I decided to intentionally do something different. I have been going to the ATD International Conference and Expo for about 12 years and this year I changed my game plan. Usually, during the conference, I would decide what I needed to learn for the coming year and plan my sessions and expo accordingly. I would plan which topics I would like to see and which sponsor or company in the expo I would like to visit. I am very task oriented and I have always known that I am an MBTI “T” or Thinking preference. Very seldom do I use my “F” or feeling preference. During MBTI training sessions I have the participants write and sign their name. Next, I have them switch hands and do the same task. Every single time, no matter what group I am facilitating, I hear groans and comments like, “You have to be kidding”. They tell me that they feel awkward, weird, uncomfortable and other negative messages. I knew that I would probably feel these feelings switching my preference from task to people for this week. When I was younger I would make decisions based on the task and not even consider the people involved. As I grew older and more experienced, I realized that I need to consider people as I make decisions. Relationships have grown more important to me as compared to the task, as I have become more experienced and older. So, I chose to intentionally concentrate on relationships as I attended the conference. I based my decisions on people instead of the task and experienced an entirely new dimension of this conference.
I had made plans to have dinner on Saturday night with Caitlyn, my former intern 12 years ago. We had connected at the previous two conferences and spent Cinco de Mayo together. This year I thought she would get us reservations at a Mexican restaurant in San Diego. She left me a text – an address on 5thStreet at 7:30 pm (sounded Italian). I thought that was great until I realized when I got there that I was exhausted and it was 10:30pm EST for both of us. We greeted each other with big hugs and remembered to take a photo this time. We talked and caught up because we seldom talk throughout the year. I remember that she did email me about some budget info and I responded. She is now a director of training and I am so proud of how far she has come. I always called her the Phenom (short for phenomenal). We ate like tired zombies and hugged good bye hoping we would run into each other at the conference.
I decided only to see the sessions where my friends were speaking. I wanted to support them, pack their audience and give them good feedback on the evaluation forms. I also decided to spend my nights going to dinner with friends instead of going to the vendor sponsored party nights as I would in the past. Also, I only went to the booths at the expo where I knew my friends were promoting their businesses or an organization or product that was very important to them. This indeed would be a different type of experience.
Sunday, I started by attending the CPLP session. I knew that I would find many of my friends in this session. Yes, I was right. I saw so many of my CPLP buddies. Darcy, Denise, John, Cathy; too many to name. My friend Cathy from Ft. Lauderdale looked great and told me some health advice about my thyroid issue. I even saw a person, Roberto, that I knew via video but had never met in person. Roberto answered one of the questions during the presentation, I immediately looked for him after the program but he left early, so I talked to the speaker. I had met her before at a previous conference, but she did not remember our brief encounter. This time, I told her that I had started a new business and she gave me her card and offered me one of her books on marketing (for free). I was very happy not only had I connected with a biggie in my field but she will be sending me a few of her books (signed!!). After this event I made my way to Chapter Leader Day. I had promised Erin, our ALC PAC ATD leader that I would talk about ALC. Of course, I jumped right up and did what I was supposed to do. I saw my chapter president and was thrilled to meet up with her and one other person from my chapter, Keri. Deborah, my speaking buddy, and I were giving a presentation on Tuesday. I connected with Bernadette, the volunteer coordinator for next year’s conference, to help her prepare for when the conference was in DC next year. I introduced her to Deborah, who was the volunteer coordinator for ICE last year I Atlanta. I wanted to help Bernadette as much as I could because I got help from the Dallas people before I was the volunteer coordinator in DC in 2014. Deborah and I dumped our brains for Bernadette so she could get all of our precious tacit knowledge for next year. We also told her that she could contact us anytime she had questions.
Next, Deborah and I went to the speaker room to prepare for our presentation. We then stopped by Haleley’s presentation on networking and caught toward the end. She was in the middle of an exercise and saw us come in and hugged us. I wish we had been faster so we could have seen the entire presentation; I was very interested on her take on networking. When I started my business I had reached out to her and she gave me great tips on how to network so I did not seem like a sleazy sales person. It was all about building relationships. I saw her slides and it looked great. I also connected with the lady sitting next to me. Martha, from Seattle, who filled me in on Halelley’ s entire message. I then stopped by the bookstore because I saw on FB that Jennifer (JT) Dow was volunteering. I gave her a hug and hoped to see her later in the week. She looked great and said she was doing well. It was so nice to see her and I was surprised that she was not at chapter leader day. But, she works for herself and volunteered to save money on the conference. The she wanted to see president Obama speak on Monday and was lucky to have been able to have Monday as her free day. It was so good to see her.
After that, I went to John’s presentation on Storytelling. I sat toward the front and talked to the ladies next to me. They had just come from another presentation about storytelling by someone named Stephanie. John acknowledged Stephanie’s presentation on the same topic but told us that his was quite different and we would learn something else on top of what we learned at Stephanie’s presentation. John was funny and very informative. I learned something and after the session I went up to him, gave him a hug and congratulated him on a great presentation. I filled out the evaluation favorably.
