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.


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015

Your Position has been Eliminated


Layoff, Reduction in Force (RIF), Rightsizing

However presented, it’s ugly and your final check is on its way. A not-so-happy hour starts early that day.


We Regret to Inform You

I’ve delivered and received the news. It sucks for everyone, but someone leaves that discussion wondering what to do next.

It happens all the time. Companies are forced to make tough, difficult, and hard decisions to preserve a bright future. Things are so close to getting better. The people left are there for a reason. At least, that’s what they will tell whoever is left.

That’s what we told people. Most of the time, we believed it. However, there comes a time when you know the ship isn’t coming back to port.

I managed an HR department for 15 years and I’ve delivered the news more times than I care to think about. I hated it each and every time. It was never easy.

Eventually, we were acquired and accepted positions with the new company.


April 13, 2015

Nearly a year later, the tables were turned, and I was laid off. Over 30 people were let go that day.

My manager didn’t tell me; he was already gone. In fact, my former business partner of 15 years, and great friend, had to escort me to the room. Then, he escorted me out of the building.

For the first time in my adult life, I left the office without work responsibilities.

I was confused, but I can’t say I was surprised. The signs were there. Companies sometimes have a hard time keeping the writing off the proverbial wall. It’s usually not a secret when a company isn’t selling anything. People get nervous. This is rocket fuel for workplace gossip.

The ‘when’ is usually unclear. One day, it just happens. Every company handles it differently, but the message is the same: You do not have a job.

Some companies announce them ahead of time. Some just do it.

The following are my own insights and observations based on having been on both sides of a RIF. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. These are things you might care to know if it happens to you.

Unless you’re first, you won’t be surprised. As coordinated as an employer tries to be, there’s no telling what happens once it starts. Word gets out after the first person is let go. Speculation ensues. You are not safe until you attend the “everyone who survived is here for a reason” meeting.

Don’t expect an apology or empathy. The process can be stoic and impersonal. You might see glimpses of humanity in someone on the employer side, but there are things they are advised not to say. Things like, “I’m sorry” or “I wish it were different.” The employer’s goal is to treat everyone consistently.

HR is only on your side so much as they are there to make sure the company doesn’t do anything wrong during the process. They are prepared and/or been coached. They are watching your every move and listening to everything you say. They already have a lawyer. One might be there, quietly observing, waiting to slide paperwork your way.

Keep your emotions in check. Do not say anything negative. Many thoughts will cross your mind; keep them to yourself. This is that window when you might say something you will regret. Now is not the time to risk sounding disgruntled.

Review any paperwork at home after the fact. You’re not required to sign anything that day. You will be given a packet explaining, in a lot of words, what just happened. More importantly, it will cover loose ends regarding pay and benefits. You’d like to think everything is accurate, but take time to thoroughly read this packet.

Once you have been let go, they don’t want you there any more than you want to be there. Say “thank you” and ask them to clarify the date they need the packet returned.

Say goodbye to your equipment. When you leave, you might never see your equipment again. Plan on leaving with your keys and dignity. If you cross pollinate business and pleasure on your work laptop, you better be backing up your personal files as a matter of habit.

Always keep a copy of your current employment manual at home. This is particularly important regarding policies explaining any severance, final pay and compensation, retirement plans, reimbursements, unused paid time off or vacation, insurance continuation, and any other relevant items concerning your separation from the company.

It’s not illegal for a company to trick you. While you would like to think it wouldn’t happen, the company can put something in front of you that bends the rules. Don’t simply believe what they have told you or presented.

Every state has its own employment laws. State laws might trump company policy or point back to company policy.  It’s worth a few minutes of research to keep the company honest. There are free online resources for employment laws in each state. This is where my HR background was beneficial. What was put in front of me versus what was required by law were two different things . Once I brought this to their attention, they corrected the item immediately. I didn’t even need a lawyer for this. They knew what they were doing. It was a game move. It’s business.

If you feel your termination is wrongful, that’s a discussion between you and your lawyer. Do not make any threats or accusations while you are being laid off. That’s my recommendation. Your situation is your situation.

“Financial reasons” is hard to make a case against. You cost money and they can’t pay you and you can’t work for free. If the financial statement shows a loss, any job is on the line. The company’s CEO could be mired in HR allegations while losing money month-after-month and you can still be escorted out.

Remember, your goal that day is to not act inappropriately. It can feel personal, but it’s not. At least, it shouldn’t be. The decision is final. The discussions and debates have already occurred.

Only your job ends there. It could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. That doesn’t mean you are going to like it that day.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015-2018