It was the third day in on a 10-day trip.
It was my favorite show of the year – the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) show. I’ve worked this show for a wide variety of clients since 1999, and have developed a lot of industry contacts and friends over the years. It’s safe to say I have a lot memories of moments and experiences tied to this event. Some really fond, some not so much. Being on the show floor with my client and I&D team during the events of 9/11 fifteen years ago is something I will never forget.
But here I was, sitting on the patio at our hotel after our third day of the set, sharing a few beers and pizza with an interesting group. One gentleman literally took me to my very first trade show in 1981. Over the years, our paths have gone in diverse directions – all within the trade show industry – and yet we maintained a friendship and here we were 35 years later working together again. The stories that could be told…
And then there was the guy that I have spent the last fifteen years or so traveling with – he as my I&D supervisor through two companies and countless adventures on the road. While we are now working at different companies, there is a bond that crosses all boundaries. We are forever connected through our experiences in this industry.
The third gentleman at the table I’ve known for less than two years. But we have in common decades of industry experience and a mutual admiration for the business aviation industry. We are both determined to grow our presence in this show, and grow our book of business for our company. And in the meantime, we grow our appreciation for local cuisine.
Four guys at the same table. Three of whom did not really know each other until we were put together by this show. And you know what happened next. We started telling stories. And laughing. And telling more stories. And laughing harder. And somewhere in there I was thinking about how much I miss these moments, and relish them when they do occur. And then I think: ‘imagine how many groups like this are sitting around right now – at trade show venues all across our country – doing this exact same thing’. Sharing stories. Laughing. Having a great time reminiscing and remembering.
Did I care what their political persuasion was? No. Did I care how they leaned on issues that are so divisive in our nation? No. Was I judging them on whether I thought they aligned with my faith and my beliefs? No. I was enjoying an evening with three guys that have a tremendous amount of life experiences in common, and a tremendous amount of wisdom gained from those experiences.
By the time you read this, the election will be over. By the time you read this we will know something of the future direction of our nation. But I can tell you right now that I was – and am – more interested in enjoying these moments with these friends. I feel like as a nation we have not done enough of this in the last year…just enjoying the friends we have; just enjoying the moments of camaraderie with those that we work with and live with every day.
So now that the madness of an insane election year is over, can we just go back to being friends, neighbors and co-workers? Can we go back to enjoying those rare moments when we are thrown together and left to our own devices, unencumbered by technology, media and politics. Those rare moments when we can share a beer, a pizza and a good story.
Please take the time to reflect on just that – the stories of our lives together and the friends we share them with. And thank you Jim, Todd and Max for a wonderful couple of days of camaraderie. It was well appreciated, and much needed.
See you on the show floor.
Jim Obermeyer has been in the tradeshow industry 35 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house owner. He is currently a Vice President at Hamilton Exhibits and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.