The Innate Experience


No, I’m not talking about my experience at InEight, the company with the handsy and mouthy CEO that purchased et alia and then fired me. That company spelled their name with the number eight.

They held a “convention” the year they purchased et alia called The InEight Experience. “Experiment” is a better word for what they attempted; an illegal one at that.

It's ok to be nervous. That's natural. It's innate. It takes a key wit to make people nervous. That's what's in my DNA.

This is a separate experience altogether. No one is safe; not from this.

Any resemblance to real life is purely coincidental. Besides, it doesn’t matter. I never signed anything (or received money) that said I couldn’t talk.

That's all I need to sleep well at night.

My Innate Experience

Something happened along the way to my happy ending; a detour of sorts.

The train left the station before the people on board realized it was moving.

That’s an easy feat to manage in a windowless getaway car – the inconvenient car equipped with a bootlegger bar.

Is it possible to be nothing and everything all at once?

Up, up, and away! From experiment to life altering experience.

Fearsome 40

What’s a first time unemployed person to do? Look for a job, right? Seems logical. So I did. To no avail.

In the beginning of unemployed status, I met with a placement company who wanted me to pay them to find me a job.

They told me I was an ENTJ. I had a couple interviews on my own.

I failed some kind of test during my interview with State Farm.

Also, I have 15 years executive HR experience and Zenefits (an HR services company) didn’t want to talk to me. I was overqualified for an HR company.

I abandoned my focused job search by the end of 2015. All signs in my daily life pointed in the direction to give writing a shot.

Lord knows, I've said I should be a writer enough times throughout my life.

There comes a time when you need to either put up, or shut up.

I had whatever retirement I had, and a house. I reeled in my job search while I figured out what I wanted to do with Devilish Smirk.

I've not been paid for anything I've written. Monetizing words is not an easy order to fill. That requires a lot of energy, along with a solid foundation of content. 

My eyes are on content, 100% of the time. Eyes. Plural. Both of them.

All About the Story

I came out swinging.

It’s not always easy to express what’s going on inside one’s head.

Being a writer means you’ll piss someone off along the way. Some say you haven’t made it as a writer until you’ve done so. If that’s the case, then mission accomplished.

I don't think anyone makes it as a writer until their banks and credit cards are pulling them into court. Even then, there are no guarantees.

My story.

I’ve been blessed with the attitude and enough conviction where I have no qualms sharing the things I’ve witnessed in life. Especially things I continue learning. I’m 44, I’ve learned a lot, and have a lot of things to say, across the board.

No topic is off limits, especially my own shortcomings. Try putting a label on that. Let’s be honest, we all have stories. Dark ones. Tell me I’m wrong.

This is our world. Join me while I play in it.

This is the only way I can make sense of the world in which I live.

Story Time

I have a friend. His name is Brandon, but I call him Brand. Much like Darby, Brand’s unemployed. He’s looking for a job, and has a long story of his own.

In case you missed who Darby is, she's the fulltime, unemployed acronym, Dreams Are Realized By You. Here's her history.

Brand hasn’t worked in a while; it’s been about four years. He just turned 48.

The major difference between Darby and Brand is that he's not an acronym. Not yet.

Brand has his own experience with job search chronologies, rescinded offers, and other bizarre shit.

He has ideas about what he wants to do, and has vivid specifics of everything he won’t.

Brand was fucked with from all sides, and then forced to fire his best friend, who became some sort of smirking writer.

Brand isn't one to be fucked with. Why? That will become more clear in future stories about him.  

That’s just part of him that people have to accept.

Brand is a Dreamer and, like Darby, his Dream is a Grower

All about the story.

Brand’s been on the job hunt. Unlike Darby, who’s stuck in dreamland, dreams aren’t good enough for Brand. Especially if all they ever amount to are dreams.

Darby's there by choice, by the way.

But Brand doesn’t have dreams anymore. He has nightmares, and Brand’s nightmares are creeping into his reality.