On my way to my next session, I ran into one of my favorite people Ken Phillips, the Godfather, I gave him a hug and he said, “see you later tonight”. I totally forgot that he was going to Jeff Toister’s house for dinner! Jeff was too busy to go to the conference this year, plus, his priorities and his business interests are moving in a different direction. He is recreating himself to be THE customer Service guru – not just the talent development customer service expert. Jeff picked me up at my hotel then we got Ken and we drove to his beautiful house over looking a cliff or a canyon. He and his awesome, super smart and talented wife, Sally offered us appetizers and a great bottle of wine from their private collection. We then drove to their favorite Italian place to eat, similar to the place I used to go in the DC area Osteria Marzano. We had a great time, laughing, eating and talking until we headed back to the city to go to sleep to prepare for Monday.
Monday I woke up early to stand in line to see Obama. I made friends with the ladies from Washington State who worked together and we spend about an hour in line. When we got the the ballroom I split apart from them and sat toward the front. I did not meet anyone new because we were all listening to Obama’s message about values. After the session I went back to my hotel to work and finish a proposal. I got back to the conference just in time to go to the chapter leaders room. I was facilitating a session for higher education for Erin but had a bout an hour beforehand. I sat and met Stephanie, yes, the storytelling Stephanie. She had started her business in DC and she had a lot of great information for me. I will follow up with her when I get home. She is a great person for me to know. I would like to follow her path to leadership in the organization. Next, I met a lot of people in the higher education session that I facilitated. I helped Erin and she was so generous to give me a gift certificate to the book store. Woo hoo! Books!! I love books. I realized that the CPLP networking night was that evening so I made it on time. I gave a great testimonial as to why CPLP to the camera crew interviewing people. I got my drink with my drink tickets and sat down by John to catch up. I was looking for new CPLPs from the study group but I did not recognize anyone and I did not want to seem like a stalker looking at name badges and well… stalking. I ended up talking to Ken and Jack Phillips (no relation). They are very interesting and entertaining. Before I knew it the bar was closed and the networking was over. Ken and I decided to eat together near his hotel and relax. I love going to dinner with Ken. We have a habit of spending about 2 -3 hours at dinner and we always split dessert. This evening was no exception. Even though I had just seen him at dinner with the Toister’s the night before this dinner was different. I was quite tired from waking up early and standing in line for Obama and it was such a pleasure not to have to think during dinner. Having dinner with this old friend was relaxing and comfortable. I got to bed early that night. Ken and I both had sessions on Tuesday.
Tuesday, I woke up early to see Marcus Buckingham, as the keynote speaker. I use his videos (from Youtube) in my trainings. It was exciting to hear about his new book and be in the 2ndrow sitting next to his staff. And to top it off, I met Kim, in the ladies’ room. I remember she was asking about the CPLP and all of my pins. It was fun to sit next to her and her team. She told me a bit more about Marcus and working with him. The pre-presentations went longer than expected and I had to leave to prepare for my session. I got into the room and set up the computer and visuals before Deborah. She was surprised to see me all set up. We got the “lay of the land” and decided where to stand and how to present. I knew because we had presented together in 2014, that we would improvise if we needed to change from our plan. We are both seasoned vets when it comes to presenting/facilitating/speaking. The room was not filling as much as we had hoped when a staff member came in and told us that Marcus Buckingham had gone 10 minutes over and we should start later. Our session went well and many people came up to us afterwards to get more information and tell us that they learned a lot. One woman was not higher education but from the department of energy in DC. She told me that she had never thought to put mentoring in her certificate programs. I am so glad that she came to the session and got that valuable piece of information from us. Deborah and I high-fived each other on another great session at ICE and went on our separate journeys toward the expo.
On the way to the expo I saw Jennifer Naughton, formerly of CPLP fame, but now president of her own thriving business. She realized that she had about 45 minutes so we sat down by the bookstore and caught up. She has always been so nice to me and I remember before I left DC she invited Angel (my husband) and I to her super fantastic condo in Crystal city for dinner. It was my birthday and she got me a chocolate (my favorite) cake. I was surprised and touched. I hoped that she would visit us in Florida. We talked professionally and personally and caught up on all of our news. She even told me she “squeaked out loud” when she saw on FB that Angel and I had married. It was so very good to catch up with her. As we were wrapping up on my way to see Trish’s session with Bob Pike, I ran into Paul Smith who was speaking twice. He was very busy. I popped into see the Bob Pike telecast. This was the first time that anyone had been somewhere else (MN) and remoted in to deliver a session. Thanks to Trish Uhl, we heard from Bob Pike as he was recovering from surgery. The session was also translated into 3 languages. It was indeed a hit and made history.
