Epicurrence is a non–conference started by Dann Petty. Derived from epic + ocurrence, it brings together designers and developers to have honest conversations and fun. The Montues was the 4th event in the series and an experiment to see if this simple idea could work at scale.
Two full epic days of snowboarding, skiing, design, development, inspiration, collaboration, relationships, and adventure @ Northstar
Pulling the Trigger
As excited to get an invite as I was, there was a bit of sticker shock when I saw the cost. Harder still was justifying it when you are living in Reno and already have a pass to Northstar. But then again, what are the chances that an event like this was dropping into my temporary backyard? When are my design heroes, peers, location, and snowboarding going to align again? Remote working the last two years makes me long for a chance to make these kind of connections. I moved forward with an easy conscience. Honestly, the welcome pack, hotel accomodations, meals and lift tickets alone are worth the cost. Those don’t even scratch the surface of where the true value lies in this event.
Built for Conversations
Before the event even started, the conversations did. I was anxious about going solo, but I never felt alone. From the Slack channel to the initial carpool I instantly felt like I was connecting with people. That feeling only grew until it was over.
There are no slide decks, podiums or VIP rooms. The Montues is made for conversations. You share meals together, drink together, ride chairlifts together, and rip through glades together. You talk shop together, talk life together, and pack out hot tubs together. You know everyone wants to hangout when there are 2 hot tubs full of people and an empty one next to the bar. The amount of time allowed to meet fellow creatives and have conversations was astonishing.
People came from all different backgrounds and locations to share in this experience. I couldn’t turn a corner without meeting another amazing human in this community. That togetherness left me humbled, greatful, inspired and exhausted in the best way possible.
The panels were honest in ways I’ve never seen before. I’d read about it from previous Epicurrences. Once you’re in the trust tree it’s surprising to see how deep it runs. They shared stories of success, failure, getting burned, and the weird grey area of being aqui-hired. The shared real numbers and stories. They shared personal experiences about choosing the right co-founders and experiences with diversity in tech.
It wasn’t all warm cookies and back-patting though. Sometimes things would get heated. This went for the table conversations and the panels. I heard passionate people disagree, call bullshit on each other, themselves and the industry. Real discussions happened. I met people that dropped the elevator pitch to talk about life, aspirations, failing, learning and getting feedback on ideas.
While the event centered around skiing/snowboarding, there were many trying for the first time. Some people liked it, others confirmed it wasn’t for them. What was impressive was every one was open to experiencing the mountain and connecting.
At the end of 3 days you find yourself in a room with 300 regular people building awesome things and trying something new together. It is that inherit spirit that makes Epicurrence special. It’s the conversation and friendships that are still happening. It’s what makes this community great. It’s the reason I’ll go back in a heartbeat.
I’ve been living in a new city/state every few months for close to 2 years now. I’ve learned to cherish the few real new friends and connections my wife and I have made along this journey. It can feel lonely. Working from home and constantly moving makes you lose your sense of community. What I’ve noticed is that in every instance we’ve made a lasting connection, it was because of 3 reasons:
- We allowed space in our schedules to go with the flow.
- We had something in common.
- We built new experiences together. (hiking, camping, snowboarding, etc.)
The reason I wanted to go to Epicurrence was simple. I wanted to make friends. I think that is what Dann has done so successfully with these events. He gives a reason for common interested people to come together. Then he intentionally builds in space for people to get to get to know one another and build new experiences together.
It has been two weeks since Epicurrence. I’m truly greatful for this experience and the people I got to share it with. I feel like I have a family of people all over the country (and world) I can reach out to. The slack conversations are still happening. I’m collaborating on a new project with a fellow epicurrencer. It’s like a reset button was pushed on my inspiration to design awesome products. And most importantly I have a newfound sense of community. If you get a chance to go, you should.