Why network when you can attend these events?

Aspen Institute

I’ve made it no secret that I’m far from the world’s best networker. In fact, as a raging introvert, I struggle to enjoy your typical glad-handing event.  I’ll network, but, it’s not without pain. I have to plan carefully and prepare my mind. I envy those who love to network (and insist they join me to make me more comfortable).

But every now and then I’ll be asked what events I actually do enjoy attending. Simply put, it is the events that are stacked with incredible content, interesting people, and plenty of space and time for me to get comfortable, get to know people and not feel like I have to “work a room.”

But, what are they, you ask? In no particular order, here are the best of the best events that I make a point of attending every year.

Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech

Since first attending BrainstormTech back in 2014, I’ve made it a point to return to this “invite only summer retreat for leaders of Fortune 500 companies and the top emerging entrepreneurs in the tech world.” The conference is hosted by Fortune at the Aspen Institute in Colorado every July and includes not only content and networking opportunities, but, plenty of fun activities.

As if the venue itself wasn’t enough to attract me [see picture above], Fortune loads up the stage with luminaries and executives that address current trends, challenges, and innovations through intimate interviews and casual conversations. Every year I take away new realizations about the future and ideas on how I need to evolve and keep pushing 3Pillar forward.

E&Y’s Strategic Growth Forum

The grand finale of Ernst and Young’s Strategic Growth Forum (SGF) is its annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award gala, but, it’s the time leading up to the event that have prompted me to return for the past 5 years. The three days are jam-packed with content specifically tailored to growth CEOs.

Just like BrainstormTech, the strategic growth forum takes place in a beautiful location – Palm Springs, CA. It offers a variety of activities. But, it’s the quality of speakers, content and attendees that make this event pop. E&Y brings together “2000 of the nation’s top executives, entrepreneurs, advisors, investors and other business leaders” and packs the forum with speakers who deliver content specifically tailored to “supercharge growth.” Where BrainstormTech fuels ideas about technology and customer experience strategy, SGF fuels ideas on growth, operations and scale.

YPO Regional and Network Events

Not a week goes by in which there isn’t a YPO (Young President’s Organization) event going on somewhere in the world. The hidden gems among these are the regional and network events that bring together 200-500 members to discuss a targeted theme or topic. The Miami Chapter’s annual Miami Economic Forum, The Global Digital Summit and the World Technology Summit are just a few that I find myself returning to on a regular basis.

Again, it is the meaningful content, quality of attendees and extraordinary venues that create these “only in YPO” experiences. But, unlike the other events, it is the peer learning and friendships that we develop that keep me coming back.

So yes, there are in fact events that I actually enjoy. They just happen to be those that provide valuable learning opportunities, surround me with like-minded people, and provide tangible take home value beyond the 57 people that I have to walk up and introduce myself to.