Becoming a Misfit…in Fargo

I have a love hate relationship with conferences. They take a lot of time, resources, and energy for both the creators and the attendees. After most conferences, I feel like I have more to do and less time to do it.

Still, I love the energy, the people, the ideas, the creativity, the conversations, the travel, and the inspiration.

Recently, I found myself in the oddest of places for a conference: Fargo, North Dakota.

Yes, the town that this movie is about.

Last year, I began following AJ Leon's story online. If you don't know him, you're missing out.

He posted a conference application calling for readers & friends who are spending their time and resources working towards instilling hope and beauty in the world. Hundreds applied and he intentionally chose only 70.

They aren't the biggest names, the most well known, or the most successful by society's standards, but they're the kindest of people and they're doing really good things in & for the world.

Therefore, the conference was called The Misfit Conference. Or, as we so endearingly say, MisiftConf. And, it was held in a "Misfit city."

I had initially declined AJ's invitation to speak, but a little prodding and some generosity from friends, and I was on a flight.

There were countless things that surprised me over the weekend. People flew in from as far as Australia, Ireland, and Peru, the venue was stunning, the food was locally sourced, the furniture was a mashup of refinished mid-century modern pieces from a local store and, downtown Fargo was far more charming than I could have imagined.

However, the biggest surprise was that none of us knew anything about the conference. We didn't go for big speakers, or beautiful settings, or to be spotted by some rockstar attendee.

We went because we knew good people would be there.

This caused all of us to spend three days really getting to know each other. There were no titltes, no room for assumptions, no chance to overlook one person for the next. We were all on the same level and it made us fast friends.

I know that building a good name is important. In fact, the reason all of us connected is because we trusted AJ's reputation for doing great things.

It made me wonder, however, if we too often seek validation from being associated with certain well-known or acclaimed individuals. It was a good reminder that there are gems all around us -- people who may have never hit the headlines, made their millions, or even completed some massive project.

There are remarkable people who have something to teach us if we're willing to look for them, and listen.

Or in this case, if we're just willing to get to Fargo.

At the end of the day, the most important thing isn't the names we build and celebrate, it's the things we create and the people we serve. Those are far more lasting and valuable.

So, listen closely and build great things.

The rest will take care of itself.

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