Thursday, April 07, 2011

LVNV - Day 2

It took me a while to pull myself together after the big sleep, but I did and went out in search of sustenance.  Two blocks away (really) was a Denny's, so I went there.  I brought a book and was seated in the back of the restaurant.  Even at that early hour, music blared out of the speakers at a frantic pace, which made it challenging to have a relaxing breakfast.  I'm reading "The Shack" right now, and it is so well written that it pulled me in and the noise around me faded away into the conversation between Mack and Sophia about judgment and how Man is so good at it.  A light, musical voice interrupted me - Hi.  My name is Chris.  Can I get you something to drink?  I looked up with the expectation of seeing a woman, but it was a man.  I ordered tea and he went away to get it and I thought to myself, yes - Man is good at judging, all the time.  We do it without thinking because we have expectations built in and are startled (and for some people, mad) when what we expect isn't what we get.  In this case, Chris was a lovely waiter.  He brought me what I asked for in a timely manner, was polite and attentive and when my biscuit didn't come out with the rest of my breakfast, he offered me an alternative.  I told him I'd wait for the biscuit (which was still in the oven) and after a while, it came out.  Worth waiting for.  I tipped him well and told the manager that he made my breakfast experience very pleasant.

Now I was ready to start my day of listening to people talk about technical things, which is not my strong suit.  My first session was a long one about the software I use in doing my job.  Here's the thing about attending a conference with professional collegues...  Even though you are "making it work", sometimes there are better ways to get it done that never occurred to you before.  That happened to me quite a bit.  I asked a few questions myself, and one of the presenters asked me to visit their booth so we could explore my questions a bit more in-depth.  I love having access, face to face, with people like that.  So much easier than trying to convey stuff on the phone or in an email sometimes.  So the first session was very, very useful to me.  The second was more fun - all the Traffic professionals discussing in small groups certain issues.  In years past, the most common issues were different from the ones today.  The big issues now seem to be both in technical stuff and in financial stuff.  Part of our job is dealing with the underwriting (sales) departments and making sure that contracts get fulfilled.  Most salespeople are very good at what they do, but it's kind of like holding a conversation with an Irish Setter when discussing something that doesn't actually have to do with the act of selling.  Their attention is everywhere except on what you're saying, so getting details is quite frustrating in some places.  I'm lucky in that I have an excellent Underwriting Coordinator who is the go-between for me and the sales guys.  She works hard to make sure everything adds up before sending to me, so I try to be accomodating whenever something needs to be added or removed at the last minute.  This is apparently NOT the norm, as a lot of people in that room expressed great frustration in dealing with their underwriting people.  The other thing I discovered was that people in my area are control freaks - like I didn't know that, being a bit of one myself.  It's hard for them to let go of something they do and trust someone else to do it properly.  I think if they would be willing to take the time (and find the patience) to teach someone else how to do some aspects of their jobs, they'd find their lives a lot less stressful.  I'm a control freak myself - but one who's learned how to deligate and let go of some stuff.

Once the business end of things was done for the day, my next priority was getting something to eat, as I hadn't eaten anything since the lovely breakfast.  My friend from Jacksonville and I made plans to meet and eat sushi at one of the restaurants in the hotel and separated to go to our rooms and make contact with loved ones before dinner.  He called about fifteen minutes later and asked if he'd mind if we ate with the current TAC committee instead at the Grand Buffett.  Sounded good to me.  I'd never eaten there as the lines were always so long and patience is not something I do well.  It's a little different when you have people with you and you can talk while you wait.  So a time was set and I finished my online conversations with my boy and my man telling them how much I loved and missed them, ran a comb through my hair and went to meet people at the fountain.

I think I expected more of a "grand buffett" - especially one that costs $30 to visit.  The food was okay, but not great.  I had a couple of pieces of sushi roll, watermelon and a tofu ball on my first round.  The second was a small roasted new potato, broccoli, corn and a small piece of chicken and a dollop of hummus.  A fairly eclectic meal, actually.  That was my last visit to the food.  I went to the dessert bar, but almost everything had dairy in it, so I settled for a small rice crispie treat on a stick and dipped in chocolate.  I could have lived without it.

But as dismal as the food was, the company was most excellent.  Lively and fun conversation about aspects of our work, life on the committee and some personal stuff too.  It made me realize how much I missed interacting with people who actually GET what it is I do - which is a mystery to most people, even in the business!  Once upon a time, I had a three year term on the Traffic Advisory Committee.  It was fun and so enriching and I find myself wanting to apply to be on it again.  There is, however, a financial committment required of the station - that I attend the conference each year I'm on the committee.  This is the first year in the five years since I was on TAC that I've gotten to go and only because of some serious changes coming in how my job gets done that I knew I was unprepared for...  and it's because of the money thing.  So even if I want to rejoin TAC, it's doubtful that it will happen because of the money.  Makes me sad.

Now I need to get in the shower and prepare for day 3 of this trip - today we get down to brass tacks!


Sandy said...

Sometimes the sameness of a chain restaurant is very comforting when you are away from home. Enjoy the book. I know I did...a real thought-provoker.

Glad you are having a good time.

ari_1965 said...

Yeah, I remember going to a conference a hundred years ago when I was still marketing director at one of the humane societies. Normally, I had no conversations with the other MN humane societies because there was the attitude that we were all competing for the same piece of the pie. Plus, there was no "employee development" money. Plus, we all worked 80 hours a week for low pay and that leaves very little time or energy for networking.

This conference I mentioned was the first time that I had really talked to humane society people outside my own. One feature of tiny nonprofits is that you are the only one who knows your job. No one else understands your job or knows how to do it. I had been getting flack from the board and the exec dir for not writing enough grants. They didn't understand that there were only a limited number of granters willing to consider funding animal causes. It wasn't an excuse I was giving, it was the reality of the situation. I remember the sheer joy of being at this conference and hearing some other marketing person say that there are only a limited number of granters willing to consider funding animal causes. Yay! Understanding!

Pamela said...

I read that book last year -- it was hard for me to read because of the subject matter. Well written, tho