It was a good "Lane" week.

Well, the conference went great, just as you predicted.  Well, mostly great.  I picked up some bug either Monday or Tuesday that started to show symptoms on Wednesday.  And, today, it stopped showing symptoms and started kicking my butt.  Congestion, headache, something going on in my gut.  Airborne to the rescue.  They may have had to stop advertising how great they are because they couldn't prove it.  But, I'm still a believer.  Doesn't help with the symptoms.  I have to take something else for that.  But, it helps build the immune system to fight things off. 

Or, it's a sugar pill and the healing is all in my mind.  Personally, doesn't matter which one. 

Monday was good.  Travel was easy and I had one of the smoothest flights ever.  Like riding in a car.  Monday night dinner was German and I'm not a fan, but I went anyway.  Until they started drinking shots, then I walked back to the hotel.  (disappeared like a puff of smoke)

One of the event planners was out sick (he's off the hook for giving this to me, but he's the only one) so the rest of us split his responsibilities.  I ended up introducing all the speakers and playing the icebreaker game.  In the first two rounds of the game, nobody matched.  But, in the third, almost everybody did. 

The first speaker was a company VP.  He's someone I've known remotely for years, but he remembered me.  I introduced him and we played the icebreaker.  As I was talking, my throat started to close up as it does in emotional situations (except when I'm angry, then my throat doesn't have any trouble.)  But, I wasn't discouraged. 

Then, the CEO spoke.  I was very proud.  Walked right up to her, shook her hand, explained that I would intro her and we'd play the icebreaker.  We all got on stage.  It was an interview style session with Q/A and some audience questions.  I introduced the interviewer as if he were the speaker, then pointed to the CEO and said "this lady just wandered in to hear him speak."  I looked around the audience and caught her in the corner of my eye and her eyes were wide open and her mouth was a perfect O of surprise.  Then, I said "of course, we all know (insert name).  I've been following her career longer than either of us would like to admit.".  I think it was perfect.  Everybody needs a good surprise every so often.  Of course, we'll see if there is blowback from that because the rule is, you never surprise the CEO (all questions and rules of the icebreaker had to be submitted in advance).  I'm feeling pretty safe. 

The rest of my intros went well.  I made people laugh and got things off to a good start and helped set the tone of the meeting.  One of the extra jobs I picked up was the closing of day 1.  Administrative announcements and a wish to see everyone back tomorrow.  But, I started with "The only thing separating...you...from...beer.........is...me.  I really drew it out like I was going to keep on like that.  It was a gamble, but it worked.  Mostly because I didn't keep it up.  I got them out of there quick.  Instead of going to the baseball game that was the "team event", three ladies and I went to dinner together as an "alternative event".  That's three more people than attended the alternative event last time. 

Wednesday morning, "Welcome back to the conference, everybody.  Glad to see so many of you survived the night.  If there's good gossip from last night, be sure and tell ME."  And, we played the icebreaker.  The speaker that gave the answer to match said something obscure that nobody was going to guess, so I said "OK, thanks.  We may as well start the meeting now."  That got laughs.  One of my really good friends, and very sweet lady who is very...is ladylike a bad word now?  Because that's the way I'd describe her.  Anyway, from the stage, I heard her say "my only answer would be X-rated".  Boy, did I have some fun with that.  I said something to her later to make sure she wasn't offended and she wasn't, so I guess I didn't overplay that one.  We played the rest of the round and nobody matched.  Til I got to the last guy, who's a really good friend of mine.  He said he matched and I said I'd need proof.  So, I walked over and checked his piece of paper.  I don't know what he wrote on it.  Couldn't read his writing, but it didn't look like a match, but I said he matched.  Then as I walked away, I said "yeah, right" under my breath.  More laughs. 

At the last speaker, I started with "Well, this is my last time on stage.  Who else is excited about that?"  Pause for laughter.  "If you know me, then you know this is not who I usually am.  If you want to see a surprised look on a man's face, tell my boss about this.  It will probably take 25 or 30 of you before he believes it." 