Bad Brand?

He was applying for what felt like every job under the sun, but nobody was biting.

You're overqualified! I'm sorry, Brand. The offer we extended you 12 hours ago - that's no longer valid. Best of luck, hopefully we can stay in touch. We've opted to pursue other candidates.

Only offer parts of you that you’re willing to give.

If Brand had his druthers, he’d be on some sort of stage, singing. If there’s a constant beat to Brand’s life, it’s that of his voice.

Brand can sing like no other. His talent was apparent early on, but there are reasons for Brand's detour.

A hard stop was thrown in Brand’s path whose tracks took off in another direction.

Denied Days of Disney, Purdue, NASA, Madison, MCAT, Chemical Engineering, SAP, Tellabs, DUCT, ZIM, RAC, Turner, Churchill, Kiewit, InEight, Medical Records, Scottsdale.

The stuff of dreams...

Meanwhile, back in Brand’s reality…25 years later, the U.S.A. is still on that downward detour.

It’s so bad, that Donald J. Trump is the president of the forsaken country.

A Change of Heart

“What the fuck is wrong with me?” Brand wondered to himself.

Oops, we made a mistake, when can you come in for an interview?

Before he had a chance, that last part happened.

Brand applied for five positions at a prominent local grocer. He received eight confusing, seemingly replicated, but differently worded rejection emails.

That company called him.

Two hiring managers, both of them, left Brand voicemails stamped 2:01 PM on the same day. Both locations consecutively changed their minds, simultaneously realizing their previous mistake.

What are the odds? *ahem* Illumiti and Kiewit

Long story short, Brand met with one of them. Don’t interrupt Brand. Bagging groceries *enter sarcasm* is his passion.

Everyone Deserves a Chance

Brand’s life is a real-time saga playing out daily. He wakes up, every day without answers to many of life’s glaring questions.

Just give me a chance! Yes, I may seem overqualified or not fitting exactly into your idea for the role but if you give me a chance what is the worst that could happen? And the best is a big upside! *Fun Fact: Brand has a degree in Chemical Engineering as well as an MBA.*

Brand accepted a position at a local grocery store just blocks from where he lives. He doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but he’s grateful for the step in the right direction. It’s a job and more than anyone else has offered him.

Onward and upward!

Dumb Myself Down? Never!

Dumb it down is a contradiction to every sign along your path to become your best self.

A friend recently muttered these words as advice – some iteration of dumb it down. Why? Because experience excludes me from contention? I don’t know. I guess certain experience can appear intimidating, but nobody should have to lie about who they are.

It wasn't the first time I've heard this regarding a later life job search.

Dumb it down? No. Misinformation about me by my own making? Which version of you is true? Thank you, but no. That’s just bad advice.

People are people and people talk. It's in their DNA.

What happened to being better?

Just because you were a CEO, doesn't mean you weren't one when it comes to getting a job.

It’s beat into our subconscious minds to feel like we have to adapt our persona to fit a situation.

Don’t beat yourself into submission. It’s up to you to not erase your past.

We are our own worst enemies, but we’re also our only advocates.

Traffic Trouble

What’s worse than a kid without talent?

Leashed potential. The unrealized dreams of a dream-filled kid, and the kid always told no.

Where are the kids whose career paths emerged only after being pushed off their paths to legendary status.

You have exactly one advocate you can count on.

I’m Leveling Up

I want to live up to my own expectation of me, myself and I. It’s something I have to do for my own sanity. Always (or try to) be the best version of yourself, even when you’re knocked down.

It’s still a version.

Our ability to do good is only as powerful as the bad we've embraced about ourselves.

None of us are dealt things we’re incapable of handling.

If you want a life of candy, you must crush it.

I write like words spill out of my mouth. Editing is all the reason for me to write; it allows me to enhance, retract, rearrange and otherwise present my thoughts an organized flow.

The impact of story time on a child’s developing mind is immeasurable. Read storybooks to your kids or the kids in your life. Behind every storyteller is an active listener.

