When I was a cub reporter first learning the meetings industry, Plan Your Meetings sent me to cover a conference of meeting professionals. It was large. I’m terribly introverted. Everybody else seemed to know each other. And I knew nothing about planning meetings.
I knew a lot about theater, had written some and was fresh from spending a year in Amsterdam as a Boom Chicago Comedy Theater cast member. When they hired me from the UCB Theater in New York, they said I’d “be a rock star.” But most of the time, I sat in hotel rooms with three other improv comedians, waiting to entertain people who’d just finished having a whole day of meetings, were about to start a whole slew of meetings or were trying to ignore us as they ate. The only meeting planners I’d ever met were the ones who’d crack open our hotel room (or closet) door, tell us they were ready and then either look happy or pissed as we shuffled off to catch a train.
So here I was, on my first remote assignment, at a three-day conference. Alone.
Then I met Dan Parks and Gloria Nelson. Glo is the kind of ballsy lady who’ll hijack your session if you don’t know your stuff, and the lady I’d come to see speak didn’t. Curious as to who Glo was, I started a conversation with her. She introduced me to Second Life, a virtual world where you could interact using avatars, headsets and chat windows on your computer. Then she called over Dan and the good Dr. James Hogg. I had a camera on me (remember the ones with USB sticks?) so I filmed them giving me a tour of the Meetings Community Mansion. Then they took care of me for the rest of the conference, making sure I was introduced to the right people, went to the right parties.
But more importantly, they introduced me to a world of connective technology that became my passion. Second Life and the MeCo listserve they moderated became my gateway drug. I learned to love the meetings industry.
Years passed. In February, I got a message from Dan. “I have an invitation for Google Glass,” he wrote. “Do you want one?”
“YES!!!!!” I wrote back.
Then I thought, “F#ck. How the hell will I pay for them?”