It is so easy to get swept up in the day-to-day monotony of your job, your company, and your business process. Events occur that you don’t want to happen. Employees leave. Employees get sick. Clients don’t pay. People yell at you when their cable box breaks. These myopic events happen daily and cannot be avoided, and because they happen, you are forced to respond to them, becoming sucked into the void of the daily grind.
These occurrences chip away at your soul, and over time they can alter your entire perspective. Anyone who does not believe me, I implore you to walk into a 25-year-old independently owned speaker shop and find out what kind of mood you find the owner. (True confession: my biggest fear is owning my company when I’m 60 and being miserable.)
How do we prevent this from happening?
Well, not forever, just for a few days. Leave your day-to-day troubles behind and travel to an industry business conference or trade show. There are so many of them out there to choose from these days. These conferences get you away from the daily grind and force you to take a step back from your business. They also get you to think about the future by experiencing new products that shift the way we do business.
CEDIA: For me, CEDIA is like Christmas, with presents all shiny and new just waiting to be discovered, and halls filled with people who have become friends over the years. It is my favorite time of year and between you and me, my favorite conference.
CES: If you have never been to CES it is worth the experience. CES is larger than life and right in the heart of Vegas. Bring your walking shoes for a million-plus square feet of show space. The booths are built to a scale befitting Vegas. A 50-foot 3D display from a few years back was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. Masses of LG employees’ passed out passive 3D glasses and you were awed by space scenes and beyond. The last time I was there you couldn’t even get into a Samsung booth that must have been more than 5,000 square feet.
CES goes beyond names you know to start-ups and technologies you have not fathomed. Brain readers that allow you control a video game, and board games that utilize iPad technology to make the game interactive (and this is from my experiences two years ago, so I can only imagine what would be introduced today). CES is large and overwhelming, but it will certainly wow you and get you out of the day drum of today.
InfoComm: If you read my article about the ‘Magic Grey Area’ last month during CEDIA EXPO, you know that many AV integrators are installing light commercial. Should this be the case for you, then InfoComm—which alternates between Vegas and Orlando, is worth checking out. This show is certainly a commercial show, but you’ll see a trickle down to the residential markets for sure. Sony’s super short throw laser projector debuted at InfoComm first, and Crestron had a commercial “Pyng-esk” system that I believe was the predecessor of what we saw at CEDIA). This is also a place to see new technologies that you may get asked about in your light commercial world.
ISC (international Security Conference): This security conference seems to be gaining renewed attention from our industry with two shows each year—east and west. You’ll see many familiar names like ADI, Bidmagic, Dish, Ingram, Panasonic, and Speco, and as more little companies are eaten by large ones, I am betting this cross-platform trend will continue. I have yet to experience this show.
Others: If you can’t get away for days, or maybe you cannot front the cash flow, there are other ways to attend. Buying Group conferences, like those put together by HES/Pro Source, Nationwide, Azione Unlimited, and HTSA will often help you to offset the cost by providing rooms, cash, and sometimes even flights. Want to make it an international trip? There is always ISE (Integrated System Europe) in Amsterdam, which is a partnership between InfoComm and CEDIA EXPO. (I’m still waiting for my personal invitation to be flown to this one.)
There are numerous reasons (or call them excuses) to get you out of the office. Whether you are looking to expand, sell, or retire, you will surely find the tools needed. If nothing else, you will have a moment to concentrate on your business instead of becoming stuck in your business.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.