I’ve gone to COFES for the past 10 or 15 years, I can’t remember, and don’t care. When Brad first started it he tried to get me to come, but I was either too busy or too cheap. When I finally got my lazy butt to Scottsdale, I was surprised, very pleasantly surprised. But the magic didn’t hit me, and only recently did the dime drop and I got it. OK, so I’m a slow learner.
It’s the people. People I probably would otherwise never get to meet. I’m not talking about the regulars who I’ve known from 20+ years and who come every year, but the newbees, and the keynoters. OMG, the keynoters. I have met, and become friends with so many amazing people who were keynoters at COFES; and an added bonus is Brad usually includes a book written by the keynoter, which he gives to the attendees.
And the folks who give a keynote at COFES don’t flash in, present, and limo out as soon as the talk is over, they hang out, often for two or three days—they join the community. The net result is, if you choose to, you can get to know them. Granted, I haven’t been drawn to every keynoter at COFES, and others I want to move in with.
The second thing, and this is a it is a bit of a dirty little secret, it’s a welcomed break, a bit of a rest, some might even call it a boondoggle. The Scottsdale Plaza is a really delightful place, and if you want more you can go into old town Scottsdale and find great food, trinkets, and historical wonders. I’m on the go all year long, a different city almost every week, and often in a different country. Being able to slow down a little, if only for a few days is really welcomed, even if I do have to give a presentation, it’s just easier.
So I have been trying to answer this question for over a decade. A lot of folks who have been to COFES, ask me, almost with an accusatory tone, “Why do you go to COFES?” As in, why would someone as important as you waste your time there? Flattering as that might be, it misses the point. Why wouldn’t I go, even someone as important as me—look who is going to be there—someone even more important and interesting than me, and I want to meet them.