Conferences: A Reboot for Your Purpose

Conferences: A Reboot for Your Purpose

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Audio Conferences Fuel Purpose

“More conferences?  Why the heck would you go to another conference?  Why put up with all the hassle: the travel, inconvenience and cost?  Don’t you already know enough?”

That’s what people asked as I headed out to yet another big conference in a big hotel in a big city.

It meant getting ahead of my business by 4 or 5 days so I could leave it on autopilot.  It meant coordinating everything on the home front so that could run smoothly in my absence.

And it meant breaking out a winter jacket as I’d be submitting my body to temperatures it doesn’t like … and thankfully doesn’t suffer … in warm, sunny Florida.

Here’s the rest of the downside:

1.    Eating:  My eating patterns are rudely altered, and I inevitably come home with a few extra pounds packed on my hips.  Somehow, knowing I’ll be far from my refrigerator and pantry triggers fears of being “food-less in the desert,” and I load my suitcase with things I never eat at home.  (Go figure!)

2.    Sleeping:  I don’t sleep as well.  No matter how many pillow tops they add to the hotel mattress, no matter if they do put handy foot-level “headlights” on the night table that go on automatically when I put my first foot down to stumble to the bathroom at 3 a.m., it’s never like home.

3.    Everything else:  All the little things take more effort than at home, whether it’s checking email, washing my hair or catching a little TV news.

But it’s all worthwhile.  And here’s why:

1.    The people:  I shared time and deepened a friendship with a colleague … and my friendships are priceless.  I visited with a mentor in a new environment and that added a layer to the relationship.  Most important, I got to know someone I have admired from a distance for awhile, someone I somehow think could be pivotal in how I build my business and in helping me remove some stubborn personal obstacles.

2.    The knowledge:  I always find valuable nuggets tucked into the various presentations, and each one helps build some part of my business.  It may be a phrase, or a concept, or an actual case study – but, whatever it is, it enriches what I’m doing or makes it easier to achieve.  On this trip, the greatest single nugget came from a vendor/exhibitor that offers a done-for-you service I had never heard of, one that blasts open a whole new segment for my business.

3.    The renewal:  Travel the halls and ballrooms of a big conference, answering the question “So what do you do?” and notice the pride that grows each time you respond.  Also watch how other people’s reactions contribute tidbits or ideas to how you see your own business.  Add to that any verbal strategy sessions you have with new or old friends and acquaintances … and your business takes on a whole new glow.

But I’ve left the best for last.  Despite the petty frustrations and inconveniences that come with the territory when you participate in conferences, the greatest gift is how your purpose and determination are revitalized.

And where are we without purpose?  If we take our money as an example, we may have a healthy emotional relationship with money and a solid handle on it by knowing precisely where we stand in dollars and cents.  But if we lack purpose, we hog-tie our motivation to get anywhere or achieve anything because we don’t know where we’re headed.

Our businesses and our passions are no different.  It’s critical to keep that motivating flame fanned.  We cannot allow doubt and fuzzy thinking to dull our spirit.

In short, here’s what the investment in a high-caliber conference does:  it enriches your friendships, sharpens your knowledge, adds to your arsenal of ideas and, most of all, fires up your passion and your purpose.

I’m thrilled to be home.  My suitcase is unpacked and my kitty cats are ecstatic.  I’m bone-tired and dreaming of getting horizontal on my own bed.  But I’m infinitely richer than I was on Wednesday when I left.

Tomorrow I start implementing.

What are you doing to nurture yourself on all those fronts?  Let me know in the comment section below.

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Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. But yet she did! Since then, Sharon has interviewed countless women and done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers will be shared in her upcoming book “Money After Menopause.” Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve.

  • You raise a great point Sharon! Whatever we focus on… our business, parenting or just life, if we stop learning we stop living. We are all a work in progress and there is always more to know! Thanks for another thought-provoking article!

    • Denny, it’s so easy to get totally involved in what we put on our own plates.  It really does make a difference to get out where people think differently.  Either we come back reassured that we’re focusing on the right things … or we make a healthy change.  And THEN implement!

  • Christinalee1

    I joined the 100 Day Challenge (Gary Ryan Blair) January 2010 and it reinvigorates
    my purpose every day !  Thank you for giving me another new perspective on things ! 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Christina, I wasn’t aware of his 100-Day Challenge but went and looked at his site.  I can see how it would make a difference.  Good for you!

  • Carol Douthitt

    Sharon,
    Thanks for reminding me why I continue to disrupt my daily business routine and
    fly halfway across the country to attend seminars.  The connections, friendships, and experiences
    are priceless!;-)

    • Anonymous

      Carol, I’m happy to have shared this last experience with you.  We both came away with lots to think about!

  • Gailboating

    Sharing with a friend new insights.

    • Anonymous

      And I thank you for your openness!

