These five things will help you stay on track while attending Conferences and Masterminds

By Emma Rainville

I have to be honest with you, I’ve been having a hard time this year keeping up with my regular duties as a business owner and as COO to several industry giants. 

I believe the reason for this difference in 2022 is twofold. First, our company has grown both in client base as well as services provided. We’ve spent some time improving client experience at Shockwave, including building a dashboard for our clients to use. 

Second, the last two years have been slower for travel. Being home, at my desk with everything I need at my fingertips became my new normal and the instant swap really shocked my system. 

At home, I wake up in the morning and have the perfect cup of coffee (thanks to Jeremy and Dee who shipped me a year’s worth of my favorite coffee bean), I sit Infront of my fireplace and journal and read to start my day. My sitting room has tons of natural light and I soak that up while enjoying my morning routine. After roughly 30 minutes I hop on my elliptical and get in a 25–40-minute morning hike from my friends at iFit. 

Time for another cup of coffee! Now I hop in the shower, which always is well stocked with everything I need. My favorite soaps, scrubs, loafs, shaving creams, razors, all sorts of shit. It’s absolutely great. 

I step out of the shower and all my skin care routine needs are perfectly stacked against the left side of my vanity with my night routine stocked behind it. I have all of my favorite brands for brushing my teeth, toothbrush, a special thing to brush my tongue, the peppermint floss that is just wonderful, my mouthwash and finally my special lip moisturizer. Now I am ready for work!  

I walk the 20 feet or so to my office, where my three monitor mac studio with all the maxed-out features sits on my standing desk accompanied with a treadmill or gamer chair that heats up and massages my back as I work. 

To my right I have a little draw system which is stocked with my favorite post it notes, pens, and a ton of random shit that I love to have at reach when working. 

All day long, coffee, food, kombucha, snacks, whatever I need just arrives at my desk as I need it thanks to Gabe and a house manager that rocks. I do not struggle for anything. I can have almost anything delivered to my house within an hour or so whenever I’m inspired to decide I cannot live without it. 

I am generally at my computer by 8:30am if not sooner and I do not leave my office on the average day before 7:00pm. I have great internet and can take calls with total ease. Because I’m sitting at my desk all day I have three screens which remind me I have calls 10 minutes before they start, so I never miss a thing! 

I have apps like Asana, Email, Slack, and Skype which all will alert me when something is coming in.

These are just an overview of how easy it is for me when I am home in Texas. I didn’t even get into the stuff like, our cold plunge, hiking trails behind my house, my children who I’ve actually been enjoying a lot more now that they are all in their 20’s, our firepit, outdoor living room, and all the other amenities I’m in love with. 

Our life is very easy and the only thing I need to worry about or focus on when I’m home is my work. There is someone there to do all the other adulting for me. 

When I am traveling to an event or mastermind life is very different. 

I wake up and have to figure out how to get coffee. I absolutely hate getting dressed or doing anything really before I have my first cup. My husband almost always brings a small coffee pot, K-cups, stevia, and the creamer I can’t live without. I only have to track down enough water.

Once I have my coffee in my crammed hotel room, I head to the gym or will go for a walk. Although I do not eat breakfast at home, I almost always do when traveling since you usually won’t eat again until dinner. Now I shower where I have whatever random soap the hotel provides. Since I bring coffee I usually don’t bring anything except toothbrush and toothpaste with me. Once I finish my shower I quickly brush my teeth and do my morning skincare routine. I pull out the baggie thing that my house manager packed it in and follow the little chart thing since I can never remember the order to use this shit if it’s not laid out for me. 

Now hair ugh, this is so hard without the 10k products and tools. I grab my little makeup bag which has consolidated about 30 products into 6. Head to the closet and get pissed at myself for the clothes I decided to bring since there is not a single thing I actually want to wear with me. At this point I realize that I didn’t pack any shoes that match any of the clothes I bought. 

Fuck it…

I head down to register for the event and there is ALWAYS some employee we didn’t book a room for or didn’t get a badge for despite the WRITTEN PROCESS we have in place and QA on travel…

Always one…Damn it…

It’s 9:30am and it’s time to start networking. If we are at an event, I’ll be doing about 10k steps before noon. The coffee will be absolute garbage and not much more than a laxative. The food will be inexistent or will be all total unhealthy full of gluten crap. 

After speaking to over 300 people in one day between new introductions and catching up with our industry family, it’s now about 4:30 and time to get dressed for dinner. It’s like everyone thinks they are on a cruise ship and need to swap outfits throughout the day. 

