Hmmm. A thought I've been mulling over, based on some incidents and comments yesterday: are we spoiled?
Yesterday afternoon, I was crowd-gathering for one of the technical demonstrations for my client. Crowds were thinning, but I was still grabbing everyone who walked by, trying to get a few audience members on the theory that where one sits, others will stay. A woman with two small children in tow paused at my cheery invitation to sit and enjoy a quick five-minute demo of a new technology product that would save teachers time and energy. She looked at me, glanced at the chairs, and said, "What are you giving away?"
Of course the Obvious Bribe (chairs laden with freebies like mousepads, gadgets, and the like) are common at trade shows. And I believe that they are an effective tool for getting the people in the seats; your presentation will do the rest. However, upon hearing that she wasn't going to walk away with a plastic whatsit, the women scrunched up her nose and turned away. (My prompt answer, "We're giving away information that will help save you the most precious things you have--time and energy!" didn't impress her.)
Now, this particular attendee wouldn't have been a good prospect, anyway; nothing could have convinced her that the information she garners at a trade show is more valuable than the plastic whatsis she collects. Still, when my client Diane mentioned at dinner last night that we were raising a generation of spoiled kids, it gave me pause. At first I thought she was referring to the students, but she was actually referring to the teachers. We've been giving away so much--ancillaries, free CD-ROM of the whole textbook, free access to the entire book on the website, free training, free this, free that. And we still spend tons of time and energy developing it, but everyone expects everything to be free.
Indeed, are we raising a generation of spoiled consumers?
Greetings from the Big Easy!
It's 95 degrees and muggy as hell, but hey, I'm air-conditioned with a nice pool, so I don't care! And I'm having a wonderful time at the show. Everyone else seems to be surprised that I don't find giving 15 presentations a day grueling. How is it that no one understands that I absolutely LOVE what I do? I'm having a blast! And in a moment of randomness at the show yesterday, I even ran into the AP of a movie I did in Milwaukee a few years back. Freaky, huh?
And our company event manager treated everyone to dinner last night, so we went to a wonderfully decadent seafood restaurant. Mmmmm! The wine flowed freely, and my pesto-encrusted salmon (with lobster ravioli in a spinach-cream sauce) was absolutely perfect. A nice walk back through the Quarter, and then I tumbled in to bed.
... and woke up at 5:45 as the ALARM CLOCK IN THE ROOM WENT OFF AGAIN!! It went off at the same time yesterday morning, apparently set by the previous occupant. So last night, I tried to figure out how to turn the alarm off. Nothing was obvious, so I just unplugged the thing. BUT IT LIVES! At 5:45 this morning, with the hip-hop music blaring from the small device, I picked it up to see it was still unplugged and still blaring! I put it in the bathroom and closed the door. I think I'm going downstairs this morning and giving it to the concierge to dispose of. Grrrr!
Whew! What a day it's already been! I"m on the airplane, speeding off to New Orleans for one of my favorite techie shows, NECC. Maybe it's because the software I get to demo is so damn cool, or maybe it's because NECC always seems to be in the coolest locations: Seattle last year, where I purchased a copy of the latest Tom Robbins novel--appropriate, n'est-ce pas?, and New Orleans this year. The location this year has definitely given rise to not-so-subtle jealousy from some of my friends and associates. So I'll have to be sure to write some journal entries during the slow and scary times, to remind them of the downside of the Traveling Presenter's life. :-)
And a part of me is excited because this will be the first show for this client for which I'll be sporting this handy-dandy new(ish) laptop. Can it really be that I've only had it since February? Feels like I've never been without my cute little i-buddy that keeps me connected everywhere via Wi-Fi.
And it's been such a crazy week and weekend that I'm actually looking forward to the show as relaxing! I mean, I'm FINALLY sitting down with nothing to do but read and type this entry, and the water aerobics instructor test this morning entailed nearly an hour and a half workout in the water, as each student taught a 10-minute class segment. So I climbed out of the pool around 1:30 this afternoon, wrinkled and pruny and with that sense of strength that tired muscles give you. Oh, and now with the official title of ASWFA Certified Water Aerobics Instructor. :-)
And, while I was quite annoyed at being forced to take the class to be certified, I'll grudgingly admit that it does bring me one step closer to my goal of becoming a speaker or spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation some day.
