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~Tuesday~  I was up at 6:00 and downstairs shortly after breakfast started at 7:00. Everything was delicious that I had—scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, sausage, and bacon, but I sure did want some kind of bread, none of which was a part of the spread.

I tried to "walk the talk" of taking advantage of this conference to meet new people from the many other schools in our system, so I took a seat at a table with three people I didn't know. Unfortunately the three of them just talked to each other, and then a fourth person who knew them joined the table, and they talked to him.

And it wasn't like a didn't signal to them that I was interested in engaging, as when one of them made a comment about the trivia taking so long the night before followed by a comment by another one of them about there being an open bar, I said, "There's probably a direct correlation between those two things." They were polite and laughed and all, but that was it.

I know it's a natural inclination to sit with people "like you," and believe me, if there had been a "gay table"—a male table that is attracted to another male table?—I would have sashayed right on over to it. But I digress...

For the 8:30-9:15 set of sessions, again there wasn't anything compelling with regards to the work I do to attend, and by this time I was pretty much on edge about that fact that Jen and I were presenting in about five hours and we were still tweaking our presentation—not to mention hadn't gone through it at all to try and time it or so that I could get used to the tool (which was not PowerPoint) that we were going to be using to project our presentation to our audience.

I ended up running into her and we went to the boardroom and worked through the next set of sessions, which again were all vendor sessions, and then completed the final updates during the following set of sessions. Our presentation styles are so incredibly different, both from a preparation and from a delivery point of view that it was a little bit stressful at times. Plus she had a shit-ton of stuff going on as one of the main organizers of this conference.

Once again, I found the food at lunch most delicious, and I tried the sitting-with-strangers thing again. This time, there were 7 people at the table already, and one of them actually introduced herself to me and asked me who I was. She then introduced everyone else at the table to me. Imagine that. Manners.

It did not go unnoticed that four of the eight directors of our organization were all sitting together, talking to each other, at a table in my line of sight. So much for "leading by example."

Jen and I finally "went on" at 2:15 and did our presentation called, "Social Media Goes to College: Building Your Campus Community." We never did practice using the projection software, and I was only slightly horrified to get to my slides realizing that the window containing the speaker notes was only about an inch deep, and my speaking points were about three inches deep on at least two slides. Oh well.

Evidently, not being able to remember one of my points, I started talking about the big one that got away:

Just kidding. Here I am, back on track, and yes, that is my "No one cares about your blog" t-shirt that I'm wearing while presenting about how important social media is. Let's keep it all in perspective, people.

I absolutely adore Jen's face in this picture. She was as cool as a cucumber presenting and I was proud to be sharing the spotlight with her. Here is a portion of the feedback we received after our presentation, for which five stars is the highest rating:

Needless to say, an incredible weight was lifted off me once we completed our presentation, and I set out to make it a night of celebrating. Tonight's dinner was actually part of a riverboat cruise on the Henrietta.

The weather was absolutely perfect, and the lit up shoreline was beautiful from the boat.

We had a great dinner on board, with a delicious marinated and roasted chicken as the entrée, and I met some fun people on board. I had a hoot of a time with the female bartender I went to for every one of my drinks. One time while getting a drink, I ran into a colleague who said, "Here, taste this," as he handed me his cup. It tasted like tequila to me, which I can't stand. I later found out that it was moonshine.

I'd set a goal to meet at least one person from each of the 17 schools in the UNC system while I was there, and once I told people that, they were happy to introduce me to other people who they knew and that helped me along. I wasn't successful in my goal, but as "they" say, it's better to have a goal and miss it than to not have a goal and hit it. I certainly met more people than I otherwise would have.

Back at the hotel, another celebration of the Marine Corps Ball was going on, so the place was teeming with Marines in dress blues again. The few. The proud. The hawt.

We made our way down to the Front Street Brewery, where as I entered, Sarah grabbed me and introduced me to one of the vendors who proceeded to put a large "C" on my hand to indicate to the bartender that he ought to pour my drinks freely, and by freely I mean free. I took advantage of getting three bourbons and diets before the tab got cut off.

After closing down that place, several of us walked further down the street to a place called The Whiskey, where there was a live band playing and the lot of us proceeded to dance and carouse later into the night.

There was a beautiful blond girl there alone, and I watched with amusement while guy after guy walked up to her (including at least one from our group) trying to become her next big thing. (As it turned out, she was the girlfriend of the lead guitarist, and she wasn't looking for anything.)

After a string of about five guys coming up to her, I walked over to her and said, "Hey baby," laughing. She smiled a nervous smile, and then I said, "Actually I'm gay, so I don't want a thing from you. I just wanted to tell you that I've enjoyed watching the stream of men come up to you and making their moves, so I thought I'd come over and give you a break," to which she cracked up.

When the band finally stopped at a little after 2:00, we made our way back to the hotel in various stages of various people taking detours (to a late-night pizza place, for one), then realizing one of the people needed help getting home because they'd driven but they were in no shape to drive now, which meant they needed to sleep on someone's floor, and someone else was in a hotel down the street that we weren't sure should be walking to alone, and all the logistical things involved in friends not letting friends go home alone drunk, but making sure they get to some home alive.

