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Category Archives: i'm just sayin'

The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones — at Yoga.

My husband is six years older than me. He is only 33. As we get older a mere six-year age difference seems less and less significant. Yet, he is still the first person to poke fun at me for being so interested in technology, social media and everything related to the Internet.

I don’t mind. In fact, I am somehow oddly flattered when he jokes that I have no less than 47 ways to access the Internet in my purse alone. While this is obviously an exaggeration, to be fair, it’s not that far off.

So it came as no surprise to me when my appreciation for technology became a source of bewilderment for a complete stranger one morning last week. I rarely leave the house without either my iPad or Kindle in tow. After all, you never know when you are going to be delayed in some way or otherwise end up with some time to kill. So when an employee of my gym announced that the yoga instructor was running late for class one day last week I didn’t hesitate to whip out my Kindle and jump back into my latest novel of choice.

My reading was soon interrupted by a gentleman who looked to be about 60 occupying the neighboring yoga mat in the lotus pose, “Is that one of those there electronic book thingies?”

I looked up, smiled and nodded, “Yes, but it is actually the older version of the Kindle. My husband got it for me for Christmas a few years ago.”

He smirked and shook his head while attempting to switch to a cobbler’s pose, “I just don’t get it. My nephews are into all of that stuff.” He continued stretching and waved his hand in the direction of a young woman who was also attempting to read a few mats over, “She’s reading one of those old-fashioned books. You know, the ones with paper and ink?” More smirking and head shaking followed.

“How do you even get a book on that thing? Do you plug it into a computer?”

Optimistically hoping to enlighten this gentleman on the efficient bliss an avid reader could enjoy with a Kindle I hopped up from my mat to demonstrate just how easy it is to purchase a book. Within 15 seconds he waved me away saying, “I don’t have my glasses. I can’t see anyway.”

I gave up, but still smiled and returned to my mat to continue reading while I waited for our instructor.

That didn’t happen. Every sentence I attempted to digest was punctuated by George Orwell’s quips:

“Let me ask you – have you ever even played a record?”

“Hmph. I’m retired now. My company got the email sometime before I retired. Now people always want my email address. I just don’t get it. Just call me!”

“Imagine if you could have one device that had all of your music, movies, a phone, and the Internet — all in one??”

Still discouraged from my failed attempt to gently introduce him to the simple and beautiful efficiency of the Kindle I decided I would not waste my efforts by sharing the “news” of smartphones and tablets.

Later in the day when I reflected on this bemusing exchange I felt:

  • frustrated because he expressed curiosity about technology only to immediately wave it off as an unnecessary nuisance;
  • amused because the exchange could have been a scene straight from the cutting room floor of an updated version of the movie Grumpy Old Men;
  • and fearful of the day when I become so perplexed by—and resistant to—advances in technology that are created with the intent to make our lives easier and more enjoyable.

Then I came across this article in the technology section of The Wall Street Journal and I wasn’t so bothered. In fact, this article only strengthens my resolve to enjoy advances in technology as long as possible—no matter how difficult it is to let go and appreciate the ideas and inventions of the next generation.

— Sent from my iPad

(Yes, Grumpy Old Man – I wrote this blog post on my iPad and with a wireless keyboard. So what!)

p.s. I’m considering wearing sunglasses to yoga this week. Maybe he’ll think I’m from the future.

A little kindness goes a long way.

I’ve been trapped in my apartment for a couple of days now as a pretty fierce ice storm and occasional snow showers are making their way through central Ohio. During a brief respite in precipitation, I decided to take the opportunity to bundle up and take out the trash.

As I carefully made my way through the frozen (and very slick) parking lot, a car paused to give me the right of way. That was nice, I thought to myself as I waved a quick thank you and shuffled by. Once I passed the car the driver pulled up next to me and I saw that it was what I presume to be an off-duty mailman. (He was in the USPS coat, but clearly driving his own vehicle.) He rolled down the window and said, “Why don’t you throw those in the back and I’ll drop ‘em off. It’s on my way.” I stared at him incredulously, and said “Are you sure? I really don’t mind!” He said that it was not a problem and that he didn’t want to see me fall on the ice.

Wow.

I was sort of stunned for a moment after I thanked him and he drove away. This kind stranger insisted I put my trash bags on the back seat of his car and let him haul them to the compactor.