Finally, I wandered to the Expo and saw Alison French at the PerfectCoaches booth. I also saw Doug and met other people who I knew from PerfectCoaches for the first time. I got to see the upgrades and have my tarot cards read! I also stopped by the ATD booth to see Virginia Sawell and Diane Daly to get my hugs. Tuesday night I was invited to the Excellence awards because I was a rater and got a free ticket. It was on a Yacht out of San Diego. This awards ceremony is always very nice and I get to see other CPLP friends and ATD buddies. As I walked back to the hotel from the convention center I felt so cold. I got to my room and took a hot shower, still I felt chills. I thought to myself, what would happen if I did not go to the ceremony? I know I would miss catching up with old and close friends, but I realized that I had to take care of my number one relationship – me. I slept a bit then realized that Caitlyn was on FB. I texted her and asked for a do over for dinner. We were more awake and went to a great Mexican restaurant in old town, San Diego. It was wonderful REALLY talking to her. We had a great time and even got 2 shots of fireball on the house. I went to be early; truly taking care of myself.
Wednesday morning, I woke up later and walked to the convention center to go to the Expo. I visited Rich Hazeltine, Berret Kolher looking for Jeevan (but he was not there). I found Carol Welch at the Lumina Learning booth and she introduced me to Rebecca who will be in St. Pete in December. I am pretty sure I talked her into having Carol go to that training – so I can see her again. Carol introduced me to one of her friends Alison. When Alison heard my name she said, “Lori Ann Roth! You are Lori Ann Roth!” I felt famous. It turns out that my friend Judy Sargent introduced Alison to BrightCoach, Alison Introduced Carol and Carol introduced me. It was certainly a small world and how in the world had Allison found me in the sea of 10,000 participants. Miracles happen. That night my oldest friend in the world, Robbin Kasson Jackson picked me up and drove me to her house in San Diego. Robbin and I met when we were 6 years old in Hawaii. We have remained friends via snail mail, long distance phone calls, weddings, visits and Facebook. We had the most wonderful 2 days of catching up and adventure. We started by getting “lost” on a road with cliffs. We passed green houses, ranches and a rock quarry before the road ended and we had to turn around. Robbin told me the story about her mother always getting lost but claiming that she never got “lost” she just took a lot of adventures. It was great to remember her mother this way. We had dinner at a little Mexican place near her house. I had a burrito for the first time in my life. A FISH burrito. They don’t make these on the east coast with mahi mahi. Yummy.
Thursday, Robbin and I headed to San Clemente to visit Judy Sargent. She and I had coached together but had never met in person. A year ago Judy and I were coaching as she was moving into her new house with her husband and 3 little dogs. She gave me a virtual tour and I always saw FB pictures of glorious sunsets. I was thrilled to see her little, cozy bungalow on the cliff in person and meet her tiny fur babies. It turns out that Jennifer Burman was also in town and met us at the restaurant on the pier. We drove to the pier, had a wonderful lunch together. I wish we could have spent more time with Jennifer and Judy but they had to finish work that day.
Robbin and I then drove to Irvine to see Blake. He and I had been coaching together for over one year, however, we had never met in person. Blake chose a great restaurant in an upscale shopping mall. He eats a paleo diet so the food was very, very fresh and good. It was so wonderful to meet Blake in person. We talked about things that we had never talked about online. He told me about his new girlfriend and his wonderful plans to go to Scotland!
Robbin and I spent that night catching up and talking about our families and the fact that next year will be 50 years since we first met. It is amazing knowing someone for 50 years! It always seems like we have never been apart and start talking right away just like when we were 6 years old. The next day her husband, Scott took a day off so he could visit. One of the last times that I saw him was their wedding over 25 years ago. Scott and Robbin took me to Oceanside. We ate at Rockin Lobster and I had the best seafood burrito ever!!! We spent time shopping and talking and laughing. Scott had to go to work that evening; so, Robbin and I spent the evening planning for our 50thAnniversary trip next year. Being with my oldest friend in the world was such a huge treat!
So, what did I learn from changing my preference from thinking to feeling? First, I realized that it was a bit tiring for me to focus on people-planning. Usually, I don’t even think about connecting and it comes naturally. But, my word of the year IS “Relationships” and I found this challenge a way to intentionally work on that goal. I learned that I did not see everyone on my list. Shernita from GMU, Gabi in San Diego or spend real quality time with more people. It was a huge challenge but I have to say I did try.
I also believed that this exercise changed some other preferences. For example, I usually think big picture and not too much in the details. After reading this blog over again, I realized that it is full of details (hopefully, that did not bore you too much.) Did my switching one preference make me stressed to change another preference? That is it be debated and decided upon later.
How do you challenge yourself to change your oldie moldy ways? Do you even try to do things differently? From my experience, it WAS a challenge, it was fun and it was worth the extra energy. However, I do feel like I failed because I did not meet all of my goals, see all of the people I wanted to see, or have more in-depth conversations with people that I quickly hugged and one of us had to leave. Try it once with your own goals. It will give you a new perspective. One piece of advice, don’t expect to be perfect. Just do your best with a new way.
Let me know if you had an experience changing the way you do anything, just for the challenge.
#MBTI #Change #intention #ATD