Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Well That Worked
I don't talk about my work on my blog, if I do, my employer technically owns the blog content - so I will skip specifics. I spend about 1/3 of my work life organizing and producing a national conference on aging. It was last week. And, well, it seemed to work well. The agenda stretches over three days and includes 30 workshops, 4 plenary sessions, and a full day in-depth pre-conference. Attendance was between 250 and 260 people. Not huge, but enough to work.
As always there were a few challenges - a couple of elevators broke down, one persons hotel reservations were terribly messed up, but more things went well than went wrong. The audio visual service was wonderful, the AV technician was the best I have ever worked with. The food was good, plentiful and on time. The speakers started and ended on time - for the most part. At one point I did find myself in the front row, holding up a time-is-up sign, to a Cabinet Secretary - as in one of the people who has the President's cell phone number on speed dial. He was nice about it and wrapped up within a couple of minutes of his scheduled finish time.
I have a history with this conference. About 15 years ago when another organization was planning it, I tried to join the planning committee. The planner thought that was a good idea, but the planning committee rejected the idea of an outsider joining the planning committee. A few years later I changed jobs, going to work for one of the organizations that rejected change, and ended up with a seat at the table. Seven years ago the organization that hosted the conference for over a decade dropped it. I orchestrated a deal for another host, a deal that fell apart after 3 years, and I somehow convinced my boss to let me take on the project. I was given a budget of $0, and told if I could make it pay for itself, I could do it. I now chair the planning committee that rejected me. And much to my the disdain of several people, I have a big tent policy, if you want to join my planning committee, just ask. I still have no dedicated funding, but I have turned the conference from a money looser, to one that pays for itself, and pays for a chunk of my time to produce it. There is no reason why conferences should loose money.
I heard once that the best revenge is living well, in this case, revenge was making a success of the project, by doing it my way.