Baby Bathwater Unconference

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater…”
Sure, it’s expensive, but it’s also the most exclusive ‘unconference’ I have ever heard of. $10,000 gets you 4 days on a private island in Croatia, with 200 incredibly sharp and accomplished people, who have left their ego’s at home. Unlimited booze. Interesting presentations in nature. 8 bands flown in to the island for the evening parties. A Japanese chef with silver toenails. A secret backpack of ‘plant medicine’. Complimentary massages, catamaran and submarine trips. Beautiful friendships. An unforgettable experience…

Unconference?

There are conferences and there are‘unconferences’. Conferences are usually a bunch of speakers sharing their messages. The participants are passive and often get more value out of meeting the other participants during the coffee breaks than from the actual content. Unconferences are more focused on exchanges, without the formal structure of a conference. They often take place in unusual locations and draw unconventional people. The content is provided by the participants and is usually much more interesting, because it is ‘on demand’ and not determined by the organizers. These events are ‘no pitching zones’, which means that there are no sales, no business cards, and no hidden agendas. It’s about meeting like minded people. I have been to several of these unconferences (Firesideconf, FreedomXfest, Nomad Cruise, Permanent Beta Festival, Dynamite Circle) and had heard that Baby Bathwater (BBW) was the most exclusive (also the most expensive!) and the best, because of the high caliber participants.
I normally get paid to speak at events, but at BBW, even speakers have to pay. The high price, combined with the in depth selection interviews for all applicants, make sure that they get the right people, with the right motivation (no pitching!) and with successful businesses.
So off I went to Baby Bathwater island in Croatia, to meet with 200 bright entrepreneurs from all over the world…
Read about the participants, the event, the island and much more…
My take aways and info on joining the next – or similar – events are at the end of this blog.

Who are these ‘babies’?

  • A very international crowd, from all over the world. Some were flying in from the US and even Australia for just these 4-5 days!

  • They are investors, scientists, entrepreneurs, creatives and founders of businesses you’ve actually heard of, like brain.fm.

  • The setting is very informal. Everybody walks around in their swimming gear or shorts, with salty hair.

  • No pitching. Everybody is there to give, not only to receive.

  • Inclusion: everybody is open for a talk, inviting, introducing and sharing. It’s not about what do you do, but about who you are.

  • Talks around the island are about purpose, vulnerability etc. Lots of insights and great discussions for my new book.

  • All men seemed to have beards/facial hair 🙂 Most participants are in great shape, they take really good care of their bodies.

  • Many people are into some form of energy management, productivity, focus, sleep management and even sleep science. Many were wearing Oura rings to track their sleep and other body data.

  • Lots of health and eating plans, like paleo and keto diets. Some participants have even developed their own food supplement lines.

  • Many use ‘plant medicine’ as a shortcut to reach that focused, clear state that you can also achieve through meditation.

  • Many talks and discussions were thus about pharmaceuticals, psychedelics and plant medicine. Should you micro-dose on mushrooms? Combine it with CBD oil? Or have you found another magic formula?

  • A funny, crazy, Japanese private chef -with platinum gold nailpolish on his toes- took care of the superb catering. He was on the island months before the event to prep the team of Croatian chefs for the event. Every evening during dinner (watching the sunset over the pool) he turned into a stand up comedian when he told us about the food we were eating that night.

These people know how to party!

8 bands were flown into the island to provide superb music during the evenings. There was even a 8-person brass band from New Orleans (!) who were boated to the island for their 90 minute performance. Unfortunately their luggage had been lost by the airline (luckily they had their instruments!), but they played with such energy, pleasure and a sense of humor that even I stayed up late to watch them perform. Directly afterwards they were boated off to their next performance….
Even though large quantities of special organic wines were flown in, the white wine was finished halfway through the event. That was not a real problem, since there were also extremely good red wines, specialty beers and any other alcoholic beverage you could think of. Some people were drinking cocktails in the morning, others insisted on sticking to their fermented kombucha even during the evening parties:  every thing was fine, everybody is accepted just the way they are: refreshing!
Half of the group would party till the early morning and then sleep till the afternoon. The other half (including me), would go to sleep early and join the morning yoga classes. The afternoons and dinners were the times where  the two groups overlapped and everybody was together.
I met many other introverts like myself, who enjoy the company of others, but who had to withdraw from the group regularly to recharge their batteries.

