Perspective: How a beta like me managed to get kicked out of Salt Lake City’s ‘Alpha Con’
I made it through one day and two minutes at Alpha Con before I got booted. But I learned something important along the way
I walked into Day 1 of Alpha Con hoping to learn what it truly means to be an alpha, and perhaps become an alpha myself.
But on Day 2, Alpha Con kicked me out.
Before getting into how I became persona non grata at what might well be Salt Lake City’s most infamous convention, let’s unpack the word “alpha.”
Alpha, as we’ve come to understand the term in 2022, refers not just to the first letter of the Greek alphabet, but also to any person dominant in a given arena. If the Alpha Con promo image is to be believed, it’s any white man with facial hair. And a tight T-shirt.
But I knew there had to be more to alphadom, and I wanted to find out what it takes, and if I had it in me. Plus, the marketing promised to take my business to the next level. As a small business owner, I’m always looking for actionable advice about hiring and growth.
So, on Day 1, I checked in at registration, received my badge, walked past an armed guard into the Grand America Hotel ballroom where I was greeted by a stage emitting fog and glowing red lights.
A mohawked man in a white suit was introducing the next speaker, Hunter Bellew. Hunter shared his entrepreneurial journey through a series of slides along with his mantra — “Money-Freedom-Prove a point.”
Nothing too remarkable.
Then a man named Aaron Wagner spoke about his football career and his journey from a lower-income upbringing in Canada to his pursuit of the American dream in the United States.
“You can have anything you want,” Aaron told us. How, exactly, he did not explain.
But, then it was Jeremiah “The Bull” Evans’ turn to speak.
The Bull began his remarks claiming he was shocked by how many people took offense at the use of the word alpha. He then said (yelled, actually) that the people who don’t like alphas — the betas — “are the real pandemic.”
I should say here, for the sake of journalistic integrity, that the COVID-19 pandemic is the real pandemic. But The Bull, evidently, didn’t seem to see it that way.
He then said the United States was founded by a bunch of alphas. This conjured up images in my mind of James Madison with sleeve tattoos and a gold chain. Or Benjamin Franklin in a flat-brimmed hat.
Then he presented a slide about the evils of the world featuring, well, corn. And that’s when I started tweeting.
I tweeted some of The Bull’s more notable statements along with some general observations and photos from the convention. I wanted to capture the most memorable moments along the way, like when a different speaker looked over the audience and, inexplicably, proclaimed that someone in the room would die in the next few months.
Could have been a warning. Could have been a threat. Could have been prophesy.
And then there was the moment when a speaker implored the audience to hire a cameraman to film us working so we would have content for a YouTube channel — advice that felt particularly unfitting for me, a writer who spends most of the day hunched over a laptop. That’s a YouTube channel that would get one subscriber: my mom.
Most speakers, in their unique, loud, profanity-laden way, implored the attendees to ignore the haters and not pay any attention to the people dishing out criticism.
“Don’t worry about the people talking (expletive),” said keynote speaker Brad Lea. Based on that, I assumed my tweets and Instagram stories would go ignored by the alphas.
I was wrong.
I ended the day not having muttered a single word to anyone aside from the waiter at lunch. I spent most of the day sitting quietly in a back corner focusing on my phone anytime we were encouraged to network. Which, admittedly, is pretty normal social gathering behavior for me.
But my tweets and Instagram stories were being shared across the state by the alpha-curious.
When I woke up the next morning, I debated whether I should attend the second day of the convention. I was feeling like there might not be any hope in my becoming an alpha.
But then I realized that was beta thinking.
So I made my way downtown and back into the hotel. I smiled at a security guard who gave me a side-eye glance in return, and when I entered the ballroom I was surprised to see they had removed the back table where I had sat the day before.
I walked to the front of the room, took a seat and began taking notes. It was then that a woman in a blazer approached me and asked, “Is your name Meg?” I told her it was, and she said, “I’m going to ask you to leave.”
I am a first child, an adamant rule keeper and a chronic people pleaser. So when I was told to leave, I complied and didn’t ask why. I didn’t cite my First Amendment rights or pull out my phone to film the interaction like any other person living in the current century would.
Like a beta, I packed my notebook and pen, grabbed my water bottle and followed the woman to the foyer where a circle of security guards stood, looking nervous, seemingly anticipating a confrontation. I waved, said thank you, and headed for the exit as hotel security trailed a few feet behind.
As I walked away I heard the woman in the blazer instruct the security personnel, “That one is not allowed back in.”
I’m 5-foot-5, with big blue eyes and a vague resemblance to an adolescent Disney character. When I speak, people usually ask if I could speak a little louder. I once apologized to a chair I bumped into.
I’ve never been a threat to anyone for any reason.
But, all of the sudden, after a few tweets and social shares, the alphas had me expelled from their conference. I had unwittingly become too dominant in their arena, and they were not about to let me back in.
And it was then that I realized the alpha was in me all along. And all I needed was one day and two minutes at Alpha Con to find it.
Meg Walter is the editor-in-chief of The Beehive and a Deseret News contributor.