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  • Writer's pictureLiz Lathan

Finding connection through Barefoot Business

Your time is too valuable to spend only at business events that give you no true return on your investment and absolutely no return on emotion. As we continue to live and work in an accelerated world with more distractions and demands on our time than ever before, going to the same old events in the same old places to meet the same old people no longer works. Can you really meet your business objectives only going to events that offer a keynote, breakout, cocktail party, dinner-at-a-70”-round event format? Maybe. But do you feel fulfilled when you leave?

If you’re anything like me, you crave unique, unknown places, new and diverse faces, gathering in uncommon and unfamiliar spaces. You want to get out of the hotel breakout room and meet the real locals, inviting you into their cultures, lives, and sometimes even their homes.

Those are the experiences that open your eyes, impact your life, and shape your future. It's time to add a new event into your annual rotation.

Welcome to Barefoot Business.

Ever since our Haute Dokimazo events evolved into the epic Secret Family Reunion in 2019, we’ve been dying to bring those experiences back to life (thanks, pandemic 😕). We’re excited to announce that the time has finally come! The Community Factory creates better belonging through transformative gatherings that activate, grow, and engage your community, and Barefoot Business is how we’re activating, growing, and engaging ours.

Our first international Barefoot Business adventure will be in May 2023. Only 20 people can join us and it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Argentina, with the help of our friends from Alchemy DMC. While we’d love to make the entire experience a secret like before, we know that this post-pandemic world isn’t quite logistically ready for us to pull that off yet. So you’ll get yourself to Buenos Aires, and THEN the rest is up to us.

Barefoot Business is a gathering of professionals in the experience economy who convene differently. Through immersive experiences, deep conversations, and true camaraderie, they form the connections that help them drive their businesses and programs in more impactful ways.

It doesn't matter what discipline you're in. What matters most is your passion and relevance to the think tank topic that the Barefoot Business trip you join is focused on. We generally feature topics relevant to marketing, events, and community professionals.

Your registration fee covers everything related to the conclave from the moment you land at the airport to the moment you depart. However, you will want to bring a little extra cash for mementos and maybe even for tipping every once in a while. Also, all-inclusive means people, too. This is an inclusive community, not an exclusive one.

It's the moments that matter. It's the moments that we remember. This experience isn't about just another networking reception, a series of panel discussions, and a keynote. It's about opening your eyes to new cultures and experiencing moments that will become stories you tell for years to come, and impact the way you think about your job, career, events, business, and life.

In general, we don't meet at hotels that know corporate groups. We source local, boutique properties that put us in the heart of a community. We are immersed in their culture from the beginning to the end. We don't want to be tourists, we want to be locals. Through these shared experiences, we not only form deep and trusting relationships with the others on our trip, but we also take our learnings and new perspectives back into our programs and learn to connect with our customers, communities, and fans in new, more authentic ways.

We have one rule: no selling.

Our events are about business, but the "barefoot" comes first. This means that we kick off our shoes and have real, meaningful conversations and experiences that lead to lasting connections.

The core tenets of Barefoot Business are:

Walls down. We create a walls-down atmosphere. We purposefully choose spaces where there may not even be walls!

Raw conversations: Our conversations are stripped down bare. In fact, we might have our shoes off and toes in the sand!

Inspiration: We choose locations that allow us to feel the magic of nature around us. We allow the analog world to feed our creativity.

Space for change: We seek out non-traditional spaces for transformational conversations. We think outside the ballroom!

New perspectives: We seek to understand how things work that others might take for granted or accept as is. We love behind the scenes or secret access or off-the-record conversations to gain new perspectives!

Build trust. We believe that creating deep and trusting relationships transcends business and garners deeper connections with fewer boundaries.

Create believers. If you thought all business gatherings had to be formal, scripted, and perfectly-produced, we'll sway to you a more casual way. Let your hair down (or put your hair up!) and focus on the challenges and solutions that you can solve or need solved.

But as we prepare for a big, mega trip, we need some baby milestones to push us along. So we’re on the hunt for a domestic location to do a trial run in December 2022. We are about to start scouring the country for a unique and boutique property where we can work our magic.

Want in?

If you’re interested in getting on the first-right-of-refusal notification list for the domestic December trip or the International May trip, sign up here. Our “Locals” on this list will get the first notification of a deposit request as soon as we get the final pricing ironed out.

As we begin our search for a unique destination and an uncommon property for our 20 participants, we’re kicking off our search with a good, old fashioned, American road trip.

Road Trip!

As part of our Community Factory mission to create better belonging through transformative gatherings, we search the planet, looking for the places, spaces, and faces that answer the question: “Does your small group belong here?”

Nicole and I have explored 11 countries in the last 2 years, and now it’s time to explore the good ol’ US of A, so we thought we’d combine a fun road trip with our daughters with some exploration of a few locations that we might consider for small gatherings like this December’s Barefoot Business.

On Friday, July 8th (TODAY!), we’re hitting the road to drive north on I-35 from Austin, Texas, and see what we can find on our way to drive a little bit of historic Route 66. We’re headed to Waco, Fort Worth, Tulsa, Springfield, and maybe even Branson to find fun outings and boutique properties that we’d consider bringing small groups to. If you know of any perfect spots that we should check out and add to our list, let us know!

We’ve got a few more trips up our sleeves, including ones to Buffalo, Savannah, and even some exploration around Central Texas, so stay tuned for those!

Follow along as we share our Travel Scoops for Little Groups exploration with you on Instagram, LinkedIn, and… dare we try… TikTok (as soon as we figure out how to use it!), and we'll soon have a channel on the conversation app Ibble - download it now and create a profile and we'll share our community invitation here next week!

Liz Lathan, CMP, is co-founder of The Community Factory and pioneered Haute's Return on Emotion℠ business metric for experiential programs. The Community Factory creates better belonging through transformative gatherings that activate, grow, and engage your community. Contact Liz at

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