Sanity conference: The importance of attending industry events

Oct. 2, 2014

Last month I flew from my home in the SF Bay Area to beautiful San Diego. I would spend two full days at The Dana at Mission Bay and although the city tours, poolside lounging and cocktail parties made it feel like a mini vacation, I was actually there for work.

Once a year the vending councils for California and Arizona get together for fun and education, and although I always have a good time, truthfully every year I consider not attending. Here’s why:

Working in a family business you get used to wearing many hats (I often joke that I not only wear different hats but different outfits – warehouse yoga pants, sales dress slacks and route uniform). So as fun as these events can be, I often wonder if they are worth postponing important work or exhausting valuable time.

I’ve concluded that the answer is yes.

Yes, it’s important to take time and recharge away from the office and yes, the education seminars are often very helpful.

However as true as these yeses are, there is one truth that I believe is more valuable. I find that these events act as much needed support groups. A time to meet with people who understand the daily struggles of the vending world, who know the pros/cons of working for yourself, who also battle state legislation, city codes, indifferent employees and demanding customers who want more service and lower prices.

These conferences and conventions are, for me, just as much an opportunity to learn/network as they are a chance to feel normal, made less crazy by the comfort that there are other operators out there that are just like me.

Added bonus: Operators are more willing to share trade “secrets” with people who aren’t their direct competitors.

That being said, if you are an operator reading this and aren’t a part of your state’s association I highly recommend signing up. And if you are on the fence about attending the next NAMA event, CTW, I very much hope that you decide to go. I was talking myself out of it but two days in San Diego—two days of feeling sane—made me change my mind.