Another successful CAUSE celebration.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 13th, 2010 04:05 am (UTC)
Jeezly creezly. As a "sibling" former IBMer, I just want to say how very IBM your attitude is toward your presentation content and method. Do we ever escape such an attitude?

"I tried to "walk the talk" of taking advantage of this conference to meet new people from the many other schools in our system, so I took a seat at a table with three people I didn't know. "

This, I found hilarious. Oh, my honey bunny, it just don't work like that. As much as we try to insert ourselves into others' closed groups, those others will reject our efforts. I give you a gold star and a check-plus for your efforts. Keep on trying, maybe someday you will find some group that doesn't actively resist an outsider/interloper.
Nov. 13th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)

  1. re: my presentation content and method—I think this is more about my personality type, ESFJ, and being someone who gets nervous presenting than it has to do with having been an IBMer. I knew plenty of "off-the-cuff" presenters at IBM.

  2. re: trying to penetrate the inner circle—I can feel bad about not trying, or I can try and at least feel good about myself for that.

And I know that Yoda dude said something about there being no try, only do. Whatever. :-)

Edited at 2010-11-13 04:21 am (UTC)
Nov. 13th, 2010 04:24 am (UTC)
Since I am an ENTJ, perhaps our presentation style overlaps some, eh?

And regarding penetrating the inner circle -- this is something I was prompted to do, over and over, when I was an IBMer. I suspect you were subjected to the same prompting, no?
Nov. 13th, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC)

Well the "S" in my M-B ESFJ is about preferring the concrete (as opposed to the abstract), the details (as opposed to the big picture), and the practical (as opposed to the theoretical). That's one of the reasons I pay so much attention to the details in my presentations.

The J part of me wants structure, order, and closure, which is one of the reasons that I'm so stressed out when still working on a presentation within a couple of hours or even a DAY of when I'm going to present it.

With regards to penetrating inner circles at IBM, I guess I never thought of it in those terms. The things I struggled with there (for most of my actual 21 years there) was trying to (appear to) be straight (since I didn't come out until after I left there in 1993) and trying to be a "senser" (Myers-Briggs S), a "feeler" (M_B F), a Judger (M-B J) when the "archetype" computer programmer (and people who like programming) are "intuitors" (M-B N), "thinkers" (M-B T), and "perceivers" (M-B P). In other words, opposite to me in three of the four areas.

At least that's the story I've ascribed to the way it occurred. :-)
Nov. 15th, 2010 02:00 pm (UTC)
Typical for an ENTJ, I looked at the match in our first and last attributes. The Field Marshal is all about quick takes, high level understanding, and immediate action.

Usually, it works for me. Sometimes, it doesn't.

I still think the fact that we're both Extroverts and Judges gives us some common ground, though.

I agree that being a Judger when the people you work with are Perceivers makes life difficult. Can't tell you how many times I said "but we discussed this and you said X" and they would just say "I changed my mind." Without telling me, of course.
Nov. 13th, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC)
I've been waiting to hear how this went! Congrats for a job well done. Were those people twittering DURING your presentation? Don't you find that odd?

And can you tell me how to find the 'gay table' at conference luncheons? 'Cause y'all have a lot more fun at conferences than the people I usually end up with.

Nov. 13th, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC)

Thanks, Ann. I appreciate the congrats!

Actually, since our topic was social media, we could hardly be bothered by people in the audience tweeting, now could we? :-) As a matter of fact, Jen opened our presentation by saying something to the effect of, "We're presenting on social media, so feel free to be on your devices, tweeting, or whatever you need to do."

As a presenter, it requires a paradigm shift in a way. You really have no idea how much people are paying attention to your presentation (even if they're NOT on devices), so basically we (as humans) ascribe the meaning "they are not paying attention" when they're on their devices. But there's nothing to say that whatever meaning we ascribe is at all accurate. (In fact, most times we just project our own experience; that is, what it would mean we were doing if we were on our devices.)

Since you get to "make up" meaning, why not make up something empowering, like, "They're so excited about what I'm saying, they want to tell other people. Some unfortunate people 'out there' who wouldn't have seen ANY of my presentation are at least getting some 'sound bites' of it on Twitter," etc.?

Here's an interesting article about the topic (with other empowering thoughts about what can really be going on) if you're interested: How to Present While People are Twittering.

re: gay tables at conferences—look for rainbows and listen for fabulosity. ;-)

Thanks for reading and commenting, my friend!

Edited at 2010-11-13 05:28 pm (UTC)
Nov. 14th, 2010 01:31 am (UTC)
Well, my question stems from a story from a colleague who recently went to a web developer conference in Cincy. Apparently they had a 'twitter incident' the previous year with their keynote speaker who had a bunch of really outdated stuff on his ppt slides and people were having a bit of a snarkfest on twitter about it. So this year, they actually made incident and the whole phenomenon a part of the conference.

But yes, I suppose shouldn't have the junior high reaction of assuming everyone is making fun of me!

BTW, does the fabulousity detection method also work amongst civil engineers?
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )



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