Keep in mind, while I am shaking hands and trying to talk shop my phone is going BALLISTIC. No one who is not at the conference give one flying fuck that I am attending a conference. Texts, Slacks, Skypes, and emails all totaling over 3000 messages a day…

While at a conference…

I need to answer any messages that are of even mild importance as well as anything that is keeping an employee from doing their job. 

Dinner is over…thank GOD. Now it’s round one of parties. We usually start off with an industry sponsored party that begins at 10:00pm. I arrive, find Travis and chat for about an hour. While everyone else will keep going till 2-3am I usually head back to the hotel by 1130ish. I spent several years sleeping only from 3am-6am but I’m a little older and a lot wiser now. My responsibilities have also grown a tremendous amount, so I do the responsible thing and head back to my room. Our team stays out because one thing I definitely know is that all the big relationships are sealed on dance floors or in VIP booths during bottle service. 

Now I spend the next three hours answering anything I didn’t feel was worth my time during the day. I climb into bed wishing I had grabbed an extra water and a snack because there is only enough water for the coffee machine in the morning. Gabe is never back yet so I worry a little about him as I shut my eyes for a few hours. 

The alarm goes off at 5:30 and we start again for day two…

It’s exhausting. But I will tell you the stuff I have learned attending these events is the very reason I can charge the amount I do. I’ve spent a ton of time learning. 

Damon Wright and Ryan Poteet, both brilliant attorneys from Gordon Rees both charge a TON of money per hour. Do not get me wrong, they are not only my friends, they are Shockwave’s lawyers as well, they are worth every single penny.

I get TONS—LOADS of time with them for free every year because of events. 

I attach myself to them and just soak up everything they say. Those two guys are so smart it’s insane. The stuff they know and understand about advertising and how it works as well as how it all relates to the law is next level shit. If you are ever looking for me at an event you can probably just look for them since they are both tall and if I’m not trailing directly behind them, they know where I am. 

Additionally, no one can negotiate with vendors like I can. Our employees can cue them up, but I have to be the final chat. Vendors generally have way more room to negotiate with you at events, so I like to take advantage of that. 

For affiliates, my favorite is a flex move that will get you a bump in traffic from them every time. See an affiliate of yours that sends you great traffic? Wait till they are talking to a group of people and either deliver or have delivered the drink they are currently sipping. Either say to them or have a waiter say to them, “This is for that killer traffic you’ve been sending all year” or “this is for that killer performer you’ve been paying me for all year” you make them look really good, stroke their ego AND you stand out from all the other people that have been handing them drinks for two days. 

I almost always see a spike in traffic from current affiliates after an event and can usually get 2x ROI on just that. 

Okay, so I rambled on about how much it sucks to attend events and then gave you a little about why it’s worth it sucking…

But this blog was supposed to be about how to keep up while attending right? So now that I’ve rambled let me give you the meat of it.

  1. Have a very specific agenda. Know what you need to come home with to maximize your time and money for this trip.
    • Get with your controller. What contracts do we have that are up in the next 60 days or less? Are those vendors attending the event? Set a time with them and negotiate for more services or less money to continue another year. Also use this time to check out other vendors providing the same service. How do they compare? Who is better equipped to handle your company’s needs?
  2. FFS PLAN! Look at your upcoming tasks and projects. Two weeks before the conference look through and see what you need to have done two weeks after the conference. Getting ahead of what you have due will make your time much easier to manage if you are not already behind in your day-to-day tasks.
  3.  Talk to your team members not attending and see what they can take on. 
    • What emails can you forward and to who to keep things moving that you do not necessarily need to be involved in right now?
    • Communicate with them fully weeks before the conference and let them know that THEY ALSO need to look at everything they will be working on while you are away. While you will still have messages and calls for unforeseen issues and bottlenecks, have your team anticipate as much as possible and address them before you leave so that you are not as bombarded.  
  4. While you may be overwhelmed and frantic – Do NOT let anyone see that. If you are the person that provides stability and focus for your team, they need you to appear cool and collected. The second they know you are scattered they will begin to over complicate and think things. 
  5. Evaluate your time spent at an event. It drives me absolutely crazy when people try to create some mathematical equation for this. This is not necessarily about dollars earned, or vendors concurred. I once learned about a split test technique from Stefan Georgi that made a client millions. I’d say that event paid for itself 100 times over. That being said, I need to evaluate it each time I go. Events change. You change, your network changes. All these things matter. 

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