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We’d Already Lost Before We Started

October 23, 2013

Rodney, you were at Confluence in Reno last year right?

Yeah.

What kind of SWAG do they give away at a rafting conference? Anything cool?

Not a bit. The most exciting thing was hard candy.

Well, that sucks. Are we planning something similar for this year?

Oh, no. Those rafting guys aren’t going to know what hit them.

Most people think of computer guys as geeky, nerdy, introverts who don’t get many dates. Despite that being true, one thing that computer guys are really good at is holding parties. We call them conventions so that the corporate accountants will sign off on our expense reports, but they are typically a week long party with some training thrown in.

Comdex, Network World, Interop, Brainshare, Lotushere, Microsoft Exchange Conference, VMWorld, Mac World. Ask a computer guy his favorite and he’ll regal you with stories of the pub crawls in Dallas at Network World back in the 90’s. Or the insane cab lines at Comdex in Vegas. It will quickly become obvious why computer guys don’t get many dates.

But, the conventions are great. And my favorite part is the vendor floor. I didn’t have to buy stocking stuffers for over a decade when I was attending conventions regularly. Not only do companies give away cool stuff like t-shirts, and laser pointers, and knives and iPods (I won one at Brainshare a few years ago), they also put on shows. The point is to get people to stop and look at your booth. Often, you can simply walk up to a booth and ask, “You guys giving away anything interesting?” Get your spiff and leave.

So, as we prepared for Confluence 2006, I really wanted to make an impression. This would be RESMARK’S coming out party. After working on this product for over two years we were finally ready to show it to the world. Confluence was held in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. If you’ve ever been part of a booth crew, you know how incredibly expensive a booth can be. You pay for everything. You pay for the space, of course, and then you pay extra for electricity, and for internet connections, and for extra chairs and anything else they think they can stick you for.

While we were setting up, a Salt Palace contractor came by.

You know you can’t plug your computers in yourself.

But, I thought the contract said that we just have to let you guys connect our power strip and we could plug whatever we wanted into it?

No. You have to have us plug in anything that’s electrical. Oh, and it’s $75 per device.

He had us over a barrel. At least I’m assuming he thought he did. We were scrambling to get our booth setup and didn’t really have time to go do lawyer-speak with some supervisor somewhere. But, what the contractor didn’t know was, he didn’t know about Connie. Connie is my cousin and works as one of only two female riggers in Utah, at least at that time. Fortunately, I had her number in my phone. She picked up on the second ring.

Hey, Cuz how ya doing?

Say, listen, we’re down here setting up at the Salt Palace and this guy. . .What’s your name?

Bill.

. . .this guy Bill tells me that I have to pay him $75 per computer to plug in my computers.

Put him on the phone.

And that was the last we saw of Bill. Anyway, the setup and the show went great. I’ve talked before about the mice we gave away.
20131023-003506.jpg

And we did a drawing for a free RC car each of the three days. 20131023-003452.jpg

By the end of the show, we had accomplished all our goals. Everyone knew about us and everyone had a good opinion of us.

The attendees at the show were rafting companies. They were my customers and I couldn’t wait to start installing RESMARK into the businesses. On the third day, my investor Brock and his chief lieutenant pulled me aside.

So, what did you guys think of the show?

It was great. Everything you said it would be. Listen, we are going to be making a change at RESMARK. We aren’t ready to announce it to the employees, but we wanted you to know.

So, what are the changes?

Well, we’ll provide more information after the holidays.

This couldn’t be good. Dave’s prediction that I was getting fired within 6 weeks. was issued in mid November. Nothing like some job uncertainty to spice up the holidays.

This is the third in a five part series about the birth and death of RESMARK, describing my time as president. Here’s how the rest of the week will look.
– Monday: My Brother Wouldn’t Lie For Me
– Yesterday: I Want The Jacks Not the Balls, How I assembled our team and managed to not screw up their careers too badly
– Today: Stealing The Show, how we launched the program to incredible good press
– Thursday Being a Management Sandwich, When your customer is also your investor
– Friday: You Can’t Fire Me, I’ll Quit. . .When I’m Good and Ready, know how many bullets are in your gun before you go in

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)

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