  • Thank you for solidifying why I choose to attend quarterly seminars all over the nation. You are right, it is the relationships that are forged and built, right alongside the next nugget we find to propel our leadership skills to the next level. After all, it was at one conference where we met and I can not imagine my life without having met you, Sharon O’Day!

    • Anonymous

      Carla, I’m thrilled to have been able to act as counterfoil early on as you were making decisions.  I must say, the ones you have made recently — all on your own — have been so beneficial for you.  Keep it up!

  • Ginger_Pugliese

    Simply put, there’s nothing like getting out of your own back yard and being with others that reminds you of what we’re passionate about and why we do what we do…thanks for the gentle reminder 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Happy to provide happy reminders any time, Ginger!  As part of a community, we all fuel each other onward …

  • I totally agree with you as I find so much energy and good information when I attend personal growth courses or conferences put on by my company.   It is like a shot in the arm, and you come back with new vision and new ideas.  But unlike you I sleep well anywhere, once I actually get myself into a bed.  Sometimes at conferences you don’t want to miss any of the excitement to actually get some sleep.

    • Anonymous

      Part of my difficulty in sleeping is precisely that, Pat:  having so many new ideas and possibilities.  At least for me, after that, virtually anything is an excuse to lie there and dream with eyes wide open … 😉

  • I look back on the conferences I’ve attended and I certainly agree on all fronts… those opportunities to network, to be mentored, to be open to new ideas are infinitely valuable. Priceless! You are indeed living a “rich life” and fueling your passion, Sharon, and I’m looking forward to seeing how you implement what you’ve received! Thanks so much for sharing with us 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Whether to attend a conference or not is often a difficult decision, especially as we’re starting up businesses.  They’re costly, for sure, especially the big ones that require travel.  It’s a “chicken and egg” situation:  what comes first?  The income or the ideas?  Tough call!  Fortunately, there are always smaller, local events that “feed” a start-up and, in short order, the larger ones become affordable.  (I would guess that for half the people at any conference, being there is a real financial stretch …)

  • Vicky Horner 3637

    You are so right about the benefits of getting out there with others.   I have found better ways of explaining my services when networking because people ask questions in unexpected ways or don’t understand something that I thought they would.  We all need to get out of the routine and get re-energized from time to time.  Great article!

    • Anonymous

      Vicky, even if we’re in contact with friends and family all day long, we can actually build businesses online and have very little contact with our colleagues and prospective clients.  So it does feel good to get out and rub shoulders with both.  And, as you say, honing our message is one of the things that benefits disproportionately!

  • Welcome back home, Sharon!
    … and I fully concur: face-to-face interaction with people at this kind of events broadens your horizons much more than looking at it from a purely geographical point when you visit a new place!
    Nothing gets people out of their shell better than “personal” contact and involvement, and often results in the strangest new connections. It also helps to remind us that there is a world out there in which we can play an active role through human synergy, while at the same time enriching our knowledge and most importantly: making new friendships and connections! A clear win-win situation…
    Thanks once more, Sharon, for a wonderful contribution ~ I do so much appreciate your gentle touch to your postings!
    Smiles, Emm :))

    • Anonymous

      Emm, what I’ve found to be the greatest victim of the advent of the internet is “personal contact.”  We get easier (and cheaper) “personnel connection” … but lose out on the face-to-face interaction we used to have.  Conferences help to put some physicality back in the mix …

  • You are SO right Sharon!  A conference does all these things!  I got a good chuckle out of your description of getting up at 3:00am to go to the bathroom.  It’s so funny sometimes when you go to these things and you lay there in bed thinking for a moment, “ok where am I now and just exactly where IS the bathroom.”  Also, I agree that the friendships are priceless.  Thanks so much for yours and for this post!

    • Anonymous

      Glad you caught the humor, Robert.  We all THINK those things … I just say ’em.  😉  (Maybe that’s because at times I travel so much that I don’t even know where the bathroom is when I get home!)  What was hysterical in that hotel room was that the night table really DID have little lights that came on to show you the path!  Scared the heck out of me the first time they came on!

  • Rochelle

    We are definitely all a work in progress.  Learning is lifelong and always something to learn.  Hope I never stop learning or rather wanting to learn new things.

  • Nancy

    Girl! I hear you! I hate traveling! The hassle, the food, the weird smell in the hotel room, the cost! But I recently attended two conferences that were so enriching! They changed my life in so many positive ways. And yes, I met some fabulous people. I loved the way you organized this post, by the way. The cons and pros! Good stuff.

  • Sharon, I just love this post! You have taken the words right out of my head and so eloquently expressed the importance (to me) of continuous growth, connection and deepening the many relationships I intend to keep for a lifetime.  Thank you!

    • Ah, but the one thing that was missing at the conference I wrote about … was that you weren’t able to join us.  We’re counting on seeing you at another one soon, Scott!