That’s a good first step.

Level Up

*No clowns or elephants were harmed in the production of this story.
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Midlife Career Crisis


It Takes a Village

“Let them see you bleed.”

I will never forget the words, or the magnificent woman who took the time to say them to me in late 2015, after I read an article she wrote about entrepreneurship.

Thank you, Tammy Bleck, for planting early seeds for my botanical growth.

To everyone else, blame her.

My Journey Becoming a Writer

Life isn’t meant to be simple, but I don’t believe it’s meant to be repetitively difficult.

That’s what happens when we all (willingly or not) have one foot stuck in our country’s sphincter, which is worse than quicksand. It’s the political equivalent of being stuck, waist deep, in the mudflats of an inlet, just hours from high tide.

All you can do is watch – and hope – that some kind soul will risk life and limb to cut off your legs in order to save your life.

A writer’s words stem from their own close encounters with painful times. Even the joyful ones.

I was “laid off” on April 13, 2015. I was 40. For the first time in my life, I was unemployed. It felt like my life was crumbling – because it was.

In reality, it was crumbling well ahead of my consciousness of the crisis, and one I haven’t successfully resolved…yet.

At first, I looked for a job, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was freshly flung from my front row seat watching the rapid evaporation of the company I co-founded in 1999.

We sold in 2014 and I relocated to Arizona after accepting a position with the new company. Within 11 months, I was laid off retaliated against.

I never imagined the escalation of HR accusations reported to me, against the CEO, by employees I managed, would result in my ousting. Except, it did. That's another story currently under construction.

Time wouldn’t allow me to “move on” until I understood aspects of my past that were either hidden from me, or otherwise done to me while I wasn’t paying attention.

Letting your guard down is sometimes confused for weakness and that's what predators look for in their next meal.

Want to talk about privilege? Privilege is when you’re comfortable enough to let your guard down regardless of the circumstance.

What’s an Unemployed 40-year-old to do?


I asked myself this question nearly four years ago, but it seems like yesterday. To be fair, I’ve asked myself this question every day since I stopped receiving a paycheck.

Take a step back.

On March 7, 2015, I attended a spring training game with the CEO. On March 9, 2015, I received the official complaint about the CEO. By April 14, I had no job. Regardless of the fact that, within those 11 months, I was promoted twice.

The skills I developed up until the day I was fired, grew from necessity, not love.

A fish out of water, I had no idea what to do. I was a jack of some trades and the master of none. I spent almost 16 years working in an industry that chewed and swallowed me like a piece of gum that didn't end up on the sole of a cheap shoe someone lost at a festival.

For a while, it felt like failure. Until time equipped me with a new perspective.

Turns out, it was the best, worst thing that ever happened to me.

Move On

That’s the worst (most simple) advice. It’s convenient and lazy and indicates the lack of interest to understand someone’s situation.

Misunderstanding your past doesn’t fix anything. In my experience, dismissing a situation so quickly is peculiar behavior. It usually indicates something’s not right.

In order for me to reconcile my past, I have to make peace with it and I can’t make peace with things I don’t understand.

One Foot in Front of the Other

Here in an instant, gone in a flash. What have I done to deserve this?

Life was no longer paycheck-to-paycheck. It became early retirement withdrawal after early retirement withdrawal until there was nothing more to take.

Life took a hard swipe and knocked me off my feet and left me leaving a six foot dent in the ground.

For the record, I never filed for unemployment. I still haven't, yet it's been almost four years since I received a paycheck. I'm not complaining. Just facts.

National Emergency vs. Career Crisis

Today, I find myself clawing my way out of a pile of ashes with no financial stability within reach. I’m a living, breathing Phoenix cliché. (Technically, I live in Scottsdale.) As hard as it’s been, I keep my head up. I will get there or die trying.

That’s what it took for me to realize that my life was meant for more than a supporting role. Making something out of nothing is my only option.

