Annual rituals

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It is ASTA congress week again. This annual event is a bit like a migration, by which I mean a mass movement of a single species from one point to another, a movement that occurs with predictable regularity.

Such migrations have evolved as an important survival tactic; indeed, gathering with one's ASTA peers every year fits that profile.

So, what do you do as part of this annual ritual?

It goes without saying that you attend business sessions that you deem important and you meet with colleagues from around the world whom you need to see.

But there are other elements of the experience that warrant the bent review that follows:

  • If you want to get through doors, you have to wear a small accessory that never matches your clothes -- the name badge.
  • You also may walk with a peculiar stance, head cocked, so you can read badges. You may look at more badges than faces.

    You can get a sore neck from this, but at least you won't be embarrassed about forgetting the name of someone you have not seen in a decade.

  • All delegates are issued a second accessory that isn't a designer piece either -- the delegate bag.
  • Yes, such bags are functional. I, too, have carried them at ASTA and have even used one as a briefcase recently. (They can be recycled, as well: Some years ago, a colleague spotted a homeless person carrying one on the streets of New York!)

  • As convention-goers, you are vulnerable to MEGO (my eyes glaze over), the result of sitting in too many business sessions while suffering from (a) lack of sleep, (b) too much food, (c) too little food or (d) (you fill in this space).
  • You spend hours walking up and down a barnlike room picking up nearly useless giveaways plus every brochure that maybe, just maybe, will be useful at the office.
  • You could go home with overweight luggage and very tired feet.

  • One last thing: We've all heard it, the jokes about agents and shrimp. This is derisive chatter among the unthinking.
  • You have to eat, and often hosts expect you to do that while standing. Shrimp is not messy, and Mother Nature made it with natural handles so it is easy to pick up.

    It is the perfect solution in a awkward situation -- if you happen to like the stuff, that is.

    My hope for you is that you leave Las Vegas with lots of new ideas, that some of those brochures prove to be serious moneymakers -- and that your feet, neck and any other aching body parts recover quickly.

    You'll want to be in shape for the next migration.

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