I Went to Conference, and It Was Okay.

The first morning of conference, I wandered down to the restaurant for some pre-session breakfast. The hotel/resort is a time capsule from 1979, and wandering the (really honkin’ huge) grounds is not unlike stumbling through the set of Dallas. The restaurant is similarly old school, and I’m parked on a green velvet couch, snarfing eggs and hanging on to my coffee for dear life, when I notice two be-suited business types come in. They’re a male/female pairing, and they’re both sizing up the place, as well as quizzing the beehive sporting waitress. They want to know about someone who, listening to the waitress’ responses, is obviously a regular. When does he usually come in? Where does he sit? Why does he sit there? What does he eat? How sociable is he at that hour? I listened to the rapid fire questioning, and watched them fidget over the top of my coffee. The first thing I thought was “They are going to ask the man they are asking about for a very large sum of money.” I also guessed a dollar amount.

You see, in my former life, I used to work in development, also known as fundraising (and a disturbingly close cousin to lobbying). Most sane people leave the field after 5 years. I stuck around for 10 to make sure I was good and done with it. After being in and around it for that long, one starts to develop a feel for these types of interactions, and can smell them coming.

Their guest arrived, and sat down in a flurry of handshakes at his usual spot, flanked by the suits. There is polite laughter, as well as inquiries into the guest’s health, travels, family, properties, and social calendar. Sure enough, about 5 minutes into the exchange, they hit him with the ask. I was about $5K off with my guess. About this time, I’m wrapping up my breakfast and chugging my coffee and collecting my notebook (because yes, I was reviewing notes before my session…once a nerd, always a nerd), and I start laughing to myself. I felt stunned (and a little proud) I was able to spot an ask unfolding in front of me. I was also stunned (and also a little proud) I was able to ballpark the ask amount so close. I was welling with gratitude that I was no longer involved in that line of work anymore. And I was definitely amused that it was all unfolding in front of me at the start of a conference for my new path in life.

Came back from conference and went straight back to work. I’ll be weeding through my notes in the evenings, so keep your eyes open for goodies and tidbits as the week progresses. (And yes, that is a Jim’s Journal reference up top.)