great, the lunch was great.So sorry you weren’t there.

  • Adrian Galley

    I was at the Cape Town event yesterday and have to say that it was an invigorating exercise! What a great concept to have an open agenda that gets added to and voted on, both on-line and at the venue. Everyone in the room got a chance to contribute to the proceedings. In fact, some of the more inspiring talks were impromptu offerings from the floor. A spirit of generosity prevailed, despite the fact that, like you, I was initially taken aback at the solicitation of cash up-front. The announcement of this particular development might have been differently managed but I am confident that there was no ulterior motive behind it. Having the restaurant serve all the meals efficiently in a short space of time made practical sense. Congratulations to Jo Duxbury, Pam Sykes and everyone else who contributed to the success of this event.

  • Come on Ramon. This is not a difficult concept to understand.


    Everyone means everyone, speakers, organisers and EVERYONE.

    The organisers put in a huge amount of effort and time,for zero reward.

    You can’t expect surely, that they should take the risk for people who book to come and don’t pitch.(funny there were a few of those – those who booked didnt pay and didnt pitch – lesson 1)

    I suppose that some may find it difficult that people are willing to contribute, freely and enthusiastically to the benefit of a community.

    I am organising the Flying Solo event in Johannesburg on September 20, same deal, if pay up front you pay R200 to cover costs and reserve seats, pay at the door pay R250 to cover the risk of no shows. We will book the venue commit the menu, hire the equipoment, promote it etc.

    We hope that we will do as well as we happened at the Cape Town gig, where we just managed to cover costs.

    No thats not really true, we didnt really, none of Pam’s nor mine nor Jo’s or any of the other contributors costs were covered.

    Ramon – If you want a 5 min thought starter slot in Jhb you are welcome, but you will need to do it as a contribution and pay your own way.

    Hope to see you there.
    Give me a shout.

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