At the end of the day, I want a roof over my head and my dog. All roads lead to there. That’s how it has to be. I didn’t make the rules.

If you want a life of candy, you have to crush it.

Silence speaks volumes, but so do I

I was raised understanding if I want something, I have to work for it.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, Off to Work I Went

My first job was a paper route for the Anchorage Daily News. I was 11 and my parents were fine with my new responsibility. After all, I was the one getting up at 5:00 a.m.

At age 14, I had options. I was ready for the wonderful world of fast food! After assuring my parents that Arby’s wouldn’t interfere with my homework, they allowed me to enter the workforce. Arby’s led to TCBY, and TCBY was next door to Blockbuster, but they couldn’t hire me until I was 16.

Wow! What a difference! Blockbuster Video!

I finished my high school years at Blockbuster and I only quit that job because I left the state to attend the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM).

Off to School I Went

I took a break from work my freshman year of college as I was busy keeping my head barely above academic probation. I received my one (and only) “F” that year. Math wasn’t my strong suit.

By the end of my freshman year, I hadn’t declared a major. All that mattered to me was that I had friends, I had fun, and I liked this new life.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, Back to Work I Went

I spent the summer of 1993 commercial fishing near Kodiak island off the coast of Alaska. It was the longest, short stint of my life, but it paid well. It was rough work and I appreciate what that experience did for me.

Hopefully that's the last time I go 28 days between hot showers. The option was freezing Pacific salt water with a bar of Lava.

1993 wasn’t a great time to deal with being gay, much less in a place as isolated as Anchorage, Alaska.

Feeling like an outcast in Wisconsin was enough, and that flame was burning hot and fast. What Wisconsin had over Alaska was that none of my family lived there.

There’s a lot to be said for confidence that stems from a fresh start; one from which you cannot be shamed into submission.

I came out to my mom in September 1996. I remember it well. It was one of those "pivot events" in my life that changed my life's trajectory. I plan to write the story. Mom, you've been warned! It's actually really fucking funny but, right now, I need to bring this back to my career crisis.

I can’t remember exactly when I declared myself a Journalism major, but there was a deadline and I didn’t want any more math classes.

Back to School

My sophomore year, I worked at a campus night club. Also that year, I became a Housefellow (Resident Advisor) for UWM’s Department of Residence Life (DRL).

I spent two more years living (and working) in the dorms. But unlike the previous two, I was responsible for the behavior of 70-80 others.

The Journalist in Me

Newspapers are a recurring theme in my life, although I never wrote for one like Clark Kent. I landed a position in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s marketing department through a temp agency.

I graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism supported with a bouquet of public relations classes.

After graduation, I was offered a job at a small marketing firm. For two years – I wrote and edited for corporate publications. After a very brief stint at Manpower, I resigned to start et alia, llc. with Brad Nicolaisen.

The et alia Years 1999-2014


Right By Writing

Passion is rooted in love, and I love writing. I love everything there is about storytelling and the emotions they trigger.

I started my journey by starting Devilish Smirk, and this summer marks its fourth year anniversary.

That's just, ok, wow...yea, no comment.

If anything it’s been one hell of a way for me to organize my thoughts. My notebooks look like a toddler got a hold of them.

Some hit a little too close to home, but life is messy like that. Nobody’s perfect and anyone who claims otherwise is full of shit.

A Devilish Perspective

When I was 24, the decision to start a company was easy. It was a no-brainer! Why? It’s simple. I was naïve as fuck.

When I was 40, it took me becoming unemployed to consider writing. I finally hit the “now or never moment”, and I chose now.

Regardless, what’s done is done. I feel like I understand strife in life. At least, I think I do.

I only know how I feel.

Sometimes I feel like the only person in my head, and that scares me. I doubt myself a lot and when I do, I always return to the same place:

I didn’t come to exist and settle for anything less than the best.

America, I'm just sayin' we could have a better president tomorrow. Let's grow the fuck up for a minute. My world is part of this galaxy too.

