My Trip to the ECHO and Quitter Conferences

How do you cram 5 days of amazingness into 1 blog post? I’m not sure.

But that’s not gonna stop me from trying. (yes, this is a long post. I apologize in advance.)


3:45pm – I ordered new business cards last minute because of a new project that just jumped out at me. Tracked the package online all day because I needed them to arrive, only to find out that they are sitting at the local post office, which closed at 3:30pm. Not my finest hour. (Thankfully I sent the other half of the order to Nashville in case this happened).


4:15am – Alarm goes off. Equally excited and disgruntled. I had a softball game the night before so I’ve got less than 5 hours sleep. I will be reminded of this around 16 hours later when I am on the verge of tears listening to Jon Acuff talk. Why? Because less than 5 hours of sleep turns me into a depressed bucket of emotions. I’m not alone in that, right?

1:00pm – My friend Chris and I arrive at ECHO and I get to meet some amazing people like Scott McClellan (director of Echo), Rob Thomas (Scott’s dashing boss), and Gary Molander (Floodgate Productions) who have actually heard of this blog. Always a thrill when that happens.

7:00pm – Jon Acuff does the first keynote of the conference and slays the crowd. As I mentioned earlier, I am a mess because Jon is on stage making people laugh and I am going back to work on Monday (and the lack of sleep). Then Jon says, “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” and I realize it’s exactly what I’m doing.

10:00pm – Two great guys (Gerik and Jake) give Chris and I a ride back to the hotel. I’m hoping to wake up with my sanity restored.


9:00am – A full night of sleep, a few minutes of prayer in the morning, and a large coffee from Dunkin Donuts have righted the good ship Allain for the time being.

12:00pm – Had lunch with Alex & Mike from David C. Cook Publishing. Really good guys who seem to like what I’m doing here on the blog. This might shock you, but they did not offer me a 7-book deal to write about dumb cliches, junior high breakups, and Jack Bauer Psalms. Not yet, anyways.

3:00pm – The time has come for my first conference gig, a breakout session called “Why the World Needs YOUR Blog”. The room holds 80 people and about 40 folks settle in by the time I get rolling.

The breakout went really well. There were a few yawning faces because of the afternoon time slot (or because of me), but most everyone seemed engaged and I got some good questions afterwards. Felt good to get that first one under my belt.

7:00pm – My new besties Gerik and Jake take me out to dinner and then we drive over to a cool theater in Plano to watch a screening of the Blue Like Jazz movie with Steve Taylor, the producer. Despite it being a very rough cut, the movie was pretty good. I’m no critic, but I really enjoyed it.


11:30am – I skipped the last breakout and keynote of the conference and spend 2.5 hours talking to Kent Shaffer from Really sharp guy doing some cool things. Sometimes conferences are all about the speakers, but usually it’s more about the connections you make outside the sessions.

4:00pm – Quick flight up to Nashville and a quick cup of coffee with Jeff Goins. We talk about BlogRocket and he almost rips my head off talking about the idea of “Top 100 Christian Blogs” (I’m kidding…sort of). He drops me off at Jon’s house for a delightful dinner with the Acuff family.

7:00pm – Jon and I head over to the Quitter Tweetup. Get to meet a pilot, a TV Producer, a Children’s Ministry Director, and a whole bunch of other folks hoping to close the gap between their day job and their dream job. Also get to meet Austin, Samantha, and a few other folks who read this blog, so that was cool.

I know it looks like the most boring thing you’ve ever witnessed, but it was a fun 2 hours. And we got free hoodies from Hello Somebody!


8:00am – Coffee before the conference outside of Dave Ramsey’s studio. Pretty rad.

12:00pm – I call Kylie to wish her a happy 10th birthday and I can barely speak from being so choked up. Can’t wait to take her out on Sunday night to celebrate.

2:00pm – Jon calls me up on stage to share for 10 minutes about my journey of being a Quitter (which is obviously still in progress). I decide to wing it without my notes, which goes well until I realize I never mentioned the name of business while I’m giving my big finish. I double back and mention the name, then hit the finish again. It wasn’t perfect, but I felt it went well enough.

6:00pm – The conference was a huge win. 182 people were entertained and informed by Jon (and Ben Arment, who’s 60 minutes on monetizing your dream was fantastic). Chris, Mindy, and the rest of the Dave Ramsey team were great and Hello Somebody even gave us all free watches. I’m thinking this won’t be the only Quitter Conference.

So thankful to Jon for giving me a few minutes to inspire the attendees with my story.

10:00pm – After watching the end of Point Break (preposterous, yet amazing movie), now watching Hoarders with Jon & Jenny, praying I never find myself in a house with 2000 rats.


Home again with my favorite people in the world.

What an amazing trip! I met some incredible people, heard some inspiring talks, and got a chance to share some of my story with two great audiences.

In the end, I’m more inspired than ever to follow my passions and a big part of that is making you guys laugh and building community here. More of that coming tomorrow…