It’s cold.

It’s icy.

Trash—especially a stranger’s—is gross.

And taking out the trash is never a fun chore—regardless of the weather.

This humbling experience is a great reminder to take the time to do a kind or thoughtful act here or there for a stranger. You never know what kind of day they’ve had and how much of an impact a simple favor can make.

2010 in review (via the stats helper monkeys)

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 9,200 times in 2010. That’s about 22 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 61 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 63 posts. There were 118 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 9mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was January 18th with 180 views. The most popular post that day was Five Reasons Why EventCamp 2010 Should Be A Must On Your To-Do List.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, ow.ly, skylinetradeshowtips.com, hootsuite.com, and michaelmccurry.net.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for stink eye**, social media proposal, christina stallings, lenox mall, and stinkeye**.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Five Reasons Why EventCamp 2010 Should Be A Must On Your To-Do List January 2010
4 comments

2

13 Telltale Signs You’re an Event or Tradeshow Professional . . . January 2010
11 comments

3

About September 2009

4

My Social Media Proposal in Five Simple Words (and they rhyme!) May 2010
10 comments

5

South Carolina CVB’s Promotional Strategies in Lenox Mall – Can They Translate to Tradeshows? March 2010
4 comments

 

**Looks like putting the word “stink eye” on your blog is the key to success!

Wishing you all happy holidays!

Special thanks to friends, family and colleagues for another wonderful year full of blessings. I hope you are enjoying your time during the holidays.

Cheers to welcoming a happy and successful 2011!

Cold Silence

[Image via Grant MacDonald]

 

Some days I think that my list of professional skills could include ‘party pooper’ and/or ‘nit-picker’

I work in exhibit hall management – one piece of the complex puzzle that is a medical society’s annual conference. If you are in the event or tradeshow industry you are probably aware of the fact that the usual tradeshow gimmicks, entertainment and general fun just are not appropriate for these type of meetings.

Just ask the lawmakers, compliance officers, association leadership, media . . . you name it.

Now that we’ve got the general background out of the way, let’s move on. I’ve had a particularly . . . trying . . . day. It may have taken all day, but I’ve decided to not take it personally and have a sense of humor about it. So here goes.

Warning – extreme sarcasm and dramatic over-exaggeration ahead!

There are some days where I am concerned that I could easily add ‘professional bearer of bad news’ to my resume. Why, you ask? On a day like today, I get at least one call an hour that goes a little something like this . . .

Caller:

We’d like to have Elton John in our booth, he wouldn’t sing, just smile and sign autographs. You see, he’s a big advocate of insert slightly relevant but worthy cause here and he’s from insert city where convention will be that is also said celebrity’s hometown. You know? It’s the messaging that we are going after. So . . . would that be allowed?

Me:

. . . No.

Caller:

Well, we’d like to have a really educational and fun game. Think . . . . Double Dare meets  . . . Jeopardy . . . meets Slip n’ Slide!! You know?! Scientific questions with a side of slime – if you’re not up to the challenge that is! Heh, heh! So . . . would that be allowed?

Me:

. . . No.

Caller:

OK, so we have this really interactive presentation planned. Just imagine it – what better way to demonstrate a healthy lifestyle than . . . really attractive, fit belly dancers. AND, it would benefit the exhibit hall as a whole if they were allowed to perform not just in the booth, but in the surrounding aisles. Or heck – even throughout the convention center! So . . . would that be allowed?

Me:

. . . No.

Caller:

Alright, I get it . .  So. We have a cash machine. Wait, wait, wait – you didn’t let me finish. Each dollar can be turned in to go to insert good cause here – OR – for an educational giveaway! – it’s genius! I mean – talk about a WIN-WIN! Education and cash – can’t go wrong. . . So . . . would that be allowed?

Me:

. . . No.

Caller:

Hmmm . . . Well, we’d really like to give attendees a one-of-a-kind, amazing experience. We have a unicorn. We noticed that the guidelines don’t specifically address mythical creatures. Or awesomeness for that matter. We’d like to have a branded unicorn walk the exhibit hall, and the convention center and surrounding streets, with your approval, of course. So . . . would that be allowed?

Me:

. . . No . . . But, have you considered a centaur?