Shit or get off the pot!

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Seize all your days


My brain is messy spaghetti. It’s as dense as a beaver dam with a slow trickle. Coloring loosens my noodles.

As of late, I’ve spent significant time coloring to find inspiration. The book I’m using in this category contains inspirational statements.

Now, anyone can blow a bunch of positive reinforcement in your face. That’s not my intent. I take my responsibility to write something worth reading very serious. Sometimes it’s meaningful.

Something seized

This August will mark my third year in Arizona. My ex-partner, Brad, and I co-founded a company in 1999. In 2014, we were acquired by, and relocated for, a Scottsdale-based something.

The transaction can be summed up with one word: Fraud. Stay tuned, more on that later.

Within a year, I was laid off. The CEO required Brad to escort over 30 employees, one-by-one, to their termination meeting and out the door – myself included. All the while, the HR director and CEO hid in their offices.

I began writing immediately after the layoff. I built a timeline of events since the beginning of 2014.

Then, the snowflake became a snowball.

Months of ongoing harassment continued to escalate against Brad after the layoff. He was effectively terminated the following week.

One day at a time

Since then, we’ve swirled in a pool of juxtaposed emotions trying to make sense of how this became our reality. Confusing facts, from the past, began making sense, while ongoing developments rolled out.

As time passed, we began to see this was far more complex than a bad business deal. There was a plan in motion way before we sold.

That plan got fucked the fuck up.

It’s amazing what you can learn with a lot of patience, commitment, time, and a loyal friend.

Looking back, I have strength that I never had to find before because I was going to hit new lows. I’m still struggling. I’ve also become more enlightened, and that’s a great feeling.

Psychotic: Facebook Page

I’m not quite sure how Brad feels. I’m kidding. What I meant was, I’m only speaking for myself.

I’m ready to write the story. It’s time.

That’s me, seizing my day and I will seize more

The above wasn’t what I intended to cover when I chose Seize the Day. That was a different day.

I’m going to switch gears here because that’s what I do.

Carpe Diewas the motto on my 11th grade yearbook

I knew my yearbooks were in my home office, somewhere in a messy pile of boxes. The pile of boxes, I haven’t unpacked, that my dog raids when I’m not looking.

That’s how she seizes her days.

Seize the Day was a natural choice because, well, Carpe Diem. I’ve lived in the moment a million different ways. I was looking forward to reflecting on my younger years. Back when I believed I was going to make a difference besides working at Blockbuster.

Wow! What a Difference!

And then, I saw a sobering message on Facebook 

Early February, a friend of mine unexpectedly passed. He lived in Milwaukee and his name was Jeff. For years, Jeff and I went to the same gym and we’d often run into each other socially. I lived in Milwaukee for 22 years during a very social time of my life. He was someone I will never forget.

I was introduced to Jeff by a friend who also worked with me at the company, but long before we sold. I reached out to her once I heard the news. He had a heart attack on his bike while trail riding. He was my age.

In her final response to me she said, “Carpe diem, my friend. Hope you are well. xo.”

A week later, and even closer to home

I miss many things about my old company, but the office staff takes the cake. I worked with some of the most dedicated and happy employees.

We changed peoples’ lives. We gave opportunities to people in circumstances that a lot of companies won’t accommodate.

I didn’t realize how different and special our group was until I moved to Scottsdale.

Forest died less than a month ago. He was 49. He was found in a Milwaukee hotel room after not returning home the night before. He had three little boys who would come to the office occasionally.

He was the best inside sales rep a company could ask for. He was polite, humble, kind, and a very special man who had demons.

I wish we never had to let him go.

When I heard of his passing, I couldn’t stop thinking about how things could be so different if the situation up top never happened.

It never should have happened.

We were a close knit group. If someone needed support, we provided support. That’s what families are supposed to do.

How hard is it to support someone? Not hard. It’s not hard at all. You know who it’s hard for? Sanctimonious people and that Scottsdale-based something.

