The Trade Show Diet

I’ve been to a lot of trade shows. From Vegas, to Orlando, to D.C., to San Diego, to Fargo, to Atlanta, to San Antonio, to San Francisco, to Puerto Rico – there is one thing that absolutely never changes: the food. Normally I’m a big fan of consistency. Take In-N-Out Burger for example – anywhere you find that signature yellow arrow, you know you’ll get a fresh burger, hot fries, and if you’re in the mood, a creamy vanilla shake. Trade show food, however, has a bit less favorable type of consistency – it’s ALWAYS terrible.

Forget about trying to eat healthy. Who’s ever heard of Protein, Vegetables, Grains, and Dairy? The four types of trade show food groups should actually be: Something Fried, Something Drippy, Something Soggy, and Something Fishy. Some of my absolute favorites from over the years would be the “over-boiled-in-mass-quantity gray-centered-eggs”, the “antique-leather-boot Prime Rib roast” (a recurring feature), and my all-time favorite – the “cockroach-essence French rolls” (a completely different story in and of itself). I used to truly believe that it’s impossible to screw up a sandwich, but not anymore – I’ve had one (or two) of those along the way too.

To add insult to injury, most events are so crazy that you’re only able to eat one or two of these terrible meals a day. The starvation approach does offset the fact that the infamous 6:30 a.m. breakfast tends to cut into any possible gym time. I often joke about getting plenty of leg workouts during a tradeshow walking around in my heels, but in reality, there’s nothing that makes up for the fact that you can often go days without even seeing a fresh veggie that’s not covered in salt, slathered with butter or drowned in oil.

Of course, this strategy could also lead to the worst possible scenario: the day you find yourself cleaning your plate – and even commenting to your lunch neighbor, “Wow, that was pretty good!” Right then and there, you know you’ve been overcome by a full-blown case of too much trade show food.

My advice: back away from the buffet table and plan for success. I never leave home without my emergency supply kit containing dried fruit, nuts, protein bars, and homemade energy bites…because you never know when you’ll need a peanut butter banana low-carb tortilla wrap at midnight in National Harbor, Maryland (not that it’s ever happened to me).

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How to Change a Tire in 4″ High Heels

I recently had the pleasure of crossing “Get flat tire en-route to important business meeting” off of my bucket list. Oh, wait, that wasn’t actually one of my life-long to-do list. Looking back at it now I can laugh, although, it really wasn’t too funny at the time.

Nothing like running late to an appointment and winding up stranded on the side of a remote mountain road near Napa Valley with no cell service (cough cough, see The Trouble with Technology). The good news is that I was smart enough to have my President, Glen Keenan, along for the ride (something I highly recommend when you plan on getting a flat tire), and we eventually made it to our destination.

As “we” hurriedly jacked up our Jeep rental car and swapped out the flat for the spare, I felt horrible about the fact that we couldn’t even get word to our prospect, who was obviously wondering where we might be. Of course, one would at least hope that they would understand the situation, but the business sense in me  says “I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late” kicked in, and I stressed the rest of the way there.

To my surprise, when we eventually made it (nearly an hour late), we were welcomed into the office with warm hugs and greetings of “thanks for coming all this way to see us”. As I settled into the conference room and began to catch my breath, I was taken back when the Managing Partner walked into the room with a bottle of wine…he opened up our meeting with a toast to the opportunity to all meet there in person.

I sat there and recalled a story my mother had told me as a child about a friend of hers who had visited a very poor village in a land-locked area of Asia. As her friend was preparing to leave, one of the natives presented the woman with a gift – a small bag of sea glass. Being a smart woman, she immediately realized and noted to the native that he must have had to walk miles and miles to the sea in order to find sea glass. The native smiled and acknowledged “long walk is part of gift”.

While a flat tire on the way to wine country doesn’t quite equal walking miles to the coast – the moral of the story is the same. People tend to appreciate when someone goes out of their way for them – while we might have been an hour late, we showed our new customer that we cared enough to make the trip to see them.

After completing the tire-swap, as we made our way down the mountain road, Glen and I realized that our strategy was flawed. Glen figured the easiest & fastest way to change the tire was to do it himself (I was very supportive by handing tools and assisting in other various “moral support” capacities). Next time however, we know exactly what to do. Glen will need to walk down the hill until he is out of sight, and I’ll be the one to attempt to change the tire (in my skirt and heels). When all the locals who drove by offering to help see me, it won’t be as bad if I take them up on it. And that is how you change a tire in 4” high heels.

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