Caller:

Well, no . . . would that be allowed?


Me:

. . . No. But, I’ve just always wanted to see one.

You’re so vain . . . You probably think this song is about you, don’t you?

Yes, yes I do.

Now presenting the *amazing* . . . the NEW DORK!

Hat tip to Mashable.

What is the ROI of accepting a junior level staffer’s request to attend an industry conference?

It can be very expensive to attend an event when you add up registration fees, travel and accommodations. These costs can easily add up to $1,000. Why should you invest this kind of money on a junior staffer?

I’ll begin by stating the obvious reasons why such requests are typically not even considered.

1.  Have you turned on the news? We’re in a recession. You’re lucky to even have a job.

2.  Why would I send a junior level staffer? They’re not a decision-maker. Where is my ROI?

3.  It’ll be over their head. Again. Where is my ROI?

Now, I challenge you to consider why you should contemplate such a request.

Yes, we are in a recession, but there are always ways to manipulate budgets if necessary. If your financial situation is so dire that this is not possible, bookmark this post for 2011.

Many junior level staffers are hungry for educational opportunities. Yes, there are also plenty of bad seeds who get by doing the bare minimum to get a satisfactory annual review. I’d imagine it wouldn’t be too difficult for you to spot the hungry ones if you tried, though.

A hungry junior level staffer may not grasp everything that is said at an industry conference, but you better believe they will try. And down the road, they’ll encounter a situation that reminds them of something from the conference and connect the dots. That my friends, is how light bulb moments are born.

Remember back when you were junior level? Before you moved into a corner office, when your days consisted of tasks like taking minutes for a meeting instead of participating, working hard on a report only to have someone above you present it, preparing name badges, travel reimbursement forms, etc.

I’m not complaining. I understand these not-so-glamorous tasks are necessary and someone has to do them. And the reasons why you now sit in a corner office are because you worked hard, proved yourself, and earned it. I get that. I’m just suggesting you invest a little bit to nurture a hungry junior level staffer, much like yourself, X-number of years ago.

After considering the above pro’s and con’s, I came up with an alternative solution that could potentially:

  • Reduce or eliminate the risk of poor ROI
  • Encourage professional development
  • Position you as a mentor
  • Improve productivity
  • Boost employee moral

Here it is.

If it is plausible to move a relatively small (think big picture) amount of money to a line item for junior staff professional development on your budget, do it. Allocate roughly $1,000 to this item.

Send out an e-mail calling for proposals to attend educational events (on the company’s dime) to staffers of a certain level, or range of levels (for example, coordinators to managers).

If eligible employees have an interest in attending an industry conference, they may submit a proposal to be considered to attend an industry conference – a costly, but valuable, opportunity.

Choose up to five different educational events as options for proposals (for example, IAEE, HCEA, MPI, ASAE or PCMA), but only allow one proposal for one event per applicant. The most deserving applicants will really think about the personal value of each option while taking into consideration the likelihood that you would agree.

Designate a strong deadline and specific requirements for the proposal to be considered.

Specific requirements could include:

  • Why is this relevant to your day-to-day responsibilities, the goals of your department, etc.?
  • What will you do to prove you are the best recipient of the funding before, during and after the event?
  • What specific sessions at the particular conference will be of most value and relevance to you personally and to our department/organization?

Hungry junior staffers + competition + opportunity = survival of the fittest.

Or the most qualified. Or the best return on your investment.

After the deadline, review the applications yourself or with a team of leaders from your organization to determine the best and most deserving recipient.

After deciding, tell the junior staffer who stood out the most the good news and make their month, and a highlight in their career path.

Finally, after the event, call the winner into your office and ask them what they learned. Ask for key takeaways. Ignore any nervous vibes they may put off (again, remember when you were a junior staffer?).

If the junior staffer rattles off several key takeaways off of the top of their head, asks for clarification on something that was discussed, or pulls out their notes – pat yourself on the back. You have chosen wisely.

While the ROI may not be immediately evident in dollars, you now have your hands on a newly-motivated, appreciative, proud and ready-to-tackle-anything go-getter. Who also works for you.

A former boss of mine used to always say:

When you think you’re green, you grow. When you think you’re ripe, you rot.

Years later, I realize just how spot-on she was.

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