Got a random call this week to help out a company with focus testing/interviewing. See, the fun part of interviewing folks who are testing products is trying to get the sound bite out of them. You want them to say, "Yes! I'd buy that in a second!" But of course, you want them to utter it spontaneously and truthfully. Thus comes the Art of the Sound Bite.
It was quite a fun day, with periods of filming interspersed with slower times during which the researchers were scanning the crowds for participants. And the product we were testing (not sure if I'm allowed to say or not, so for now it will just be "product") was quite good, and really much better than its competition.
The most fun, however, was at the end of the day, when the client asked me to read a few lines in super-cheesy infomercial tones for a short parody to be used for company training. We ALL had trouble keeping straight faces during the takes, including myself! :-)
And, in other news, I was thrilled to get a call today from the state tourism agency, which wants me to customize a seminar for their meeting in August. I'd be giving a General Session to over a hundred participants, and I'm very excited at the challenge this will pose! Even though I'm leaving for New Orleans in just two short days, I'm trying to dedicate a few hours to the proposal and some ideas for the seminar.
In short, life is very good and very busy here at HMP!
Hello! Just got a call today to do an industrial film for a mattress company. It sounds like a hoot--they needed someone to conduct "on the street" interviews of mall shoppers and be able to improv to get more information and sound bites from the people. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? I'm really looking forward to it!
In other news, I've been working my little tail off to take and pass the American Water Fitness instructor's exam. It's quite a series of hoops I've been having to jump through just to keep teaching where I am. Matter of fact, I just spent two valuable hours of my morning studying the book, and I have quite a few hours of work left to do before the exam this weekend. And did I mention that I'm heading straight to the airport for a show in New Orleans directly after the exam?
But the truth is that I do in fact have a horrible attitude about taking this exam, like all the other water instructors. Most of us have been teaching at the facility on a near-volunteer basis, just as a contribution to the community. And here is how the change came about: Six weeks ago, all instructors received letters in the mail saying that they would have to be certified both in CPR and water fitness in order to continue teaching. And the certifications had to be completed within a month. All told, about 40 hours of work and nearly $200 in testing fees were required of everyone within a one-month period.
I'm musing today over the fact that most of us are so dedicated to our students that we've jumped through these hoops with a minimum of grumbling, but I'm wondering what my dear friend Bob Burg would say about this situation. I wonder what the facility could have done to make the instructors feel like a valued part of a team instead of trained poodles who needed to invest in pedigree papers.
If only they had said, "We are trying to upgrade the image and quality of our facility. You, as the instructors, are such a valued part of our team that we want to make sure you have all the training and information you need to make your classes enjoyable for your students and profitable for the facility as a whole. To that end, we would like to encourage you to become certified as water fitness instructors. With your certification, you'll receive a pay raise and greater privileges at the facility."
That is, wouldn't it have been wonderful if the facility had emphasized how valued we are, and perhaps offered some type of benefit to our working so hard at being certified, rather than simply threatening to take our classes away from us if we didn't?
As I was talking to one of my Success Team buddies the other night, she said something that made me smile and set me thinking. Her dream is to do something to promote green housing, and, after nearly a year of interviewing and research, she's decided to become a statistician in the field. Now, to me, that sounds as dull as dirt. But to her, it's a very real application of what she's been longing to do. Her eyes light up when she talks about math, in much the same way as when she talks about green housing. It's truly a wonderful sight to see!
So, as we were talking last week and she was telling me how her statistics class was going, she said with a tone of relief in her voice, "You know, it's just so nice that there is a right answer." I chuckled and thought about it--and you know, she's right! How long has it been since there has been one right answer for anything? I think that the last time there were right answers in my life, I was about ten years old! And here was Laura, breathing sighs of relief at mathematics, because they made the world make sense. :-)