Even though that was my last moment on stage, it wasn't my last moment to shine.  We have a sponsor for our meetings from a higher level of management.  He gave the opening and closing remarks for the conference per tradition.  In the closing, he thanked all the members of the planning committee and asked them to stand.  But, he forgot me.  We got to lunch and I walked up to him and said "love you too" and laughed.  But, the man was almost in tears he felt so bad about it.  I tried everything to make him feel better.  I explained that I had tooted my own horn for two days, and everybody knew I was on the committee.  I'd said it in my intro on day 1.  It didn't matter to me.  But, the one that had real impact on him was when I put my arm around his shoulder and spoke softly and said "you're the only one feeling bad about this and I'd appreciate it if you'd let it go because I'm on a pretty good high right now and I'd like you to feel that too."  It seemed to work. 

The other one was the event planner that does things like this full time.  She takes care of the logistics; reservations, accommodations, transportation, menus, handouts...that kind of stuff.  We had lunch on the hotel's roof.  And, it was way too windy for that.  It was sandwiches and the salad and bread were blowing off the buffet table and onto the floor.  People would pick up food on a spoon and it would fly at them.  If they were lucky, they could duck.  Table cloths blowing all around.  Napkins and plastic glasses all over.  And, the event planner was pissed.  The hotel should have known during setup that this would happen (even though I secretly believe it only started when we got to the roof because there wasn't any food blowing around when we got there.  It started after we got there.)  And, the hotel brought up extra staff and food to handle it.  I put my arm around her and explained that everybody was laughing and having a good time and she should let it go.  Then, after lunch, I could see she was still seething, so I walked over, plopped down next to her and said "we all took a vote.  We decided this was the most memorable conference lunch ever.  We'll never forget it."  And. I finally got her to laugh.  But, honestly, I would not have wanted to be the hotel representative that had to talk to her after it was over.  I'm sure she gave them an earful.  She likes things to be perfect because feedback reflects in her performance evaluation. 

I have a really obnoxious loud inappropriate co-worker.  She kept trying to make a big deal in front of small crowds about how I was only pretending to be shy.  She's always kind of a pain in the ass, so I sluffed her off and wouldn't really talk about it or let her get any traction on it.  But, it did make me think.  Part of what she said was right.  It's not that I'm shy.  I'm afraid of attention.  Attention hasn't always been a good thing in my life.  It's a risky thing that can go good or bad, so I learned to avoid it altogether.  But, I'm older now and I'm a better person with a stronger ego and maybe it's time I got a little attention.  Maybe I should draw a little attention to myself.  It sure wouldn't hurt my career any.  And, I'm kind of enjoying this feeling I'm having right now...not the feeling in my chest and nose, but the feeling in my heart.  I got a TON of private compliments.  I think I could do more of this. 

We'll see.

Have a GREAT Thursday.  I plan to.



Rebecca Grace said...

This is so awesome for you, Lane. Maybe you're kind of like a seed that has been hiding in a seed packet all these years, but now that you've finally gotten yourself planted in the good soil, taking care of yourself spiritually, physically, and creatively with plenty of sun, rain, and whatever -- now those roots are going down into the earth and you're able to grow into the full potential of what you never dreamed you could be back in the days of the dark, safe seed packet. That's kind of how I'm feeling lately, anyway. I'm glad the conference went well for you. They're lucky to have you!

Dot Wankat said...

This is another wonderful post. It is so encouraging to read about how you build on your strengths. It's also very helpful to learn how you spot sticky situations and work to make them better. I am delighted for you that your efforts were well received and really appreciate that you share your experiences.

Elle said...

What a fun post to read! One of the great parts of being the focus of attention is that you have the opportunity to use the humor and graciousness--that are some of your best qualities--to set a tone of well-being for others. You have a wonderful way of encouraging people.

Anonymous said...

You have a lot of great qualities . Glad the conference was a success. Mary

Mari said...

Wins all around! Good for you, Lane. Hope your cold is better, or at least bearable enough for a good weekend. :)

Megan said...

I'm another one who would like to thank you for taking the time to share your experiences at the conference with us. I'm glad that it went well, that you took risks and pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and that your contribution was appreciated.

Sydney, Australia