This will all come full circle, I promise.

About that yearbook

Do you believe, in heaven above?

The minute I dusted off my high school yearbook from 1991, a thought hit me upside the head. I felt this overwhelming sense that caused goosebumps all over my upper back, down my arms, and down my legs.

Seeing that green cover and those purple words triggered a memory I’m ashamed hadn’t occurred to me until that moment.

I don’t remember exactly when she was diagnosed with leukemia, but my friend Jodi Hill was a fighter. I met her in Junior High. She was best friends with my close friend, Christy. Wherever you saw one, the other wasn’t far away.

I sat down with the yearbook, thinking about Jodi. I opened it to find her picture, and something fell out and onto the floor.

Touched by an angel

Wow! What a Difference!

Jodi and I became a lot closer our Junior year. That’s the year my social life was boosted by the fact I turned 16. That means one thing: Driver’s license. The next week, I bought a car to match, which I paid for by working at Blockbuster.

Toward the end of our Junior year, Jodi and I were talking about how great it would be if she could get a summer job at Blockbuster. By then, I was in good with the manager. It took about two seconds to convince her to hire Jodi.

We’d work shifts together and lament about how great it was going to be seniors – finally! She wasn’t sick anymore. Or at least, if she was, I didn’t know.

I left for a week to participate in a volleyball tournament in Florida. Upon my return, I showed up for work, and was told that Jodi was in the hospital.

Things weren’t so great after all.

Jodi died that summer. She was 17.

My first funeral

A friend’s mom called to ask me to be a pall bearer at Jodi’s funeral. I didn’t know what that meant. She explained what it was and made some suggestions on what I should wear.

I hung up and started crying because I didn’t have anything she suggested. My next call was to either my step-mom, or a friend’s mom. I can’t remember, but I was still crying about being asked to be part of Jodi’s funeral and not having appropriate attire.

I was shutting down. I didn’t know how to cope with Jodi’s death. My first instinct was to not go to her funeral at all, because of a stupid suit. No 16-year-old should have funeral attire.

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. This is how the past couple years have been, in some strange, connected way.

I’ve either been tuned in to coincidence like never before, or I’ve been touched by an angel. Touching that that yearbook, coupled with Jodi’s obituary falling out, it sure sent a solid message through my body. Whatever you call it, the feeling was as real as the emotions running through me right now.

I guess if there’a a point to all this, my younger self would remind my older self of a very simple thing.

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The Three Ring Circus of Crime


A web of corruption is spun in the wake of awarding and winning U.S. government contracts and funds.

Corruption has no party affiliation, just special interests. Cash is king.

This affects the public and private sectors in nearly every industry and most countries.

Uncle Sam needs a colonic. STAT!

Someone grab a hose and bucket; it’s about to get dirty.

Photo Credit/Source: Kathy van de Laar/LinkedIn

All bets are off in 2016. I’m not buying most of what the presidential front runners are selling. Media coverage is basically satire except it’s not funny anymore.

Progress is at a stand still and the arguments are old as time.

Forget what you think you know about republicans and democrats. Right now, there is no difference between them regarding the biggest problems plaguing our country – greed and corruption

While rampant, these problems are not unique in the United States. Criminals, everywhere, line each others’ pockets with U.S. taxpayer funds.

Until this is fixed, our politics will remain broken.

It’s that simple and it’s sad and pathetic.

It's show time on Showtime

Money, money, money.

In December 2015, Reuters reported the U. S. tied ex-Panamanian president, Ricardo Martinelli, to a bribery scheme involving German software giant, SAP.

Last year, ex-SAP sales executive, Vicente Garcia, pleaded guilty to bribing Panamanian officials. On December 16, 2015, Garcia was sentenced to 22-months in prison by a U.S. court in California.

In February 2016, SAP agreed to pay a $3.9 million penalty under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act after an investigation by the SEC.

Isolated event or the tip of the iceberg?

