It started with the opening speaker, corporate comedian Greg Schwem, who poked fun at the industry, in a nice way of course, and reminded everyone to take a step back and laugh at yourselves and your jobs every once in a while.
The humor continued in one of the educational sessions I attended. The presentation by Rick Segel of Rick Segel Associates was called “How to Differentiate Your Business…Techniques to Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace.” I just knew there was something funny about this Rick Segel character. He looked and sounded like a gruff, tough, no-nonsense New Yorker. So it was funny to find out that he makes his living running a dress shop. (He’s also written several books, including "Laugh and Get Rich" and the "Retail Business Kit for Dummies.") Segel said the most important thing in business is to make your customer feel important, and one of the best ways to do that is through humor. (For example, he listed some of his favorite titles he has seen on business cards including Head Honcho, Brains of the Operation, Bone Counter (it was for a dog biscuit manufacturer) and VP of Non-Productive Services. These are titles that people remember, and help customers remember you.)
And finally, though we were all there to do business, there was plenty of laughing on the show floor as new relationships were forged, and old friendships rekindled, showing once again that the greatest asset of these shows are the people.
Still, I didn’t find it that funny when the fire alarm went off in my hotel room at 3:30 a.m. and ended up standing outside for an hour on Thursday when I had to get up for a 7 a.m. breakfast, but maybe in a few weeks when I look back on it, I may laugh.
— Mike Seuffert