What is it about conferences that you grab a relatively early night (22:30 lights out), having had no booze and a carb-free meal – then find yourself wide awake at 04:00?
No – I’m neither depressed nor stressed about anything much nowadays.
Perhaps a combination of relentless air-conditioning, the break in routine and the accumulated mental baggage of a couple of dozen rapid fire conversations during the day?
In any event, the good news was 70 emails read and responded to before 06:00 and then a 10k training run before breakfast.
That’s another thing – the NEC does not cater for runners in any shape or form – south, the A45 dual carriageway, east the M42, west the runway at Birmingham airport and north a series of office parks and industrial estates – in simple terms, at this time of year you run until the street lights stop and then turn around in fear of death.
10:00 and the exhibition doors opened, allowing an ominously small number of visitors access to the exhibition hall and my day of back to back conversations began.
So I have to report that yesterday’s speculation as to whether attendance would be down this year is confirmed. I’m sure the organisers are advised by the same people who ran the POTUS’s inauguration ceremony but you heard it from me – Showcase is not busy this year.
Which makes it especially pleasing (cue sound of own trumpet-blowing) that Friday’s presentation for Practice Plan was a packed house, with all seats taken and standing in the aisles. Yep – the bald guy with the glasses can still manage to stop passers-by for a few minutes to listen to whatever he is babbling on about – tick.
I enjoyed the chance to chat to some the attendees afterwards and was surprised and delighted when a young chap came over and introduced himself with the words “I think you know my Dad?” – and there I met Richard Grieveson from Philips, whose father Jan and I attended a study club for coaches and trainers in the 1990’s and became good friends. I haven’t seen or heard of Jan for many years and it will be a delight to reconnect with him.
Highlights of my working day were:
a detailed conversation with Paul and Kerry from Bridge2Aid on my support for the Unity Partnership programme in 2018 – UP is a favourite of mine as Annie and I were involved in it’s foundation and I’m excited to be back in that ring for the first time since 2011, with some interesting a new ideas about how the advent of social media changes the fund-raising landscape;
catching up with Kevin Rose for the first time in ages and sharing some ideas on how we might collaborate on speaking – I also congratulated “Rosey” on his new training and coaching initiative with Adec;
a fascinating conversation with Simon Turton and his senior managers from Gensmile, an up and coming micro-corporate who are quietly building market share with a very sensible business model – I confess that I knew nothing about them and was very pleasantly surprised;
bumping into my friend Mustafa Mohamed, CEO of Genix and agreeing to pop over to Farnworth soon and visit the amazing education project he has founded;
a chance encounter with Lukasz Sowa from Poland, that may lead to a speaking opportunity in Central Europe;
chats with another good mate, Mubbasher from Welltime and a catch-up on their business development plans, especially the all-new CS R4+ Engage system that is designed to boost patient attendance;
an informal meeting with Guloo, Jaz and Ushma from West-Midlands micro-corporate Tri-Dental – rapidly becoming one of my favourite clients;
another catch up, this time with best mate Mark Topley to listen to (and comment on) his plans for the future (watch that space);
by no means least, my longest conversation of the day was with Krishan, Naz and Maddy from Dental Focus, to take a long look at their brand new product and service offer (launched this week), making the talents of the DF team available to more dentists, in more ways and (most importantly) on more budgeting levels. It’s well worth a look at their newly revamped site to learn about some very innovative ideas they have on web development, SEO and social media management.
Then, all of a sudden, it was 18:00 and we were getting chucked out of the hall – where did that go?
TBH, the best bit of my day was meeting Annie on the Bridge2Aid stand at close of play – she’s down to volunteer on their stand tomorrow and we have hardly seen each other in the last few weeks – so being able to attend the Bridge2Aid Bash last night with my lovely lady was a big bonus.
My energy levels were low by early evening but Mrs. Barrow herded me out of the hotel and over to The Vox ballroom in the Resort Centre, where we joined a very boisterous crowd.
Ever the volunteer, arriving without fancy dress was an invitation to disaster and it wasn’t long before the fluorescent pink tutu, socks and gloves were on board, producing some funny looks in the Gents during the evening and lots of laughter elsewhere. Ah well – all in a good cause.
Showcase month isn’t a great one for going sober – but we did stay until around half ten, when my body started really pleading with me to get to bed, leaving the revellers far behind as we chatted and walked back.
So – ever the optimist, I wonder if Saturday morning will bring a final rush of conference visitors – we shall see.
Here goes with another full dance card for the day, laced with the anticipation of getting home this evening.