It’s all about the magic! – Why I attend Industry Conferences

I hope you all read this because I feel that Industry conferences are just so important. I love the way people come out to learn new ideas and share old ones. The energy is high.

I have always maintained that my love for the restaurant industry is because of the people. As restaurateurs, we touch people each and every day. We touch them through food, experience and magic. Yes magic. Not the “trick” kind of magic, but the magic of connection. Personal connection. At least, that’s how it is for me.

To me the restaurant industry is magical. I mean, how do you pull off all of the different variations and combinations of preparing and packaging food for consumption the way the restaurant industry does? The magic of free markets? The magic of competition? The magic of providing a consistent, scalable and predictable experience, day in and day out? The magic that dreams are made of. After all, somedays I feel like I am living proof. I could not have ever imagined that today, my company would be working with the smartest people that this industry has to offer. But, to my good fortune, I am. And not just a few people. ALOT of really, really smart people!

There is nothing more magical than watching a group of people collaborate on a new idea. The coming together of their passions, their beliefs and their desires. In the photo above you can see a team of Rosati’s Franchisees coming together during my presentation to help them imagine a new catering world. A better world for their business. A better world for their team members and their customers.

Me? I have a great job! I get to stand up in front of our community and present to them a perspective that they may not have considered. What matters to me, what fills me up is when people share openly. They share their victories, their failures. Their pain. Their pleasure. I love watching our community work together to solve important business and world issues. Things that really matter. Real challenges and real solutions.

I just spent 10 days on the road and I covered alot of territory. I stopped in at three conferences, visited a handful of customers and spent time with several new prospects. Alot of territory.

I lost count along the way, but I’d venture to say that I met more than 300 new people over those ten days. Now, I didn’t get to spend quality time with each person, but I did make some fantastic intellectual and emotional connections with the ones I did get to spend some time with. Thanks to each of you, I listened and learned. I thank you for your personal stories and for trusting me enough to hold your thoughts in confidence.

For me, conferences are a place of community. A place to belong. A place to make great memories and great friends. I find it fascinating how strangers or acquaintances can be exchanging high fives and hugs goodbye after just a few short days together. I find this human connection to be the most compelling reason to attend a conference. It’s why I go.

Sure, I am there for business. Just like all of you. And, I make sure I am accountable to that. I make sure I get my business done. But, because of the short and intense burst of time together, I find that the new friendships that I make are really what feeds me most of all. That’s the magic, from how I see it.

For those of you that attend conferences, I encourage you to keep doing so. I know they are alot of effort. I know that they take you away from your families. But I promise you, that the magic that happens in between the workshops and presentations is the real reason to go. That’s where you make your long term relationships and get to learn about what great people this industry is made of. Everyone from operators to suppliers to editors of magazines and media. All doing their part to make our industry better.

What a great industry we are part of! Thanks for letting me be in it.

Hope to see you at the next opportunity!