Spring Break is here and for most people that doesn’t really mean anything anymore. If you have children you might identify it with the brood enjoying (or whining about) an entire week away from school. Other people associate Spring Break with sunny beaches and warm destinations. Most people reading this probably think they are too busy or have too much work to enjoy an entire week away from the office so close to the beginning of the year. You may have heard some of your associates talk about going to industry conferences and these associates probably told you about the speakers or classes. What you may not have realized is that conference season just happens to overlap with Spring Break season and while you don’t get to spend the entire time floating in the pool, you won’t regret the time you spent away from the office. Yes, its true…Conferences are like Spring Break for grown ups. Before you discard this as hogwash please allow me to explain.
Spring Break is technically a study break or a catch-up week mid semester. While good majorities of student use it for recreational activities others hit the books and get up to speed on their homework or reading. Whatever a person chooses, the week serves as a way to recharge and refresh before the semester picks up speed and as the summer inches closer. For many students in the north Spring Break is also used as a tool to combat seasonal affective disorder. It’s ok if you don’t know what this is because being from the beautiful state of Texas very few of us will ever experience it. Seasonal affective disorder is just a fancy way of saying you get depressed in the winter. While here in Houston, February and March simply mean the Rodeo’s back in town to those up north it can mean sub zero temperatures without any holiday cheer to take your mind off the fact that you haven’t seen green in months. Schools realized if they gave students some time off in early spring when students had the opportunity to travel to warmer climates and escape frost bitten monotony if but for a week it really helped with performance and mood. This is where conferences come in. Winter depression doesn’t just affect people in school and it may not make you ‘depressed’ in the clinical sense of the word. You might be able to function just fine but anyone scraping ice off their car before they go to work day after day could find themselves totally bummed out, daydreaming of shorts and Tommy Bahama shirts. Conferences give adults the opportunity to escape for a week while still being productive.
Some people don’t think they can sacrifice the time away to go to a conference but just like a study break or catch-up break conference actually allow you to step back, gain new perspective and return to your company recharged and refreshed, usually with some new ideas that will help you power through the rest of the year.
I recently attended my first conferences and it was such a great experience. ACCA and IAQA held a joint conference in Fort Worth and NADCA held their conference in Orlando in the last few weeks. As you might have noticed both of these locations are in subtropical climates. While this isn’t a huge change of pace for us Texans, the yanks really seem to get a kick out of it. What really surprised me was the range of speakers, marketing experts, economist, inspectors, scientists, and industry hot shots all came together to teach, debate and to get people thinking about their business from new angels. Being around people from the entire nation and even some foreign countries helps you understand how your company fits into the bigger picture. So if you weren’t able to attend a conference this year, you might want to take this time reflect on your goals for the year and accomplishments thus far. You might even want to find someone who attended a conference and ask them some questions about the benefits and advantages of attending. Besides being informative they are always a lot of fun. Hopefully this will help you realize that you can take Spring Break back from the kids but still remain a serious businessman.
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