Over the last year, since we booked Elizabeth Gilbert as the keynote speaker for the 2019 FAB Women’s Conference, I have repeatedly answered two questions.
First, “How did you get Gilbert?” To this I’ve always responded approximately the same thing, “I asked.”
The second question goes something like this: “So what’s next year?”
While Gilbert spoke to students at Sheridan College last week, she spoke about the success of “Eat, Pray, Love,” calling it a champagne problem of sorts. After all, having a book sell millions of copies wouldn’t normally be categorized as a problem. But how do you write another book after that? The pressure has to feel like a skyscraper crushing you into the earth.
She told everyone in the room that she couldn’t take on that kind of pressure. So many felt “Eat, Pray, Love” changed their lives, although that was never Gilbert’s intention. The best-selling author knew she had to write for herself. She had to get “the book after ‘Eat, Pray, Love’” out of her system and in front of the world. The world may hate it, but she knew it would help her move forward. She knew she wouldn’t stop writing.
Well, as I spoke with Gilbert last week, she overheard somebody tell me that this has been the best FAB to date, then ask me how I plan to top it next year. This is my “Eat, Pray, Love” problem. A champagne problem, to be sure.
Rest assured, I have some ideas, as do the members of my planning committee. Some include continuing the upward trajectory, others focus on a cycle of big-name celebrities every three or four years, with regional speakers highlighted between.
I’m curious, which would you prefer? Celebrity speakers cost a lot, after all. I’m unsure that level of fundraising is sustainable year in and year out.
Here’s what I know. While Elizabeth Gilbert certainly took center stage in Friday’s events, she really only appeared before attendees of FAB for a couple of hours. And while I could never take anything away from her impact on the day, throughout the rest of the day, attendees filled each other with joy and inspiration. Connections were made, knowledge gained and friendships started. That — the empowerment and connection of women — will always sit at the center of the FAB mission.
So if you have suggestions, send them my way. We’ll certainly consider them as we start plans for next year’s conference. But know this, our “Eat, Pray, Love” problem won’t be a problem — champagne or otherwise — because we’ll always keep our mission front and center, no matter who delivers the keynote.