The event

5 days, 35 content sessions, 12 varieties of cocktail, an endless array of delicious eats, 4 sunsets, 4 sunrises, 25 giant inflatable duckies, 8 sailing tours, 1 submarine, 19 incredible musicians, 25 staff, and 200 kind, humble & competent entrepreneurial souls willing to go out on a limb for an absolutely unforgettable experience in time & space. Impeccable organization.
Great talks by brilliant minds. Practical topics like leadership, email marketing, Evernote or instagram, but also visionary scientific presentations like Artificial Intelligence and psychedelics.
Some random quotes I wrote down:
“Intelligence isn’t enough. It doesn’t make you get up in the morning and do things. You need motivation.” Jack Alloca about Artificial Intelligence.
“You don’t have to figure leadership out. Figure YOU out and then leadership will come forth.” David Bayer.
Nate Ginsberg, one of my fellow DC (Dynamite Circle) participants, described the event perfectly:
“Baby Bathwater Island is like entrepreneurial crack. Five days of nonstop stimulating conversations with some of the most interesting and inspiring people I’ve ever had the pleasure to spend time with. This community is proof that success and good heartedness aren’t only correlated but causally linked.“

The island

Unfortunately this was the last year the event will take place on Obonjan island, as it is rumored that the island has been sold to Disney…
The island is magical… Arriving on the ferry, I could already smell the pine trees. In the ‘forest’, our luxury tents were hidden. It was really ‘glamping’: inside the tents they had managed to build an entire hotel room, including bathroom and airconditioning!
My roommate was also into book publishing! Was this a coincidence or a careful orchestration by the organizers? They were definitely thoughtful about matching the right kind of people. Considerate enough, for example, to match ‘early sleepers’ and ‘party peeps’ in separate areas of the island, so each group could quietly enjoy their own wake-sleep time… 🙂
The island offered beautiful settings for the stages and presentations. On the first day, I did a morning yoga class on a wooden deck overlooking the sea. When I came back an hour later for my talk, the deck had been transformed into a presentation area. There were various other stages, blended in with nature, where the content parts of the event took place.
There was a treasure hunt to help us get to know the island and the other participants. Every day we received a few clues in our inbox.
Dinners were held at a high point of the island, overlooking the pool and the sunset. Drinks and daytime snacks (ceviche!) were by the seaside, where lounge beds, towels, hats, sunscreen, giant floating ducks and of course drinks were readily available. At night I heard there was a pizza bakery and hamburger joint somewhere in the forest, but I never made it there.

My takeaways

I got to speak barefoot in my denim shorts on a beautiful stage under trees and near the water.
I was the first speaker, on the first day, which is a great way to meet the other participants. From the first day, they knew who I was, so if they felt a connection, they would just approach me for a chat.
I met so many beautiful people, all so aware and open and knowledgeable about their expertise. Apart from meeting new, interesting, high-level people, I had three big take aways:
  1. Some of the ‘babies’ are already location independent. For others this concept is still new. I was sometimes surprised to be talking to such bright people who still live in a ‘box’. Many have achieved (financial) freedom, but don’t yet know what to do with it. Some told me they had to get back home after the event for emails or meetings. Or to see their son. “Why not work from here?”  “Why not fly your son over to Europe?” My (to me obvious) questions were real eye openers for them. I was kind of surprised how easy it is to provide added value to these very successful business owners.
  2. I was delighted to discover that about half of the participants want to write a book and have no time and/or no idea where to start. I gave a mini presentation with my book writing tips and spoke to some participants privately, giving them my ‘start with the back cover’ advise. I even offered my ‘How to write a book in a week‘ ebook to all participants, to help them get started. So many stories to share! In the days after the event, I received messages from participants who had managed to write their back covers on the plane on their way home! I hope to be able to help some book writers during my ‘Write your book in one week’ retreat in October in Thailand. And I decided to turn my luxury writing retreat in the Caribbean in March into an exclusive ‘CEO writing retreat’.
  3. Many BBW participants are into energy management, purpose, productivity, focus, vulnerability etc. Lots of insights and great discussions for my new book.

Want to join the next event?

If you feel this event resonates with you, apply for Baby Bathwater. I can really recommend it!

Of all the unconferences I have been two, there are only two alternatives worth considering if the high level of participants and added value provided is important to you:

  • Firesideconf in September near Toronto, Canada.
  • The Dynamite Circle; a network of successful location independent entrepreneurs, with events around the world year round. The main (and best!) one is in October in Thailand.

I am even thinking of organizing a cruise exclusively for members of these three networks, so they can get to know each other and cross-pollinate… 🙂 Let me know if you would be up for this!

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