That’s up to the SEC to determine. I have to believe the SEC learned from its careless investigation of Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi Scheme, I hope they wouldn’t miss another. However, corruption knows no bounds.

The U.S. government and public sector spend billions of dollars, annually, on SAP software and maintenance. Many taxpayer funded implementations run tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

The Municipality of Anchorage is one current example.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. 

SAP is not alone, but they are a nucleus. The U.S. government is an SAP customer. More than 70% of the Fortune 500 are government contractors and most of them are SAP customers.

Between the U.S. and SAP and contractors and SAP and the U.S. and contractors, there is ample opportunity for the morally bankrupt.

It’s a global playground. Like I said, SAP is everywhere.

About that colonic…

In late January, it was reported that President Obama was working on a plan involving an executive order requiring government contractors receiving more than $100,000 in contracts to disclose, publicly, campaign contributions.

Of course, this is being politicized as a fight between republicans and democrats, but that is completely false.

This is about bribery, money, and power. Only a common criminal would fight against this or not sign it.

I’m ready to see these smug, narcissistic hypocrites fall fast and hard. I don’t care who they are.

President Obama, it’s your move. Make them squirm.

I haven’t completely given up on humanity. Not yet.

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Convention Intervention


In 2012, direct spend on conventions in the U.S. was $280 billion. A presence at these events is a requirement for companies trying to make it in their industry. Attendees travel, in droves, to host cities that can can accommodate the influx of visitors.

ConventionTechnology and software companies do not mess around with conventions. They are a game of one-upmanship between competitors.

Hosts spend small fortunes to bask in the spotlight to unveil new products, make headlines, announce partnerships, and bestow awards that are the corporate equivalent of high school yearbook superlatives followed by an often awkward photo op.

Exhibitors bombard attendees with information and logo’d trinkets as they follow their planned agendas. Days often extend into hospitality suites, parties, and VIP events where sellers and buyers network over cocktails.

Your time is limited. If you’re not careful, you will become occupied with time-wasting conversations. There are certain attendees you want to avoid. Here are a few examples:

TrickorTreat“The Trick-or-Treater” – They walk the exhibit hall looking for handouts. They might ask what you do, but they don’t care. Some ask for the SWAG directly. They’ve either stalked your booth or someone told them what you have. A quality tote is a great handout. Shove everything they have in it and let them walk away.

“The Faux Prospect” – They have been with their company a while and they are in the early stages of a big project. The attendee is there to gather information, but potential work is a long way down the road. It doesn’t hurt to foster a relationship with these attendees, but do not expect much.

“This thing is a phone. I’m on it.”

“Disengaged Conversationalist” – They don’t make eye contact. Conversations with them are rushed and they’ve already decided you can’t do anything for them. They talk fast and loud. They will interrupt you to take a call.

“The Boondoggle” – These aren’t hard to avoid because they are rarely at the convention hall floor. They show up to so long as they can prove they were there. They might have convinced their employer to send them on an expense-paid trip to a vacation destination that’s not the office.

“Last Call Holdouts” – The pack animals attendees end the night by closing the hotel bar. They will pull anyone they recognize to the bar for “one more drink.” They usually miss a portion of the next morning because they are “taking a call” in their room. If you decide to join them, they will use a lot of these terms. Learn the language.

ProtecttheBrand“The Sloppy Drunk” – The slippery slope between networking and embarrassment gets slipperier by the drink. If you see a wasted executive in a dancing sandwich between his  employees while someone shouts “free licenses!” and snaps pics while others record video, reconsider your relationship. It’s not acceptable for an executive to be escorted off premises, waving his hands in the air like he just don’t care while babbling “she’s protecting the brand” repeatedly. It happens.

“Convention Crashers” – You may encounter someone whose name doesn’t match their badge. Assume that Jennifer dropped her badge and the guy wearing it doesn’t belong there.

Optimize your trip by avoiding any of the above attendees. You owe it to yourself and your company to make the most of it.

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