Wow. Still recovering from an incredible show with Siemens. I have to give tons of credit to (a) Martin, who conceived and engineered this entire project (shipping 12 full-sized train cars over from Europe can't be easy), (b) Barbara at P*Pohl Productions out of New York, who was very kind to all of us, and of course (c) Jackie, who was well-informed, calm, and stayed abreast of everything and everyone every single day of the show, and always with a smile on her face. Thank you!
All in all, it was a fabulous show. The goal for booth attendance was 2,800 visitors, but we hit that mark by the morning of the third day! By the end of the day on Wednesday, we'd already shepherded over 3,100 attendees through the booth, most of whom stayed in the booth in excess of 45 minutes, an unheard-of amount of time for most exhibitors! This was truly an original concept for a booth, and with the rest of exhibitors reporting slow traffic and low attendance, it was really a coup for Siemens Automation and Drive group and their American market.
And now for some well-deserved rest for all of us!
Quite a lot to say today, and not much time to say it in before I get off to bed to refresh for the final day of the Manufacturing Show/NDES tomorrow, so a few points...
First, the Siemens booth is unbelievably cool. It's an original concept: 12 real train cars, shipped over from Europe, each one showcasing an application of the Siemens automation and drive group. The exhibit has been garnering over 1200 visitors in each of the last two days! For a show that has reported slow traffic overall, it's utterly amazing that this booth not only has a line of people waiting to enter (some up to 45 minutes!), but that most attendees are spending well over an HOUR in the booth! Truly a tremendous concept.
A new word I heard today: coopertition. That is, the idea of cooperating on projects with people whom you'd normally consider competitors. Again, quite a concept.
Finally, I have to give credit to Jackie for coordinating a group of over ten hostesses. We were all bright and professional, to be sure, but she took every issue and special request in stride and worked twice as hard as any of us. You go, girl!
Ooooh... I just noticed that this is the 100th blog entry. Hmmm.... maybe the 1,000th visitor should get a free... something?
Anyway, 'tis the season for shows. Just when I was enjoying recuperating from traveling and shooting, I got a call to work the Manufacturing Show. Thankfully, it's here in Chicago, and I'll be sharing booth space with some truly talented presenters and hostesses, so I'm confident that the show will be fun and successful.
And in case I haven't mentioned it yet, I LOVE my new laptop! Yes, I'm the proud owner of a new, bouncing baby Mac iBook G4, and I absolutely love it! Why do you love it so much, you ask?
(1) I just recorded a voiceover demo CD for a client in 5 minutes flat, no additional software, hookups, cords, or mikes needed. iTunes rocks!
(2) iPhoto means I can hook my digital camera up directly to the laptop and download my pictures.
(3) I sat in a Starbucks this afternoon to make some notes--and I worked, connected to the Internet, and walked away--all with NO WIRES!
(4) It's just so soothing and cool.
OK, before you think I'm just another hopeless technophile, understand that this will make me (and my headshots, resume, and other files) SOOO much easier to reach, even when I'm on the road for weeks at a time. This means better and prompter service for you, the client--and won't it be nice to be able to send me a script to prepare for your show next week, even though I'm in a hotel halfway across the country at the time?
OK, it's been a while, and I'll beg off for a few reasons: (1) Three nearly-straight weeks of travel (2) no laptop (but a new one is being delivered today) (3) well, there is not (3), so I guess the last one is that I'm just too busy living life to take time to record it. Well, that, or I'm being lazy. :-)
But seriously, I'm incredibly thankful for the rush of work for some truly wonderful clients in January/February. And while the last trip to Texas did end with much more of a whimper than a bang thanks to a violent case of food poisoning, I was still thrilled with the way the show went for the client. OK, well, and I was selfishly excited to have time to enjoy a few hours catching up with my erstwhile mentor, Pam Pate. She and I were lowly editors together many years ago (back in 1991 or so), and we used to yell editorial comments to each other over the cubicle walls. She was the person that I strove to be like--always smiling, kind, and cheerily diplomatic. She harbors an immense creativity but is always unfailingly modest about it. And now look at her--she's not only the director of all product development, but she's also the acting vice-president of the entire company. And yet, when we sat down at the Four Seasons for drinks, I remarked how she hadn't changed a bit. All that responsibility hadn't changed her ever-sunny disposition, and her creative eye insisted on pointing out the unique arrangement of flowers in the hotel lobby and enjoying a beautiful Austin sunset.
This is truly a unique and powerful person, and I hold her up as a counter-example to those who say you have to trample others and compromise your values to get to the top. Pam is still as positive, kind, and creative as ever, and she deserves every single accolate she gets. Yay Pam!
And on to other things... after a late and painfully delayed plane ride back from Austin (YOU try flying when you've been up all night with food poisoning!), I was incredibly thankful to see Gray's friendly face. He chauffeured me home and helped out while I set everything out for the next morning's shoot. And in spite of my own exhaustion, I have to say that every day of shooting last week went incredibly well. OK, not so much because of any stellar acting talent on my own part, but because Bob and the guys were so damn competent. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that this is the only shoot I've ever participated in for which every day of shooting ended not on time but early. EARLY! These guys are real pros, and it was a pleasure to work with them. It could easily have been a draining week, but instead I actually managed to sneak in some Valentine's Day shopping and even a little recovery time.
