The conference breakfast was the standard continental variety. I’m not really sure why they call it that. If by “continental” they mean “cold carb choices only” or “hungry again by 10am”, then they picked the right name. There was no place to set our stuff. We just stood over by a wall and tried to balance the tiny plate, glass of juice, napkin, and notebooks we were carrying while we ate.
We filed into the large conference room like a herd of sheep and suffered through the conference reunion/introduction—which included a painful slide show of conferences past and pictures of previous award winners. There was even a standing ovation for someone we didn’t know. Spencer cheered loudly and laughed. I closed my eyes and pretended it was all a bad dream—or something more enjoyable—like an Amway convention.
The first meeting was a motivational seminar on leadership by a great speaker—Steve Farber (more on the highlights of this another time). Spencer and I sat by a lady (Christine) from Brazil who was struggling to understand the speaker because he spoke so fast and English is her second language. I was closest to her so I would translate for her when she got confused.
The translation that made Spencer laugh out loud: a powerpoint slide that showed a close-up of an Olympic skeleton rider who was just diving onto his sled. Across the picture were the letters “OS!M” He told us what it meant. It’s the feeling you get the first time you jump head first onto the sled and see how steep the death-defying drop looming in front of you really is. It’s an “Oh [Shoot] Moment”. Christine couldn’t understand what he said and wanted me to translate it for her.
Longest minutes of this seminar: When the fairy godmother came out and cast a spell on all of us. Then had us join her and cast our own spell with our pretend magic wands. Only in Disney World. Tayler and Rylee would’ve loved it. Spencer did too.
Spencer’s review of this seminar: “I don’t like buzzwords and don’t like to be motivated”.
Oh, you must’ve l-o-v-e-d the past three hours then.
Second most painful moments of this seminar: The dreaded group discussion. Naturally I wasn’t listening when he gave the instructions about what we were supposed to talk about. Didn’t really matter. Nobody at our table really wanted to talk about the subject anyway. Someone wisely threw out that Christine was from Rio de Janiero. That led to a five minute discussion on the fun and purpose of the holiday/celebration/contest called Carnival.
Most painful moments of this seminar: Self-promotion guy. During the open Q&A, the microphone was passed to a guy who was really anxious to maximize the attendance at the afternoon break-out session he was leading. He didn’t ask a question. He instead pretended to ask a question while prattling on for several minutes about his opinion on the topic and plugging for his afternoon session. I never got a good look at him. I recognized his voice however. Later on, just before the afternoon session, Spencer and I were lounging on the uncomfortable chairs in the lobby. I asked Spencer if we were having fun yet. Then like fingernails on a chalkboard, I heard self-promotion guy’s voice coming from a smiling man who had passed us seconds before my comment. He yelled back over his shoulder, “if you want to have fun, come to my session that’s just about to start”. He sensed, and acknowledged, the sarcasm in my response. (Side note: Neither Spencer or I went. But Spencer said he could hear people thru the wall, roaring with laughter throughout self-promotion guy’s presentation. Guess we should’ve gone).
The Conference Nerd
Like a conference nerd, I took notes of the highlights of Steve’s presentation. Spencer sat there and soaked it in. After the break he returned with a notebook. I thought he was going to take notes, but instead he was Plogging. That’s my new word for writing down your next post on paper because it would be too disrespectful to use a laptop during someone else’s presentation. It’s how they used to blog before the internet. I think people also call it journaling. So Spencer Plogged away. Didn’t ever see him write down anything about dental insurance, or heaven forbid, successful leadership strategy. But thankfully his next post is ready for publication.