Thing Heidi learned on the last trip: boy, does service make a difference! If you ever doubt that the fare or hotel rate is worth it, try flying a discount airline instead of American or a hotel with bad service. What a contrast was my Tampa hotel from Orlando's Peabody's stellar experience last week! The Tampa hotel did absolutely everything wrong: the free shuttle wasn't running; service at the restaurant was painfully slow (over an hour to get a salad--and an awful one at that--even with only three other patrons in the place); the room phones only work on occasion; the hot and cold water taps are mislabeled; the towels are rust-stained; room service breakfast is a joke, since the hotel staff regularly forgets to leave the fliers on the door, and forgets to pick them up as well, so you might very well awake to find your order still hanging on the door. Top all this off with a less-than-friendly and incompetent staff, and you have last week's stay!
Now I know that a good Buddhist wouldn't have let these outside factors affect her so much, but dammit, by the end of the trip, I was exhausted and just ready to leave that damn hell-hole. I mean, there's a reason that hotels train their staff in service--it's not just for standing or a star rating; it's because travellers really need that friendly, helpful voice. It can make the difference between coming home cranky and coming home refreshed. And that is a lot to be able to give someone.
But now I'm in a much better mood, off to Austin for a new conference. And can I just say that I love American Airlines? I walk in to the airport, check in at the electronic kiosk in a matter of seconds, my bag is checked and x-rayed speedily, and I'm through security and sipping my skinny Starbucks latte at gate K12, exactly nine minutes from when I set foot in the airport. What a contrast to last week's flight on Spirit airlines, when the two (count them--two!) employees didn't even start checking the hundred people in line in until an hour before the flight. That time, I walked in the door an hour and a half before my flight and, because of Spirit's staffing delays, I plopped into my seat just as the plane pushed away from the gate, without having had a moment to sit down or sip coffee or gather my breath.
At any rate, I'm excited not only to be back in my old grad-school stomping grounds, but also because I'll get to stay and see the remnants of the Estrogen Lair, my dear friends Bonnie and Kelly. And let's not forget my brother Danny , who obviously was NOT part of the Lair. I've already given a list of my required activities: breakfast at the Omlettry, a tiny diner with homemade salsa on their juevos rancheros as well as gingerbread pancakes to die for. Dinner at the East Side Cafe, a wonderful restaurant lodged in a old house and with a garden from which they harvest many of the ingredients for their never-fail recipes. And at some point, green sauce and margaritas at Trudy's or Chuy's; I'm not that picky. OK, well, I am, but not for this. :-)
And I realized yesterday, in all my laundering and unpacking/repacking flurry, that I only have a few hundred pages left in the fictionalized bio of Queen Elizabeth that I'm reading, and that I will soon need another book for the return flight. Then it hit me: an excuse for a trip to the nothing-like-it Austin book store, Book People! Oh, how happy am I!
More random Heidi news: for those who were in on the search process, yes, I did finally purchase a very clean and gently used Honda Civic. Silver, standard (just as I like it!), great stereo, low miles. And I'll soon be the owner of a new, bouncing baby laptop--these last few weeks on the road have made me realize how much I long for connectivity! My good buddy Ron, a long-time Apple fan and now employee, is building me a laptop that will make my photo editing and on-the-road blogging so much easier!
And along those lines, special thanks go out to M.E. and John for loaning me their cool Vaio for this trip so that I can keep blogging away until my new laptop arrives!
Well, it was a horrible trip (rainy weather, difficulty with cabs, the worst hotel EVER), but a great show with the new client at the School Equipment show. And it was a refreshing change to go from perfectly-pressed suits and carefully-worded presentations to a referee's uniform and basketball chucking. :-) Ah, the life of a presenter/trade show talent!
And although my right shoulder is definitely sore from playing the in-booth basketball game entirely too often (all under the pretext of showing others how to use it, of course), I'm actually quite proud that I ended up with a high score that could show up some of the men at the show. Not many, but some! :-D
So thanks again for a great show; I'll admit unabashedly that I'm hoping to work with the Drucker Group and the guys at Master Lock again soon!
But now it's rush again... to catch up, fill out expense reports, do laundry, hit the French-American Chamber of Commerce general assembly tonight, and then fly off to Austin, Texas tomorrow!
You know, sometimes working a booth at a trade show can really prove to be an interesting study of human behavior. As you can see from the pix below, I was crowd-gathering by bringing attendees in the booth to play a mini-basketball game. What was truly fascinating was people's approach to the game. A few things I noted:
1) Women would always--always--say within the first five seconds, "Oh, I'm awful at this!" or "Oh, I can't do this at all!"
2) Parents would encourage a girl child ("That's it! Good job! You got one!"), sometimes even condescendingly, but goad a boy child ("You're missing! Aim for the rim! She's going to beat you!").
3) Everyone was naturally competitive--both women and men came back repeatedly to beat their own best score. Sure, some folks did come to engage in a friendly rivalry with an associate or coworker, but most just tried to better their own score.
Is this why we climb mountains, try to go to Mars after going to the moon, and create the newest widget? Because something in us naturally makes us want to challenge ourselves to better our own best score?
And I have to comment on the women's self-doubts as well. I was really quite shocked to see the self-denigrating language was so pervasive and so predictable. I do wonder what it is in society that has led women to believe it's okay to put ourselves down, aloud and repeatedly.